Think Forward.


I Saw Aicha Kandisha, And I Am Cursed To Never Forget

Deep in the heart of Moroccan lore, where ancient spirits linger like echoes in the Sahara’s wind, lies a tale that turns the blood of its listeners to ice. This isn’t just a story; it’s a personal confession, a chilling recount of my encounter with the feared Aicha Kandisha on the night of July 15, 2009. It was the height of summer in 2009 when my interest in the myths of Morocco led me to a quaint village cradled by the Atlas Mountains. Among the local spirits, Aicha Kandisha is perhaps the most captivating and terrifying. Depicted with the legs of a goat and a bewitching beauty that belies her true nature, she is both feared and revered as a water jinn who brings a curse upon any man who lays eyes upon her. Driven by a blend of skepticism and intrigue, I dismissed the stern warnings of the villagers and made my way to a stream rumored to be haunted on the outskirts of the village. As the sun dipped below the horizon and the clock neared 8:43 PM, I found myself standing by the gently flowing waters enveloped in the heavy, sweet scent of wild jasmine — a smell that was soon accompanied by an unsettling sense of foreboding. At precisely 9:17 PM, a sudden, icy wind cut through the valley, rustling the leaves and carrying with it the faint murmur of ancient voices. The air grew colder, and I felt an eerie sensation of being watched. When I turned, my heart seized at the sight before me. There, by the water’s edge, stood a figure of both mesmerizing and horrific aspect. Her beauty was otherworldly, with eyes that smoldered like dark embers and skin that glowed softly under the moonlight. Yet, it was her legs that truly horrified — cloven and covered in coarse black fur, they stamped lightly on the soft earth as she moved towards me with an unsettling grace. Rooted to the spot, I watched as she approached. She spoke in a voice that was both melodious and laden with a deep, enduring sorrow, “Why do you seek me, son of distant lands?” Her gaze pierced deep into my soul, paralyzing me further. I was unable to speak, completely caught in her hypnotic presence. She circled around me, her intense fragrance of jasmine growing stronger and more heady, almost overpowering in its intensity. “Many have sought me out, driven by curiosity or what they perceive as bravery. Few have managed to leave without bearing some form of scar,” she whispered, her voice chilling as her breath brushed against my ear. The wind grew into a roar by 9:36 PM, now carrying with it the screams of those long tormented and lost. The waters of the stream began to thrash and churn as if something ancient and monstrous stirred beneath its surface. Fear gripped me entirely, and in a desperate attempt to communicate, I found my voice, “I meant no disrespect, I merely wished to learn more,” I stammered, my voice barely a whisper, pleading for some semblance of mercy. Her laughter rang out then, a sound that seemed to mock my very existence, resonant and echoing through the valley, “Then learn you shall,” she declared ominously, “But remember, all knowledge comes at a price.” She vanished into the night at 9:45 PM, leaving me alone by the now tumultuous stream, her lingering presence like a cold shadow in the air. I made my way back to the village, a changed man. The villagers saw the terror etched upon my face and the unnatural pallor of my skin. They knew without words that Aicha Kandisha had marked me, a silent testament that certain mysteries should indeed remain untouched. To this day, I am haunted by nightmares filled with the scent of jasmine and the pale light of the moon. Her mocking laughter echoes in my ears, a cruel reminder of my encounter. Each night as the air grows thick with the fragrance of jasmine and the shadows lengthen under the moonlight, I feel her icy gaze upon me from the darkness, watching and perhaps amused by my lingering terror, ready to remind me once more of the dreadful cost of my forbidden curiosity. The encounter has left an indelible mark on my psyche, a deep-seated fear that perhaps some secrets are indeed too perilous to explore, and that some spirits, like Aicha Kandisha, are better left in the realm of the unknown.

Melusine - Part 1

The sun, that day, had forgotten to set. As he was reclining on a curvy and narrow chaise longue, Sebastian Byrne looked at the slant rays glimmering through the yellowing leaves on the lowest branches of the elms. Their brass-trimmed green lace ebbed and flowed as the wind blew away the last minutes of the golden hour. Sebastian brought the quilt closer to his neck. He sighed, scattering some crumbs around for the birds; but that evening none dared to fly by. Maybe Nathan had lost track of time on his way to the post office and back, and would not come, as he promised, before dusk. They had always watched the sun set together. They did so for the last six weeks, before Sebastian fell ill; and for the first day he could step outside, Nathan did not even bother to be on time. Undergrads will be undergrads… Sebastian was staring absentmindedly at the slow, suspended vanishing of the light when muffled footsteps echoed down the hill, along the side path that lead to the verandah. - Sebastian! The silvery voice rushed towards Sebastian, followed from a distance by a buoyant, youthful figure clad in light linen, waving a folded paper. The figure flew nearer, leaping, kid-like, on the smooth slope where Mrs Byrne’s garden weaved itself into a wilderness of low bushes and wild roses. A smile flickered across Sebastian’s thin, slightly parched lips, and disappeared. He had always seen Nathan skipping and leaping around, from the day he had interviewed him as a candidate for Oxford. While most of the applicants were timidly sliming along the college’s staircases and the tutors’ questions, Nathan jumped along the steps as he did through Greek and Latin periods. A rare breed he was, that seventeen-year-old brat, in a time when undergraduate faces were drawn by sullenness and tedious ploughing. And here he was, two years later, running back from Mrs Byrne’s country house, a letter in his hand. It was that white rectangle that chased Sebastian’s smile away. It was, doubtlessly, the answer Nathan had been expecting for weeks. Sebastian, they wrote back! « I know », thought Sebastian. « They wrote back and had the answer been negative, you would not have leaped so vivaciously, would you now? » Presently Nathan threw himself on the chaise longue, which squeaked under the attack, and stuck the letter under Sebastian’s nose. - Tolle, lege! Sebastian’s lips quivered as he caught glimpses of the words carefully drawn in dense black ink on the white paper. The handwriting leaned gently towards the right, on even lines that left an elegant margin on each side of the silken-white paper. Dear Sir, I am very grateful for you reply. I have read the reference letter sent to me by Doctor Byrne with great interest and his account of your accomplishments… We are very pleased that you are able to join us in spite of the circumstances… Looking forward… Did Madame de La S*** answer herself? Sebastian did not read any further. The thin, straight lines seemed to curl up, fading into one another, becoming barely legible. He smiled and extended his hand: « Well done, young man. This is an unexpected step, but an expected success. And they seem quite keen. » The last paragraph was indeed pressuring. It was urgent that the position would be filled. As many other applicants had manifested interest, Nathan was expected to arrive as early as possible, or they will be forced to hire someone else. « I would need to go as early as possible, maybe the day after tomorrow », said Nathan. It was not until then that Nathan looked at his tutor’s face. As the golden sunlight was turning to purple, he realized the sudden and deep changes the disease had impressed on Sebastian Byrne’s face, once full of strength, intelligence, and mercy. When he had first met Sebastian — then Doctor Byrne to him, Nathaniel Kiernan fell under the spell of these grey eyes, so deeply grey they sometimes seemed black. For two years, almost every day, he had sat under their keen gaze in Sebastian’s room, a shabby but spacious set that overlooked Saint Mary’s tower and the Bodleian’s dome. Those were the days we shall remember as the last golden golden glory sining over the Spires. Not that these were better days, but this time is gone. Surely, then, tutors complained about the termly fifth)week gloom, about the food, at times too rich and at times too poor, and about the noises that the new automobiles made, covering the trodding and rattling of the carriages. Those days poured over the city one after the other, year after year. Matriculation speech faded into Christmas carols as we snuggled in library nooks during the winter; then Summer Eights dragged us out by the river, revision books in hand, then graduation ceremonies rushed upon us and after the long, and yet too short, summer vacation, Matriculation happened again, ushering in a new cohort of Freshers’ faces, at once enthusiastic and anxious, the youthful barbarians from Eton or Harrow, the models of appropriateness from hard-working grammar schools. Under the gaze of the dreaming spires, the streets teemed with laughter that rang along the chiming bells, with inebriated songs at the crack of dawn, with the joyful glee and careless wrath that came with the examinations’ results. While the colleges remained unchanged, their stones and statues clad in centuries of iteration, the young faces around made every morning new. Even Sir Rayleigh, the provost, seemed like a playful young man to Nathan the first time he met him, his eyes sparkling with cheerful wit under his wrinkled forehead and his snow-white hair. Nathan was one of these modern foundlings, all family ties loosened by a scandalous divorce that threw the name he bore into shame, then into oblivion. Her mother at least had the decency to spare enough money for his education but just enough. Her family would refuse to do anything for a Kiernan boy. As he settled in Oxford, Nathan saw Doctor Byrne as a master more than a tutor. He was impressed by the man’s thoughtful silences as much as by his constant good spirits; he mimicked the way Byrne’s long white fingers rose in a slow arabesque before he spoke, strived to reform the sharp angles of his character to match Byrne’s composed temperance, and copied Byrne’s way of parting his hair in a falsely messy line he wore slightly askew. « Byrne has his way with the young gentlemen, the provost used to say. He talks to them like he was their father, and smiles at them like he was their sister! ». What a difference a few months had made. Oxford, in a few days, was deserted as people ran away from a nameless disease, that seemed to appear nowhere else.