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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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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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"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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"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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MINCHIATE: Six of Swords

"Swords" is a Flash Fiction story based on MINCHIATE: Six of Swords


Again, I dreamed it. 

A door opens and I walk into a fire-lit room; shadows dance to the crackling flames while the grandfather clock ticks a steady tattoo. Six crossed swords hang on the wall and their blades glint in the firelight. A deathly wail blasts through the room and snuffs out the fire.

I jolt awake; perspiration drips down my forehead, and my heart beats so fast I fear it will jump out of my chest. 

I first dreamed this scene when I was a young child. I awakened crying, and my parents rushed to comfort me. Even now, tears spring to my eyes as I recall their loving faces and soothing words. The next night, my grandmother died, and I forgot the dream. 

Until my fifteenth birthday, when I once again entered the fire-lit room. Five swords glimmered on the wall. The same hollow lament gusted through the room and plunged it into darkness. This time, I lay in silence with a pounding chest. We received a telegram soon afterwards; my brother perished in battle.

The third time, I cried upon awakening, for only three swords hung on the wall. I froze at the news of my parents’ bloody deaths in an awful accident on the road. I cried bitter tears and raged about the dream warning me of an imminent death I could not stop. 

My wife died giving birth to a stillborn baby, and the sorrow burdens me even after all these decades; the prior night, only one sword hung on the wall. 

My family has left this earthy plane, and though I have lived a lonely life, I regret nothing. I write this letter because again; I dreamed it. 

The door opens and shadows dance to the flickering fire and the tic-tock of the grandfather clock. No sword hangs on the wall. 

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"La Llorona" is a Flash Fiction story based on GOLDEN BOTTICELLI TAROT: 7 of Pentacles

La Llorona

The dense clouds parted, revealing an inky blue night and a brilliant full moon. Twinkling stars speckled the sky and raindrops dripped from the eaves. Pilar sat on the hacienda’s terrace; the fresh scent of wet earth and grass filled her nostrils, while a cool breeze chilled the balmy night.

She draped a blanket across her legs and sipped her steaming cup of tea with the chirping crickets as her only company. Moonlight sparkled on the wet glade and toads croaked in the grass. The night bloomed with life; thunder rumbled in the distance, chasing after the rolling storm.

A bright beam of white caught Pilar’s gaze as it quivered on the meadow like a long and slender tendril of moonlight. An eerie moan in the gloaming sent shivers up Pilar’s spine, and she sat frozen with her teacup midway to her lips.

The white figure meandered through the glade as the chilly breeze carried a mournful dirge over the field. A bloated cloud blocked the moon and plunged the field into darkness; only Pilar’s kerosene lamp flickered on the terrace like a beacon pointing to safety.

In the pitch darkness, the figure’s white-hot radiance swelled as it oscillated into the trees and vanished in the black. A wailing lament quavered through the night and scared the cloud away. The moon illuminated the glade again, and the night relaxed around her. The toads croaked, and the crickets chirped to the merry dance of moon-rays shimmering on the wet grass. Raindrops beat a harmonious tattoo as they trickled from the terrace roof.

Pilar sipped her tea; its warmth seeped down her throat and into her tight stomach, loosening her taut muscles. 

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BRUEGEL TAROT: 9 of Chalices + IV The Emperor

"Presage" is a Flash Fiction story based on BRUEGEL TAROT: 9 of Chalices + IV The Emperor


An icy draft sliced through the ballroom, snuffing out the flickering candles. The room plunged into darkness. 

Moonlight streaming from the double doors leading to the terrace illuminated the bewildered faces of those mingling near them. Their powdered wigs shone with a ghostly brilliance and moon-rays silhouetted their corseted gowns, breeches, and coattails against a backdrop of an eerie blue night. Champagne glasses shimmered in their trembling hands, though all stood frozen by the sudden wind howling through the open doors. An oppressive gloom settled over the astounded silence until the sound of stricken matches cut through it, and as candle-flames sparked, whispers and murmurs rippled through the crowd.

A bloodcurdling scream resounded from the gilded walls, and more shrieks filled the room with horror and surprise. The guests parted, revealing the cause of the spine-tingling tumult.

Blood trickled from a gleaming scythe with its sharp tip lodged deep into the wall. The glowing blood pooled on the floor and slithered over the white marble, staining clothes and shoes. 

Rumor has it those aristocrats with blood-stained clothes from that springtime night later fell under the guillotine during the following years of revolution and terror. 

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"En Plein Air" flash fiction based on OLD ENGLISH TAROT: Six of Swords

En Plein Air

Nathan painted the last strokes onto the canvas and gathered his things. He glanced at the glimmering mansion ahead, then back at his canvas and nodded, satisfied that his painting looked like the original. Though there was still plenty of light before sunset, sweat beads rolled down Nathan’s forehead, stinging his eyes, and his wet shirt stuck to his back. He could no longer stand the heat, and even the cicadas buzzed in anger at the shining sun. 

While Nathan finished packing his easel and paints, two hunters carrying duck carcasses emerged from the forest path leading to the lake. Spotting Nathan, they waved.

Nathan smiled, and waving, called, “Good hunt?”

“Oh yes,” the hunters answered and, gesturing towards the mansion, invited Nathan to join them for dinner.

Nathan paused for a moment, considering the invitation. He glanced up at the sky and noticed the sun was nearing the horizon. Although curious to enter the mansion, he was new to the area and feared getting lost in the darkness. The hunters waved goodbye, and Nathan watched them disappear under the tree-lined mansion entrance.

Nathan reached town just as the sun was setting. He found an unoccupied table in the local tavern and settled down to a filling dinner. When the waitress brought his beer, she noticed the canvas on the opposite chair.

“That’s a wonderful likeness,” the waitress remarked, pointing to it.

Nathan thanked her, mentioning he had spent the day painting it from life.

Smiling, the waitress turned to leave him when Nathan asked, “Who lives there? In the mansion?”

“It’s abandoned,” she replied, “no one has lived there for centuries.”  

“But two hunters invited me to dine with them this evening, and I watched them enter the mansion,” Nathan remarked, confused. 

The waitress’ demeanor changed; her sunny smile dropped, and concern shaded her eyes. 

“You saw them? The hunters asked you to dinner?”

“Yes, two men, duck hunting.”

“Did you dine with them?”

“No, I declined.”

“Good,” the waitress breathed a sigh of relief.


She glanced towards the bar, then leaned closer and said, “People say those duck hunters are the Devil, and if you accept the invitation, you lose your soul.”

Bewildered, Nathan glanced at his painting; the tavern’s dim lighting cast an eerie shadow upon it.