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(Not Just) Knee Deep

by Kat Beyer

Everything happened exactly as the night porter had described. A whirlwind erupted out of the marble floor, clawed hands ripping out of it. They caught the light of this world awfully clearly.

We behaved like sensible, fearless exorcists and ran full tilt for the door. Outside, the heat of Istanbul brought us up short.

"At least the tourist season is almost over," sighed the director.

I answered, "No exorcist worth their bell stays to be killed. Now I think we have the measure of it. If you will excuse us."

I too began to have doubts after the second day, though. Octavia plowed through manuscript after Byzantine manuscript, searching out references to whirlwind demons haunting Hagia Sophia. But I didn't want a reference, I wanted a solution, and I didn't think medieval people had found one, though they had had much more experience with demons than modern ones have.

Iskender, Octavia's husband, just shrugged and made us more Turkish coffee. He does ghosts, not demons.

Me? I did my meditations, sought out the spirit messengers, read everything I could find in English, Italian, and my newly learnt Greek and Arabic, scribbled frantic notes to the sound of my pirated tapes. The neighborhood bootlegger specialized in funk and disco, stuff I'd never wanted to listen to back home. Here, I was getting an education.

The third day, high on caffeine, P Funk, and medieval Greek, I had a brainstorm.

"Let's just try it," I said to Octavia in the cab back to Hagia Sophia.

"You're mad," she said.

"Yes, yes—I know! But let's just try it," I repeated.

"I'm standing behind you. And let's keep the director out of this."

So we stood there, or rather I stood there, in the center of that grand and ancient marble paving, with a beat-up boombox. I waited for the whirlwind to begin. It swirled out of the stone right on time. I saw the claws flick and flash.

I knelt and pressed "play."

George Clinton did what I couldn't do. The whirling claws couldn't take the rhythm. They spun faster, flung out further.

"You're feeding it!" Cried Octavia.

"I don't think so," I said.

Suddenly the demons gave it up to the funk. There was a gorgeous explosion of dust. Then silence.

I still haven't figured out why it worked. Perhaps they didn't have anything like that way back when.

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