Peekaboo

BY DAVID DRAPER 
 

Centuries ago there was a Demon named Pequezbo. It was nasty thing, neither male nor female, hatched from a dead volcano in Pre-Inca South America. What was overwhelmingly known about this unholy creature was how it reveled in shock. It fed on it. The kind of shock that bypassed fear and dread and instead struck with an immediate and pure terror.

Tales tell that Pequezbo had scaly pale hands which were riveted to its face by rows of iron nails. These ghastly hands obscured any skin, eyes, nose or mouth underneath–if those were even there, for no one has seen the face of Pequezbo. Or accurately, no one has survived seeing the face of Pequezbo.

What Pequezbo did is wait. It would wait for hours, days, even weeks for its victim, crouching near a road or a home, shivering in day or night, with those foul hands over its face. Undoubtedly, someone would approach. It could be a passing tradesman, a group of soldiers, a parent, a wandering child, anyone who showed concern or curiosity. It knows we are empathetic beings drawn to a person, someone sitting silently with their hands over their face, particularly if that someone is pale, feeble or needy. We need to see what is underneath. It is the face that draws us, that guides us. The face previews the soul of a thing. And Pequezbo knows this about us. When we approach, it strikes, ripping its hands from its face, popping bloodied nails from skull and skin and revealing its soul. That soul, that face, that horrific image stops blood, ruptures a heart and kills in an instant.

For centuries its horrors were blamed on disease and the natural course of time and of things beyond human control. An old man’s heart gave out. A solider discovered dead. A mother succumbed to illness. A child never woke from a dream. Or an infant dies in its crib. These were its conquests. Its meals.

Legend tells that a tribe of Brujas, or Incan witches finally captured Pequezbo in a golden maze of knotted ropes called a quipo, sealing it in a unmapped cave near a rocky coast of central Mexico. Tales tell of it struggling for centuries, wriggling for escape, but never dieing. And there it remains. Hands affixed to its vile face, hammered there by an unknown and unending evil.

As time passed and generations faded, the legend of this demon contorted decade by decade to the lie it is today. Mothers and Fathers tend to their children with a game now, the pastime of Peekaboo, popping from a hiding place, stepping from a shadow, or leaning over a crib to simply cover their face and, with a smile, reveal what is hidden underneath. Peekaboo. The grins, the laughter, the innocence of it all betrays Pequezbo again and again. It knows. It feels the twist of its black legend and a deep dark anger shakes those imbedded nails and tugs at skin desperate to wrench those hands away, reveal its rage and feed.

Legend says that each time we “play” his game, play Peekaboo, we test its legacy and the quipo imprisoning Pequezbo stretches and frays, inching his horror closer to freedom. This same legend says that should one of us deem to imitate Pequezbo and amuse themselves by playing Peekaboo–HIS game–with one hundred people in one lifetime, whether we know we have or haven’t, Pequezbo will FEEL it. It will feel you are mocking it and challenging it and it will target the foolish vanity that drives you to mimic its legacy.  It knows it cannot leave its prison, but generations of witches hint it may be able to send its face in place of yours.

And when you smile at your friend, your brother or your sister, your child, or your baby–when you reach up and cover your face with your hands and gently whisper Peekaboo, in that instant, it will have found you.

And when you lift your hands away… the face you show, the soul you reveal to your loved one, may not be your own.

So, ask yourself. How many times have you played Peekaboo?

StoriesDavid Draper