Jose and the Alux

by on November 13th, 2010
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The sun was setting and 10 year old Jose was getting worried. Thinking of all of the stories that his aunts and uncles had told him over the years about the magical, mischievous, and sometimes mean spirits that lived in the jungles surrounding his little town made him pick up his pace.

He was walking home from school, his teacher had made him stay late because he had been teasing Maria again. Although his teacher had thought he was being a bully, he had only been teasing Maria because he liked her. But he had been warned once, and when he got caught a second time pulling her hair, la Senora told him he had to stay after school and wash the classroom. It had been a hot day, and when class ended at 4, all Jose really wanted to do was go home, eat some lunch, and go play soccer with his friends. Instead he got stuck scrubbing desks, and mopping the floors.

La Senora had left around 6, but he had been told if she came into school in the morning and the room was not sparkling, he would have to stay late again the next day to clean it again, and Jose was not going to take any chances. He stayed until 7:30, making sure La Senora would be proud of him.

Although he was happy with himself that he had done what he was told to do, it was getting dark now and as Jose left the small school yard, locking the gate behind him, he realized that the 20 minutes it would take to walk to his house would give the sun plenty of time to set before he was able to reach the safety of his house. He had never seen an “Alux” before, but he was sure they existed. He had heard the stories many times from family members, always recounted late at night, during a party or a holiday. How his Tio Paulo had seen the red eyes staring at him from behind a bush one night as he made his way home from the cantina, or how his cousin Emilio had seen mysterious shadows darting across streets late at night as he rode his bicycle home from work. And probably the most terrifying story of all belonged to his Tia Ponchi, how when she was getting up early in the morning to check on the cattle on her rancho, she heard mysterious laughing coming from one of the barns. Although nervous she was a tough woman, and burst into the stable expecting to walk in on a drunk relative or friend, and instead found strange footprints and no signs of anyone in the barn.

As Jose began the journey home he became more and more nervous, walking past the church gates he could see the sun was getting lower in the sky, and he was thinking that perhaps he should start running. Thinking it over again he decided that if anyone in the town saw him running home they’d know he was afraid of the Aluxes and he would never hear the end of the teasing and jokes, so he took a deep breath, and continued on.

It was a strange time of day, when most people were at home cleaning up after work, or preparing for dinner. Although after the sun set there would be many people in the town square, right now it was almost abandoned and Jose was feeling very uneasy. As the sun set lower he passed the square and moved closer to the back roads where the street lights, if there were any, hardly worked, Jose could swear he heard something moving in the woods next to him. He tried to tell himself not to worry, that the Aluxes never bothered little boys just trying to get home from school, that they really only liked to play jokes on drunk people who fell asleep in the streets, he didn’t believe what he was trying to convince himself of. He just knew that the Aluxes, although probably harmless, had a strange sense of humor and enjoyed scaring people. Just at that second he could have sworn he saw some dark shadow dart across the road, just like cousin Emilio had said he saw many years ago. And then on his left, he heard breathing, very heavy breathing. It sounded like someone was walking next to him, but no one was there. Jose racked his brain for any bit of information on how to avoid the Aluxes, or how to make them leave, but the only thing he could remember was the bright glowing red eyes that his Tio had described. Looked up at a house as he passed by he swore he saw a set of those terrifying eyes staring down at him from the roof, and that was all Jose needed before he started running as fast as he could to his house. He was still 5 minutes away, but he ran so fast, if you asked him, he’d say he got there in 1 minute or less.

Jose burst into his house panting, when his mom saw him so frightened she ran right to him begging him to tell her what had happened. It took Jose a good 5 minutes before he was able to tell her of his experience, and how the Aluxes had been taunting him. His mother, not one for superstitions, told him he shouldn’t listen to his crazy uncles and that the Aluxes did not exist. “Ahora” she said “it’s time for dinner, go wash up.” Although his mother didn’t believe him, he felt safe in the warmth of his own house, and started wondering if it was his imagination scaring him the whole time.

Jose, still shaken up, went to the kitchen to grab the pot of heated water that his mom kept ready for anyone who wanted to wash up. He put some into a pail and headed to the bathroom to shower. Looking up at the small window in the bathroom, for just a split second he saw a pair of red eyes staring back at him, and a sly, scary laugh, before they disappeared.

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