On a night that, despite the full moon, seemed darker than nights are per se, all the most powerful necromancers of this world gathered in a secret location at the bottom of the valley known as the Wadi el Kuf. They had been eagerly awaiting that night’s arrival, because, according to their codices, that was the night the gates of hell were supposed to be unlatched, which only happened once every thousand years. They were certain that night was the night in question because all signs pointed to it. People had lost their sense of common humanity and nobody cared to distinguish between good and evil any longer.
After blessing the ground under their feet and muttering some incantations, the necromancers sat to wait for the gates of hell to swing open. Seeing that no fireworks ensued, they fixed their gaze on the three highest-ranking necromancers—the Buddhist, the Jew and the ISIL acolyte—by way of asking for guidance.
In an attempt to talk the devil into opening the gates of hell, the Buddhist said, “We have slaughtered the Muslim population and eaten their offspring, don’t we deserve to be allowed entry into your kingdom?”
Next, the Jew took the floor and stated, “We have erased the Palestinians from the face of the earth, have destroyed the Al-Aqsa mosque and have led the whole world to believe in the rectitude of our deeds, don’t we deserve to be allowed entry into your kingdom?”
Subsequently, it was the ISIL acolyte’s turn to speak. “We have gotten Muslims to kill each other, don’t we deserve to be allowed entry into your kingdom? Oh, great master, you should have heard them scream as we dragged them out of their homes in Libya!”
After all the most wicked necromancers had delivered their speech in ceremonial pomp, they all agreed it was time to offer Wannous, a police officer who had been kidnapped by Ahmed—another member of the necromancers’ clique—as a sacrifice to the devil. Before throwing him off the bridge that spanned the Wadi el Kuf, Ahmed asked him whether he had one last wish.
Wannous smiled and said, “I just took a little girl to the hospital and she forgot her doll in my car. I would very much like to return it to her. She seemed very attached to it.”
Ahmed had spotted the doll before abducting Wannous from his car and recalled surmising that it had to belong to his daughter. He shook his head in disbelief, took a deep breath and said, “Why should I buy your story? Are you trying to tell me you now work as a taxi driver?”
Without wiping the smile off his face, Wannous answered, “Well, only as a side gig, mainly, to cover expenses. The force isn’t paying us on time.”
Ahmed was put out of countenance by his sand to reply, under the circumstances, and continued asking, “And where did you pick her up?”
“In the middle of the street, not far from where I live. I knew her and her uncle—the man she was with—from before. Her name is Prayer and she is the daughter of a woman who has been abandoned by her husband.”
Ahmed’s eyes widened while Wannous continued telling his story.
“Lately, the family has been facing serious difficulties to make ends meet and I have been helping them pay for the small apartment the are renting in an old building in the Shabna district.”
Ahmed couldn’t believe his ears. That girl Wannous was talking about was his own daughter. He had left his wife and daughter three months before then when his unpaid bills had started to pile up and life had gotten too hard to handle. After hearing Wannous’ testimony, he felt he might still have a chance to redeem himself by sparing that man’s life. The moment he dropped the revolver he had been aiming at him, the dawn call to prayer started chiming out. Tears sprang into Ahmed’s eyes. Wannous was rendered speechless.
Then, the ISIL affiliate raised his voice, “I don’t think the curse we have put on mankind is working. There are too many variables we haven’t taken into account. Let’s scram before the shit hits the fan.”
And so they did, allowing what the Wadi el Kuf hides to remain an unsolved mystery.
Written by Hend Abdallah Omar.