• J. M. Aznárez


A man sits on a bench by the river, holding a newspaper. A chill wind blows, and he grips the paper harder. He is reading a news snippet concerning a recently discovered suicide victim.

The body was found in the victim’s flat, not far from where the man sits, close to the river. An anonymous caller had informed the police that they suspected somebody might have hung themselves, claiming that they could see the body from the street, through the living room windows. Indeed, when the police broke into the flat, they found the victim hanging from a short rope, a toppled chair at his feet.

The report glosses over most of the details, but it does mention that the deceased might have intended for the rope to snap his neck - unfortunately, a miscalculation regarding the length of said rope and the height from which he jumped meant that, instead of a quick, painless death, he was paralysed and died from slow suffocation.

Efforts were being made to contact the victim’s family, but there had been no success so far. Additionally, the identity of the anonymous caller was still unknown.

The man folds the newspaper, stands up slowly and walks away from the bench, his long-coat flapping in the cold Autumn wind.

A woman walks into an antique shop. She looks around, her head slightly tilted. She takes great care not to touch any of the baubles, trinkets and relics on display as she walks languidly down the narrow, cramped aisles. As she turns a corner, she is intercepted by what must be the shopkeeper - a short, bitter-looking man with small eyes and an uneven moustache. He asks if he can help her. She is about to reply that she is just browsing, but she stops herself mid-sentence as her eyes fall on something that clearly piques her interest. The shopkeeper’s eyes glint with greed as he notices the change in her facial expression. She fixes him with a cold stare and a smile that could turn milk sour, and inquires upon the origin of the item in question. He replies that it had once belonged to a wealthy family. Disaster had struck, there had been a suicide, and they had lost everything.

She knows he lies.

She pays for it in cash and turns to leave. He is confused, and reminds her that the item is still on the counter. She frowns, as if what he is implying were utterly absurd, and tells him that someone will come by to retrieve it later. She gives him a name and a description, thanks him, and leaves.

The shopkeeper shrugs, sits in his chair and counts the money for the third time, slowly and deliberately, a crooked smile on his face. As an afterthought, he picks up the radio and hides it under the counter. He hopes that the stranger the woman mentioned will come by soon. There is something about the cursed thing that makes his skin crawl.

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