The Leather Wallet is a scary story about two sisters who find a man’s wallet on the bus. Inside, they find an odd note, written in Latin. This is based on a story from the Philippines.
My sister Maria was one year older than me. We went to the same boarding school. Every weekend, we were allowed to go home and visit our mother.
One Sunday evening, my sister and I went shopping in the city. When we were going home, we caught the bus. Maria found a leather wallet lying on the floor beneath our seat. The wallet was pretty old and it looked like it was worn out. There was 20 dollars inside.
I told her we should split the money, but my sister refused. She was always such an honest person. She said we should return the wallet to its rightful owner.
When we got home, the house was empty. There was a note on the kitchen table from our mother telling us to behave ourselves while she was away. She had gone on a two-week holiday with her new boyfriend.
Maria opened the leather wallet and started going through the contents. There was a bank card with no name on it, a bus ticket, an old black and white photo of a man and a folded piece of paper. She took out the paper and looked at it.
“What does it say?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” replied Maria. “I think it’s in Latin.”
I grabbed the note and began reading. “â€œMORITVM TE SALVTAMVS, EST DEXTRVMI CVRITE… AVE VERSUS CRISTUS, VERUM DE TREVI, VERMI EST REFLEXUM, ARUM DRI TRIPUM… DEXTRUMI LENTENUM, AVE SATANI.â€
“No, silly,” my sister laughed. “You’re pronouncing it all wrong. Don’t you know anything? When the Romans were writing down Latin, they used a V instead of a U. Those Vs are pronounced like U.”
“OK, if youre so smart, then you read it,” I replied.
Maria snatched the piece of paper from my hands and read it aloud.
“what does it mean?” I asked.
“I have no idea,” she replied. “We studied Latin in school, but I don’t recognize any of the words.”
She tucked the paper back into the leather wallet and left it on her bedside table, telling me she would hand it in to the police station next week.
During the night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard Maria suddenly jump out of bed and run into the bathroom. She was retching and vomiting into the toilet.
Shocked, I climbed out of bed and went to see if she was alright. I found her bent over the toilet bowl, supporting herself with one hand. She was crying.
â€œWhat happened?â€ I asked. â€œMaria, what’s wrong with you?â€
She didn’t answer and just waved me away.
The next morning, Maria had a fever. She said she felt dizzy and couldn’t go to school. She wanted me to go alone and tell the teachers she was sick and would come to school tomorrow.
I spent the rest of the week at boarding school, but Maria never showed up. I kept sending her text messages, asking where she was, but she never replied.
The next weekend, when I went home, I found the house in darkness. There was a horrible stench in the air. It smelled like rotting flesh.
â€œMaria! Maria!â€ I called. “Where are you? It stinks in here!”
When I went upstairs, my sister suddenly appeared from the bathroom.
“Maria, what’s that stink?” I asked, wrinkling up my nose. “It smells like a decomposing rat.”
She nodded her head. “It’s coming from the neighbor’s house,” she said. “Their dog died. It got hit by a car. After it got run over, it still managed to get inside its dog house and died there.”
“Why didn’t they bury it?” I asked.
“The neighbor is on holiday. It’s been days and he hasn’t returned yet. The gate is locked and nobody can get in.”
“Really, the gate is locked? But how did the dog get back inside?”
“Well let’s keep the windows shut so the stench won’t get inside,” I said. “It’s enough to make you vomit.”
Maria went around the house closing all the windows. A little while later, I made dinner and called my sister. She said she didn’t want anything to eat because she had lost her appetite. I ate alone.
That night, as I lay in bed, I could still smell the neighbor’s dead dog. The stench was overpowering. I got up and sprayed the room with a can of air freshener.
The next day, the smell was still there. I went out for a walk, just to get away from the terrible stench. Maria stayed in her room all day. She said she had to catch up on her schoolwork.
On Sunday evening, I was packing my clothes and preparing to go back to boarding school. I didn’t see Maria packing anything.
“Aren’t you coming with me?” I asked.
“No. I still haven’t fully recovered,” she replied. “My school uniform is still dirty as well. I’ll do the laundry later.”
I went back to school, but all week, I heard nothing from my sister. I texted her until I ran out of credit but she never answered.
One morning, I woke up to find a text message on my phone. It was from my mother. When I opened it, I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
“COME HOME IMMEDIATELY. YOUR SISTER IS DEAD. MOM.”
The phone fell from my trembling hands and I felt so dizzy, I had to sit down. It seemed like I was in a terrible nightmare. I kept expecting to wake up and find out that she was still alive. Sadly, that was not to be.
I packed a change of clothes and went home straight away.
When I got to the house, I saw that our gate was open and there were several people gathered around. My mom was standing in the driveway, crying and holding a piece of paper in her hands.
“Mom… what happened?” I asked, bursting into tears.
My mother embraced me and held me tight.
“Maria died. She’s been dead for thirteen days. I found her under the bed. Her body was rotting… The smell was unbearable… Where were you? Why didn’t you find her?”
I was shaking. A chill went down my spine.
Who was it that was with me the last time I went home?
Who was it that slept in the bed beside me?
I looked over and saw our neighbor standing in his yard. His dog was sitting at his feet. The same dog Maria had said was dead and causing such a stink…
Nobody knows what happened to my sister. It’s still a huge mystery. I suspected it had something to do with the note she had read in Latin. I tired to find a translation online.
According to my research, this is what the words mean:
MORITVM means death
SALVTMVS means to salute or give honor
TREVI means life
AVE VERSVS CRISTVS means hail the anti-christ
REFLEXVM means reflection
DEXTRVMI LENTENVM means there will be a wake after thirteen days
AVE SATANI means hail Satan.
In other words, it’s a satanic incantation… A black magic spell…
According to what I’ve read, it is used by people who want to die. They recite the spell to make a pact with Satan… to offer their souls up to the devil. After reading the incantation, they slowly waste away and die. Within thirteen days you will see the person who spoke the words, but in truth, they will only be a reflection of their former selves. A ghost. Then, after thirteen days, their dead body will resurface.
There is one thing that still baffles me. I read the note too. Why didn’t it affect me? Why didn’t I suffer the same fate as my beloved sister?
Could it have been the way I read it? Perhaps my ignorance of the Latin language saved my life.
But wait a minute…
When you were reading this…
Did you read the Latin words?
Did you read it wrong like I did?
I hope so…
I hope you didn’t read it correctly…