There are some pretty scary mythological creatures in the Aztec lore. In SHADOW VISIONS, there are a few monsters bent on destroying humanity and the love of Manuel and Ixa.
One fearsome creature is the TZITZIMIME (don’t ask me how to pronounce it) it is an ancient celestial being sent down to earth to destroy humanity and cultivate the souls and bodies of people who have lived evil live or disobeyed the gods.
The Aztec gods could be benevolent or brutal, many were terrifying. One ancient deity is METZTLI: He was the moon god, the god of the night. According to legend, he wished to be worshipped as the sun and rose up in rebellion but he was weak and cowardly. He failed because he feared fire and was forever forced to wear the carcass of a rabbit that was seared onto his face to hide his shame. In SHADOW VISIONS, he comes back to exact his revenge and extinguish the world and all humanity.
Both are frightening creatures and have immense power. As a child I used to read stories or listen to my parents tell me stories of creatures from their home countries. Freaked me out! I swear I used to look for monsters under my bed.
Both the tzitzimime and moon god are featured in SHADOW VISIONS, the second novella in the SHADOW WARRIOR series from Samhain Publishing.
Manuel has been tracking down a demon bent on sacrificing women with hummingbird tattoos. He is in danger of losing his humanity to his eagle spirit until he comes across Ixa Reyes, a beautiful San Diego Detective working on the same case, who also bears the mark of Huitzilopochtli. She is his salvation and redemption from a past filled with failure. Only she wants nothing to do with him or her heritage.
When a demon kidnaps her grandfather, the wind god, they must work together to save him and all mankind. He has twenty-four hours to help her control her elemental power over wind, that is if he can control his own desires to claim her body and soul. Because if he should fail, then the god of war will bring in a new era filled with blood and destruction.
When the last Shadow Warrior falls, so will all humanity.
She’d seen death before. Vile and savage. This one was no different. The young woman lay strapped to a metal slab inside a vacant warehouse, miles from where anyone could have heard her scream. Her lifeless eyes held the horror of her last moments. Blood congealed on her body and smeared over the table and floor. A large, ragged hole in her chest obscenely proclaimed where a madman had ripped out her heart.
It was the Latina from her vision. “Mierda.” Shit was definitely the word.
The shock should have hit Ixa like a punch to the gut, only it didn’t. This vision was her second. The last had come true and now this one had too. Some gift, she thought bitterly. This was a present she wished she could return. What good were visions when she couldn’t stop the violence before it happened?
She shook off the thought and peered closer at the wound. Her badge with her identification, Detective Ixa Reyes, Homicide, hung loose around her neck. She carefully tucked it back into her jacket. Her partner, Detective Frank Boyle, returned with his notepad in hand.
“Second one in the city and again there are no witnesses. Just another anonymous tip called in to the precinct. I swear someone is playing a game with us.” Boyle scrubbed his hand over tired eyes. A veteran of twenty years, he had seen and done it all, yet he treated Ixa as an equal. They made an odd team, but they’d developed a smooth working relationship, and they treated one another with respect. The only differences between them came down to their looks. Frank Boyle stood six feet tall, two hundred and forty pounds with thinning blond hair wisped around his pudgy face and weary blue-gray eyes masked by thick glasses two sizes too large. She could have been his teenage daughter, petite, with a tan, rounded moon face and full lips accompanied by a mass of straight black hair that hit below her shoulders, currently tied back in a no-nonsense braid.
Sometimes her Mexican-American looks worked in her favor—like the time she had to deal with the locals to track down a powerful drug lord who had been terrorizing the neighborhood. She had caught him and put him behind bars, but it had sealed her as a traitor to her own people. In the eyes of her colleagues, she had earned respect. Even so, every day felt like she had to constantly prove her worth among the boys. She straddled both worlds, yet belonged to neither fully.
Ixa had learned a long time ago to suppress her heritage and assimilate. It was best to play by the rules, follow the book and never deviate from protocol. Anything less only ended up in heartbreak, which was why she pushed aside the fresh image of her nightmare vision and focused back on the case.
“What time did the call come in?”
Boyle checked his notes. “Six in the morning.”
She nodded. “Sunrise. Same as the last victim. So how’d you arrive on the scene so fast?”
For the first time, her partner looked a little sheepish. He sighed. “Dana and the kids are away. Couldn’t sleep, so I figured I’d get in early and go over everything we got on this
case. I was on my way when the call came in.” He glanced down at the body and his lips tightened. “Saw right away we had another one on our hands and called you.”
Boyle drew her attention to a knife wound. “This victim has a hummingbird tattoo on her upper arm similar to the last woman.”
Ixa really didn’t need to look. The dainty painted hummingbird tattoo was seared into the backs of her eyelids. Unconsciously, she stroked her hand over her sleeve. Below the fabric she could feel her own hummingbird tattoo tingling. The sensation grew hotter, burning her bicep. She didn’t know the woman, yet they all sported the same tattoo.
Ixa bit her bottom lip. Her hummingbird tattoo had always been a part of her. Always. As a child, it had been a strawberry mark. Over time it had shaped and formed into the delicate bird—unusual and eerie, an understatement for sure. She had distanced herself from her Aztec roots, determined to make her way in a modern world, but her tattoo reminded her that she could never sever the connection completely. And this case seemed to be making the same point in a more frightening and horrific way.
“Looks like we may have a serial killer on our hands.” Although, as she said the words, deep down she sensed something far more sinister at work.
Without thought, she squeezed her arm. The tattoo radiated heat. She winced at the pain.
Boyle eyed her with acute perception. “Something wrong?”
“No. Just need some fresh air.” Ixa jammed her hands into the pockets of her slacks and exited the cavernous building.
The warehouse sat in an industrial park located between the San Diego Freeway and the Cesar E. Chavez Parkway. She’d have to check ownership of the property when she got back to the office. Slowly, she turned, taking in the dirty white exterior of the building, worn from years of salt air and erosion. From the description given by the patrolman, she knew three similarly shaped buildings occupied the property. A search of the other buildings had turned up nothing, not even cargo in the warehouse holds. Had the killer known these buildings were empty or had he simply gotten lucky?
She inhaled deeply, needing to banish the smell of death that coated her nose, throat and tongue. A combination of sea and fumes laced the misty morning air…and another odor, an incongruent smell. She inhaled again. Memories of her abuelo and his Aztec stories came to mind. The scent was familiar. Incense.
She sniffed delicately, intent on tracking it, when an eagle cried overhead. She glanced skyward, searching for the large bird, her breath catching in her throat at the sight of the bird of prey. “Aren’t you far from home, big guy?” She spoke softly, mesmerized by the beauty of the eagle.
Shaking off her fascination, she rounded the building and pulled up short. A second warehouse paralleled the first one, and up on the west corner of the building the eagle came in for a landing. She could have sworn the wings should be brown, but this eagle’s wings seemed spun of gold. The bird cocked its head, as if looking directly at her.
The bird screeched again. The magnificent eagle tugged at her, made her want to forget her responsibilities and simply fly up to the heavens. Ixa blew out a breath and dragged her gaze back to the ground, back to reality and to a killer who seemed fixated on women with hummingbird tattoos.
She shivered despite the heat generating from the hummingbird mark she bore.
Chain-link fence surrounded the property, which meant there was only one way in and out, unless he scaled the fence. But then there was no way to drag a victim over a ten- foot-tall fence with barbed wire at the top. So how did they get in? She followed the pavement that led to the back of the warehouse, aware of the tiny weeds sprouting up in cracks and the numerous tread marks smudging up the cement from trucks bearing heavy loads.
The eagle let out a screech, spread its mighty wings and took flight, leaving her alone in the tight alleyway, with only dumpsters taking up space. She paused, letting her senses attune themselves to the environment. This part of the lot couldn’t be seen from the front entrance. Ixa halted and swept her gaze over the area. Why had the killer chosen this location? What connection did he have to it?
The shadow of the eagle passed over the ground. She spotted rust-colored droplets near her foot. They looked like blood.
So tell me what scares you?
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About the author: Gabriella Hewitt is the pen name of creative writing talents Sasha Tomaszycki and Patrizia M.J. Hayashi. Together they weave tales of romantic suspense and dangerously sensual paranormals. Check out the website to find out about upcoming releases and events on her blog.