After you and David rocket-boosted me from the trampoline, I flew up and up into las nubes. I landed on one—it looked like vanilla ice cream that late afternoon, and it felt like a chilly pillow. In the distance there was a tunnel, all made of nubes. I crawled to the edge of la nube and peeked over to see our itty-bitty vecindario and the waterpark, then the big buildings farther away, all a long ways to the ground. I walked through the tunnel.
I was scared when the two of you forced me up to the sky. Like Mamá says, todavía estoy pequeño. And now I was scared walking through that tunnel, even though it was pink—tan bonito como la paletería—but it didn’t taste like cotton candy, only like nieve. I reached a big room, walls and a ceiling of nubes, which seemed empty at first. I sensed someone behind me.
I turned and saw a tall lady with a chalk-white face. I screamed, stumbling to the ground. I cried in fear, scooting on my behind—even her lips were white. She never moved her mouth, like when the principal speaks on the intercom, but she told me not to be afraid. She was bald, with a white gown draped over her body down past her feet, touching the floor of las nubes. At least I think she had a body underneath. She looked like she was gliding as she came close to me. I cried more. Quiero mi mamá! I said with tears wetting my cheeks. She said she knew that Mamá loves me. But she said I was sad at home, too.
I let the tall woman hold me. There were arms or something underneath her gown. She let me tell her about all the times you’ve made me cry then called me chillón. When I put stickers on your guitar, I just wanted to make it look even cooler—I wanted you to tell me, Está bien padre. But you threw my cars in the garbage! It still makes me sad. Why are you always so mean, Felipe? I just want to be cool like you. Why do you always punch me to give me a dead arm and tell me I’m adopted? Why do you tell me I’m gay? I just want to play with you and David. It hurts my feelings when you slap me.
The white lady led me behind a puff of cloud. There was a flying saucer in an even bigger room of nubes behind that secret puff. I wished you could see it. There were flashing buttons and levers for huge screens, like on Power Rangers. The white lady took me to the middle where a tall man—all white like her but with a curly, black beard—stood in a beam of blue light. I slept in a bunk bed in that room.
The next day, he woke me up and asked if I wanted to see my life—he talks without moving his mouth, too. I said I didn’t know, but he turned on a screen anyway. He showed the bad stuff, the mean things you’ve done to me. He showed good stuff, too, like when you walked me home from school and gave me a Mewtwo Pokémon card. I forgot you did that—the card’s still in my pocket.
But then, Felipe, he showed me when you and David rocket-boosted me. You two just laughed and high-fived. You weren’t even worried if I’d come back.
So I’m not.
Eres mi hermano, pero me odias.
The man with the beard said I could go with them. He and the white lady told me they fly through space to other planets. They find beings from the universe who they see have greatness. They told me I’m one of the great ones and that I have a pure heart. They’ll take me to their home planet and guide me to become a leader to fix other planets in the universe.
They’re going to give me a shot so I can sleep for the long trip. I hate shots, and I don’t get why I can’t just stay awake with them. They say it lasts light years. I wish I could show you all the lit-up buttons where the white lady flies the saucer—they’re organized by color, like an electronic rainbow. It reminds me of when we’d jump on the tramp until the streetlights came on, especially when the sun’s going down but you can feel how bright all the lights are, and the taillights on the neighbors’ cars look like robot eyes.
They’re giving me the shot soon, Felipe. Dile a mi mamá que también la voy a extrañar.
Megayega was actually named Magdalena. Her husband called her by her name, and her toddler imitated him, calling her Megayega instead of Mamá or Mommy. When Megayega’s husband went to war, servicemen arrived knocking three times at her door. Upon receiving their news of her husband’s death, Megayega plummeted into melancholia. She neglected her baby and drank excessively. Eventually, her baby began to starve and would cry desperately: “Megayega! Megayega!”
The toddler tapped, hit, and slammed objects around the apartment, trying to get Megayega’s attention. He shook his heart-shaped rattle angrily. In a drunken stupor, Megayega shoved red grapes down her baby’s throat then smothered him with a pillow once she could no more take his wails. She swallowed a bottle of pills with a fifth of whiskey and died in her bed. Strangely, her landlord found her body with a pacifier in her mouth. After the police searched the apartment, they found thousands of dollars stowed away inside one of her pillows.
Summoning Megayega is a game. When you’ve successfully summoned her, you’ll feel claustrophobic as she comes close, and your face will feel hot. To abate her, you can either take a shot of whiskey or swallow a grape whole. If you don’t, the heat and claustrophobia will become nigh unbearable.
However, if you withstand the side effects of drunkenness, the discomfort of potentially choking, or Megayega’s abuse, you’ll find money hidden under furniture, in parking lots, or left for you when you awake in the morning, etc.
Juan Caramelo was hard on cash. He was an inveterate drinker, so he summoned Megayega. He downed a shot with panache at the first sensation of heat, then took swigs of whiskey for the rest of the first day to keep Megayega at bay. He kept it going for months, and the amounts of money he found exponentiated. He eventually moved to Vegas with enough money to invest at the tables. He won big.
Never try to summon a ghost or demon. If you perform a summoning ritual incorrectly, the spirit could haunt you forever, which could lead to possession and even death. Performance of any steps of a summoning are also highly dangerous. You could pass out and injure yourself from the intense sensations of overheating and claustrophobia—especially if a summoning is not undertaken correctly. Or possibly worse, if a spirit, demon, or ghost isn’t banished properly, you may have to live with it past the timeframe you initially intended. Don’t try to summon Megayega.
Gloria Melendez, a single mother like Megayega, loved her baby. She was fired from her job and decided to summon Megayega for some easy money. She vomited after her second shot of the summoning, and heard her baby wailing in her crib. When she arrived, a serpentine shadow hovered over her babe, licking it with a forked tongue. She commanded it to leave, but soon discovered that her baby had died of shock.
To summon/banish Megayega, you’ll need the following:
Whiskey plus a shot glass
Pillow with a pillowcase on it
Bottle of pills
Ensure the following prior to summoning Megayega:
You must be alone.
Since it will be dark, determine where you’ll sit in your kitchen in advance.
You must turn off all sources of light in your home. There must be very little to no light, especially no daylight.
Note on name.
Take note that stating the name of Megayega before proceeding with the process could alter the summoning. Such an alteration may cause Megayega or some other demon to possess you instead of playing a game. In fact, never speak the name of a demon aloud, for even the utterance of a name could attach them to you, your possessions, or your loved ones near you.
Follow these directions to summon Megayega:
Knock three times at your front door, from the inside.
Walk to your seat in your kitchen area.
Pour a shot of whiskey into a shot glass and shoot it in one gulp.
Shake a bottle of pills.
Swallow a grape whole.
Wash it down with another shot.
Move to a bedroom.
Put your head inside a pillowcase with a pillow inside it.
Lie on your back, press the pillow into your face, and yell “Megayega!” three times.
Go to sleep with a pacifier in your mouth.
When you awake, you’ll know that the summoning worked if you hear a rattle or shaking pill-bottle noises. This is Megayega’s baby calling for Megayega’s attention. You’ll know she’s closer when you hear nondescript taps, clunks, or erratic white noise in general. She’s quite close when you hear a wet, mouthy sucking noise. That’s Megayega calming herself with a pacifier.
Be sure to have whiskey and grapes on your person at all times. Soon enough, your face may feel hot, and you’ll feel the space around you constrict. If Megayega wins a match, you’ll likely pass out. Sometimes, Megayega may steal money from you as well. That doesn’t mean the game is over, however; she’s just won that match, and you’ll need to banish her.
Duane Salazar couldn’t catch a break. His wife had left him and took his savings, and Megayega was too quick for him. He kept passing out, and he’d concussed himself after too many collisions with furniture or other nearby, happenstance objects. He began attempts to banish Megayega, but Megayega would assail him. Neighbors saw Duane in his front yard, splashing whiskey on his face and sucking on a pacifier, and they called the authorities. When he passed out in the middle of the street, he was arrested. Puzzled doctors soon institutionalized him, issuing diagnoses of schizophrenia and narcolepsy. Nurses consistently found dollar bills in his straightjacket.
To banish Megayega, swallow three grapes in succession and take three shots of whiskey. Then rattle a pill bottle aggressively. Suck on a pacifier.
The Coco Man threw me into his sack just like my parents said he would—all for being mean to my sister and not praying. That frigid Noche Buena, the rough burlap chafed against my skin, and I kicked and punched. He lashed me with his whip. I wore myself out and fell asleep.
I awoke when he dropped me, and I scurried out of the bag. He was draped in a brown, ragged, hooded cloak. He pointed to the snowcapped mountains at the edge of the basin and told me, “Go.” I began to cry and he repeated his command, shaking his finger. When I didn’t go, he fell to his knees and brought his bruised, scabbed hands to his face and also wept.
Bemused, I asked him why he was crying.
“The Devil. He’s mean. I can’t hurt children anymore, even bad ones like you.”
Through his sobs, he related how he barely remembered his parents, only that they’d held him tight before the Devil stole him. The Devil raised him in a cage and fed him gruel until he could carry a five-year-old. He’d scourge the Coco Man, despite his finding plenty of bad children to toss from cliffs. The Coco Man was broken. I pitied him.
“Your bed looked warm,” he said. “I’ve never had a bed.”
“Coco Man,” I said, “I can’t do anything about your parents, but I can show you how to be a real man if you take me home.” I wasn’t a man, I was ten, but I knew what a real man was. “First give me a coat and shoes because it’s freezing, burro.”
He sliced up his sack, draped it over me, and fished some shoes out of his cloak.
He made us an adobe hut. My parents wouldn’t let the Coco Man live with us, even in the toolshed. We decided I’d teach him how to be a real man, then he’d let me go home. Hopefully my parents wouldn’t miss me for a while and wouldn’t beat me.
“To be a real man,” I said, “the first thing to learn is how to ride a four-wheeler.”
The Jaramillo family had three, so I hot-wired one at night, and we rode back into la sierra. The Coco Man puttered around on it, slow—“I think a horse would be better,” he said—and didn’t understand that it had power steering. He drove in circles. I wanted to get out of the snow, so I told him he was doing great. The only thing he probably had ever been good at was abducting and tossing kids, poor bastard.
I was going to teach him how to build a fire, but he could do that by snapping his fingers. I threw a rock at him. “I’ve been freezing this whole damn time, burro!”
Next was teaching him how to shave. He melted a frozen spring for its reflection, and I used his dull knife on my budding moustache. I pushed back his hood, which felt crusty and weighed heavily on his head. His face was twisted in knots, bruises, and blemishes. Disgusted, I guided him through scraping whiskers off of the right side of his jaw. He did the other half by himself while I threw rocks at birds.
At the hut, he didn’t make me pull his boots off. I told him he needed to slap my head and make me scrub the floor like a dad. He said he couldn’t.
“Coco Man, you’re not gonna kill me—you just gotta show me who’s boss.”
We heard a rap at the door. The Devil entered. He looked like any old cowboy except he had pink, swollen horns on his forehead.
“You won’t have any luck with him, ’jito,” he said, putting his hand on my shoulder. As the Devil spoke, the Coco Man backed into the corner of our hut. “All he’s good for is hauling children and tossing them off cliffs.”
“He’s my burro now, cabrón.” I spat.
The Coco Man whimpered.
“His mamá was a whore, a bruja. He’s a walking curse—you’d have better luck with a goat,” the Devil said, motioning outside as a goat bleated.
I kicked the Devil right in his crotch. He winced a little—I saw it in his eyes—then he smiled, said fine by him, and left us.
“No llores,” I said angrily to the Coco Man. “The next thing you’ve gotta do to be a man is get drunk at a bar and beat someone. My dad’s a real man—he’s the best at it.”
I knew that I wouldn’t be able to waltz into the bar by the highway, so I had the Coco Man carry me inside in another sack. I whispered that I’d tell him what to say as he sat down, sitting me on his lap inside the sack.
“Give me whiskey,” he said to the bartender.
A shot glass slid across the bar top.
The Coca Man said, “I’ll start a tab.”
I kicked his ribs and he grunted. He shot the whiskey and hacked. “Gimme another shot,” he hissed through his labored breathing. He drank a second and a third.
I told the Coco Man that we didn’t have money, so he’d have to beat the bartender with his whip. The whip cut through the air with a swoosh, and the bartender wailed as the Coco Man lashed him.
I climbed out of the sack and clung to the Coco Man’s neck, peering
over his shoulder at the unconscious bartender. Cowboy boots clacked through the bar door behind us.
The Coco Man collapsed to the floor, caterwauling.
The Devil said, “I won’t trifle with you anymore, Coco Man, pathetic burro.”
He turned to me. “Cabroncito, it’s a cold world out there, but you’ve got the fire to be a real man.”
I understood and embraced him like a father. He sat me on his shoulders and strode to the nighttime sierra as I gripped his horns.
Alexander Ortega is a Salt Lake City-based fiction writer currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing from Eastern Oregon University. He seeks to explore absurdism, realism, and the interstices therein to fabricate his own dimensions on the page. When he’s not writing or reading, he may occasionally be found playing in a punk band in SLC.
Originally published in Moss: Volume Six.