Date released:
April 18, 2021
Short story
Photo credit:
Gabby K

The curse of the shahidi

I didn’t want to choose between worrying her or asking for help. Even though I knew I had to do both. The Kenya Bureau of Mysteries had been investigating the death of local detective David Mugure for over a week now, and still, none of it made any sense.

As an officer of the KBM, eclectic ruminations and legends of supernaturally cursed artefacts were pretty common. But that of the Shahidi pendant was different.

The pendant had circulated through Nairobi, claiming the lives of each and every individual that had come in contact with it after exactly seven days. The ‘cursed’ looked absolutely normal, but when photographed, they appeared oddly translucent, as if they were ghosts.

Ghosts in Nairobi-the thought was ludicrous, even for the KBM.

Detective Mugure, whom I had just examined, perplexed the CSI team. The man had at the point of his death developed very hard, very thick skin. His eyes bulged out; black as night, not quite unlike the Hottentotta Tamulua, a scorpion native to parts of India.

The scorpion seemed to pop up everywhere, even though it wasn’t native to this area. There was the possibility that they’d been smuggled into the country somehow, but even then, none of the victims we’d examined held any bites or abrasions from contact with the said scorpion.

Worse still were the flashes I kept having.

The images that had clouded my mind earlier when I’d pried the pendant from a choking Mugure kept swimming in my subconscious. In the visions, there was an abandoned mine with a snake balancing in mid-air over a screaming naked woman. There was also an old newspaper headline about a flying accident somewhere in the Ngong’ Hills. Then there was darkness, followed by what was unbelievably a human-sized hooded talking beetle.

A talking beetle-You're losing it, Sam. You need sleep.

But the beetle was right there, in my mind, ranting about mangled legs and drinking wells in an underground city.

I'm going mad.

The case seemed to be taking its toll on me. What frightened me the most was the rapid change I’d observed in myself since the examination.

I have squinted brown eyes, inherited from my late father alongside my receding hairline. Over the past hour, however, the eyes staring back at me had grown eerily unfamiliar.

They were jet black and doe-eyed like I'd been spooked by something and hadn't gotten over it yet.

What was worse, as I dialled Stacey's number, willing myself not to pay mind to their escalating darkness, my eyes started to penetrate the shrouded night beyond my Toyota.

I couldn't believe it, but it was happening. I could see in Ultra HD in pitch darkness.

I could see the cockroach at the foot of the building a block away from the crime scene. The squirrel within the jacaranda tree just beyond the fence looked like it was within inches of me.  

I shifted my gaze, staring instead at the truck parked right next to me. But it happened again. I could see right through the metal to Agent Kimutai standing miles away on the other side, interviewing the witnesses. I saw right through her buttoned leather jacket, to her red silk camisole and deeper still, to her breasts.

I swallowed and blinked as the call went through.

“Hello- Hello Sam? Sam, is everything alright?"

She sounded as worried as I felt.

“No Stace. I think you were right about everything. It’s real, the curse, the Shahidi, all of it, and I think it’s affecting me too.”

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