Where I Hide the Djinn
by John Ritchie
I must admit I had an ulterior motive when I invited Mark back for coffee. I needed a man, and he fit the bill perfectly. He wasn’t attached, or so he said, but it didn’t matter either way, I only needed his body and I wouldn’t keep it for long. I showed him the sofa and the stereo, told him where the bathroom was and went into the kitchen to put the kettle on.
He’d put it back by the time I turned round to face him, but I mentioned it anyway. “It’s a crystal ball. Belonged to my Grandmother.”
He started as though I had jabbed him with a pin. “How did you know? Are you psychic?” His expression had elements of curiosity and respect, but mostly fear.
I tipped my head back to indicate the glass-fronted kitchen cabinet behind me. “I could see your reflection when I opened the door to get the coffee mugs. Besides, everybody goes for it, like moths to a flame.”
“Careful!” It was barely a whisper, but at such a pitch it set my teeth on edge.
“You all right?”
“I spilt coffee on my hand.”
He’d been studying the ball again and hadn’t seen me spill the coffee. He didn’t realise it had been effect rather than cause.
“You’d better run that under the tap.”
“No need, it was only a drop, and it wasn’t hot enough to burn, only to sting a bit.” I turned my wrist so he couldn’t see the blister.
He nodded, and held the ball up as though he was showing me something I hadn’t seen before. “It’s full of cracks.”
“That’s where the Djinn hides.”
I was ready this time, I had already put my coffee cup on the mantelpiece, but there was no reaction.
“What?” The curiosity and fear were tinged with confusion this time.
“Djinns are spirits that hide in the fissures between realities and feed on the ignorant and careless.”
“All that stuff is crap, there’s no such thing as ghosts.”
The voice was like a caress this time, and I felt a chill terror in the pit of my stomach. I opened my mouth.
“Don’t you dare.”
The warning died in my throat.
Mark was looking at me, expecting me to speak. I hastily improvised. “Crystal balls like that are called Dragon’s Tears. They form when volcanoes spit out molten mica which forms into balls that instantly harden if they fall into water, like the sea, for example. The cracks form at the same time, due to the internal heat of the ball.”
He nodded, looking again at the ball, intrigued and then fascinated.
I left the room. I had seen the process once. I had been forced to watch. I had no desire to see it again. I would gather up what was left of his belongings in the morning and dispose of them. There wouldn’t be much. Then I would be left in peace until the Djinn needed feeding again.
Copyright © 2010 by John Ritchie