• J. M. Aznárez

The First Post

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

Hello. Before I begin, I believe at least a short introduction is in order.

My name is John M. Aznárez, and I work in a small antique bookshop in central Madrid, Spain. It's not a particularly exciting job, but it suits me just fine; most days business is slow, which gives me a lot of time to read, write and browse our shelves. I like doing the latter purely because I take pride in knowing exactly which tomes we have and where they're located; it's a fun challenge that helps keep me entertained.

I fear I have recently come across something else to occupy my mind with, however.

I found it two weeks ago, discarded on the banks of the Manzanares river during my evening walk. I enjoy pacing up and down a certain length of the river's edge once or twice a week, usually on weekends and more often than not after sunset. I should say that the stretch of the Manzanares that runs through Madrid isn't fast-flowing, beautiful or clean: its waters are murky and a greenish-brown colour, and they flow with a ponderous laziness that has always, in my mind, made it seem like they're ridden with some kind of debilitating disease. It is wide and shallow, and its surface is frequently broken by islands of mud and muck which further encumber the already sluggish flow of water. Reeds and other long-stemmed plants grow on and around these islands, and intermittently along both riverbanks. Sometimes small birds will fly down briefly to rest on one of the mud-islets, but they do not linger, and there are no fish. The only fauna that has been able to make that stretch of the river its home is insects - huge swarms of buzzing, flying insects, especially numerous in the summer.

I tell you this so that you don't make the mistake of thinking that my evening walks by the river are some romantic, idyllic thing: I take them because I spend a lot of time sitting down and it has been pointed out to me on several occasions that I should "move my legs more" - also, the air there is less heavy than in the city centre, despite the smell of stagnated water and decaying flora. My point is that I am not someone prone to embellishing or twisting facts: the stretch of the Manzanares that flows through Madrid is rotten, and so I say it is rotten.

Thus, when I inevitably describe what I found, rusted and half-buried in the muck of one of its banks, as cursed, I ask you to trust me and not dismiss such a statement out of hand, even though I grant you that, by all rights, you should. For what I stumbled across was nothing more than a battered, antique radio set - and yet it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most disturbing, haunting and utterly terrifying thing I have ever had the misfortune of running into.

Still... I took it with me.

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