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"Shadows in the Sunset" is Flash Fiction story based on OLD ENGLISH TAROT: Six of Batons

Shadows in the Sunset

Laura Duke wipes the sweat off her forehead and smudges her cheek with dirt. She surveys her work and the parcel of land that sprouts the seeds she planted. She has been in this borrowed home for months now, and she now calls it her own. She has seen neither hide nor hair of Rainier, her mysterious rescuer, though she feels his presence at night, like a watchful eye that follows her progress, but respects her space and her need for solitude.

The work on the small farmstead has cleared her mind of years of gaslighting, lies and manipulation. Laura sits on her stoop and pets the goat that follows her every move. The sun sets and her shadow grows tall and lean and long upon the earth, and enters the deep forest that protects her from worldly time and space. The cicadas buzz and birds chirp in the lazy evening. Laura loves these days and gives thanks for the new life. Her wounds have healed since the fateful night she vanquished her devil, and her body is now strong and lean and solid, and that sturdiness has crawled to her mind and taken root, displacing the jagged insecurities her devil planted long ago.

The sky blazes in hues of orange and yellow and red, and the crimson sun beams upon the tree trunks. Every evening, her shadow reaches far into the forest, like feelers searching the world for the last remnants of her devil. He is gone, and her brain relaxes, ripping out yet another of the remaining weeds in her mind. 

Nightfall approaches and Laura shivers in the cool breeze; the goat bleats. Memories of her devil come at night, and Laura prepares to shut off all contact with the outside world. As the world falls into shade and darkness looms, her own shadow shrinks and the dread creeps and slithers into the cabin. But Laura knows inside they cannot find her, though the devils—his people—hunt and lurk, and seek her deep in the pitch blackness.

The wind blows through the trees with its melancholy lament, and Laura knows they are slithering about—those who move in the black mist. She feels their closeness. She has seen their silhouettes upon the windowpane, their bony tendrils scratching at the glass and seeking the lock, but the sudden screech of an owl, or the growl of a tomcat drives them away.

Once, she dared to peek into the darkness as the dread unclasped her heart and the black mist billowed away at the ghostly howl of a wolf. Moonlight gleamed on the magnificent creature; the silver rays glinting off the white and gray coat. The wolf gazed at her, fixing his piercing blue eyes on her, and Laura’s heart skipped with vague recognition. Those eyes rescued her and appeared from the hazy dreams of convalescence, but before she remembered, the wolf vanished into the woods.

The goat bleats its impatience with Laura; it knows now is the time to shelter inside the cabin. It knows those in the black mist are coming, searching, hunting, desecrating, menacing. 

Gray clouds roll across the blazing sunset, and the last rays dip into the horizon. Thunder rumbles in the distance, and lightning flashes across the darkening sky. Laura shivers, and her shadow returns and whispers the fight is getting nearer. The last stand is coming, and she must prepare. She must be ready; the devils in the black mist will soon find her and kill her. But not tonight, her shadow says. They are not hunting her; tonight they hunt someone else. 

“Who?” Laura asks the gusting wind. 


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"Charioteer" is Flash Fiction story based UNIVERSAL WAITE TAROT: VII The Chariot


He entered my life with the force of a turbulent hurricane; beautiful and powerful, like the sun, impossible to look away and yet too dangerous to behold. But he outshone even the sun, and I oscillated within the spectrum of fascination: now enthralled, now aghast, now amazed, now appalled. 

That this magnificent being deemed to acknowledge me, a mouse before a lion, filled me with a pride and joy I had never known in my plain and boring life. In his presence I tasted danger, and I loved it. I tried to see beyond the radiance, but my eyes were ill-equipped, and so I spent my days lost in a dream, meandering in a haze of wonder and newfound adventure.

Then the dream exploded, and the nightmare began in a raging whirlwind of glass and metal and fire and thunder, and the overturned car at the bottom of a ravine.

I watch him now through the eternal haze of my existence. The radiance still peeks out from his piercing eyes, though now infrequent and languid. I will forever stay in that ravine and fixed in eternal youth, but dark streaks line his craggy face, and despair and misery and trashed dreams dance upon his irises. My flimsy existence offers no comfort, only regret, and we remain devoted to one another in the deep crevices of his murky mind. 

Melancholy darkens his face as he wheels himself into his gloomy house, where we will always ponder what might have been.

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"Abyss" is a Flash Fiction story based on TAROCCHI DELL’OLIMPO: Ace of Chalices


The man stood on the cliff’s edge silhouetted by a crimson sky, while far below, dark inky waves licked the crag. Silky tears flowed from the man’s eyes, down his body and onto the smooth black rock. Blood beams shooting across the blazing sky shone on these tear-rivers as they oozed downwards into the deep ocean.

The man gazed into this bottomless sea; sorrow clung to the fiery sky, loneliness gripped the smooth black precipice and melancholy flooded the blood-rivers that seeped into the hopeless ocean. The man spread his arms and gazed at the sky; a crimson ray gleamed on his shadowed face and defined Tom’s features, frozen in abject despair. A silent scream ripped Tom’s gaping mouth as he tilted forward into the abyss, and…

Jason gasped awake. Silver moonlight streamed through the window, and dread grasped his thumping heart. Panting, he reached for the phone to call his brother. Angst choked Jason’s words as he told Tom that he loved him, and that he was never alone.

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MINCHIATE: Six of Coins

"Melissa" is Flash Fiction story based on MINCHIATE: Six of Coins


‘Six busts from ancient Rome are the centerpiece of our new exhibit,’ the museum notice read, ‘portraits of a family found embracing under ash in an ancient Roman villa.’  

The wayward poster floated into Melissa’s hands as she hurried down the city street with her head bowed into the swirling whirlwind of paper and dead leaves. It might have been any old notice, or an expired coupon that flew into her grasp, but this one spoke of a long-dead family huddled together for eternity, and it tugged at her orphaned heartstrings. 

The wind howled, and papers fluttered and scampered around her. She gazed at the tall brick building, with its stately lion statues guarding the entrance to the past, as the icy wind bit her cheeks and snarled in her hair. 

Melissa paid the admission; the wind raged outside and its deep rumble coursed through the snobby silence. The wind wailed and echoed through the museum corridor, and rattled against the walls like the Big Bad Wolf trying to blow the house down. Melissa scanned the spooky hall, hoping for comfort and company from the receptionist, but he had vanished.

Goosebumps crawled up her arms as she entered the cold gallery. The six busts sat on their plain pedestals, forming a close semicircle. Melissa’s spine crawled with the intimate details of their facial features. They were so lifelike that their long-forgotten voices murmured in the deep crevices of her mind. The stern father, the kind mother, the happy little girl, and the venerable old grandfather, gazed at her through lifeless eyes, but their lives surrounded Melissa and the love they had for one another tinged the white marble with a golden hue. She paused the longest on the bust of a young man, his face forever set in haughty defiance, and Melissa heard the soft melodious voice whispering brotherly banter in her buzzing brain. The low whirr of the climate control system enveloped her, then hollow laughter and tangled conversations wafted through the gallery across time and space. Melissa smiled at the marble young man, then turned her attention to the final bust. 

Oomph, and the breath escaped her skin as soon as her gaze met the stone eyes of the young woman with curly hair and a sweet expression. Punched in the gut, Melissa bent forward, gasping for air under the blank gaze of the statue with her own features. Hewn from marble and forever smooth and young, Melissa wheezed for air as she stared at her own visage, the same eyes she saw in the mirror, the same sweet expression which had helped her navigate a cruel and lonely, family-less world. Tears choked Melissa’s throat and stung her eyes. 

The howling wind came whooshing down the corridor and enveloped her in dark smoke and ash. The ground shook, and the sky exploded, and people screamed and wailed. Smoke singed her hair, and the heat choked her, but powerful arms embraced her burning skin, and through the fiery smoke she gazed into her brother’s eyes. Her little sister grasped her waist, her mother and father and grandfather huddled around them, protecting their young, their future, as the wrathful Vesuvius incinerated their flesh.

Melissa gasped and coughed and choked, and clean and cool air filled her lungs. She stood alone in the silent gallery, surrounded by the white marble gazes from which spectral tendrils emanated, swirling and swaddling her in their ghostly and welcoming embrace.

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Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel book presentation / Presentación del libro



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Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel book presentation

Please join me on Thursday, May 18, 2023 at 7 pm for the presentation of my book “Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel”. The presentation will be in person at UNAM San Antonio on Hemisfair Plaza in San Antonio, TX. It will be a bilingual event in Spanish and English, and I hope to see you there.

Por favor acompañenme a la presentación de mi libro “Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel” este jueves 18 de mayo del 2023 a las 7 pm. La presentación será presencial en la UNAM San Antonio en Hemisfair Plaza en San Antonio, TX. Será un evento bilingüe en ingles y español. Espero verlos ahí.

May 2023
Book presentation: “Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel”
7 pm-9pm600 Hemisfair Plaza Way, San Antonio, TX 78205, 
Presentación del libro “Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel”
7 pm-9pm600 Hemisfair Plaza Way, San Antonio, TX 78205, 

Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel is available from Amazon on Kindle, Paperback and Hardcover. Click on the link below if you wish to purchase.

Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel está a la venta en Amazon en formato Kindle, Paperback y Hardcover. Haga click en el link para comprar.

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Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel book presentation / Presentación del libro

Please join me on Thursday, May 18, 2023 at 7 pm for the presentation of my book “Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel”. The presentation will be in person at UNAM San Antonio on Hemisfair Plaza in San Antonio, TX. It will be a bilingual event in Spanish and English, and I hope to see you there.

Por favor acompañenme a la presentación de mi libro “Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel” este jueves 18 de mayo del 2023 a las 7 pm. La presentación será presencial en la UNAM San Antonio en Hemisfair Plaza en San Antonio, TX. Será un evento bilingüe en ingles y español. Espero verlos ahí.

May 2023
Book presentation: “Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel”
7 pm-9pm600 Hemisfair Plaza Way, San Antonio, TX 78205, 
Presentación del libro “Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel”
7 pm-9pm600 Hemisfair Plaza Way, San Antonio, TX 78205, 

Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel is available from Amazon on Kindle, Paperback and Hardcover. Click on the link below if you wish to purchase.

Rust: A Ghost Mystery Novel está a la venta en Amazon en formato Kindle, Paperback y Hardcover. Haga click en el link para comprar.

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"Marhaba" is Flash Fiction story based on UNIVERSAL WAITE TAROT: IX of Cups


The old man sat like a great sultan, with his bushy salt-and-pepper beard and glittering dark eyes, lording over his wares. The bell above the door tinkled, and Matt rushed through it; swirling snowflakes followed him inside and settled in his hair and on his coat. He shook the snow off his shoulders and glanced around the antique shop. Dust particles danced in a golden light that Matt would have sworn was sunlight, were it not for the dark and wintry evening.

He gazed at the big man in his long robe sitting on a high-backed chair. Matt greeted him as he scanned the room with curious eyes and ice-bitten cheeks. 

Marhaba,” the man’s deep voice broke the musty silence.

Something glinted behind the man, and Matt noticed a row of assorted cups and glasses and goblets perched on a shelf above the man’s head.

“I give you a good price on everything,” the man beamed, and Matt felt the warm welcome seep into his frozen bones. 

He browsed the hodgepodge of hookahs and ornate furniture and dusty old books, and colorful tapestries, and stained-glass lamps. The toasty and nutty aroma of dense coffee with cardamom wafted through the room, enveloping the young man in its creamy and welcoming kindness. Matt glanced at the dark evening sprinkled with freewheeling snow beyond the shop window, and shivered.

“The coffee is fresh. Inshallah you will drink some with me,” the man said, and the deep rumble of his voice conjured the soft grating of tumbling sand in the blazing sun.

Matt patted his pocket, lamenting his shabby and skinny wallet, and meant to decline the offer, when he caught the man’s twinkling eyes that lit up his face like a starry desert night.

Matt nodded and smiled. 

He offered Matt a seat beside him on the cushioned and decorated high-backed chair, a twin to the one the man occupied. Matt accepted, and watched the man pour velvety, deep black coffee from a small silver kettle with a long handle. The warm coffee filled the room, and the snowflakes slapped at the windowpane, begging to partake in the comfort.

The man chatted about his home and the trees that grow crooked from the desert wind, and the fat figs that ooze honey when you bite into them, and the lazy sunset over blooming fruit groves, and the spider grapevines that crawl over the cracked earth.

Matt listened, and let the hot thick coffee melt his bones, while its cardamom scent stuck to his nostrils like a soothing balm on this cold winter’s night, but his eyes kept falling on a shimmering goblet behind the man. It was a simple, golden cup, with no decorations or glimmering jewels like its siblings on the shelf. Noticing, the man smiled, then reached up and took the cup. He offered it to Matt.

“How much?” Matt’s sheepish voice bleated, and a crimson hue flourished on his cheeks.

The man flicked his chin upwards and clicked his tongue, “A gift for you. For a long, long time I have sat alone drinking my coffee with only these baubles and trinkets for company. Only you have shared a cup with me.”

Matt protested and offered to pay what he could for the goblet, but the man placed it in his hands, then squeezed them, as if to imprint Matt’s palms onto the golden goblet.

“This is a wishing cup from an ancient land of mystery and sand. Take it with my heartfelt wishes. You are a good person, and it will grant you only the best in all you ask.”

With a final ding, the bell above the door let a grateful Matt out, while the man bid him farewell, and the freezing wind stung his cheeks. He waved at the man, then tucked the golden cup wrapped in silk under his arm, and bowed his head into the dark snow. He reached the corner and glanced back towards the store, but saw only an empty lot where the warm, bright building had welcomed him only moments ago.

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"Mary Stuart" is Flash Fiction story based on GOLDEN BOTTICELLI TAROT: 9 of Swords

Mary Stuart

Mary Stuart appeared on the wall again. Jane gasped when she entered the kitchen and saw the silhouette of the kneeling woman with her hands in prayer, like the unfortunate Queen of Scots.

Jane’s rational mind knew it had something to do with the sunlight traversing through branches and shrubs and appliances on the countertop as it streamed through the open window and cast shadows on the wall. But she also knew it did not happen every day, and when the shadow appeared, a sense of dread followed, a certain premonition, an augury, an omen. Hence, Mary Stuart, because the shadow evoked an ax about to drop and a head about to roll.

Jane prepared to bake a cake; as she gathered the ingredients and instruments, she snuck uneasy glances at the wall. Mary Stuart was still there, though fading as the breeze wiggled the tree leaves and all the other shadows shimmered. Jane’s heart relaxed a little, and she let out a soft “phew”. The intensity of the shadow was proportional to the intensity of the calamity, and with three reckless, rambunctious, and daredevil sons with flesh of glue and bones of rubber, Mary Stuart had visited her many times over the years.

Jane continued baking her cake, and the ominous feeling did not subside, nor did the ax swing. The aroma of lemon drizzle soon filled the room, and the oven warmed the kitchen, and the light shifted, and red sunset streamed through the window. Jane sat at the table, waiting for the cake to bake and scrutinizing Mary Stuart still visible upon the wall.

“It’s Mike,” she stated, “it’s his favorite cake in the oven, and I’ve been thinking about him all day.”

The shadow on the wall twinkled in reply.

“It’s nothing terrible, nothing life-altering. It’s somewhere in between Jason’s fall from the tree and Eric’s skydiving incident.”

She rolled her eyes as she recalled the hectic drives to the hospital with her heart in her mouth, only to find a beaming and joking boy each time. 

Mary Stuart nodded as the breeze rustled the tree leaves, though the persistent dread choked Jane’s sigh of relief.

The blazing sun sank into the horizon and cast long shadows on the wall that grew like tall bony trees and surrounded Mary Stuart, who oscillated between the visible and the invisible world. 

The oven dinged, and the ax dropped. Squealing brakes and broken glass flashed before Jane’s eyes. Mike’s surprised yelp cut her chest, but she loosened her sweaty fists when his heart pumped loud and steady in her ears, muffling his nervous giggles. Jane took a deep breath, Mary Stuart vanished, and the dying day tinged the kitchen in blue and purple and green, like the bruises on Mike’s living body.

Jane took the cake out of the oven and checked its doneness with a toothpick. She set it to cool by the window, then grabbed her purse, put on her shoes, and waited for the telephone to ring.

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BRUEGEL TAROT: Two of Swords

"Check"  is Flash Fiction story based on BRUEGEL TAROT: Two of Swords


Damian’s gaze pierces Angelo’s mind; his smirk is rigid on his lips, his face stone. The pieces have not moved for eons and Angelo stares at the chessboard. He clutches Damian’s knight between his fingers, the last piece he captured centuries ago in this everlasting war.

Angelo’s body is motionless, but his brain is swirling in a frantic race against the checkmate. Damian’s glare weighs on him, but he dares not betray his discomfort. One wrong move, and he loses. One right move, and he wins. Both men know this, and Damian’s fixed stare wills Angelo to make the crucial mistake he has already mapped on the path to victory.

The wind thumps at the windows, howling to be let inside, yet the men hear only the soft patter of their own thoughts whirling to the trickle of rain prancing on the rooftop. Angelo lifts his hand and hovers it over the chessboard. Damian’s eyes twinkle with the delight of expected victory, but Angelo’s hand has returned to the nook between throat and chin, an instinctive gesture to protect his soul from Damian’s prying eyes.

Lightning flashes outside the window, and thunder startles the house to its foundations. Angelo’s misty eyes scan the room, detecting only the vagueness of reality from behind the veil of meditation.

“What a night…” he mutters, but Damian only fixes his yellow gaze on Angelo’s bluish skin. 

The house shudders from the raging wind; a crimson light seeps from its cracks and pulses by the window, warping the panes. The door flings open with the purple boom of thunder and the green flash of lightning. Both men jump and gaze toward the swinging door. They stare into the stormy darkness tinted with a blood-red hue. 

The door creaks and swings in a violent dance to the rhythm of the brawling storm. They glimpse a dark figure silhouetted in the red gleam of the threshold, but the door sways, and the figure vanishes.

For the first time in a long time, the men’s eyes lock, and their ashen cheeks betray their solemn dread. The door swings open again, and the ominous figure stands, statuesque, in the doorframe. The wind blows, quivering furniture and banging on the walls. The deathly figure glides across the room and pauses beside the chessboard. 

“Who are you?” Damian asks.

Silent and bony fingers emerge from a tattered cloak and reach for the chess pieces. The men stare in awe and terrified silence. The walls creak and tremble, protesting the howling wind’s will to break them apart. A vermillion glow illumines the room, but the figure’s visage remains hidden inside the impenetrable void of its black hood.

“Checkmate,” the figure’s hollow and aged voice announces.

Both men glance at one another, their eyes filled with the calm certainty of defeat. The world howls and quakes and spins around them as hot air chokes their lungs and oppresses their hearts. The wind vanquishes the walls, and the house collapses in a heap of rubble and debris. Beams and rafters flatten the chairs Damian and Angelo occupied an instant prior.

 A languid dawn arises and casts its gray light upon the crumbled house. It shimmers on the deserted chessboard with both kings knocked on their sides, thus concluding the ultimate chess game.

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MINCHIATE: Ace of Cups

"Laguna" is Flash Fiction story based on MINCHIATE: Ace of Cups


They say a watched pot never boils, and I realized the truth of this statement when I let Malcolm go. I had already made a fool of myself for far too long when I awoke one night from a vivid dream and realized with the utmost certainty Malcolm’s love for me would never spark. He would never see me with the same admiration I gave him and I was fooling myself, believing one day he would wake up drowning in a love so deep and passionate for me we would grow old together and rest beside one another upon our deaths.

So I resolved to let him go, or rather to let go of him, and I arose that morning with a new sense of joy and peace and comfort. I had an epiphany, and it gave me a new hope that I would meet someone who would reciprocate this deep pool of love that was bubbling up inside me. It was a new pool, crystalline, untouched, and undiscovered; the love I had for Malcolm dried up, and it was liberating.

Three aspects of this whole unrequited love story irk me to no end.

One, I never met that promising new someone.

Two, that too late, a deep love for me sparked in Malcolm’s heart.

And three, that he thinks I did this to myself.

But here is the truth:

After my epiphany, I paused all contact with Malcolm, though I doubt he either noticed or cared. I told no one, as no one besides Malcolm knew of my fervent love for him, though in hindsight, it was more of a blinding infatuation. My epiphany was that he did not deserve my feelings for him, nor the stupid and covert ways I professed myself to him, and I did not deserve the constant push and pull between attraction and rejection I received from him in return. So days later and feeling happy for the first time, I went for a rejuvenating and head-clearing hike to a hidden pond I knew well.

I sat on the sunlit rocks and gazed at the crystal waters, smooth and dark like onyx. No waves ruffled the surface, though a weak, yet cool breeze blew through the willows. Forest life whirled around me, but the still water, contained by the smooth rock surrounding the deep sinkhole, was a dark and tarnished mirror reflecting the cloudless sky. 

I basked in the sunlight and recalled the simple fun of skipping rocks. Beaming like a child, I picked one up, and Malcolm’s beautiful eyes flashed through my mind. That memory seeped into the rock and I flung it, then watched it skip across the water and plunk into the depths. I picked up another, and then another, until I ran out of rocks within my reach. Whether skipping or plunging into the dark waters, each stone carried a memory of Malcolm and the torturous two years since our first acquaintance. I then walked along the pond, searching for flat and smooth rocks, and putting them in my pocket, until I had enough for a lifetime of rock-skipping and memory-chucking.

Giggling and giddy with delight, I took a rock, placed it between my fingers, drained my most painful Malcolm-memory into it, and drew my arm back to toss it. It would have been my greatest feat. I meant to hurl it clear across the firmament and into the blazing sun, but I slipped on moss and mud, and while falling, I glimpsed a flash of blue sky before the inky, dense black engulfed me. Moments later, I was sinking deep into the pond and trailing a wake of blood squirting from my temple.

Now, Malcolm sits alone in his room, cradling a keepsake of me, and weeps. He weeps for me, for what he thinks I did for his sake, and for the life we could have had together had he been a better man, less selfish and less proud. Now, he drowns in a dark pool of his own sorrows and regrets.

His love for me sparked too late, but I regret nothing. 

His sad figure slips away as I move on to a new existence, unencumbered by what might have been in this old one.