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Bleeding Stone

by Brian Yapko

Mundo Lopez, a minor player in the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, has killed a man of unexpected importance to the Mayan gods of war and death. After his release from prison, Mundo journeys with his lover, Pedro, through the jungles of Guatemala to steal a fortune in sacred gold from the Pyramid of the Dead. It is there among the ruins of Tikal that the dark gods, in their quest for vengeance, force him to make a monumental and horrific choice…

Publisher: Rebel Satori Press
Word Count: 45000
Setting: Tikal, Guatemala; Hollywood, CA
Word Count: 45000
Setting: Tikal, Guatemala; Hollywood, CA

The second day started out without incident and most of the morning was much the same as the first day – Carlos leading with his machete, Pedro and I taking turns leading the burro, avoiding mud and snakes. But then as we continued to trek northward, something strange happened. I started to hear suspicious noises in the jungle – the snapping of branches, the rustling of ferns. I got the distinct impression that we were being followed. I said something to Carlos. He looked backwards to where I was pointing and just muttered to himself. I could hear slurs against me under his breath. I warned Pedro as well and he said that he didn’t hear a thing – that I was probably just tired and hungry.

Carlos raised his machete high and sliced through a sapling that blocked our way. “Whatever you imagine you hear, pendejo, we do not stop until we reach the Rio Gordo. We continue.” And he moved forward slashing at vines.


Quietly, I gave the burro’s reigns to Pedro and whispered to him to keep going. I would stay back just for a few minutes. Just to satisfy myself that I wasn’t crazy. “Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ll be fine.”

Pedro looked at me with concern but I grasped his arm to reassure him and he moved forward. I patted my waistband where I carried the secret pistol.

After only two minutes or so, I heard it again. The rustling. I hid behind a mahogany tree and watched to see who – or what – was following us. More rustling and I could see the brush sway with movement approaching the clearing I had just vacated. Then there was a final snapping of twigs, and slapping away of leaves and I saw.. nothing. Impossible, no? But there was literally nothing there. That or else what was there was invisible. I spoke to it. I said “show yourself!” I heard nothing but the wind in the trees. Then, out of nowhere, I heard the roar of a jaguar! It was loud, and it was coming towards me! I pulled the gun out from my waistband but had nothing to aim at. There was nothing there! I stumbled backwards in terror and landed on my butt. I dropped the gun and lay there shaking as I felt fur brush against my arms and the feel and smell of a hot animal breathing in my face.

“Are you coming, pendejo, or not?” Carlos yelled out from a quarter mile ahead. For the first time in my life, I was glad that he was here.

The invisible jaguar rubbed its fur against me again and then left. I could see where the bushes and vines were pushed aside and I could hear the twigs and branches break as it ran off. I stared after the jaguar I could not see.

“Mundo, are you coming? It was Pedro’s voice.

“Don’t make me come back after you, pendejo.” That was Carlos.

“I’m coming,” I shouted, hoping they didn’t hear the trembling in my voice. “I just slipped and fell on some wet leaves.”

Still shaking, I picked up my pistol and put it back in my waistband. I decided not to tell what had happened to either Pedro or Carlos. I didn’t want them to think I had gone loco.

But then I looked down at the mud where the phantom jaguar had been. There were prints there alright. The prints of bare human feet.


About the Author

Brian Yapko is a lawyer in California, Oregon and New Mexico. His debut novel, "El Nuevo Mundo", was recently published by Rebel Satori Press. He has written numerous short stories and is presently hard at work on a space opera trilogy. He is also the author of over 150 poems published by 45 literary journals. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his husband, Jerry, and their canine child, Bianca.