[mc, mf, fd]
((The following piece was written for a Halloween collection entitled The Legend of the Spectral Seal. Please be sure to check out my friend’s stories at the link above as well if you enjoy these types of things.))
Some combinations of events are disasters waiting to happen, cosmic jokes only the unseen forces that rule this world and the next can really grasp. Perhaps you can describe this little tale as one such joke but if you happen to laugh at it, well… don’t do it too loud lest you end up playing the fool yourself in a nearby future…
Nathaniel Jones was a skeptic regarding all sorts of paranormal phenomena and a modern crusader of mathematics and logic. With Reason as his favourite companion ever since early school days, it was odd to find him on a velvet seat inside a fortune teller’s tent that Halloween night, but the reason why was fairly simple and could be summed up in just three words: an ill-advised bet. He should have learned that his friends had a special way of always getting the upper-hand … the long overdue awareness of it all would have been most helpful.
The experience of being there, sitting in front of the middle-aged gypsy dressed in shades of blue and lavender, was almost as painful as it was laughable. The fortune teller kept her eyes fixed on the glossy cards as she dealt them, emulating an expression of intense concentration like she was indeed glimpsing something beyond the veils of present reality. In his mind, he had no doubt that it was all part of the show, a mechanism to make her hoax seem a little more believable and, when she failed to produce a sound and repeat all the generic clichés that came with her job, his lips let out a snigger and mocking lies came about, wrapped in a sentence such as this: “So, are you going to tell what the future holds for me or not? I’m really, really dying to know…” As much as he tried to remain expressionless after these words he just couldn’t, and then an uncontrollable laugh thundered across the room.
He was still laughing when she shouted in response: “It’s obvious you don’t believe me, but I shall reveal your future to you anyway, even though you won’t like it …”
The room darkened upon these admonitory words and the temperature inside appeared to plummet all of the sudden. From the corner of one eye, Nathaniel could swear to have seen some ghastly, smoke-like apparitions dancing around his chair, but that was just another trick, right? “Sometimes, the readings aren’t clear but, this time, there can be no doubt about the results. You know what I see? I see a woman about to enter your life. She’s in possession of a very special artifact that will forever alter your sense of existence … Swiftly and irresistibly, she will become your world, the matrix sustaining all of your thoughts … she will control you from head to toe and you’ll slavishly serve her, experiencing nothing else except a passionate pleasure in your surrender to her absolute dominion … This is what the cards have shown to me and they never lie! Very soon, you’ll know a life of capitulation and you’ll bear its effects in the very marrow of your being until the end of your days!”
As soon as he heard this, Nathaniel lost his temper, exploding out of anger and rage. He was ready to hear a lot of blabbering nonsense, but that was simply too much! Who gave her the right to spout such an infuriating speech, one that toyed around with things he held precious, such as his pride in being a free agent, afraid of nothing and no one, able to speak his mind and defend his convictions to the limit, no matter the cost? Despite his scornful remarks, hers had been much worse for she had crossed a sacred line… Using all of his discipline to prevent a physical assault from taking place, he just said: “I knew from the start you were a fraud! What you just told me proves my point, and if you think I’m going to pay you for wasting my time and patience with your slandering words, you better think again! I bet the cards didn’t tell you that, did they?”
Turning his back on her, Nathaniel seized fate with his bare hands and moved towards the exit.
* * *
As he left he fortune teller’s house of faux divinations, he bumped into a young and somewhat attractive woman wearing a pair of sunglasses with red lenses. She was heading in the opposite direction, straight into the belly of the beast with the colourful cards. Upon realizing that, he immediately declared: “Excuse me, Miss. I know it’s none of my business but I would like to share a bit of friendly advice, if I may. In there, you won’t be given an insight into what’s to come. Whatever it is you’re looking for, you should seek it in the real world and not in someone else’s deranged daydreams.”
The woman gave him half a smile but pressed on, ignoring his remarks. Nathaniel sighed, yet added nothing else. If she was so desperate to be ripped off, then that was her problem and not his! He marched away as she waltzed in.
* * *
The clairvoyant woman was still fiddling with the tools of her trade when her new client took the seat left vacant by Nathaniel. The young vixen took a moment to observe the extravagant attire in front of her and it sufficed to offend her fashion taste. Nonetheless, there were things more important. Clothes were not the subject her mind ached to discuss. She was on a mission and whispers in the world had been very specific about the importance of that particular person to the successful outcome of it all. Since a direct approach was in order, she placed her silvery purse upon the table and cut to the chase:
“I’m going to be brief” she began with an icy tone. “Rumour has it that unlike the numerous charlatans out and about in this city, you’re actually the real deal. If that’s true and you can indeed see into the future, then you must already know what I want … Well, do you?”
“Oh yes, most definitely.” retorted the older woman, her voice imbued with the kind of certainty capable of sending shivers down the most impressionable of spines, though that wasn’t the case. “There aren’t many creatures in the world capable of wielding the powers of The Spectral Seal but I know for a fact you’re one of them, and I can feel its pulsating energy all around you as I speak.”
“I will. You’ve traveled from afar on the lookout for someone special to be your mindless minion; a frail spirit who, once confronted with your charms, will have no choice but to be irrevocably ensnared by them… You want to experience the rapture of being once again enthroned by one who will only come to know the meaning of the word ‘Mistress’ and forever will associate it with you alone. Its broken mind will be a feast to you … How am I doing so far?”
“Much better than I had hoped for,” acknowledged the client as she lowered her glasses for a few seconds, rendering visible the unnatural white glow of her eyes. It was a trademark of those of her kind, dimensional predators with a hunger for lust and sex, who could only journey into our world when the barrier between realities was as thin as a single sheet of paper. She wouldn’t expose herself that way if she weren’t pleased and now there was only one thing missing to win the day. “Given that you know all of this, I’m sure you can also tell me where exactly I can find the lucky subject whose strings I’ll be pulling, the one who’ll revere me submissively before the night’s done.”
No smile was produced, but the mind laughs, too, and the fortune teller’s was all lit up inside by the awareness of Fate’s skilful hands behind the shaping of events.
“Of course, I do, my dear … He just left … But I’m sure you can still catch him walking down the avenue if you move fast enough … As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure you will.”