Like most of the children in her neighborhood the streets were their playground and she had explored every nook and cranny of the streets that surrounded her home. One spot that truly fascinated her was the cemetery that was only a few blocks away, El Panteon de Belen. It is an ancient cemetery with many supernatural legends surrounding its occupants. Maria was only two years old when she first went there on November 2nd during a festival for the day of the dead. The cemetery had been turned into a museum long ago and the day of the dead celebrations would go on into the night with puppet shows and plays preformed throughout the graveyards property. She didn’t know when she first heard the story of the Vampire’s grave, it seemed as though it had been a part of her experience of El Panteon de Belen for as long as she could remember.
The story is told that long ago there was a vampire who stalked the countryside of Guadalajara in the early 19th century. Livestock and newborn babies were attacked in the middle of the night and all of their blood was drained from their lifeless bodies. The local citizens were on alert and during the dark hours of early morning a man was seen skulking back into his house after another reported attack of El Vampiro. A mob was formed and they burst into his house and killed him while he lay in his bed. A crude wooden stake was driven through his heart and he was buried unceremoniously in El Panteon de Belen. The stick was fed by his preternatural blood and soon it grew into a massive tree that burst open the tomb of El Vampiro. Legend has it that if you cut a limb from the tree you will see blood mingled with the sap ooze from the stump. An old prophecy claims that one the tree completely overgrows the grave and pushes the coffin up to the ground, El Vampiro will be free to rise again and take his revenge upon the citizens of Guadalajara.
This story fascinated and frightened Maria, and she would often stare at the opened hole of the crypt of El Vampiro whenever she visited the cemetery. Sometimes she was sure she thought something moved in the shadows, but her mother told her that her imagination was overactive from watching too many movies on television. But as she grew, the fascination with the crypt and the certainty that something was moving in its stygian darkness motivated her to visit the grave more frequently.
When she was 11 she her curiosity about the site was peaked and she decided to investigate the grave up close without anyone to bother her. After her parents had gone to bed she snuck out of the house after midnight and stealthfully walked the busy streets of Guadalajara and climbed the walls of El Panteon de Belen. The caretaker was usually guarding the grounds with his dog but luckily for her they had retreated to some location or another and she was not harassed as she made her way through the moldy and decaying crypts to the great tree. When she arrived at the grave of El Vampiro she stood undecided for a few moments as fear gripped her heart, but she then cast these feelings aside and boldly skirted the makeshift fence that was erected to keep out the curious and vandals during normal visiting hours.
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