Part 1: The First Attack
It stood no taller than a child, with large eyes peering out from the dark. It watched hungrily as the elderly rancher led his prize bull into the barn for the night. There was no sclera or iris, only highly reflective pupils accustomed to the nocturnal life for which it was bred. They tapered at a sharp angle on either end to a slant covering nearly a third of its oval head, which came to a point at the chin of its prominent jaw. The creature was four feet tall, average among its kind, which ranged from three to five feet in height. Like the faces of the alien grays which shared its unaltered skin color and elongated eyes, the ears, nostrils and mouth were little more than small holes and a slit, but in the latter case lined with fangs and sharp teeth.
It swayed restlessly on two powerful hind legs while it balanced itself precariously using its short forearms. Three-toed splayed feet tipped with razor sharp talons dug eagerly at the soft ground, while three-fingered claws dangled limply before it. With its robust lower and frail upper body, the way it held its arms out before it gave the creature the appearance of a praying mantis. A row of spikes edged with fins ran from the top of its head down the length of its back. Coarse feathery quills of dark brown interspersed with patches of fur covered its body.
It bristled in anticipation as it darted its long, proboscis-like tongue as if sampling the air like a snake. When the unsuspecting cattle owner closed and padlocked the bolt of the barn door for the evening, it hissed and shook membranous wings that ran up the underside of its thin arms. Meeting at the back of its shoulders, the loose skin that formed its opaque wings trailed down again to attach along the sides of its grotesque body to the birdlike hips. Many never reported seeing this aspect of the creature, due to the thin arms held close to the body at all times.
When the solitary lamp light on the barn gable replaced that of the front porch with a slam of the screen door, it sensed that it was finally alone. It swiveled its bulbous head in slow, jerky, mechanical motions atop an impossibly thin neck. The lidless eyes glowed red and orange as they reflected the sparse light available to them. By day, the moist gelatinous orbs were far less noticeable, almost black in their crimson depth. A protective membrane could be drawn and layered over them to filter the sunlight. It had watched and waited all day for its opportunity, blending with its surroundings by turning the gray mottled flesh on all but its hideous face varying shades of purple, brown and yellow. As night approached, it no longer shifted like a chameleon, but stayed hidden until the two men and a woman tending the caged animals had gone into the house. Above all else, it shunned the human keepers of its prey. If the noxious odor surrounding it was offensive and debilitating, its breath was nothing short of overwhelming to any that encountered it.
The hayloft remained open above the barn door, a block and tackle extending out from the rafter supporting the structure. The opening was too high to reach in a single leap from the ground, but not from the work shed nearby. It ran deceptively fast on the tips of its sharp toes with its heels held high, reaching almost to the back of its knees. It was another adaptation of the hunter for stealth and maneuverability. It hopped periodically like a kangaroo to cross the barnyard in eight-foot high bounds.
After each, it would stop to see that it still went unnoticed. It listened with its highly sensitive ear holes until it was certain it had not been seen, then continued unabated. It quickly drew next to the supporting posts of the smaller building. The lower roof of the shed housing the tractor was over twelve feet off the ground, but no matter. The odd angles of its body compressed and, with a burst of energy, uncoiled like a spring to the asbestos and tarpaper overhang to the wooden gutter that framed it.
Ignoring the lesser beasts in abundance that night, fowl, rabbit and even a dog barking in its pen at the edge of an old sharecropper's road, it gauged the distance from the rooftop to the four foot square opening beneath the barn gable. Then, as it had so many times before, it thrust itself out over open space to glide thirty feet at a slight incline over the yard to the hayloft. It could not fly or even levitate as some believed, and many never even reported its wings. It was mistakenly assumed that its claws alone allowed it to climb the trees where it was so often sighted.
It was thought to be confined, since the first reports circulated in 1991, to a vast, impenetrable tract of dense jungle called El Yunque on the island of Puerto Rico, but that was only the beginning of its notoriety on the mainland. The first documented case of its attack on farm animals came in 1975. The rumors of its existence circulated the island since the early 1950s. When its numbers and competition increased over more closely guarded food, its kind took refuge as stowaways on unsuspecting ships to other Caribbean islands, where their reputation had not preceded them.
In the late 1990s and into the twenty-first century, the sightings of these creatures spread into Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, Brazil and, more recently, the southern United States. A greater number of encounters were reported in states with a concentration of Hispanic populations, among them Florida, California, Arizona and Texas. Many believed that it was only a cultural phenomenon moving north with the influx of Spanish-speaking people into America. Disbelief only better served its purpose. No one ever locked their doors against superstition.
El Chupacabras, The Goatsucker, was about to feed again…
Download the complete nine-part, serialized novella for free from my web site, and be sure to check out my 3 novels, "The Cryptids Trilogy": "Shadow of the Thunderbird", "Track of the Bigfoot" and "Wake of the Lake Monster".