"Excerpt from Before We Became a New People" in A Night of Screams : Latino Horror Stories

Document Type

Chapter in a Book

Publication Date



"The movement of the old woman's hands is quick and youthful as she works the dough for tamales on Mars' dusty, dry surface where their cohete broke apart and crash landed. She, her husband and their only son survive, and the old man curses the coyotes who took his money for a rocket not built to accommodate his family of eleven. A storm is coming, and he rails at his wife that she's wasting her time. "We'll be dead by the time you finish your goddamn tamales." This riveting collection of horror stories-and four poems-contains a wide range of styles, themes and authors. Creepy creatures roam the pages, including La Llorona and the Chupacabras in fresh takes on Latin American lore, as well as ghosts, zombies and shadow selves. Migrants continue to pass through Rancho Altamira where Esteban's family has lived for generations, but now there are two types: the living and the dead. A young man returns repeatedly to the scary portal down which his buddy disappeared. A woman is relieved to receive multiple calls from her cousin following Hurricane María in Puerto Rico, but she is stunned to later learn her prima died the first night of the storm! There's plenty of blood and gore in some stories, while others are mysterious and suspenseful. In his introduction, editor Richard Z. Santos writes it is no surprise these stories are brilliant and terrifying, given cartel violence, a history of CIA-backed dictatorships in Latin America, increasingly scary rhetoric from American politicians, decades of institutionalized racism and the demonization of Latinos in the media. "After all," he says, "we are the faceless horde, invading zombies hellbent on upturning the world and replacing it with something foreign, accented and impossibly different""-- Provided by publisher.