's 2017 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by C. M. Kosemen (email)


C. M. Kosemen

It happened in Istanbul. I was crossing the Bosporus Bridge on a bus, returning from a night of fun when the traffic suddenly came to a halt. We were stranded between Europe and Asia. People tried to figure out what was happening; some said there was an accident, others; some sort of police control, or even a bomb. The full moon was up, and it illuminated the darkened sea with a pale, reddish-green halo.

Then we all saw - three people; a middle-aged man, a younger fellow and a girl, all came running from different parts of the traffic jam, embraced, then vaulted over the double set of barriers on the side of the bridge, held hands, and to our terror, jumped.

Much was made of the story in the following weeks, and chilling footage captured by onlookers clocked up untold hits on Youtube and news websites. "Suicide pact", called out one news outlet. "Satanists and secularists", screamed another. Yet another connected the whole affair to the "unbearable buildup of political and urban stress".

Then, however, details emerged. The vexing fact was that the three people seemingly had never known each other - let alone met for any sort of suicide pact - before that night. Their lives had never intersected. The young girl was a student from a local technical university, studying away from home. She had jumped out of her friends' car. She was sweet and innocent, and her parents were aghast at the tragedy. The young man, roughly her age, was a Kurdish textile worker taking the bus home after a tiring day, sewing blue jeans together for twelve hours, non-stop. He was the quickest-forgotten of the bunch. The third, the middle-aged American-Iranian tourist, was the most puzzling. He had jumped out of the taxi cab he was taking back to his hotel, leaving behind a puzzling, unsent text on his phone; the only evidence the police had for any sort of motive: "WAHAT [sic] THE HELL JERU IS PASSING?"

The media latched onto the puzzling text like a teat, milking it dry for interpretations and conspiracy

theories. It didn't help that the man was a foreigner either. Iranian and American secret services were blamed. A particularly inventive conspiracy hack linked the "JERU" in the text to "Jeru-salem", and concluded that the event was a test run for a mind-controlling suicide weapon, fielded over our homeland by (naturally), the CIA and the MOSSAD. Other brilliant minds imagined a poisonous gas that drove people to suicide, or ISIS terrorists spiking the city's drinking water with LSD. Prudent citizens avoided drinking tap water for a few weeks afterwards, just in case.

Life resumed its stumbling pace, and in a few weeks this event, too, was forgotten. Weeks became

months, years... Even I, having seen it first-hand, erased the night from my memory. But events had a way of coming back.


One of my hobbies was the study of archaeology, particularly in its more obscure, arcane aspects. One day, an article on a history journal caught my eye: "An Eccentric Curse Tablet from Pagan Constantinople". Curse tablets, in case you may not know, are metal -usually lead- tablets decorated with spells, magical incantations and illustrations of demons and supernatural beings with gruesome names like FORVEO, 'The Nice-Eyed-One', DEIEDA, SEMESILAM and BAZAGRA. They are known from every city in the old world, and their origin goes back to Roman, ancient Greek and Hittite times - possibly even earlier.

People still make them, believe it or not - the demons just turned into djinni to suit changing religious fashions; paper has replaced lead as the medium of choice - but the practice persists. Modern or ancient, most curse tablets contain "binding spells" - written for petty purposes, invoking supernatural aid to grant money, bind the arms and tongues of political enemies, strike down spurning lovers, exact revenge, and so on.

Now, the tablet mentioned in this article stood out - because instead of a binding spell, it

contained what the authors interpreted as a prophecy. It was unearthed in a dig, way back in the mid 1960s, encased in a rusty iron box. Only now, thanks to advanced MRI scanning, were archaeologists able to read its inscriptions. My mind clouded over, and the awful night returned as I read the translation:

"IEON IEI IEI... E E E I ...


[First three will walk into the sea over the crown-wearing moon].

[Then forty-ten, into fire at the shores of Tartesh].

[Then silence for ten upon three-ten... steps ?].

[Upon final ten hundred thousands will go, into green firmament].

[It will pass over the World] .YQ.

[And JERU will thread on it for ten days and three].


I can't, for the life of me, unlink these two disparate recollections; the suicides and the

prophetic tablet. I've felt a growing weight in my stomach since reading that article, and a sense of inexplicable dread keeps growing in my heart.

The End 

12 / 2017.   /