This is the trailer for an upcoming horror movie called The Djinn.
Watching it reminded me of a story.
Just before COVID-19 really came into its own in the winter of 2020, I spent a month on a working vacation. It was the last bit of traveling my wife and I were able to manage before the lock downs began. We flew out of Merrakech Menara Airport, one day before flights in and out of the kingdom were suspended.
As part of our time there, we spent a week and a half living inside of the walled section, Fez Medina. Also known as Fes el Bali (old Fez), it was built somewhere between 789 and 808 AD. It was lived in and served as a market place and a refuge in times of war. The winding cobble and dirt pathways of the Medina wrap around one another like a Gordian knot, leaving newcomers hopelessly loss without the aid of a guide. These paths narrow, in many places, to an extent that it is impossible to tell whether or not the sun has set or risen, other than by the sound of the calls to prayer. It smells of smoke, urine, exceptional street food and should you venture near the tanneries, pigeon shit.
I adore it.
It did not take long for the missus and I to find our bearings in the city, thanks mostly to our Riad caretaker's insistence on escorting us around for the first few days of our stay. People were friendly, even in the areas where tourists seldom care to tread. Only once, late at night, were we threatened. A group of young men had blocked our path home and demanded money. An intense conversation had us back in the Riad in time for for a spot of mint tea before our host turned in for the night.
As we wandered the Medina and beyond, I noted that many of the manhole covers and other portals into Fez's underground had been weighted down by large rocks, bricks or other heavy materials. The first few times that I saw it, I assumed it was a measure to keep children from gaining access. As the number of blocked portals grew, I began to feel it might be for some other purpose. Returning to our Riad, shortly before the end of our time in the city, I asked our host why so many of the manhole covers and grates in the roads had been weighted down by rocks.
"Some people," he explained, "they are superstitious." The Jinn, they live below ground. The weights keep them from coming to the surface."