“Ghul”

A Short Story. A young female djinn (a supernatural entity in Islamic lore, made from smokeless fire) feeds off of her lovers’ energy in order to sustain the life-giving flame that exists within her.

“Untitled” an Illustration by Saima Shamsi

A smile is charming, until it lasts for too long. Then it becomes unsettling and eerie, like a frightening lullaby that nobody wants to hear. But a smile can only go so far until it becomes obscene, like a slit or something private that is normally hidden. Ghul’s face was different from those of other girls. There was a long, jagged slash where her mouth was supposed to be. Her face was horizontally split in two, a top half and a bottom half, divided by two open lips. And her mouth was obscene. It looked like a broken flower, the center of which had been gouged out, forcefully. She smiled for so long and so hard that she feared her face would rip apart, and tear at the seams.

Ghul had once been told that her name was Arabic for ‘ghoul.’ Despite this, she was very pretty when she tried to be. But beneath her expression, there was a sliver of something sharp and dangerous, which glinted in the moonlight whenever she would smile and bare her magnificent teeth to the world. She had razor sharp teeth that could shred a piece of meat in an instant. Her pitch black hair fell past her shoulders and enshrouded her like a fur coat. It seemed to be too long, and there was far too much of it. The sheer excess of her hair made men uneasy. It unraveled in lengthy ribbons past her waist and down her knees, until it covered her completely, like an obsessed lover.

She lured her suitors like suicidal moths to a scorching hot flame. And in their unholy union with her they would willingly take her into themselves; only to glow beautifully for a short and transient time, and then be incinerated until there was nothing left but ashes. Those ashes would then be breathed into by god, and turned into new life. This, to her sexually and spiritually drunken devotees, was the ultimate demonstration of a dangerous kind of love; this was what to expect from her frightening, but beautiful embrace.

Ghul was as ancient as the sand dunes and the winds of the most distant deserts. Across the vast sea, the geysers of Iceland exploded for her, and the gaseous hot springs of Siberia gushed forth for her. She was an infernal earthbound djinn, an entity believed to have been made by god alongside humans in Middle Eastern lore and Islamic mythology. The djinn were said to be created from smokeless fire, and Ghul was made from the purest, bluest fire imaginable; while the angels up above were made from light, and the humans down below were made of terrestrial clay. Ghul was also of the demonic persuasion. She existed to possess and consume human beings. Her way of doing this was to first befriend and collect her admirers, earning their trust and then, when the time was right, submerging them deep inside of her love; and finally devouring them sublimely with her ferocious teeth.

When she was born, the flame of her essence was infused with a hidden knowledge that originated from The Space Above All Things: where impossible creatures lived, and where secrets were given birth to. This is where we come from before we are born, and this is where we go when we die. It is a primordial place of origin for all living beings. Within this fantastic realm, the endless cycle of birth and death takes place. It is The Space Above All Things where life is first breathed into the cellular organism, transforming it into an embryo and filling it with a soul. Her world was born of a fusion of Eastern ideas and creation concepts.

Ghul carried with her a general malaise about the world and its complexities, and sought comfort in the presence of others: the telephonic, physical and spiritual presence of men and women. On lonely nights she would sit in a corner of her bedroom and dial numbers of faraway churches and random strangers. She was verbally impotent, so whenever someone would answer, she would say nothing. She would just be silent and feel the vibrations of the voices coming through the phone; and these vibrations, friendly or otherwise, would put her at ease. There was something familiar about a stranger’s voice. Listening to old ghosts and ancient friends, she tapped into a warmth from her heart, which sang in resonance with the primeval reverberations of the terrestrial earth. Picking up the receiver of the phone again and again, vexed and in desperation, she would dial 1–800 numbers, searching frantically for the voice of god. But what she received was nothing more than static on the line, and potential victims of her hazardous love. Victim after victim, with warm blood and a cold heart.

She was like a natural disaster, difficult to contain and almost impossible to quell. Ghul was so obsessed with finding followers to consume and feed off of that she started to rely on them too much. She became dependent upon the visceral and spiritual act of consumption and sought the true possession of love, which she had searched all corners of the globe for. The sound of a stranger’s voice in Germany felt closer to her than the beating of her own heart. This became a problem. It was the disembodied voices that gave her life, and for this she was regretful, because deep down she knew that she wanted to be the nucleus of her own universe. Instead, she would tragically orbit around strangers who said they were her admirers and lovers, and in doing so, she simmered on the surface of the atmosphere like a dead star: once bright, but now faded and eternally lost. Chasing shadows in the dark, she was haunted by the emptiness of casual encounters and meaningless trysts, passing confessions and transient invitations. People related to her by colliding and sinking into her like massive, melting glaciers. They expected so much from her, and she gave them so much of herself.

At the end of each affair, the inevitable would occur. She would open her mouth wide, and swallow her disciples until there was nothing left; assimilating their souls with her own. This is how she lived off of her prey. Then she would open her mouth and regurgitate the special fragments that she had collected from them, vomiting up all of the idealized parts that she had engorged. She would then summon the emotions and feelings of those that she had masticated and digested with a heavy heart: possessing the obsessions of the possessed. After this, she would collect their skulls and string them together like the finest jewels; draping them over her chest as treasured trophies.

Ghul longed for a permanent midnight. A midnight in which she could bare her soul, and her teeth, and not worry about frightening others to death. She longed for the freedom to be a pure, unadulterated djinn. Her feeding lasted only for a moment, but it was a moment that silenced all other moments. And it was an act which she could never take back, once it was done. But over time, she grew tired of the games and wished that she could be normal, or at least happy. But what did it mean to be normal, as a djinn? Ghul fell into a crisis of heart, soul and mind. She was afraid that she couldn’t conjure up enough energy to keep the flame in her own heart burning. In order to continue and move forward, she had to lay down the foundation that she was desperately searching for. She didn’t know where to go, but she knew that she wouldn’t find what she was looking for in anybody but herself.

It was then that she realized that the flame, which keeps her alive, and is hidden deep inside, is self-sustaining and eternal. It is so constant that it exists long before we arrive on earth, and it remains long after we die. This infinite flame belongs to no one, but is shared by all. Limitless and endless in time and space, its sole purpose is that it exists to burn. And by burning and radiating throughout the entire world, it lights up the night, creating a refuge from the darkness. This was the concealed knowledge that Ghul had been infused with long before she was born into the world, the secret that she had been yearning to rediscover her whole life. This was the realization that she needed to make in order to rise up and out of her corporeal struggle.

Ghul then decided to resist the demonic intention. She defied the force that drove her to devour her followers. And the longer she resisted, the stronger she became; as sturdy, steadfast and unbreakable as a wall. She had built up a defense for herself, a barrier that separated her from the overbearing heat of the lovers whom she fed on, and who fed on her. One day, after the long fast, she withdrew completely from the pool of victims, and found a refuge where she could be herself. Not in a church, or at the end of a telephone line, but within her own self-generating soul. This was where the sacred blue flame that lived inside of her and gave her life and sustenance could burn effortlessly and thrive, shining forever. And this is where she found a heaven inside of her self, closer to her than the beating of her own heart.

A Short Story by: 
Saima Shamsi

Email: info@saimashamsi.com

Website: saimashamsi.com

My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/saima-shamsi-9a503b17

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