I knew the scream was coming from one of the four doors in front of me, so I instinctively approached the iron railing and looked down, trying to find another way to get out of where I was. What my eyes found was that on the next level down was the dining room, perfectly lit by an antique chandelier. There was a very long table with baskets of freshly baked bread and several cups filled with hot chocolate. It also had 12 chairs where 12 young people were sitting.
That they did not move they seemed to be somehow paralyzed, because they only shook their heads, every time they were fed a piece of bread. The bread was being given to them by three tall men dressed in dark robes like the one Pepe wore. The men walked around the table while breaking the loaves into small pieces that they put in the young people’s mouths and from time to time they were given to take a little hot chocolate that apparently burned their mouths, due to the gestures of pain that they expressed every time they brought the cup close to their lips and took a zip to drink. None of them said anything, they did it in silence. The chandelier candles reflected everyone’s shadows on the dining room walls, but the shadows were not human-shaped, all the shadows reflected on the walls were of giant chickens sitting on the chairs and regular chickens walking around the table.
Observing the strangeness of that scene, I stepped back toward the doors and as unusual as it was for me, I was not afraid to open the first door. After opening the first door and looking into the room I discovered LA LLORONA! She was hanging upside down, held by a thick rope on her feet that was tied to a beam on the ceiling, with her gray hair spread down. Her arms were also hanging down just like her hair, but her arms had several vertical cuts starting at the shoulders all the way to her fingers that were bleeding out. The blood that was coming out of her arms dripped slowly into a large black washbowl. Around the woman that I assumed was La Llorona, there were many large mirrors placed vertically on pedestals forming a circle that surrounded her, making her the focus in the middle of the room. She had her eyes closed and her entire face was painted red, her body was covered in white feathers and her hands had only three long fingers covered in scales. Suddenly she opened her eyes and when she looked at her image reflected in the mirrors, she emitted a terrifying and chilling scream that shook the walls of the room where we were in. At that time my normal reaction should have been to run away, but a strange warmth that enveloped my body and made me feel calm, I also felt strong and even stranger was that feeling that I could fly returned to my mind again. Then I began to push one by one the mirrors that when falling off their pedestals were broken into pieces, when La Llorona heard the noise that the mirrors made when they shattered, she opened her eyes and looked at me in a disturbing way because her gaze was lost in the space, without a fixed direction to look at and it seemed to me that the energy from his look was hypnotizing. I stood far away from her, but nevertheless climbing on one of the pedestals I jumped in an impressive way, as if I were flying towards the beam where she was tied and then with my child hands and without much effort, I cut the rope that held her from her feet. When she fell to the ground, I untied her feet immediately, and frantically pounced on the washbowl that contained her blood and started drinking it until she drank almost all of it. As she was drinking her own blood, the feathers on her body began to detach and instead green scales began to appear on her and right before my eyes she transformed into a huge silver-headed lizard that moved in the direction towards where I was and for a moment she looked at me, then with her huge tail she hit the window that was in that room making it bigger and jumped out.
What I was living was an irrational experience, and the most incongruous was that courage and strength that I had in all my being. After La Llorona was gone, I jumped down from the beam and left that room, then walked to the next door, I was about to open it when I heard a loud noise coming from the third door. So I made my decision and I walked towards it and when I opened it I found the steps that descended into the dining room and I knew this because they were slightly illuminated with the light that provided from the candles inside the chandelier. I quickly started down the steps and when I got to the dining room, the men were gone, only the twelve young men who were still sitting on the chairs around the table were there. I approached and they all turned their stares towards me, the tallest of them spoke at that moment, “You are not a Pepe’s brother, who are you?” I was surprised that his voice was so normal and that despite being paralyzed, he could think and speak like anybody else, “No, I’m not his brother, Pepe brought me here in a sack”, I replied, “Pepe kidnapped me and I’m looking for the way out to escape. ”
The Young Man said, “If you are not Pepe’s brother, why do you smell and look the same as them? I didn’t understand his question until I look at my own shadow reflected on the wall, then I exclaimed, “Why is my shadow the same as a chicken’s shadow?
Then he replied, “My name is Carlos. Pepe kidnapped each one of us and brought us here in a sack. They feed us bread and chocolate that they themselves make, feed, and fatten us so that little by little we become their brothers. Eventually Pepe will rip out our hearts and put them inside a glass heart that he has in one of the rooms upstairs. There he keeps everyone’s heart. He puts them together so that we all always do what he says. Pepe’s heart is also in there. Pepe says that we are lucky because he has chosen each one of us to be his brothers other children that Pepe brings, they force them to eat bread with chocolate all day every day so that they get fat quickly and thus become chickens that later Pepe takes to the people in town and sells them. “
I asked Carlos, “Why haven’t you tried to escape? Why can’t you move?”
Carlos’s eyes filled with tears and he replied, “The bread and chocolate they give us is what makes us chickens and it also immobilizes us. The only way to move is to get us to eat the golden corn; the same corn that you already ate. But none of us knows where Pepe is hiding it and besides, we cannot move. That corn gives them the strength and power to do amazing things. You cannot deny that you ate the golden corn, because you smell like a dead animal, so Pepe has not discovered that you have escaped from where he surely had you locked up. ”
I was surprised with what Carlos said and I replied, “I know where the golden corn is, but I have not eaten that corn. I ate three grains of corn that I grabbed from Mrs. Lola’s kitchen. Look, I still have some of that corn in my pocket. If you want it, I can share it with you!”
“No”, said Carlos, “That corn is not golden and only works with humans, we have been trapped here for a long time and we are almost like Pepe. But you are not like us yet, that’s why that corn gives you strength and power, but we need the golden corn to be able to get out of here. If you already know where Pepe hides the golden corn, go and bring the golden corn so we can eat it and be free.”
At that moment I knew that I could not escape without helping Carlos and the other young people.
TO BE CONTINUED…