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January 2018, vol 13 no 4

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Alexander Jankiewicz


The heat is overwhelming even though it's close to sundown. We're in Ras al-Khaimah for the weekend. I first heard of Al Jazirah Al Hamra through a local magazine article I read and immediately became intrigued. Legend has it that it's haunted. The inhabitants abandoned the once thriving village back in 1968. There's debate as to why it was abandoned. However, many believe it's filled with djinn, or demons, that can take on different forms. It took some convincing, but my family finally agreed that it was worth a visit.

It's later than we want it to be, but the heat of the afternoon was just too unbearable to go sightseeing. We decide to just do a quick tour before returning to the hotel. We park the rental and start walking around. It appears that we're the only ones here.

"Honey, look at that . . . it's an old mosque," I tell my wife.

The village takes on a certain beauty that's unexpected in the simplicity of its rundown adobe dwellings. My two daughters don't see it that way, though. They're too preoccupied with the idea of ghosts and whatnot. No matter how hard I try to convince them that ghosts don't exist, they just don't want to believe me.

Just when we're about to continue our walk, we hear what sounds like a melodic voice speaking in Arabic. It's quiet at first but then quickly becomes louder. It seems to be coming from overhead, but that would be impossible.

"It's the wind," I try to reassure the girls. My wife agrees.

I read in the article that people have claimed to have heard strange things while in the village. The more rational attribute the sounds to the wind.

We then see a group of men walking slowly toward us. I get a bad feeling as more come out of the abandoned buildings. There's no sound except for the wind.

"Daddy, I'm scared," my younger daughter whispers.

I have to admit, a certain unease enters me as well. There's something about the way they're walking.

My wife pulls at my arm and tells me to follow. We duck behind a stone wall.

"Let's run to the car and drive away!" both girls plead as they start to cry. I tell them it's too far. We stay hidden. Footsteps shuffle by. I peak around the wall.

"They're walking like zombies." I can't believe the words coming out of my mouth.

My wife asks if anyone is coming toward us.

"No," I tell her. "They're all going into the mosque."

call for prayer –
another chance
at living