Issue 1, 31st December 1995: The Ju-Ju
By John Beckett.
Computing, Law, Science and Technology, SciFi, Sport.
A Ju-Ju, the soldier explained, was an evil spirit, an all-powerful menace, probably conjured up by an enemy with the help of a witch-doctor. It might come in the guise of a person, or of a goat, but perhaps it would be just a wicked wraith in a whirl of dust. The vital thing was that he had to be home to defend himself.
The colonel regretted that this was impossible. Even if he gave the man immediate leave, there was no way he could get from Burma to West Africa in 24 hours.
The soldier's eyes rolled in alarm. ``If I no go to Ju-Ju, Ju-Ju go come to me; I go die.''
Dismissed by the colonel, he went to the mobile hospital and announced that he was going to die. Surprised, the orderly wrote down his name, rank and number.
In the admissions tent he was examined by Captain Alf Lewis. The young, fit-looking fellow lay on a stretcher-bed, flat on his back, calm and still, looking at the tent roof. He wouldn't answer any questions and he did not speak, but his pulse was regular, his respiration was fine, his temperature was normal. There seemed nothing wrong with him---or, at least, nothing medically wrong.
The doctor wasn't worried. The human body has automatic systems to keep it going. When you lose consciousness, your heart beats and you breathe without conscious effort. Even if you hold your breath until you faint, you won't die. Your system is designed to operate on automatic. You can't just decide to stop functioning; your body won't allow it.
The next day, around 12:30 in the afternoon, Alf Lewis had a 'phone call from the major in the field ambulance. Just after noon, the soldier from West Africa had stopped breathing, closed his eyes, and died.
His Ju-Ju had come.
This story first appeared in World's Weirdest ``True'' Ghost Stories, published by Stirling, New York, USA, ISBN 0-8069-8410-4.