Posted on Leave a comment

MINCHIATE: Six of Swords

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

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. 

Posted on Leave a comment

ALEISTER CROWLEY THOTH TAROT: Prince of Cups

"Meant to Be" is a Flash Fiction story based on ALEISTER CROWLEY THOTH TAROT: Prince of Cups

Meant to Be

Kayla gazes at her watch, and a tear rolls down her cheek. The lone glass of wine sits on the table. She is past fuming; self-doubt and self-consciousness are biting at her self-esteem. Stood up, again. She should have known better than to accept the blind date.

Kayla takes a sip of wine and watches the couple at the next table. They are very much in love; it is clear by how they gaze into one another’s eyes and play with one another’s fingers. A slap in the face. Is there something wrong with her? Is love just not meant to be? Although older, the woman’s striking resemblance to Kayla is another stab to the heart. What does this woman have that Kayla does not, besides a tall, dark, handsome man with her?

Kayla sets her wine glass down on the table and wonders whether to stay for a lonely dinner or whether to leave and have a lonely dinner elsewhere. If you leave, everyone will know he stood you up and that you’re not even worth the guy’s time. If you stay, they’ll know you at least have the guts to face the rejection. With a deep sigh, Kayla picks up the menu and reads it for the tenth time that evening.

Lucas glances at his watch and exhales an exasperated huff. He scans the restaurant with apprehension, his eyes lingering on the door. She is late, and he wonders if she is standing him up again. 

His father’s voice whispers in his brain, “She’s not worth it, son.”

He refused to listen, and now he is in a relationship he himself knows is toxic. It is better than being alone, he always tells himself. Peor es nada, like his mother says, worse is nothing.

Lucas runs his tongue over his teeth and watches the couple at the next table. She is beautiful, with long, blonde hair and pouty lips. Her eyes sparkle as she gazes into the eyes of her partner who only has eyes for her as well.

Lucas grabs his whiskey glass and takes a gulp, his eyes rolling once more over the restaurant. He picks up the menu to order yet another lonely dinner. He refuses to text her. There is nothing left to say. As of now, he is a free man.

The sound of shuffling chairs draws his attention. The lovebirds are leaving, and Lucas notices the man has similar features to him, despite being older. Lucas hopes one day a beautiful woman will gaze into his eyes with so much love and admiration. The woman walks around the table and into the nook of the man’s outstretched arm. She slips her arm around his waist, and embracing, they walk out of the restaurant.

Lucas gazes ahead. A woman sits two tables in front of him, by herself. He glimpses the top of a shining blonde head over the menu she is holding up with her delicate hands. She lowers the menu and stares straight ahead. 

Their eyes meet, and Kayla feels an electric jolt through her body as her eyes fix on the dark and handsome man two tables in front of her.

Lucas’s heart skips a beat when he locks eyes with the beautiful blonde woman gazing at him.

Posted on Leave a comment

GOLDEN BOTTICELLI TAROT: 7 of Pentacles

"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. 

Posted on Leave a comment

BRUEGEL TAROT: 9 of Chalices + IV The Emperor

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

Presage

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. 

Posted on Leave a comment

GOLDEN TAROT OF THE RENAISSANCE: XVIII The Moon

"Coffee and Winding Vines" is a Flash Fiction story based on GOLDEN TAROT OF THE RENAISSANCE: XVIII The Moon

Coffee and Winding Vines

Lulu tried to calm her nerves and gazed at the full moon shining on the overgrown garden with its tangle of briar and bramble she loved so much. She sat on the back porch and gave a slight shiver as the cool breeze pricked her cheeks. White steam billowed from the cup of coffee in her hand, its soft tendrils caressing her nose with their comforting aroma of roasted coffee and cardamom.

Lulu made coffee the way Nanna had always made it: ground to a powder, strong and dense with that added cardamom that always sent her senses on a delicious flight to bygone days.

It had delighted her to find that, besides the little painted cabinet, her awful relatives had also left behind her grandfather’s wooden manual coffee grind and its everlasting scent of coffee beans and cardamom. 

Lulu gave an exasperated sigh; her relatives had been harassing her for the past few weeks. They wanted the house and tried to convince her to sign bogus documents that would hand it over to them. Lulu was inexperienced, but not stupid, and her cousins’ latest attempts to sweet-talk her and seduce her annoyed and offended her.

They had been pounding on the door all day, gaining no entrance as Lulu ignored the heavy blows on the door, and their loud demands for her to open it. The cool breeze still carried their shrieking voices over the fence and through the gardens, and Lulu wondered if they would ever tire. 

“Doubtful,” she muttered, “there’s no rest for the wicked.”

The silver moon cast a shadow on the white steam swirling from the coffee cup; it gleamed with a red glow. The red tentacles of steam rose, multiplied and expanded, until a red, ghostlike figure glimmered and quivered beside her.

“I am at your service,” Djinn’s deep voice rumbled like thunder rolling down a mountain.

Lulu smiled, but said nothing. She sipped her coffee and watched the moon-rays playing on the twining vines that wound themselves around the porch pillars and adjacent pergola.

Lulu whispered, “I only wish for peace.”

Djinn grinned and nodded. 

Lulu closed her eyes as the hot coffee oozed down her throat; the cardamom warmed her insides while its bitter taste soothed all her worries. The harsh day fell away, and her relatives’ angry faces melted into oblivion in her mind. They seemed to dissipate, and Lulu felt an inner barrier going up, an imaginary brick wall they could never penetrate. 

She opened her eyes and realized that impenetrable barrier not only surrounded her but also the house. The pounding on the door stopped, and their angry calls blew away with the breeze. For the first time in weeks, Lulu felt the silence and peace embracing her house and garden. 

Smiling, Lulu gazed at the moon and enjoyed her coffee, knowing her relatives would never bother her again.

Posted on Leave a comment

ALEISTER CROWLEY THOTH TAROT: I the Magus

"Cheshire" is a flash fiction story based on ALEISTER CROWLEY THOTH TAROT: I the Magus

Cheshire

First, she saw the bright smile appear out of the hazy and silent night. The inky blackness had swallowed the neon lights and clamorous traffic from the nearby avenues. A flash of pearl, and then the brilliance of a white, high-necked and starched shirt. Dark shoulders seeped out of the shadows and a black top hat leaned towards her. White gloves touched the hat brim in salutation, and the voice underneath it begged her pardon.

“I didn’t mean to startle you, Miss,” a dark, thick handlebar mustache framed the glittering teeth, casting the hidden eyes into shadow. Yet the brilliant smile comforted her and warmed her bones in the chilly night.

She mumbled something, but the man, tipping his hat, had melded into the dense blackness.

Standing bewildered, she shone her flashlight over the ghastly and cavernous Victorian houses that once glimmered with wealth and opulence, but were now crumbling into oblivion.

Posted on Leave a comment

MINCHIATE: XXXIII Leo

"Lions" is a flash fiction story based on MINCHIATE: XXXIII Leo

Lions

The newest volley of insults flew at Patrick like tiny, sharp darts that pricked his pride while others missed; but most he caught and flung back. Alice’s voice was now so shrill that Patrick’s ears rang. She stood in the middle of the living room, screeching her discontent. Amid the stinging jabs and disrespectful back-and-forth, one question slithered through Patrick’s mind: is this love?

They were fighting again. The last few years had become a long-drawn war. Exhausted and battle-weary, Alice’s needling remarks only spurred him deeper into the fight. He caught this second wind and wrestled to free himself from her entangling web of scorn while seeking to inflict lasting and debilitating damage on her as well. Deflecting the barrage of Alice’s disparaging remarks, his gaze landed on the wallpaper. Two lions stood on their hind legs and faced each other with gnashing teeth and flashing claws.

The world slowed down, and Alice’s shrill voice became low and muffled. He stared at those painted lions who began to move, while the real world stood still. In slow motion, they fought. Growls shook the walls and teeth gnashed. Claws slashed the flesh and blood spurted from the gashes.

Patrick watched the wallpaper lions rip each other to pieces until both lay dead in a bloody mess. Tears sprung to Patrick’s eyes as the world sped up, and the lions returned to their painted form. 

Alice’s voice reached its highest pitch, reproaching him for not listening, while Patrick glared at her with her bared teeth and clawing fingers pointed at him. A low growl rose to his throat as hurtful words formed on his lips, but his eyes shone with the sparkle of realization and the vivid vision of the future: together, Patrick and Alice would slash one another into rags.

Posted on Leave a comment

OLD ENGLISH TAROT: Six of Swords

"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.

“Why?”

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

BRUEGEL TAROT: 7 of Wands

"A New World" is a Flash Fiction story based on BRUEGEL TAROT: 7 of Wands

A New World

Miss Ann Thrope rushed into her house and bolted the front door. She slid down against the door and sat on the floor. Pulling her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around them, she buried her face in her limber legs, weeping.

So much noise in the outside world! 

In search of her old friend Armistice, she had walked to the street corner—once flanked by a deep forest—that had led towards the town center. It was now a busy intersection with four-way stoplights. The cars zooming past her at breakneck speed frightened her as memories of the automobile accident that had crippled her for life rushed through her agitated brain. Fear crept over her and she ran back inside the safety of her house, that mausoleum that had buried her for a century, and still bore the musty odor of time standing still.

Miss Ann Thrope felt the thinness of her new body, its agility and flexibility, and wondered what the Angel that had returned her youth to her would think of her fear. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and contemplated its youthful smoothness. The pearl-white fingers, long and slender, moved as if on their own.

“No,” she said, “If the world won’t let me out, I will let the world in.”

She sprung up with the lightness of the twenty-year-old body she now inhabited and sped through the house, opening all the windows. Many were stuck, but with the willpower and superhuman strength of a young girl, she pried them open. The fragrance of her mother’s roses wafted in and permeated the musty walls with their sweet aroma. A soft breeze blew through the rooms and swirled the dust devils as they danced in the sunlight. The outside world oozed through the first floor of the house, and soon filled it with the sound of passing cars, merry children, and barking dogs.

Miss Ann Thrope sat down on a wooden chair; she would throw out the old high-backed chair that had been her home and her prison these many years. She sat with hands folded on her lap until she became accustomed to the noisy world beyond her windows and her fear subsided.

With a deep breath, she stood up and on her way to the door, caught sight of her reflection in her grandmother’s ancient and tarnished hall mirror; her heart fell with a thud. A youthful body peered out from oversized old-lady clothes. Unflattering and shabby, her secondhand slacks and shirt made her look frumpy. Her hair was still in its long braid, though now a vibrant and shiny black instead of a wispy white. The brown shirt muted the radiance of her youthful skin and she looked like a washed-out banshee. Before the accident, she would never have worn brown. Disgusted, she tore at the clothes and stopped short of removing them.

Miss Ann Thrope stood at the foot of the stairs, gazing upward. Confined to the main level of her house for decades, she placed her foot on the first step. Rolling her weight onto it and feeling no pain, she put her other foot on the second step. Laughing, Miss Ann Thrope climbed to the top, then skipped down the stairs and ran back up them. At the top, checking the sturdiness of the banister, she placed her bum on it, and slid down yelling “wee!” all the way to the bottom landing.

Giggling like a child, she repeated the game several times before entering the darkened upstairs. Shuttered for decades, the second floor of the house was dusty and smelled of loneliness.

Miss Ann Thrope opened the bedroom doors, and once again forced the stubborn windows. It seemed Death did not want to give up its hold on this house, but in the end, Life defeated the musty silence and gusted through the open windows.

Miss Ann Thrope contemplated each room. She ran her hand over the furniture left untouched for eons and gazed at the knickknacks and pictures she had forgotten long ago.

When she opened the door to her old bedroom—her sanctuary—she gasped as the light hit it. It had remained as she had left it on that fateful day when the horrible car crash had forced her into the small parlor her parents had equipped as her sick room for the rest of her life.

Miss Ann Thrope ran her fingertips over the flowered bedspread as she walked to the old armoire. She flung open its doors and gasped with delight while happy tears sprung to her eyes. Her dresses, her beautiful dresses, still hung there in perfect condition; their bright colors radiant in the dusty sunshine.

Miss Ann Thrope placed a purple silk gown against her slender body. Yes, now she was ready for the new world.

Posted on Leave a comment

GOLDEN BOTTICELLI TAROT: Knight of Pentacles + Ace of Wands

"Blow Out" is a Flash Fiction story based on GOLDEN BOTTICELLI TAROT: Knight of Pentacles + Ace of Wands

Blow Out

Nancy heard the tire’s loud pop. The car skidded for a moment, then Nancy guided the thud-thud-thudding car to the roadside. She climbed out and heaved a heavy and worried sigh; the tire was beyond repair.

The lonely road stretched ahead for who-knew-how-many miles and an endless prairie surrounded her. The solitude and silence struck her like a punch in the gut, and she noticed the aloneness of her life. But Nancy was not lonely; she enjoyed the time by herself. Traveling to the big city for a crowded library convention, she knew no one that would drop everything and drive for hours to her aid.  

Nancy pulled out her cell phone and dialed the number on her AAA card. No dial tone; she squinted at the screen as the heavy sunlight darkened it. There was no signal.

“Oh, boy,” Nancy mumbled, and opened the trunk.

She tried to recall her father’s instructions for changing tires; he died thirty years ago. Closing her eyes, she pictured her father kneeling beside their old brown-and-white station wagon, but the memory was too foggy and imprecise. She tried to follow his movements through the hazy memory, and only remembered the long scar that ran down the length of his forearm. His blurred face pricked Nancy’s chest; at least the memory of his arm and the scar that marred it was crystal clear, albeit useless at the moment. She then focused on his voice, and though she recalled its pitch and cadence, his words and instructions came back jumbled and incoherent.

Nancy shook her head, then rummaged between her knickknacks and suitcase for the tire changing kit. Blanching, she realized she had no jack. Nancy placed her face in her hands and let out a quiet, despairing sob. 

“Help me please, Dad,” she prayed.

Tears threatened to roll down her cheeks, but she pushed them back and wiped her eyes with the tips of her fingers. With a little shake, she squared her shoulders and grabbed a bottle of water from the trunk. She closed it and resolved to walk until she found help.

“Need help?” A voice said behind her; Nancy jumped.

A young clean-cut man in a plain white t-shirt and jeans with rolled-up cuffs revealing Converse sneakers stood behind her.

“I’m sorry,” Nancy stammered, “I didn’t hear you approach.”

The young man smiled, “That tire’s blown, would you like help in changing it?”

“Yes, please,” Nancy replied, “I would’ve done it myself, but I just realized I have no equipment.”

“No worries, I’ll do it.”

The young man kneeled and placed the jack he carried under Nancy’s car.

Nancy’s eyes widened when she saw the long scar running down the young man’s forearm as he pumped the jack. Tears stung the back of her eyes. She was about to mention the scar, but the young man had finished changing the tire and was wiping his hands on a handkerchief.

“All set,” he smiled, “good luck and have a nice day.”

Flabbergasted, Nancy stammered out a thank-you, as the young man climbed in his car and drove away. Nancy watched until the young man’s brown-and-white station wagon vanished in a flash of sunlight.