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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2212601
And they say romance is dead... ;)
SCREAMS!!! Entry 2/10/20
Theme: A tarot card reading
1,237 words

“So you’re gonna tell me my fortune or something?” Jim said, raising a skeptical eyebrow at the attractive, nose-ringed girl half his age.

“Tarot is not about fortune-telling. It’s about contacting your higher self,” said Janet, her Page-of-Wands neck tattoo rippling as her jaw moved to speak. She spoke with quiet confidence, clearly accustomed to dealing with skeptics in her tent at the festival. “I will draw three cards, one to represent the past, one for your present, and one for your future. They will show your path to this point, your current course, and where your higher self wishes to lead you.”

“My higher self, eh?” Jim intoned with a lecherous grin and a double raise of his bushy eyebrows. “I’m more interested in my lower self if you know what I mean…”

Janet ignored the bait, brushing a few stray raven locks out of her eyes. Normally, she advised a customer to clear his or her mind before proceeding with the reading. In this case, however, that probably wouldn’t be productive anyway, so she skipped it, progressing quickly to the actual reading. She flipped over the first card, representing Jim’s past.

The Fool.

“The Fool could represent a time in the past where you could have taken another route and ended up somewhere different than where you are now. It could also mean that you have already set things into motion that will produce a new path.”

Jim gave an amused chuckle. Janet could tell from the twitch in his jaw that he was about to make another questionable comment, so she flipped the next card before he could open his mouth again.

The Hermit.

“The Hermit represents your present need for solitude, retreat. Maybe you need to take a break from someone?”

Jim’s expression changed completely upon hearing Janet’s explanation. His face went pale, and his strong jaw tightened like a hinged trap being set. He clenched the large hand that rested on the table into a fist, forming a spectacular bulge in his muscular arm.

“How did you…?” he asked, but Janet was already flipping the next card. She really didn’t like this man and wanted to end the reading as quickly as possible. She had a line of customers to attend anyway.

Three of Coins.

“The Three of Coins represents a path of materiality--a project or a goal about to happen. Keep in mind it doesn’t necessarily predict the future. It’s just one possibility.”

Jim’s mouth remained slightly open from his partially-asked question a moment earlier. His eyes drifted downward as he considered this next bit of information.

Janet rose from her seat, raising her arm to direct him out of the tent. Jim, still lost in thought, complied instinctively.

As Jim walked away from the tent, he pondered the meaning of Janet’s reading, his thoughts pulling toward the present card, the Hermit, that she had drawn for him. Could that be about his failing relationship with Susan? He had been straightforward with her about wanting an open relationship where they could see other people. Jim knew he would never be able to commit to one person. She had agreed.

They had been drifting apart over the last few months, however, and he hadn’t even seen Susan in over two weeks! Whenever he called her, she hadn’t answered. She would simply respond with texts stating that she was busy and would try to give him a call later… which she never seemed to get around to doing.

He missed her.

Oh, he dallied with others, but he always came back to Susan. He truly didn’t want to lose her. When Janet had flipped that Hermit card, it had driven home amorphous worries that had been swirling in the back of his mind for days, stabbing them directly into his gut with a visceral twist.

He needed to know for sure whether that’s what the card meant.

Pressing Susan’s name in his contacts, he lifted the phone to his ear.

Come on, Susan… he thought as the phone rang. After four rings, a recorded message came on the line.

Voicemail. Again. Shit!

A moment later, Jim’s phone dinged with a text message.

“Jim, I don’t think we should see each other any more. I’ve found someone else. We’ve been seeing each other for the past two weeks, and I think I’m in love. I’m so sorry, but I hope that you can understand.”

Jim’s eyes widened in shock at the concrete confirmation of his worst fears. Tears welled in his eyes, a rogue drop escaping to fall and hit the display of his iPhone as the vacuous feeling of loss crashed over him like a frigid, cresting wave.

For a fleeting moment, he knew that he loved Susan. He hadn’t fully recognized the feeling until he had lost her. A few seconds more, however, and an inferno of hatred erupted inside his heart, boiling the blood in his veins, burning away his sadness with a billow of steam. How dare she dump him for another! Their relationship had been open, yes, but in his mind, that had been a one-way street. He was the one that was allowed to see others, not her. That hadn’t been something he’d considered, and the thought of some other man with his Susan filled him with savage outrage.

He clicked the “Find My Friends” app on his phone and waited for it to find Susan as righteous ire raged within.

When it zoomed in on her location, he gasped as he realized she was here, at the festival! He walked in the direction of the small dot on the screen until he was back at the Tarot tent.

There was no more line, and his phone indicated that she was inside. Was she getting a damned Tarot reading with her new boy toy? He barged into the tent, throwing aside the heavy flap.

Susan was locked in an intimate embrace with Janet, the Tarot reader, their hands roaming each other’s bodies as their lips hungrily devoured writhing tongues.

A vortex of anger and shock turned Jim’s cheeks crimson and caused him to hesitate for a brief moment. A second later, however, primal instinct shot a fizz of adrenaline through his arteries, and he launched himself at the two women, wrapping one meaty hand around each of their thin necks. Their eyes bulged as he squeezed, flickers of recognition flashing as they stared at the unexpected intruder in the candle-lit room.

A long, silent struggle ensued, each woman clawing bloody strips into his beefy arms as his lips snarled, his eyes crackling with the aching need for crazed vengeance.

He grunted as both bodies spasmed then went limp in his grasp. He released his grip, allowing gravity to pull them to the ground in a ragdoll crumple.

His lower lip trembled as he scanned the room, unsure what he was looking for, and not finding whatever it was.

Instead, his eyes spotted two cards lying, face-up, on the table. Apparently, things had become hot and heavy between the two women before Janet had quite finished her reading on Susan.

Jim’s neanderthalian breathing sent one card fluttering from the top of the deck to the ground, finishing Susan’s reading with what her inner self had seen for her own future.

It was Death.
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