The canoe slid neatly through water; overhanging tree branches occasionally brushing the occupants of the canoe. The hunters in the canoes stayed quiet as the boat came to rest on the shoal. Two of them jumped out and dragged the boat up onto the shoal, where they decided to leave it sit for the night.
As they unloaded their prey and prepared to head back to the village, one of the hunters heard the sound of a small child crying, and turned to go see where the lost child was. his companions watched as he moved closer to the edge of the riverbank, where the sound was loudest.
he peered down into the water, and his companions watched in horror as a hand reached out of the water and pulled him in.
Three days later the man's body was found floating in the river, missing the eyes, teeth, and fingernails.
Another victim of the Ahuizotl.
Location: Central Mexico (Mesoamerica)
The Ahuizotl is a creature in Aztec mythology that was said to look like an otter with monkey-like hands and an additional hand on the end of it's tail. Its main habitat is near water, and it's favorite food is humans.
To lure humans to their untimely demise, it makes a cry that sounds like the cry of a small child. And if you go to see why this 'child' is crying and you get too close to the water, then the ahuizotl grabs with the hand on the end of its tail and drags you down into the water.
When your body floats back up to the surface a few days later, it will be missing the eyes, fingernails, teeth, and toenails.
This creature was described in the Florentine Codex; a set of books on Aztec life before the arrival of the Spanish Conquerors. According to Wikipedia, in the book, it is described as
"...very like the teui, the small teui dog; small and smooth, shiny. It has small, pointed ears, just like a small dog. It is black, like rubber; smooth, slippery, very smooth, longtailed. And its tail is provided with a hand at the end; just like a human hand is the point of its tail. And its hands are like a raccoon's hands or like a monkey's hands. It lives, it is a dweller in watery caverns, in watery depths. And if anyone arrives there at its entrance, or there in the water where it is, it then grabs him there. It is said that it sinks him, it plunges him into the water; it carries him to its home, it introduces him to the depths; so its tail goes holding him, so it goes seizing him ... [When the body is retrieved] the one it has drowned no longer has his eyes, his teeth, and his nails; it has taken them all from him. But his body is completely unblemished, his skin uninjured. Only his body comes out all slippery-wet; as if one had pounded it with a stone; as if it had inflicted small bruises ... When it was annoyed - had caught no one, had drowned none of us commoners - then was heard as if a small child wept. And he who heard it thought perhaps a child wept, perhaps a baby, perhaps an abandoned one. Moved by this, he went there to look for it. So there he fell into the hands of the auítzotl, there it drowned him..."
So if perchance this Halloween, you hear the sound of a child crying near a river, approach with extreme caution.
Because whatever's down there might be waiting to pull you in.