Howling winds, pelting rain. The flames of the fire are like dancing demons of the Netherworld. It seems like the night will never end.
We are all gathered in the main room of our house: my family, and the one of my best friend, Tabanu. But I am worried. I cannot help thinking about the old stories...
They say an entire district of Uruk disappeared in one night. Streets changed into torrents, sweeping away animals and human beings. Houses collapsed. Even those who had sought refuge in the temple of Anu died. Thousands of demons wandered in the city all night long, threatening, killing, snatching children. Pazuzu himself, the king of the demons, was seen at the top of the ziqqurrat.
A dreadful scream suddenly fills the room, followed by horrific hissings, as if a demon dwells inside the walls. “This is Pazuzu”. No other demons would cry like that. We are all taken aback. Tabanu is as white as a sheet; my mother mutters all kinds of incantations. Anu-Ikṣur, my brother, crawls to the tablets’ chest:
- Do not worry: I will find the Sumerian incantation to fight Pazuzu. I already know the appropriate rituals.”
This does not reassure me at all: we don’t stand a chance to survive if our only hope is Anu-Ikṣur!
I look at my Dad: he is talking in hushed tones with Rīm-Addu, my sister’s husband, and Tābanu’s father, then says aloud:
-The three of us will go out. We cannot leave demons prowling around the house: we have to chase them away. I have stones that will protect us, and some cedar oil to sprinkle on them. It will not kill them, but it will make them flee away.
-I will go and get my cypress arrows at home, adds Tābanu’s father. According to the exorcists of Anu Temple, all objects made of wood from the Cedar forest are threats for the demons.
-I am going with you, finally says Rīm-Addu, I am not a bad archer: I could pierce the demon’s wings.”
They all are so brave! I am in awe of them, but my mother is not:
-Are you all insane? You cannot face Pazuzu! And you, Rīm-Addu, how do you think you can shoot arrows in a pitch-black night?!
-Well, everybody knows that Pazuzu is glowing...
-Glowing???” Tābanu sounds terrified.
I know Rīm-Addu is right. They say that Pazuzu’s body is glowing bluish, that his eyes are flames, his mouth is full of smoking, glimmering, red charcoals. If my Dad and the others dare to face him, they will become the new heroes of Uruk! If I go with them, I will be a hero myself!
I whisper to Tābanu:
-Tābanu, we cannot miss that!”
Then I turn to the others:
-We want to come with you! We can help!”
Etirtu, my big sister, snaps:
-You all are possessed! Do you want to finish the night in the Netherworld with Nergal! Iqiša, Tābanu, you are too young! Rīm-Addu, you should stand by me to protect our children. Who will defend us here if all our men are hunting demons in a stormy night?!”
My father speaks up:
-Anu-Ikṣur will stay with you.”
Anu-Ikṣur nods immediately: he has no wish at all to go out:
-Yes, yes, I will protect you all, women. I will find the incantations; I will accomplish the rituals to ward off Pazuzu, and all other demons. None will be able to enter the house without being disintegrated.”
My father agrees with him:
-Very good. I trust Anu-Ikṣur to protect you: he knows the rituals and the incantations. I think Iqiša and Tābanu can come with us. If they stay close to us, there is nothing to fear for them.”
Outside, the rain is so dense - it is like a screen. The wind is strong enough to knock us down. Terrifying shadows circle around us: the sky is full with demons. I draw my sword to give myself courage. I can see from Tābanu’s face that he is not convinced it could help. I am not too sure either, but it is made of huluppu-wood: it must have the power of the Lady of the Sky herself.
My Dad and Rīm-Addu turn on the left to search for Pazuzu; Tābanu and I follow Tābanu’s father, alongside our house. He is walking fast: it is difficult to follow him. Tābanu slips and falls in the mud. I go to rescue him but when he stands up, his father is nowhere to be seen. We are all alone, surrounded by demons! And the horrible scream resounds again! We look up for the demon. There is Pazuzu! He is standing on the roof of my house. His eyes are indeed like flames, he is huge, he is staring at us, he spreads his huge wings and dives on us!
Tābanu yells and falls again. I am terrified but hardly have time to think! I must save Tābanu’s life! I grasp my sword, clench my father’s stone and rushes at Pazuzu, yelling at him the only Sumerian incantation I can remember. I throw myself at him to touch his wings with my sword: I can feel the chock when I hit him. I fall over, but the demon cries in agony, and flees away! I have chased away the king of the demons!!
But is it over yet? We hear a weird noise, close to us, another demon inside the walls? Could this be an etemnu? A ghost?
Suddenly, huge green eyes pierce the night, and a horrible beast jumps out of the wall drain. A cat! It only is a cat! It is so ugly, so skinny and so soaked that it looks like a dirty rag. I catch it: it is truly ugly, but my little sister may like it.