j. l. navarro

A Gift from Hell

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Illustration by James Jajac



Mateo Lorca didn't believe his grandson was related to him in any spiritual sense, even though he knew the boy had come out of his daughter's womb. When he saw the infant shortly after he was born, he found it difficult to believe that the boy was even human. He'd come into the world with a full crop of thick brown hair and sharp, picket teeth ("primary teeth," the doctor said) that were almost too large for his mouth. His gums were fully exposed when he smiled, much like a shark going in for the kill. He weighed in at ten pounds four ounces. It was said that when he emerged from the birth canal, he did not cry like most babies, even after being spanked. Instead, he gasped for air like an asthmatic, and when his lungs began to heave, he scanned the room slowly and glowered at the people with what one nurse described as "a malignant hatred." Mateo could not envision a newborn looking at anyone in such a way. However, when he saw the baby for the first time, there was no mistaking the look: it was an evil stare of profound disdain. His eyes were a strange collage of murky colors that looked like strange, forbidding swamps; they had a purplish hued iris and the whites were bloodshot, and the veins appeared as thin red webs spread delicately over the large orbs. This was due in part, the doctor said, because the boy suffered high blood pressure.




This story is included in The Blood Cake Vendor and Other Stories.


Sample story.