“A small fictional piece that I came up with after some elaboration on a dream that I had one night.”

By Adrianna Standiford

My father and I hated each other. I wasn’t the athletic daughter that he had always wanted. I would never be able to live up to his glory days, and never knew my mother and neither did the other four of my younger siblings. We lived in a double wide trailer in the tourist part of Mexico. We were originally from the United States and when my father saved up enough money he moved us down to Mexico to escape poverty as the US dollar is worth more than the Mexican peso. Though we were not legal citizens, we got along just fine.

When we had fist moved in, eleven years ago, we had the foundation redone and the basement refurnished. That is when the screams started. I apparently was the only member of the family that could hear them. The day after we moved in and the workers started construction on the foundation, a mask was uncovered while they were digging. It was wooden, barley petrified and had intricate detail and engravings. My father took it from where it laid in the dirt and put in in a glass case that he later invested in for its protection. He said it could be worth a fortune and started talking to local pawn shop and antique store owners seeing what he could get for it.

Eventually he befriended a sharp dressed man who was in the business of buying and selling rare artifacts, and by the looks of it he did extremely well. He drove a fancy red Ferrari and always wore a suit. He came more and more often and sooner or later was hardly ever not around. He took a little too kindly to my sisters and me and always gave off an aura that made me want to vomit. He had greasy dark hair and a crooked smile that was too big for his face. The way he looked at us made me want to run away and take all of my sisters and brothers with me. It wasn’t until recent years that I found out he had molested my littlest sister multiple times. Whether or not my father had knowledge of this, I never want to know.

I would try to tell my father of how his friend made me feel but he never listened. He just called me crazy and assumed that I never knew what I was talking about. Over the years the screams simply became background noise but I never stopped feeling afraid that one day my siblings would hear them too. The terror of the voices remained unsettling, even until the day I finally saw the source. It was the battered ghost of a Spanish conquistador. I would only see glimpses of him at first and on different parts of the property. I later concluded a total of seven different spirits. All Spanish men of some ancient time long ago. Lurking, bloody and rotten as if their spirits were looking for their long lost corpses.

Like their occasional screeches, their ghosts were unseen by anyone else. Even though my encounters with them grew to be less and less rare, I never became used to seeing them. Every night for eleven long years, I would cry myself to sleep.

When my father began to speak seriously about selling the mask, the ghosts began to seem agitated and the screams grew louder and more violent.

The kids were ecstatic when my father brought up our annual end of the summer camping trip. Just then in that moment, when it almost felt like we were a family again, he mentioned that his friend, the businessman, was going to tag along. Smiles then disappeared from the children’s faces. I started screaming and yelling at him. I grabbed him with a surprising amount of force and told him that it’s going to be one of us that gets seriously hurt or disturbed before he even starts to care. He just threw me to the ground and told me I was fucking crazy and that I didn’t know what I was saying.

I later that week before our camping trip was supposed to go underway, I did some of the research on the history of the mask and culture of the area in Mexico in which we lived. I found out that there were six other masks that were uncovered, all strikingly similar to the one we found when we first moved in. the ancient natives that lived in the area before were in distress when the land was invaded by the Spanish. One tribe specifically was forced to give the conquistadors seven women as mistresses in order to keep the peace. The tribe, knowing that these women were merely sacrificed for the sake of their survival, carved seven masks in honor of each woman which were then given to the individual’s families to signify their lost souls.

Each mask was grotesque and horrifyingly shaped as to show the women’s agony and pain of being enslaved. A curse was said to haunt they who disturb the masks. As the ghastly activity became more violent over the years, I really believe it was somehow affecting my father’s subconscious as he completely stopped caring for us children.

Once his wealthy friend started coming around, the Indian wives began to appear one by one and the screaming became constant, there was never silence. For me anyway. The wives would scratch and tear at the trees in the yard and even the walls outside and occasionally inside of the house, as if they were trying to rapidly escape their own insanity. Things would move and break inside the house and for once I wasn’t the only person who saw the evidence. But everyone that would see the torn walls and broken household items just thought it was me doing all of this. My father would get mad at me for making the place look like shit, as if it didn’t before. He started beating me and the kids more often and more severely than before.

The research I did said that the only way to get rid of the ghosts was to stab out the eyes of the wife’s mask. The others had already been destroyed and the last one remaining is what all of the ghosts now clung to. Thus a hoard of terrifying ghosts roamed our property. When I told my father all of this he barely looked at me, but the little he did was in complete disgust and shame, he then hit me across the face and told me to shut up. He told me to keep all of that shit in my head and that if mentioned anything about it again, he’d kill me.

On the night before our camping trip I silently barricaded my father’s bedroom door, went outside and found the largest rock I could carry and I smashed the glass case. My dad heard this and started to bang on his door and push through the furniture I put in front of it, screaming and yelling at me about how fucking crazy I was, how I cause more trouble than anything and how he should just put me out of my misery.

After I broke the glass, the room turned darker even in the dark of night and the air turned cold. The wives were screaming louder and louder as if they were coming for me. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a knife. I took the mask and I stabbed the eyes again and again until I had created huge holes where the eyes had once been. At this point my father had gotten passed the furniture barricade. He was running toward me with clenched fists and a rage in his eyes that was completely foreign to me. He was charging, screaming my name telling me that I’ve ruined all of their lives.

I attacked him with as much force as I could muster. We were both swinging and punching. I was struggling against his size and strength but I never stopped kicking and screaming. I finally got an arm lose, the arm with the knife. I drew back and with all of my might I stabbed my father’s eyes again and again until there were only gruesome holes where his eyes had once been.

He dropped me and let out a blood curdling yelp that rang in my ears as he tried to run outside. I looked over to see my siblings cowering in the hallway, tears streaming down their faces. I could hear my father screaming in the dark outside, aimlessly and blindly wandering. I eventually couldn’t differentiate his screams from those of the wives.

I knelt down and was swarmed by my little siblings in one massive hug. And then all of a sudden, it was silent. Just silence. For the first time in the eleven years we’ve lived in that house, there was no screaming.