Was macht man mit jemandem, der einem immer wieder das Leben schwer macht? Man verflucht ihn! Aber kann Hexerei in der Neuzeit überhaupt funktionieren? Von JAMES SCHOFIELD
Estelle took the curse she’d just placed on Xan Dukas, editor-in-chief of Cougar fashion magazine, and climbed the narrow stairs that led to the roof of her house. Outside was a small open space, with a washing line and the old-fashioned water storage tank for her flat. Lifting up the lid of the tank, she repeated the words she’d just written, and then dropped the small roll of metal inside to join the many others that she had dropped inside over the past five years.
Pleased with herself, she leaned on the small wall at the edge of the roof and looked out over a cold, dark London. That would teach Dukas to mess with Estelle Banf.
“We’ve had a complaint from one of the trainees, Estelle,” Dukas had told her at the office that morning. “Your behaviour is unacceptable!”
Estelle knew who’d complained. It was that redhead everybody seemed to think was so special. It wasn’t just the fact that the girl was pretty that annoyed Estelle; it was also that she was clever. Earlier that week, she’d asked some awkward questions at a team meeting about an article Estelle had written, causing Estelle to explode. She’d shouted at the girl that she was a talentless nobody who had no future at the magazine — at which point, the stupid girl burst into tears and ran out of the room.
This, as Estelle told everybody else, proved her point. If the girl got so upset about a little feedback, she didn’t belong in the world of publishing.
And now, she’d made an official complaint, so that Dukas — probably persuaded by additional tears from that little redheaded witch — had insisted Estelle should receive a written final warning from the human resources manager. If anything like that happened again, she would be fired.
Of course, Dukas would do anything to get rid of her. Estelle knew that. She’d been on track to become editor-in-chief of the magazine until Dukas was parachuted in by the board, to deal with a dip in circulation. Worse still, he’d stolen her ideas to turn the situation round. She was pretty sure they were her ideas — though, recently, she sometimes found she couldn’t quite remember things clearly — but that wasn’t the point. She could do his job — easily — and he knew it. She should have cursed him much earlier.
Curse writing was something that Estelle had started doing after writing an article about modern witchcraft five years ago. Most of what she had learned was esoteric nonsense, but something about curse writing appealed to her. It gave her a feeling of
IF THE GIRL GOT UPSET ABOUT A LITTLE FEEDBACK, SHE DIDN’T BELONG IN PUBLISHING
power and was so simple. Write down the name of your enemy, their crime, what you’d like to happen to them and wait... And the tradition was so old: in the Roman town of Bath, archaeologists had found some written in Latin on little rolled-up lead sheets just like Estelle’s. Curses on thieves, curses on rivals, curses on former lovers — and always placed somewhere cold, dark and wet so as to increase the strength of the magic.
Then one drunken, depressed evening at the time of her divorce, she used what she’d learned and wrote a curse for her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. She dropped it into the water tank on her roof, the nearest cold, dark, wet place she could think of. The next morning, she heard (to her great surprise and delight) that he had driven his new Porsche into a wall and killed them both.
After this success, Estelle was hooked. She put curses on celebrities who were rude when she interviewed them, writers who didn’t send in their articles for the magazine on time and even her doctor, who couldn’t find anything wrong with her when she complained about the tiredness she’d started to feel.
Naturally, she varied the curses. She didn’t want everybody to die in a car crash. And afterwards, she liked to check on the results. A rude celebrity’s film flopped at the box office? Her curse had worked. One of her writers got bad reviews for his novel? Her curse had worked. The doctor’s receptionist handed in her notice? Her curse had worked. Sooner or later, she believed, they all got what they deserved. Dukas would find out some day.
Over the next few weeks, Estelle had to hope that this was the case, because she herself was struggling at work. She repeatedly had bad headaches and didn’t have anything like her normal energy.
“Why don’t you go to the doctor?” asked Dukas after a meeting where she was clearly not well. Oh, yes, thought Estelle, you’d like me to be off sick. Give you a chance to plot something behind my back. So she carried on, even though just getting out of bed and showering was increasingly difficult. Until one morning...
“Listen up, everybody,” said Dukas to the editorial team in the office. “I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. Estelle has been taken to hospital and is in a coma. The doctors won’t say very much, but it doesn’t look good.”
Everybody wanted to know more and, being journalists, they found a leak at the hospital before the end of the morning. It seemed that over a period of time, Estelle had somehow developed lead poisoning. Health inspectors had been sent to investigate her house to see if they could find the source. It was all very mysterious.
Later that evening, after everybody else had left work, the red-haired trainee could be seen going to the ladies’ loo in the office. She went into one of the stalls, opened the water cistern of the toilet, put her hand inside and pulled out a small piece of rolled-up metal, about the size of a cigarette. She looked at it for a while, feeling the weight of the lead in her hand and remembering the article about magic that Estelle had written all that time ago. It had been a good article; she’d learned a lot. She washed her hands carefully and left the office, throwing the curse that she’d made for Estelle into a rubbish bin on the way home. It had done its job.
HER CURSES WORKED. SOONER OR LATER, SHE BELIEVED, THEY ALL GOT WHAT THEY DESERVED
JAMES SCHOFIELD is the co-author of the DoubleDealing series. You can find more of his stories and his blog at http://jrtschofield. blogspot.de