TAROT DRACONIS: 4 of Swords + 9 of Swords

Block G

“Lights out!” The guard calls.

I lie on my cot and rest my head on my hands. Years ago, I pled innocent, but, everything they accused me of doing, I did, and, on nights like tonight, I regret it. Don’t feel sorry for me, I’m not a bad person, just a victim of circumstance. 

For years I sat in the teeming prison, sharing a cell with a revolving door of inmates. Some wide-eyed and scared, others with an evil twinkle in their eyes; all innocent, yet many guiltier than me. When the prison overcrowded, the warden re-opened the ancient Block G. They transferred only a few of us here, and now I have a cell all to myself; “careful what you wish for”, Mamma always said. 

Cell Block G is small, reminiscent of a medieval jail with dank and cold stone walls, dim lights and howling echoes. It’s a disquieting place, though I relish the relative silence of it. No cussing, no gang fights. In the daytime, it’s OK, but at night…

The lights are off and darkness rules. It’s a strange darkness, incomplete, eerie, unsettling. It’s a bluish darkness. 

I roll over onto my side, my back to the wall, always to the wall. I close my eyes and hope to fall asleep before…

A scream rings out trough the prison. My eyes fly open. I sit up, gasping. 

A cacophony of voices, screams and moans, all hollow and dead—unlike those in my old block—fill the prison and send chills down my spine. 

“Help me!” Someone yells. 

A woman with a long tattered dress, a ripped corset, unkempt hair and crazed eyes runs through the bars in my cell and disappears into the wall across my cot. Two shots boom and, through the wall I hear a yelp and a thud. Every night, every damn…


I stand up, touch the wall and wonder. 

Was this a door? What if…

An idea flashes. 

Hope springs eternal…


Eagle Eye

Cleopatra Bysbys sat facing the windows of the topmost room of her house with a cup of lukewarm coffee at her side and her air rifle across her lap. She wore ancient and washed out pajama bottoms frayed at the crotch and unraveling at the hems. They stuck to her bony knees. Her breasts hung low on her chest under a ratty pit-stained T-shirt and her saggy arms looked like raw chicken wings. Her hacking cough shook the walls of her musty home. The room was a small belvedere, shaped like a cupola with windows all around it; a lookout. She called it her aerie. It held nothing but a swivel chair with moth-eaten upholstery that had seen better days and a tatty side table held together by spit and prayers.  

Christmastime had, of late, become her favorite time of the year, not because she was full of cheer and good wishes, but because the practice of stealing packages was most rampant. From her “eagle’s nest” Cleopatra Bysbys kept a watchful eye over the entire neighborhood. 

Cleopatra took a gulp of coffee, grimaced and pronounced it “pure and absolute swill.” She closed her eyes, and, using her extraordinary gift, surveyed the neighborhood with her mind’s eye. The windows of the aerie afforded her a remarkable, yet limited view of the goings-on around her, but her gift let her pry beyond the walls of her neighbors’ houses and into their daily trials and tribulations. Cleopatra Bysbys was privy to everything, the comings and goings, the conversations, and sometimes, even the innermost thoughts and emotions of people. Nothing was a secret to her; not the past nor the present, not even the future. 

“Ha!” She cackled, “smart girl, Betty Jackson, tracking it on your phone!”

When she used her gift, Cleopatra Bysbys was a sight to behold. Her wide mouth gaped open and rotted teethed peeped out. With eyelids ajar, the whites of her eyes showed. Wispy and gnarled silver hair framed her withered face, and her skeletal fingers, resting on the arms of the chair twittered and twitched as if handling buttons and dials. 

“Here we go!” She sneered, opened the front window and propped the air rifle against the sill. She crouched, and looking every bit the sniper, waited with the patience of a saint, unfazed by the cold air wafting in from the window; only the ancient furnace in the basement protested. 

A blue car pulled up to the Smith house across the street. The mailman had delivered the package after the couple had left for work. A young woman shimmied out of the car and hurried toward the front door. She slipped on the icy walkway but kept her footing. In her mind’s eye, Cleopatra saw the driver growl in dismay; had she fallen, they would have sued. 

Cleopatra Bysbys took aim as the girl approached the package, glanced side to side and bent down to pick it up. A crack boomed through the wintry air. The porch pirate jumped several inches and grabbed her butt-cheek. With a crazed look in her eyes she gazed around the perimeter, sighted nothing, yet heard a phlegmy witch-like cackle. Her eyes, welling up with tears of pain, fixed on Cleopatra’s hiding place, but there was only an empty window. Sneaky Cleo lay flat on the floor, hugging her gun and giggling through a devilish grin. 

The frustrated thief limped back to the car, and with a “fuck it” they sped away; the package still on the stoop. 

Cleopatra Bysbys pulled herself up, and, scratching her bottom, shuffled downstairs to watch her soap operas. There would be three more attempts later in the day.

Ah yes, Christmas was now her favorite time of the year, and porch pirates her favorite target year-round. 


Worlds Away

As he walked with no direction, Johnny tried to remember Dad’s incessant science lessons, hoping to deduce where he was. The two moons had startled him and he’d almost sat down to cry, but as he walked, his mind calmed and his thoughts cleared. 

“I am on one of four planets,” he mumbled, “the outer planets are all gas, and they have many moons. Pluto would be ice and I wouldn’t survive the cold. So, it must be Mercury, Venus, Earth, or Mars.”

Mercury would be too hot, and Dad said the atmosphere on Venus is hellish and toxic, so it can only be Mars and Earth. I’m not on Earth, so does Mars have two moons?

Johnny shrugged, he couldn’t remember. 

“Mars would be much colder than Earth, because it’s farther away from the sun,” Dad’s voice drifted into his mind, “you’d never wear T-shirts.”

Johnny stopped for a moment. He didn’t feel cold, despite losing his jacket. In fact, it wasn’t just the air, heat seeped through his sneakers. He spied tall peaks in the distance. Does Mars have volcanoes? 

“Not active ones,” he whispered. 

He pondered further.

Johnny’s knees buckled as the thought hit him, “It’s not our solar system!” 

His heart dropped and a wave of loss and loneliness gushed through him, such as he’d never felt, not even when the runes had whisked him away. Then, it had been like being on an unknown street, but in the same neighborhood. 

“Okay, Johnny, think,” he muttered, heart thumping in his ears, “this must be an Earth-like planet because I can breathe, so it must have an atmosphere. It must also revolve around its own sun. Isn’t that what Dad said? So how many suns are there?”


He glanced around the barren landscape. In the bright light of the moons, it seemed lifeless. Johnny gazed at the moons, both full, both rugged and cratered; identical. 

Wind blew, warm and smoky. It stung his eyes, but something caught his attention. He heard a melodious voice. 

“Alondra!” He yelled. 


  Then it started again, and Johnny, overjoyed, ran towards it. 

Up ahead he glimpsed a figure, tall, thin, graceful and woman-like. He distinguished the shock of fire-red hair. 


The figure watched him. As he neared it, the figure caught his gaze with eyes bright as diamonds. It then swirled into a flame which sprouted fire wings and flew away. 

Johnny tripped and fell. 

Sharp pain; hazy vision. 

Then, darkness.