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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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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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"Dollhouse" is a Flash Fiction story based on TAROCCHI DELL’OLIMPO: XVI The Tower


The ruined old house peeked out from the overgrown weed, bramble, and underbrush of the deep forest. Surrounded by tall evergreens that reached the sky and whose boughs and needles blotted out the sun, few people knew of its existence. The roof collapsed long ago, and a deep green moss clung to the crumbling stone walls. Winding plants twined around the shaky chimney that teetered like a decrepit old man lording over the remnants of memories and rubble.

A spark of remembrance twinkled in Great-Grandma Hattie’s beady eyes, now sunken by the deep crags of old age, when Amy asked her about the old house. 

The old woman’s eyes filled with tears and her papery voice cracked, “I know that house. It belonged to Mary, my best friend. We were children when it happened.”

“When what happened?” Amy asked, but Great-Grandma’s mind was already on the cloudy journey to the edge of oblivion. 

“She had a doll,” Hattie’s hollow voice escaped her lips, and Amy sat, listening, “it was a beautiful doll with a ceramic head and glass eyes. It wore a pink checkered pinafore, and we used to dress its long curls in pink ribbons. Such a beautiful doll.”

A tear rolled down Great-Grandma Hattie’s eye, and she fell silent. 

“Granny?” Amy whispered, but the old woman only stared into the long-ago. 

“They came one dreary night,” the words seemed to choke the old woman, but she continued, “It was cold and gray and snow swirled around us like butterflies. The sky rumbled and lighting flashed, but not even the raging storm stopped the men who rammed the door and dragged the family out of their house. The wind howled and howled, but we never saw them again. Then, they drafted my brother into the war, and we never saw him again.”

Tears spilled from the old woman’s eyes and her shoulders shook in wheezing sobs. Amy embraced her wilted old body and said nothing.

“They weren’t spies,” Great-Grandma Hattie wailed, “they were just people. Good people!”

“Granny,” Amy ventured when the old woman’s sobs quieted, “is this Mary’s?”

Great-Grandma Hattie’s face broke into a beaming smile when Amy produced an old doll from her backpack. It had a checkered pinafore and pink ribbons tied around shining ringlets. 

“Where?” The old woman whispered.

“I found it in the ruined house,” Amy replied. 

The old woman took the doll and cradled it in her arms, “did you fix it? It smells like Mary, but it looks brand new.”

Amy shook her head, “I did nothing to it.”

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"Downstream" is a Flash Fiction story based on OLD ENGLISH TAROT:  Two of Coins


The August heat clung to the trees flanking the stream and rattled the cicadas buzzing their discontent. Birds chirped and rustled the leaves, while the brook babbled its merry song. The world gleamed with a golden sunset that sparkled like diamonds on the flowing river.

The old man took a long swig of his bottled beer. Closing his eyes, he smiled as contentment oozed like sap down his sweaty chest, and his heart filled with the golden evening light.

Sitting on the squat beach chair with legs outstretched, the babbling brook giggled over his splayed toes, and the soft breeze ruffled his white and wispy hair. The oppressive heat lulled him to sleep, but his eyes flew open when the forest stopped singing, and silence descended like an invisible fog.

The sun dropped beneath the tree-line, and the cool golden stream flooded with a blood-red syrup rolling over skull-like rocks and bony roots. A decrepit barge followed the bloody water and brought the dismal gloom that sank into the river. The gloaming cloaked the forest and drained it of color, tainting it with the blue hues of melancholy.

The old man sat in his chair, but the brook no longer babbled or played with his toes. The flow ceased, although the barge still floated downstream, pushing the blood aside and trailing a wake of black ink behind it. The old man had been on this earth far too long to fear the barge, so he sipped his beer and watched it hover past him and round the river-bend. 

A hint of sadness and nostalgia tinged his erstwhile contentedness as the old man packed up and folded the beach chair. He traipsed the well-known path home while the forest awoke from the sinister pause. An owl hooted and animals scurried to safety. The cicadas quieted, but the crickets chirped in their stead.

The old man entered his empty house and turned on the light, flooding it with yellow comfort. He had seen the shabby old barge before, and knew what it portended; tomorrow he would check the obituaries for familiar names.

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"Night Mare" is a Flash Fiction story based on ALEISTER CROWLEY THOTH TAROT: 6 of Wands - Victory

Night Mare

The fire-horse gallops on the wind, its thunderous hooves pounding through the rumble of the ocean waves. Clifton sits on a rock and watches the galloping horse with its fiery mane setting the sea ablaze, as an ominous shiver crawls up his spine. The fire-horse encircles him in a spiral of flame and ash, yet Clifton sits, both paralyzed and mesmerized by the fire-horse with the blazing mane. Pausing before him, it rears up on its hind legs and fire sparks from its nostrils, roaring its disturbing and portentous neigh. It fixes its fire-eyes on Clifton, and Clifton gasps awake.

Thunder roars, like a thousand mustangs galloping across the sky. The moon and stars cower from the raging storm that spatters jagged beads on the windowpane. The rain pounds a booming tattoo upon the roof, and the wind howls a wrathful lament.

Clifton gazes at the window; the fire-horse sticks in his throat and strangles him. He heaves for breath, but his lungs burn with the embers of the blazing nightmare.

Lightning flashes and thunder clangs like a gunshot ripping through the violent night. Scarlet raindrops splatter on the warping windowpane and long fingers smear the glass with the sticky blood of instant and brutal death.

Tears spring to Clifton’s eyes, and he weeps into his pillow, trying to choke down the wheezing sadness that will haunt him forever more.

Dawn rises, gray and cold and damp. It peeks through the window and meets Clifton’s tear-stained face and sleepless eyes. A knock breaks the silence, and Clifton listens to his father’s slippered footsteps shuffle to the door. He hears his father’s anguished cry and stares out the window, knowing long before the telegram arrives that his brother has died in action.

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"Bed and Breakfast" is a flash fiction story based on UNIVERSAL WAITE TAROT: VII of Pentacles

Bed and Breakfast

Stuart turned off the lamp and listened to the other guests of the quaint bed-and-breakfast shuffling to their rooms. A soft snore beside him signaled Gloria was already fast asleep. She had put her book away minutes before and pulled the covers up to her ears, hinting it was time for Stuart to turn off the lights and sleep.

Stuart closed his weary eyelids and waited for sleep while listening to the soft murmur of darkness. A gentle breeze swooshed through the open window, and crickets and cicadas buzzed their discontent at the sultry night. Guests whispered their goodnights and the thud of closing doors followed their heavy footfalls in the carpeted hallway. The night engulfed Stuart and soon he entered the silent world of deep sleep.

A door slammed, and Stuart jerked awake.

“Stu? What is it?” Gloria grumbled beside him.

“Listen,” he whispered, and Gloria sat up, rubbing her sleep-laden eyes.

Silvery moonlight streamed through the window, and the world outside rested in utter silence. But inside, sound reigned. High-heels clacked in the attic room above them; muttering voices trickled from the ceiling and down the walls. 

Gloria squeezed Stuart’s fingers, and the moonlight shone on her stiffened body and ashen face. Stuart’s skin crawled; the noises roused in him a profound and sinister fear. He dreaded what was to come, yet sensed the worst had already happened.

“Isn’t the attic room supposed to be closed?” Gloria whispered.

Stuart nodded, “the hostess said it’s been unused for half a century,”

“So who’s up there?”

“I don’t know, Glo,” he pulled the quilted bedspread off and set his feet on the floor.

Gloria mimicked him on her side of the bed.

“Where are you going?” He asked.

“To see what’s going on,” she replied, “you?”

“Me too,” he said.

“Suits me.”

Holding hands, they opened the door and peeked into the dim hallway. Tiny night lights guided the way towards the attic door.

Stuart placed his hand on the attic door knob and turned it. 


He gazed at Gloria with a puzzled expression. 

She shrugged.

Silence hovered in the hallway, and Stuart wondered if the owners slept up there as they crept back to their room. Gloria was closing the door when a gunshot shook their bedroom. Clacking high heels hurried down the hallway. Blonde hair in a white gown and shimmering diamond necklace gusted past their half-opened door. Stuart darted into the silent and empty hallway and hurried down the stairs, never gaining sight of the fleeting figure.

Gloria stood by the window that overlooked the cobblestone driveway, expecting the woman to burst through the front door. Only Stuart’s bewildered frame walked into the moonlight. He scanned the empty and quiet premises, then disappeared under the doorway. His footsteps sounded through the hall, and soon he entered the bedroom.

“That was weird,” he said, “did you see where she went?”

Gloria shook her head and pointed out the window, “I saw nothing and no one, but I heard her climb into a loud car and speed down that driveway.”

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"Lost in the Fog" is Flash Fiction story based on BRUEGEL TAROT: XVIII The Moon

Lost in the Fog

Stuart’s fingers grip the steering wheel; his knuckles are as white as the mist descending upon them. His shoulders hunch forward, and Gloria can almost hear his grinding teeth from the passenger seat. She strains her eyes, trying to pierce the dense white-out surrounding them. The windshield wipers thud and scrape against the glass; it is the only sound, and it unnerves her.

Gloria glances at Stuart and bites back the scolding “I told you so” that springs to her lips. She wanted to stop, but he insisted on pressing on, assuring her the nearest city was only a short drive. Tension and weariness are now weighing on the silent couple as the car crawls through the dense mist.

Stuart passes a hand over his tired eyes. Thick wisps hover and meander in a spectral white dance, now revealing, now enveloping the blurry skeletons of the scraggly forest.

Gloria breathes a sigh of relief when the fog thins and bony trees line the way as the car crunches on an unpaved road.

“Shut up,” Stuart states when Gloria opens her mouth, “I don’t know where we are, or when we turned off the highway. And yeah, you told me so.”

He gives Gloria an annoyed sideways glance, but his lips curl upward, lightening the mood. Gloria snickers, and Stuart bursts into laughter, but the mist and disturbing silence swallow the sound. They inch forward. Mingled between the towering and haggard tree trunks, Gloria now spies squat walls and low ceilings. 

“Houses!” She exclaims, “maybe we can ask for directions.”

Stuart grins, “Sure, like the last time. Remember that dark old house?”

But Gloria says nothing as a shiver creeps up her spine. No light shines in the small wooden houses; no car sits parked on the streets. She senses the deep abandonment and oblivion here. Unlike the ruined City of Gold that breathes constant destruction, this ghostly colony seems lost and forgotten in time, intact and removed from this earthly plane. 

Stuart keeps driving and Gloria glances at him. He is nervous, his cheeks ashen, and he exudes fear. It grips her too, and she gazes toward the sky as her lips form a silent prayer.

Please let us leave, she thinks, repeating the words in her mind.

The fog slithers away, and a palisade appears ahead. Stuart speeds up and the car’s rumble breaks the moody silence. As he zooms under the crossbeam, Gloria catches the word ‘CROATOAN’ inscribed into the wood.

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GOLDEN TAROT: King of Cups

"Dashed Dreams" is a flash fiction story based on GOLDEN TAROT: King of Cups

Dashed Dreams

He watches as they load their car and the rented U-Haul. Fat tears blot the wooden floor and flare out like ink splashes. She grabs the cat, who has been moaning and rubbing itself on the wall all morning. It struggles, yowls, hisses and refuses to enter its carrier. Frightened by the water droplets, she scans the old parlor with its creaky floor leading up the majestic, yet shabby staircase. Tears prick her eyes, but she blinks them away. The cat is still rubbing itself against the wall. 

“I know, I know,” she coos and kneeling, strokes its oozing spine, “I wanted to love this house so much, but it’s uninhabitable. We tried to make a go of it, I swear we did.”

They dreamed of renovating the old baroque banister and the peeling gold leaf that decorated the cornices in the spacious dining room. They fixed and polished the original hardwood floor, but they could never make this ramshackle old house a home.

The whispers, the moans, the swinging doors and flickering lights were too much for her. She feared she was losing her mind, but then Rob spoke of misplaced things, cold spots and mysterious water stains.

Her dream of renovating, and then inhabiting a centuries-old house crashed down the moment they acknowledged the indelible presence that meandered out of every nook and cranny. Only the cat loves this house, and as it mewls and purrs, she considers leaving it in its beloved and bedeviled home, but she wrangles it into its carrier and shuts the door. 

The car rounds the corner and more water stains appear on the floor. Wanting company for so long he tried to welcome them as best he could. He opened and shut doors for them, switched the lights on and off as they needed, put their things away and at night, unburdened himself of his woes, of the loneliness and the tragic events that left him in a state of permanent limbo. He spoke about his sincere wish for company, love and family again, but only the cat listened, only the cat understood.

Phantom tears roll down his cheeks and splatter on the floor. The walls shake with his soulful laments as he contemplates yet another century of loneliness.

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OLD ENGLISH TAROT: Seven of Swords

"Maxwell" is a Flash Fiction story based on OLD ENGLISH TAROT: Seven of Swords


The frozen earth crunched under Maxwell’s heavy boots as he traipsed toward the old and ruined chapel on Uncle Clayton’s estate.

The first Christmas in the trenches, and the following years of war had left a permanent chill in his bones. Coming home, Maxwell had wished only for a long, hot bath and a warm chat by the blazing fire with Uncle Clayton. Instead, he found a darkened house in disrepair and disarray, and a new grave on the ancient family plot.

The chill in Maxwell’s bones deepened upon learning his cousins had inherited Uncle Clayton’s fortune and plundered the house of its riches. The icy wind brought tears to Maxwell’s eyes as he pulled his collar up and trudged towards the ruined chapel. He willed himself not to glance back at the old house, now dark and cold in the short wintry day. 

His cousins did not want the house—too much upkeep, Maxwell surmised—and left the unpleasant surprise and financial burden on him. How had he offended them? His cousins’ loathing of him was palpable in the state they had left his beloved uncle’s house. Perhaps that was the great insult, the sincere and respectful love that existed between him and Uncle Clayton, and the fear that the old and heirless widower would leave everything to Maxwell.

No one had informed him of Uncle Clayton’s death that first Christmas in the trenches, when they had all warmed themselves around a weak fire sparked by a tenuous truce. Maxwell’s eyes watered from the biting wind and the bitter intuition as he roamed over the sprawling frozen grounds. Although unable to prove it, he realized that by leaving only the house in his name they had left him in debt and impoverished.

“They told him I died,” Maxwell’s teeth gnashed with rage, and his frame rattled with certainty. 

In his mind’s eye, he saw the lie whispered by the old man’s sickbed while their lawyer waited with a new will and testament in hand. Cold tears spilled from Maxwell’s stinging eyes and that permanent chill gnawed at his bones. 

Enraged, Maxwell kicked a stone and watched it roll away. The memory of a warm summer’s day welled up from the bottom of his mind; Uncle Clayton strode beside a ten-year-old Maxwell. Uncle Clayton chatted while the boy kicked and played with the stones and pebbles littering the grass-lined path. 

“You know, your ancestors hid money here. A great big hoard of looted treasure,” Uncle Clayton said with a playful glint in his eye and mischief quivering from the corner of his mouth. 

“Uh-huh,” Maxwell replied and rolled his eyes.

Even then, he had known of Uncle Clayton’s penchant for telling tall tales. Maxwell himself had been the butt of many a fantastic prank.

Uncle Clayton continued, “your great-great-grandfather was a privateer, and he buried the loot captured from a Spanish vessel somewhere on this estate.”

“Oh, Uncle,” Maxwell sighed, “if we already owned this place, why would my ancestor need to be a privateer? We can trace our family’s wealth back to William the Conqueror, you said.”

Uncle Clayton sniggered and patted the boy on the head.

Maxwell reached the old medieval chapel. His cousins had not touched this building, no doubt they deemed it useless. It was chilly and dank, and he shivered from that inner freeze that never subsided. Ancient pictures with dark and faded images hung on the walls in rotting frames. It smelled of moss-covered stone and damp incense. A ray of silver sunshine shone through the tarnished stained-glass windows and illumined an image of Saint George and the Dragon, and another boyhood memory crawled out of its abyss. 

Maxwell smiled, enraptured by the painting, his eyes drinking in every color and every stroke. Uncle Clayton sat beside him, and a peaceful silence settled over the ruined chapel and its leaky roof, while outside, summer life buzzed, chirped and bubbled. The sun dipped on the horizon; the chapel glimmered with the pinks and blues and purples of the stained-glass, and Uncle Clayton announced it was time to leave.

“You know,” Uncle Clayton spoke as they walked in the gleaming sunset.

Maxwell hid a smirk from him; Uncle Clayton’s cock-and-bull stories always started with “you know,”.

“Dragons always protect their treasure,” Uncle Clayton began, but Maxwell sprinted ahead, challenging his uncle to a race.

Now, the young man stood before the painting, longing for his uncle’s fanciful yarns. Cool sunlight shimmered on the wall, and Maxwell caught sight of a small golden glint just beneath the crooked frame. Maxwell tried to pry the painting off the wall, but it was well-fastened. Yet, just beneath the frame, right where the mossy stone had eroded, he glimpsed a tiny nook from which glimmered flashes of gold, silver, emerald and ruby.

Maxwell beamed, “Dragons always protect their treasure.”