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The Fortune (Or Not)

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

A fortune teller at the local county fair tells you two things. She tells you something good that will happen, and something awful that will happen. What are these events or incidents?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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189 Responses to The Fortune (Or Not)

  1. rose828 says:

    A kaleidoscope of multi-colored lights flashed and flickered, blinking in tune with the jolly skip of the calliope while the call of a nearby carnie and the whoop of winning bells blared, somehow merging inextricably with the scent of kettle corn and fry bread.
    Walking oblivious to it all was a young woman, eyes unseeing on the trampled grass beneath her feet. Weaving in a seemingly random path, she walked unobstructed as other carnival-goers automatically shifted to leave a bubble of space around her. Whatever burden she carried, they wanted no part of, even to acknowledge, else it dim their frantic merriment.
    She watched the woman glide through the crowd, auburn tresses hanging halfway down her back. Her skin was absurdly pale and drawn, with shadows seeming to reach into her very soul. Grief poured off her in nearly visible waves. Something in this young woman’s demeanor pulled at her and she took a step forward.
    Slender fingers, adorned only by a single ring, reached out to touch the young woman’s sleeve. Pale blue eyes rose to slide over the woman clothed in jeans and a black t-shirt. Silver chains dangling multi-colored pendants circled her neck, while long peacock feather earrings swung from her ears. A ruffled pixie cap of black hair framed large almond eyes. The blankness of her pale gaze made the woman shiver. Nonetheless, she was still drawn to speak.
    “Ma’am? Are you alright?”
    The woman seemed to thaw a little and nodded.
    “Yes.. no..,” she paused and took a deep breath, “Would you mind…a reading..”
    “Of course, come on in.” The tent was sparsely furnished, despite all the nonsense expected of fortune tellers. She preferred it that way. She did bow to tradition enough to have a deep amethyst tablecloth with threads of silver woven throughout and soft incense scenting the air. It wasn’t for her clients, but instead for her own pleasure. She began to pull her cards out of their rosewood box.
    “I heard you could read without the cards.” The soft voice froze her. Not many knew of her skill, and less believed. She considered the redheaded woman before her.
    “Very well.” She placed her hands on the table and waited. After only a moment’s hesitation, cold, pale fingers rested in her own. There was a fragility in those small bones that seemed to cut to her very core, brittle and breaking. The world spun and dimmed for what seemed like an eternity. Wave after wave of grief and emptiness rolled over her in excruciating spikes. Short, wavery breaths reached her ears; it took her a moment to realize they were her own.
    The woman began to speak in a voice of falling mist, “You can see, but cannot see. Once, I loved beyond all hope, but it was lost to foolishness. I could see past the pretense to the heart of things, but didn’t realize the importance of the pretense. Your path is mine, I’m afraid. Don’t choose the same road. You have two choices before you. One may seem to bring happiness but will lead only to great sorrow, and the other will bring you your soul. It will be hard to see, and harder to choose. I must warn you that you hold more than your own life in your hands.” Something cold pressed into her palm. “I can only leave you this, but I hope it brings you luck.”
    She heard the flap of the tent, and the wave of carnie air long before her vision and breathing returned to normal. In her hand lay a simple sapphire ring set in silver. Something in the stone seemed to hold golden filaments of light that shifted as it moved. Sliding it onto the ring finger of her right hand, she smiled bemusedly. For once in her life, she’d been asked for a reading and been given one in return, and not only that, but a puzzle besides. She could never resist a puzzle.

  2. 96fangorn says:

    A short one

    “Sit, sit!
    My dear, dear sweet child, listen. Listen to me now.”
    It was just like my daily horoscope:
    “You will feel open to new ideas tomorrow.
    You will open up to new beginnings in your life tomorrow!”
    (Somewhere here some amount of money was given)
    Funny, because the next day I asked my boyfriend if we should move in together.
    He said no, so I guess the fortune was a scam.
    But let’s be serious because don’t we all know that?

  3. 1314tay says:

    Walking through the crowded lines trying I get to the lemonade stand at this awful overcrowded fair that our town has every year, an older woman with colorful drapes wrapped around her touches my arm. Her cold long soft infers startled me so my instinct reaction was to jump away and ask her what her problem was. Only to find her a very fragile sweet looking lady with very gray hair and so bright and colorful; she looked very inviting so when she asked me to come into her tent I didn’t think twice about it. It also didn’t help that I felt awful for telling at her so I would pretty much do anything she asked at this point. When she escorted me into the dark tent it sent chills all over my body and I grabbed my arms to rub of my goose bumps. She had me take a seat infront of a desk with a lamp and an odd crystal ball on the middle. I started to get pretty freaked out but I knew if I screamed someone would hear me outside of the tent. “Hello sweetie, I would like to tell you your fortune today.” Thinking to myself I just want to get this over with and the fact that I didn’t believe in stuff like this I told her to go ahead. She took my palm and then looked up at me and told me with a smile that I was going to be very happy soon. This was such a relief considering I had been going through tough times. Then she stopped and her face got really pale. She looked me in my eyes and told me that I was going to loose someone very close to me very soon. My heart was racing fast and I started crying. That’s when I woke up. Sweating vigorously I was panting from how terrifying that dream was, but it seemed so real, was it true? Will I loose someone I love? Will I gain someone in return? So many questions I had unanswered.

  4. 1314campbell says:

    I was skeptical enough walking into the mysterious fortune teller’s tent, but now I felt more uneasy than ever exiting through the dark purple curtains into the harsh sunlight. Something just wasn’t right. Every passerby seemed to be threatening with their seemingly harmless expressions. But you can never be too careful, too cautious. Of course it didn’t help that all I could focus on were the final, parting words from the dear fortune teller. Her warnings of a near-death experience ran constantly through my mind. She gave no more details than that. “Your time is near, but with some amount of luck…” She continued massaging my hand, carefully examining the lines spread out in every direction like a map on my increasingly sweaty palms. “You don’t have much of it, the luck that is, but perhaps fate will smile on you today in the form of a rescue.” Well I could have told you I had the worst luck in the county. I didn’t need to pay someone to tell me that. What I couldn’t have told you however was the identity of this strange man rapidly approaching me. He smiled in delight. It didn’t seem like a creepy smile, but all the same I diverted my eyes to the ground and began to walk in the opposite direction. His urgent tone called out, “Hey! Miss Campbell?!” Uh why is saying my name? HOW does he know my name? A quick glance back and suddenly these familiar characteristics began to take shape. No…it couldn’t be. John Smith, a childhood friend, high school sweetheart, a piece from my past…placed his two hands on my shoulders, whirled me around to face him, astonished. Thoughts were coming at a jumble, much less distinctive words, so I was left speechless. He removed his strong grip from my shoulders to my right hand, much like the fortune teller had done just moments before. Again, her words rang through my mind, this time mixed with a million questions concerning the sudden appearance of Mr. Smith. Staring intently into my eyes, he unfolded my fingers to place a plastic card in them, then closing all five back around. “Man it’s great to see you. How are you? I bet it’s been at least 5 years, I swear. God you look good.” The compliments kept coming and I was more stunned than ever. With still no response, I took a gander at the item which he had placed in my possession. My driver’s license? Weird. I noticed he noticed my confusion at the entire situation as he began to explain in more depth… “You’ll never believe this; I just came from the fortune teller’s tent! She clearly wasn’t expecting a customer because this…” He paused to shake my wrist which was still clasping my license. “was on the table! One look and I knew it was you. I just couldn’t believe my eyes. wow, you really look good just blows my mind you’re back in the hometown! anyways, She tried to like scurry back to the table and grab it, but I was already holding it. I think she wanted your info or something. It’s a scam- that fortune teller stuff. Say, would you care for a drink? There’s a lemonade stand right over yonder. You look as parched as the Sahara.”

  5. 1314nixon says:

    I walk into the dark tent taking in the atmosphere of quietness and loneliness. The old fortune teller sat in the corner looking more like a ghost than a human. She had to be at least hundred years old, her long robes all but swallowed her up.

    “Sit,” she whispered.

    Surprised I sat down hastily, onto a wooden chair that creaked under my weight.

    “You want to know what I see before you”

    The only reason I was really in there though is because the guys had dared me, and I couldn’t turn down something so easy. As we sat there she took out a glass globe and began to speak into it. I was taken aback by this; sure I had seen movies where people did this but never in real life.
    She was looking into the bright shiny globe now, with an intense look upon her face.

    “Your future is dark, I see hard ships ahead.”

    I laughed shaking it off. Was this the best she could do?

    “Shawn, you have been through many things.’

    Thrown off I just looked at her. How did she know my name? The guys most have came in before me and told her I would be coming in later. That was like them, always pulling tricks on me. We stared at each other for a few minutes, neither wanting to be the first one to speak.

    “How did you do that,” I say finally talking no louder than a mouse.

    “I can see your past, present, and future,” was the reply given.

    Needless to say I was getting worried. This old hag new my name and was trying to persuade me to believe her bull. Not wanting to look like a coward, I played along.

    “Oh yeah,” with a smirk upon my face, “Tell me something that’s going to happen today.”

    “You will meet an old friend, one of whom you do not share well times together.”

    This was starting to scare me. She looked more human now, like she was feeding off of my thoughts or actions. How could see now so much? Was this the guys playing tricks or was she really predicting the future.

    “Fine,” was my counter, “If I am to meet someone bad tell me something good that shall come to pass?”

    “You will make it through seeing someone who had done you much wrong, to be taken back by your loved
    ones.

    As I walked out I couldn’t believe what she had told me. I would be taken back by my loved ones. I could go home; and then looking up stood the man whom I had never wanted to see again, and with only one thing on my mind I smiled.

  6. 1314slone says:

    The fairs always seem to bore me. The same routine every day: set up Georgie’s fortune telling booth, clean the crystal ball, clean the purple carpet, and get dressed up like a modern gypsy, and wait on every annoying seeker that asks for Georgie’s advice. She’s talking to a freaking ball for Christ sake. I guess that’s why I’ve never asked for my fortune.

    “Angie, will you allow me to read your fortune to you today?”

    “Same answer as always, no.”

    “Just once Angie. It never hurt anyone to have a little insight into their future..”

    “Georgie, if I let you do it this once, will you please never ask me again?”

    Georgie squealed.. I guess she was pretty excited, this could be very good or very bad. Oh well. Here goes nothing.
    Taking my seat in the beautiful blue and gold chair, Georgie began to softly run her fingers over the ball in front of her.
    Did that just move? I think I’ve worked here too long. Balls don’t have clouds in them..

    “Oh Angie, you’re future will have such a turn of events. You’re life will forever be changed today.”

    “What do you mean Georgie?..”

    “You’re going to lose something very close to you only to get it returned, so you could give it away yourself. ”

    Confused I said. “Yes Georgie I’m so glad you enlightened me on that..”

    Georgie sat back in her chair, confident that what she told me would miraculously change my view on things I guess. I just shook my head and walked away. Some fortune huh? “Getting something taken away, getting it back, only to give it away myself?” How stupid. The day continued on like normal. I worked the whole day listening to horrific fortunes, happy fortunes, funny fortunes, and some just plain stupid ones. Like come on people.. It’s not that hard to guess you have great opportunities ahead of you. Doesn’t everyone? The day began to slow and this little blonde shaggy headed boy walked into the booth. Last customer of the day, lets get this over with Georgie. I instructed him to sit and Georgie proceeded to read his fortune.
    “You’re true self will be revealed and given mercy today.”

    The little boy nodded, handed me his money, and walked out without another word. Strange, but hey I was off now. Cleaning up the booth, I realized I never put the money away from the little boy. As I was leaving the booth, I saw the little boy carrying my money box down the fair grounds just as casual as could be. I yelled stop and began chasing after him. He whipped his head around and sprinted around the gaming center. I’ve worked here long enough to know a few short cuts, so I bumped into him just as he was running by. I grabbed his arm and jerked him back out into the open.
    “Hey kid. Give me back my money. I really need that!”

    Lowering his head, he gradually handed me the black box.

    “Why we’re you thinking?! Do you realize that was wrong?”

    Still no answer. I got a head shake. That’s it. I sighed and released him.

    “What’s your name kid?”

    “Conner..”

    “Well Conner, wanna tell me why you took my box?”

    “My mom said I needs the money to help with the doctor bills,” starts sniffling. “My older brother’s sick with something called loo..loo.leukemia? No one will tell me why or what it is. Alls I know is he’s getting worser every day. That lady was right.. I’m a bad kid.”

    “No you’re not Conner. What you did was wrong, but the thought wasn’t. I think I have about $500 in here… Take it and help your brother.”

    “But.. but you were so mad. I don’t deserve it..”

    Taking the roll of cash out, I opened him little palm and pressed the money hard into it.

    “Take the money.”

    Conner just nodded his head real fast and grinned as wide as the Grand Canyon or more. He slowly approached me and hugged me just hard enough for me to know that he meant it. He motioned for me with his little finger to bend down, so he could tell me something. So I did.

    Putting his hands up to cup my ear, he whispered, “Georgie was right. You did give it away yourself even though you loved it. You’ll always be special to me. Thank you.”

    I just squeezed him tight, and at that moment I realized.. Maybe fortune tellers aren’t complete wack-jobs after all.

  7. 1314thorn says:

    Walking down an alley lined with festive booths selling funnel cakes, popcorn, and other typical fair foods. I popped my head phones in and continued walking alone until the food booths transitioned into games and entertainment booths. This was the part of the fair I really enjoyed. The crowds around the booths buzzed with excitement, but one booth had no crowd. The tent was covered in brightly colored canvas with strange designs. The entrance to the tent was open, and an ancient looking woman was sitting at a large table staring into space as if nothing around even fazed her. Above her head was a splintering wooden sign that looked as withered as she did. On it were the simple words ‘Fortune Teller’ When I stepped into her line of vision, her attention snapped to me.
    “Would you like to hear your fortune, my dear?”, the old woman asked smiling.
    “Sure.” I said smiling back. Even though I knew that most psychics were fake, I always wanted to have my fortune told.
    I sat down across from her and eyed the items on the desk. There were empty teacups, tarot cards, crystals, and books all over it.
    “Is this your first experience hearing your future?”
    I nodded in confirmation.
    “Then I’ll do it free of charge.”, she said graciously. “Give me your hands.” Hesitantly, I placed my hands in hers. Turning them over, she examined my palm, looking down through her crescent shaped eyeglasses. Tracing a long crease in my hand she said, “This line indicates long life, but this one indicates plenty of trials in your life.” She looked at my other hand. “I think we should do a tea leaf reading. I will pour you a cup of tea, and once you drink it, I’ll read the leaves left at the bottom of your cup.”
    She walked to back of the tent and poured the tea. When she came back she handed me the cup and motioned for me to drink it. As soon as I finished she took the cup from me and looked inside.
    “This is very strange, indeed. I usually don’t have such interesting readings. Listen carefully, you life will definitely be a long one, but if you continue the path that you are on you are going to wish it were over sooner. I’m afraid that’s all I can say.”
    Her words chilled me. That was supposed to be an ‘interesting reading’? Crazy old women.
    “Alright I guess.” I got up raising my eyebrows. As I turned to leave she grabbed me by the forearm.
    “This is very serious, Alicia. Don’t take this lightly.”
    When I got away from the tent I realized that I’d never told the psychic my name. Maybe I should take her more seriously.

  8. Taylor Pyland says:

    I walked into the small, strangely lit circus tent, thinking that this was just another fun booth at the local fair. Little did I know that the strange woman waiting for me inside was going to tell me more about my future and fate than I had ever even imagined. I slowly approached the woman, who just stared at me. I tried to smile, but I’m sure it came across the wrong way considering I was regretting ever stepping into the creepy tent. When I finally reached the table where the woman was sitting, she smiled, and suddenly all the worry in my brain went away. It was the most welcoming smile I’d ever seen. She said hello is a soft sweet voice. I returned the gesture.
    She asked, “What can I help you with today,” to which I replied, “Shouldn’t you be telling me that?” We both laughed, and I took a seat. She then began asking simple questions, such as, what my name was? Where I lived? What school I went to? What was my favorite color? All things I found very irrelevant to telling my fortune, but who was I to question her philosophy. She then stopped and stared at me with the most frightened look I had ever seen. I didn’t know what to say. She finally spoke.
    “You made a huge decision today, didn’t you?” I blankly stared at her. How did she know? “How did Jake take the news?” A little gasp escaped my lips. She knew about the break up. I was creeped out by her knowledge about my life, yet still so curious. I answered her. “Not well, he was pretty torn up about it.” She smiled. I was confused by her sudden change in mood, and she spoke again. “Despite the awful decision you made today, all of your dreams are going to come true. However, Jake was the one you were supposed to spend your life with. You threw away the most important person in your life to live out what you thought was your dreams. But now, are you so sure?”
    I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. Live out my dreams, it sounded perfect to me. But then again, missing out on the person I was supposed to spend forever with is quite a downfall. I looked into the teller’s eyes, she never did stop smiling. A small tear rolled down my cheek, and I slowly stood up and walked out of the tent that changed my outlook on life forever.

  9. 1314buie says:

    “Fortune Telling”, the banner said, hanging right above the sketchy ol’ shack, supposively called a booth. “Can I help you?” The little old lady asked. “Uh, sure.” I said. I couldn’t believe I was spending seven dollars on this, so called “fortune”. “I’m a fortune teller. Would you like to know your fortune?” She asked. “I guess so.” I said nervously. “Okay, but you have to know, with a good fortune, comes a bad one. Which would you like to hear first?” “Uhm, it doesn’t matter.” I said. I mean what’s the worst it could be? She’s just an old hag that probably made this up a few minutes ago. I bet she thinks it might scare me. Who knows.
    “You don’t need to get in the car with Daniel tonight. It’s not a good idea.” First, how does she even know him? Second, why is she telling me what I need to do? She doesn’t know me. “The best thing for you to do when you get ready to leave the fair tonight, is to call your dad. Tell him he needs to come pick you up. At this point, I am still concerned as to why I’m not allowed to get in the car with Danny. So I ask, why can’t I just go with Daniel? “The reason you can’t go with him is because he will be in a wreck tonight, and if you go, you’re probably not gonna survive.” Okay, now I’m freaking out. What was supposed to be the “good” fortune in this?
    “But here is the good news, when Daniel gets out of the hospital, he’s gonna tell you something that’s he’s been wanting to tell you for months.” Oh my goodness. I wonder if this is what I thought it was. Daniel and I have been dating for over two years, and we’ve never said it. I can’t wait!! “Thank you.” I said as I walked away. I was speechless.

  10. 1314jordan says:

    I glanced up at the old woman’s crinkled eyes, and thought to my self just how stupid this was. Why did I spend a perfectly fine five dollar bill on this fake hocus pocus? “My dear, are you listening to me?” The old woman spoke through my thoughts. “I’m sorry, what was it that you said?” I replied slowly. ” You must not get on that ferris wheel, when that boy Bilbo asks you to. You must not.” “What? How do you know him?” Surely the old hag over heard him speaking to me earlier in the day. How did she know I was planning on going with him for a ride anyways? She ignored my questions altogether, and replied, “But the good news is after he gets out of the hospital he will decide just how important you are to him.” My jaw dropped, and I didn’t even try to hide my shock. I stared at the woman with utter amazement. “Are you crazy? How dare you even suggest something about someone you don’t know. Where in the world are you getting these crazy ideas?” I was becoming a bit frantic. Instead of answering my questions, the elderly lady looked at me with pity, patted my hand, and simply said,” You’ll see my dear. You’ll see.” Before I could reply she ushered me out, and into the crowd around me.

  11. Hunter1 says:

    This was like no other county fair that I have ever seen! There were tons of people and no end to the rides and food. I ate all sorts of new and exciting foods and was feeling full.I just wanted to sit down and relax, until this heavy set, unusually dressed, middle aged woman approached me. She handed me a card that read” First reading is FREE.”

    I was exited that something was FREE. What a blessing! I took the card and walked through the red velvet drapes into a dimly lit room,where I could see only a small table and two wooden stools. There was a candle in the middle of the table that barely set off enough light to see even the slightest silhouette.
    I sat down immediately and was quite anxious to hear my fortune. Although, I do not usually believe in this sort of thing;what did I have to lose? This unusual lady placed my hand in hers and began telling me that something good was going to happen and something bad.
    First,I was going to marry the most handsome,sensitive and wealthiest man in town.This man was going to give me a beautiful twins. But there was one major drawback.My husband was going to die within a week.
    There was nothing anyone could do about this. The cause of the death will be unknown and no one will ever be able to figure out what happened.But I will be blamed for his death;maybe even brought up on charges for murder. Eventually the charges will be dismissed.But it will make my life miserable.And who knows how long I will be in jail?
    Once the hell is over, my son and I will enjoy the wealth and happiness.Our lives will be blissfully happy with all of the money that we were left. But will we make it through the HELL?? No one knows.
    After she read me my fortune, I walked out of the small room and no sooner did I see the most handsome man ever to walk my path. I seemed to know him already. He took my right hand and placed a small wet kiss on it,creating this unexplainable heat to spread throughout my body. It was all true.
    I left the fair feeling a new excitement.Even though this was supposed to be my future, I prayed for a different ending.And when I realized the card that was still in my hand; I threw it away, hoping that this man would be with me forever.

  12. Layne says:

    This is probably too long, but I had fun just free-writing it…so, oh well. Sorry.

    “I know, Jillian, goddamn it, I know.”

    “It was making that clickity-clockity sound all week and I said you needed to take her in, didn’t it? I told you we’d end up broke down on the frontage, and look what’s happened? We’re broke down on the frontage.”

    “I know, Jillian.”

    “You’re about as useful as a dead dog, you know that?”

    “I know.”

    The argument – if it even was that – had kicked off an hour back when the Jeep started spitting bits of metal from its underbelly out onto the highway in clumps of grease and rust. Jillian had screamed, scared at first when the shuddering took the Jeep like we’d been scooped up onto some kind of tilt-a-whirl, then her scream pitched downward and the fear turned into anger which she directed straight at me. I had trouble getting the Jeep down the exit ramp and onto the frontage with her fist slamming into my shoulder every couple seconds, voice grunting like an irate gorilla. She could get that way sometimes, and after twelve years of marriage, I just thought of it as her ‘animal moments’. Didn’t make it easier, but I could laugh internally through the fits if I pretended I was watching some carny sideshow throwing poop at the audience from a caged platform.

    That’s how marriage is, I suppose. But at that moment, I had been focusing on not crashing, keeping us alive. We finally stopped on the shoulder and I called the nearest auto repair shop.

    It took the tow-truck about twenty minutes to show. They hooked us up and we rode in the front cab with the air conditioner running as strong as the country music station on the radio. When we pulled off the frontage, Jillian was eyeballing me from her window seat, her way of saying, “What the hell kinda circus are you taking me now, dipshit?”

    I actually agreed with her. The tow truck drove us under a rusted arch with metalwork letters that spelled out ‘La La Land’, or I think that’s what it was meant to say, and into a carnival gone sour. When Jillian realized I wasn’t going to respond to her – though how the hell she thought I could do that, I’d never been good at non-verbal communication – she started muttering foulness under her breath, but driver didn’t seem to notice as he hummed along to some country lover-gone-lost song, so I ignored her too and just stared out the front into a nightmare of rusted metal and faded paint. If it had been dark out, I would have pissed myself.

    The truck turned a corner past some boarded up food stands, and pulled into a large warehouse that looked- thank god – like an auto shop. He stopped and another man waved us out, asking the model-make of our Jeep, assuring us he knew what the hell he was doing, and don’t mind the atmosphere, kids, it’s just a rotting corpse wearing clown makeup is all.

    Jillian took a seat and I stood next to her feeling like I shouldn’t sit down in case there were manly chores to see-to even though I knew I was out-of-my-league when it came to vehicle repair. I wandered to the back office just to have something to do and poured myself a paper cup of water from the fountain.

    “Hey man,” a young voice said, and I turned. He was sitting behind the desk, peering around the open screen of a laptop and smiling like we were old friends. I nodded, took a sip of water. He nodded back, and his grin went clown-like.

    “Hey man, you that Jeep out there?”

    “Yeah.”

    “That’s what I thought.”

    “Yeah.”

    “Hey man, you want a fortune read or something? I mean, while you wait?”

    “Uh,” he took me off guard, “uh, no. Maybe my wife…”

    “Naw man, I don’t do ladies. ‘Men only’, says my MeMaw, god rest her soul. She don’t like me telling fortunes for the ladies. You want a fortune read?”

    He must have seen the sickness on my face, because he stood shaking his head and waving his hands in front of him.

    “Naw man, ain’t nothing weird, just a fortune. My MeMaw used to own this place, this carnival see, and she taught me stuff before she passed. Said I had the gift, whatever the hell that is, but I can see some things…sometimes. How ’bout it?”

    I looked out the office interior window and saw my wife bolt-right in the chair, fanning herself with something and looking like she was pissing cats.

    “Sure,” I heard myself say, but goddamn if I knew why.

    The youths eyes lit and his clown-grin returned, then he smashed his fist into my nose and everything went black.

    I woke up to his grinning face hovering over me and saying something I couldn’t hear over the ringing in my head. The dimness adjusted and I could make out his laughing and all I could think of was, ‘I think I just pissed myself.’ But I hadn’t.

    He helped me off the ground. I should have walked out right then, but I don’t know, it was too much I think, and I stood there knowing I was about to get stabbed by this kid.

    “Aw man, I’m sorry, that’s just how I work. I gotta add violence and contact to get the juice going,” he said, pressing a cold pack on my head.

    “Yeah.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I took the cold pack from him and looked out the window again. Jillian hadn’t moved, hadn’t turned to check on me.

    “Man, you got some weird shit up there.” The youth was giving me a strange look when I turned back around.

    “What do you mean?”

    “I mean, you got some strange shit going on in your head. You got the Trash Angel, man. That ain’t good, but it ain’t all bad. It’s like,” he paused, squinted his eyes, “…like an angel that lives in filth, I guess you could say. You got something evil in your life. You think it’s all pure milk and honey, but that’s what the Trash Angel does to a man. Makes ‘em think it’s shit clean, but it ain’t. It, like, wallows in it’s own filth and it pulls you in deep with it.”

    I just stared at him.

    “You get that out of your life, you’ll be fine. You don’t and you’ll do some sick shit later. That’s the way with Trash Angels, always has been. Right now your, like, aura and shit is some deep purple bruise color. If you keep going like this, man, it’ll be turd-soup in no time. Then you’ll do some sick shit.” He finished with a shrug and went back to the desk and sat. A moment later it was like I wasn’t in the room anymore, he was click-clicking away on the laptop, so I turned and walked back to my wife.

    Jillian was fanning herself with a paper plate crusted over with the remnants of ketchup and mustard. The smell coming off the air she made kicked my stomach and I tasted bile in my throat. She looked up at me, glaring like I’d passed gas. I sat.

    “It was making that sound all goddamn week and you didn’t do a goddamn thing.”

    “I know.”

    I grabbed her hand and squeezed it. Marriage is like that, I suppose.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Believable dialogue and story telling. A perfect description of a horror marriage. Gritty tone to it. Somethimg’s going to happen to one or the other and it’s not roses, champagne and rainbows. This type of mode you’re writing in, would work well for a murder who-done-it. It also woks for this prompt.

      Now for exercise, rewrite it into 500. It can be done and not lose any punch to your story. If you haven’t done this type of rewrite, the first exercise will be a nightmare. But again and again, it will become easier and tighten your writing.

      I’d like to see more prompts from you. Nice job on this one, but you’ve burnt 800 words or so.

    • jhowe says:

      Nice story Layne. I liked it a lot. The extra words were well spent.

    • mnj1193 says:

      I don’t even care that it is over the limit. Good write!

  13. positiveaob says:

    Jake took in his surroundings in the dark booth and, with a skeptical expression on his face, handed over a dollar bill to the extravagantly costumed woman across the table from him.

    “If you can predict the future, couldn’t you make a lot more money than this?”, he said.

    “My powers don’t work that way, darling. I just channel the visions as they come to me.”

    As she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, Jake shook his head dubiously. She mumbled something unintelligible under her breath, then after several rapid breaths she suddenly opened her eyes wide.

    “You have had problems with a relationship recently?”

    “What guy hasn’t?”

    “And you have experienced a tragedy in your life?”

    “Again, who hasn’t?”

    “But this tragedy led to the problems with your relationship?”

    Jake paused for a moment. She couldn’t possibly know about that.

    “That’s pretty general,” he said. “Could you be more specific?”

    She ignored him as she closed her eyes and took a few more deep breaths.

    “You lost someone special at a young age. Something your girlfriend did reminded you of that. And this led to an argument.”

    Jake’s body went ice-cold. He began to open his mouth to interrupt, but she continued.

    “In fact, it was that tragedy that led to the last break-up also. You have never been able to let go of what happened at the river when you were five.”

    “But how…”

    “Hush”

    She closed her eyes again. When she began speaking again, it was in a deep, husky voice.

    “Two things will happen when you leave my tent. Someone close to you will suddenly become much richer. But soon after, someone will die a horrible fiery death!”

    She opened her eyes again, now panting heavily as if she had exhausted herself in the effort.

    “Tell me more! What happens? I need more specifics!”

    “Sorry darling,” she said in a normal voice. “But your time is up. You have to go now.”

    Jake walked out of the tent in disbelief. Surely, she must have had some trick to state what she just did. He shook it off slowly and walked on.

    As he passed the next booth, he heard a loud roar as a small crowd gathered around a man jumping up and down, smiling and yelling “I did it, I did it!”

    As Jake worked his way through the crowd, he asked one of the people in the crowd what happened.

    “He just one the jackpot. $10,000! No one has ever won that before!”

    Jake smiled and shook his head. Still just a coincidence, he told himself.

    But as he walked on, she saw something that stopped him in his tracks. At a nearby booth, a juggler picked up several torches and began juggling them. Nearby, a small dog broke loose from the small child who was holding it. As the dog ran towards the juggler’s feet, the small child chased after it. The juggler appeared completely unaware of the approaching danger as he fixated on the flames in the air.

    Jake’s eyes opened wide. He screamed out, “NO! Watch out!” and raced towards the child. At what seemed like the last moment, he snatched the child up in his arms as the juggler caught the flames safely and ended his routine.

    The child’s mother ran over and took the child in her arms, thanking Jake profusely.

    As they walked away, Jake looked back and saw that the fortune teller’s booth was already closed.

    “Well, I guess she wasn’t right about everything,” he thought to himself as he lit a cigarette to calm his nerves.

    The fair was winding down for the day, so Jake headed back for his car. People win money all the time, he thought to himself, and no one actually died a fiery death.

    “She sure had me going for a bit,” he muttered to himself and chuckled about it. As he pulled out onto the road, he took a long drag from his cigarette and flung it out his window. As he watched the road in front of him, the unfinished cigarette blew back in through his rear window and landed gently in his back seat.

  14. cecoburn says:

    Don’t be shy, it’s alright. Come in, come in. There now, have a seat. The atmosphere in here, it’s good? Drapes from Russia. Hand beaded by my grandmother. Sit. You’re here today for to have your fortune read, yes? Get comfortable. Here, have some tea. Fresh brewed with orange peel and madagascar vanilla. The smell will relax you. You seem, very nervous. Ah, many people come, many go. Always looking for a sideshow attraction. I cannot create life for you, you understand? Life is yours. Life is what you make of it. I cannot tell you money comes to you, if you sit on fat butt and watch tv. I can only say what I see. You come to me today, but not for to be entertained. You come to know, don’t you?

             And why so tense? Shoulders very high, jaw is tight. Close your eyes and breathe. Breathe very deep, very slow. Many people who come, they want only entertainment. They do not believe. But you, you know that I can see you. That I have already seen you. I know why you are here. You have a darkness on your soul. Oh, and what you have done to get it. Here, give me hand. You’re life line, ah, so it has grown shorter. You’re love line, it is deep. You’re love will remain unrequited for the rest of your life. Harsh but true. You are a dark spirit, aren’t you? The one you love is pure of heart. She can never love you. You will never see your love again for the rest of your life, which isn’t very long I’m afraid as you will die alone in the cold. Tonight.

             Ah, now, sit down. You want to know how don’t you? Yes, of course you do. Now, come back and sit down. Yes, come on, sit. There. The darkness in your soul…here drink. Finish your tea. Yes, the darkness in your soul will consume you. You will be sent straight to hell. This is bad news yes? However, there is one thing you can do. More tea? No? Alright then. This thing, could save your immortal soul. Your love, will also die tonight. While you’re lying in an ally way bleeding to death, left to suffer with all you’ve done, she will be on her way to meet a date. When she tries to cross street in rain she is struck by car and killed instantly.The world will suffer for her loss. But…you could save her.

             Oh, you want to know how yes? Well, this session is almost over. No time for more details. Unless, you’d like to book more time? Good. Money in goes in jar. Where was I? Oh! Your immanent death, that’s right. Yes, you will die tonight. There’s no mistake about that. Why tell you then? You have choice. You can die, and go to hell, where you belong. Or, you can save pretty girlfriend and maybe St. Peter will not be so quick to turn you away. You choose. How do I know? I know. Don’t waste time. If you go to ally way fifteen minutes earlier than you had planned for, you will be hit by car instead. Pretty girl will go on date, and marry. Be happy, have children and good life. She will forget you ever existed. You, well, you still die, but, your soul may be saved. Sounds like easy choice? It’s not. Saving girl means her loving someone else. She could die, with the last lips she kissed being yours. The last one who held her, was you. Or you could save her life, and give her to another. Not so easy now? Ha! Go then, make your choice.

  15. tricia4752 says:

    “Seriously? You want to go to the county fair?”

    “Why not?” Justin replies, grinning. “It’s something different. It could be fun.”

    And now I’m grinning too, remembering all those summers at my grandparents’ place, all those times Grandpa Ted took me to the Geauga County fair. It was there that he taught me to tell one breed of sheep from another, showed me how to milk a cow, talked one of his buddies from the feed store into letting me ride a quarter horse around the exercise ring. Not that any of those were skills a suburban kid with braces and a well-worn library card was ever going to need, but that fair was my favorite part of summer.

    The year I turned thirteen, there was a woman with a hot plate and a bag of marbles making jewelry. She’d roll a marble around in a hot skillet, then drop it into a bowl of ice. The inside of the marble shattered, but it didn’t break apart. It looked like it was full of ice crystals, and I thought those marbles were the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. Grandpa Ted let me pick one and she made me a necklace from it. I wore it constantly for two years, until I started high school. God, that was a long time ago.

    The Franklin County Fair is nothing like that. No pigs, no cattle, no homemade jam competition. We watch a hip-hop demonstration and a double dutch jump rope competition. We eat elephant ears and share a lemon shake-up. Now I’ve had enough sugar that I’m bouncing in the seat on the Ferris Wheel. Justin’s happy when we’re back on the ground.

    ‘Let’s get our fortunes told,” he suggests, dragging me toward a small tent with a cheesy sign in front. I groan, but decide to humor him. Madam Rochelle is only too glad to see us, or more specifically to see the twenty Justin pulls from his wallet. “You first,” he tells me, gesturing me into the tent.

    It’s predictably dark but at least there’s no creepy music. Madam Rochelle takes my hand and studies my palm. Just when the silence is starting to bug me, she says, “A man will break your heart. The one who helps you heal will be your true love.” I barely resist rolling my eyes.

    Afterward, I won’t tell Justin my fortune. “The whole thing was stupid,” I insist. “Let’s go home.” It was stupid, plus I don’t want him to think that now I’m waiting for him to break my heart.

    When we get to the car, I pull out my phone and notice I have a voicemail. It’s my dad. “Baby, I’m so sorry to leave a message with bad news, but Mom and I need to get on the road. It’s Grandpa Ted. He had a massive stroke. He didn’t make it, honey.”

    I’m weeping, and then Justin is pulling me into his arms. “Whatever it is, I’m here for you,” he murmurs, stroking my back.

  16. THE GYPSY TENT
    ==============

    I wandered through the county fair,
    With plenty of coin and time to spare.
    Carnies barking to and fro,
    ‘Spin the wheel’ and ‘enjoy the show.’

    Neither bearded ladies nor muscle men,
    No golden goose, no ribboned hen.
    Not magic tricks with hands so sly.
    Nothing really caught my eye.

    Then an ancient tent I did spot,
    With a single pennant up on top.
    Faded yellow and dirty white,
    Torn and stitched, ’twas quite a sight.

    As I ambled very near,
    The sudden quiet was strangely queer.
    Summer sun and laughter bright,
    Were muted by murk’d twilight.

    ‘Enter at your peril,’ was I bid,
    From a gravelly voice deep in the mid.
    As if guided by spellcast song,
    Into the tent, I went along.

    Wretched stink, leather and rot,
    Health and wealth, here was not.
    A dirty kerchief wrapped her head.
    She didn’t move. I thought her dead.

    Eyes frozen in sightless clouds,
    Shoulders wrapped in knitted shrouds.
    Gnarled hands told a timeless past,
    As they gripped on crystal glass.

    “Your future, yes?” the corpse did croak.
    I swallowed bile before I spoke
    “Aye,” said I. “How’re my tomorrows?
    Is there gladness or only sorrows?”

    “A mixed bag, that much is certain.
    Would you peek behind the curtain?
    A glimpse of what worlds there be,
    If only you will pay the fee.”

    I emptied my pockets then and there,
    Desperate and hurried to set us square.
    Into a box with an ornate lid,
    I gave her all my hard-earned quid.

    The gypsy spirited away the box.
    I was taken aback. Quick as a fox!
    “No, young man. That’s not payment full.
    ‘Tis goodsome start, but coin’s not soul.”

    My heart ached for words unhidden.
    Even if ’twas deemed forbidden.
    She looked at me, peered in my mind.
    With powers beyond the common kind.

    All my sins, great and small,
    Were laid open bare, dreams and all.
    Money, lovers and bauble things,
    Power, master of underlings.

    The hag lurched up and took my hand.
    Her gypsy ring marked its brand.
    The deal was done, my soul was sold.
    Now my fortune could be told.

    “The Future is a Nest of Worms.
    Consume the World. Wiggles and Squirms.
    The Strands of Life. The Shears of Fate.
    What makes the Balance, Love or Hate?”

    I left her tent, stunned and dazed.
    The moon was full, a ghastly phase.
    Stumbling late to my flop-house cot,
    It wasn’t long before I forgot.

    The years since have been fair and kind.
    A beautiful bride, a lucky find.
    An easy ride to comfort and life,
    Devoid of handicap and strife.

    A charmed life, that much is clear.
    I thought as much as I whistled near
    The gaming grounds of the county fair.
    Lights and music and candy air.

    Many summers have come and gone,
    But the gypsy tent, it went on and on.
    My heart went dark and my stomach turned,
    As my memory flooded in return.

    The pennant flapped in an angry breeze.
    That marked the end of my life in ease.
    The gypsy devil says I’ve had my fill.
    My time is up. Gotta pay the bill.

  17. JR MacBeth says:

    Today we’re going to a village at the western edge of Terah’s largest continent. It’s going to be my debut, the first time I can show off my talent for the old languages, outside of holo that is. The Guardian himself will be my judge, and he’s a tough SOB. If he doesn’t approve my app, I get to schlep it back for another three solears. Sure, we deep-sleep most of it, but the uptime is a bitch. Boring as hell, nothing ever happens. Not a goddamn thing!

    “It’s four kelos to the village, use the time to prepare.” The Guardian was a small man, and impossibly old. His raspy voice was beginning to grate on me. I did want to prepare, but how could I, when all he did was talk?

    “As I said before, the town is celebrating, a festival, many opportunities to interact with the natives…” He droned on. It was all I could do to focus my thoughts, and still keep the ridiculous skirt I was wearing from blowing up into my face. I had forgotten about local costumes.

    “Well son, are you ready?” We had arrived at the edge of town.

    “Yes sir, I am.”

    “Good. We’ll start right over there.”

    He pointed to an old woman, sitting in the shade of a tree. In her hands she held a large sea-shell.

    “Good morning madam.” I said.

    “Yes, it is.”

    “We have come from afar and—”

    “Shh!” she said. “Sit.” She pointed to two large rocks.

    “From afar ye have come. Pay, ye foreigners, pay two shills, and know thy destiny!”

    She took the coins and held the sea-shell up to her ear.

    “From afar ye have come, but soon ye shall return.” I cringed as she looked directly at me. The last thing I wanted was to have to go back to the ice-planet we call home. But, I’m not superstitious. I only have to go back if I fail.

    “But, ye shall also know love!” She smiled strangely as an image of Lila flashed in my head. Right! That will never happen. Some fortuneteller.

    Well, I’m not sure if it was the power of her suggestion, but the next two hours sealed my doom. Everyone spoke so fast! I couldn’t understand half of what was being said. And now it was time to go back.

    “Well, that could have gone better.”

    “Too true,” the Guardian said. “It isn’t holo, is it?”

    “No sir.”

    “Sorry son, but I guess you and Lila get return duty. You tried.”

    “Lila?”

    “You haven’t heard? Her breeding application was approved. She is quite eager to return now.”

    “No, I hadn’t heard.”

    As we left town, there was the old woman. “Thank you Madam, much obliged.” I tossed her another coin.

    “Glad you’re taking it so well, my son.”

    “Yes sir, I’m OK with it,” I shrugged, “It’s probably just my destiny.”

    The old woman winked at me. The next few years were looking good.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      I love the line, “Her breeding application was approved.” What a wonderful imaginative story you have here,easy to follow. I was thinking of “The Ice Planet.” I visualized a frozen ball, orbiting a dying star, far off in space.

      Your tempo is pefect in this story. I want to know all about these people. Your story is certainly a teaser for more.

    • don potter says:

      A most enjoyable tale. Impossibly old is a great description. I also agree with Kerry, the breeding application approval was a great line and perfectly place in the story.

    • DMelde says:

      Nice JR. Sea shell fortune telling, ice planets, and officially approved breeding. I have a feeling uptime isn’t going to be so boring on the schlep back. Great story.

    • very inventive, JR. i liked it.

  18. MrStormwell says:

    200 over, sorry.

  19. MrStormwell says:

    It’s been a long evening at our county fair. Jennifer and I have practically cleared every booth and every ride the fair has to offer. There is however, one booth left on our way out.
    “A fortune teller Jen?” I say
    “Oh come on, Theo, it’ll be fun, they always have something interesting to tell you, and we cannot leave this fair until we’ve done it all.”
    I can never turn down the way she smiles at me, and it’ll bother me to leave this fair at 99 percent. Jennifer and I love to try to conquer every fair, every theme park, practically any activity we take upon us.
    “Ok, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to waste a few minutes of my time.”
    We enter the tent.
    “Welcome, I sense a strong fortune with one of you. Have a seat, it’ll be five dollars per fortune,” says the Fortune Teller. “Which one of you will go first? Shall it be you…Theo, is it?”
    “Whoa… how the hell did you know my name?” I say
    “I am a real fortune teller my boy.”
    “I like how this is going already” Jennifer is all smiles; she must have set this up earlier if the woman knows my name.
    “Ok, so um, shoot.” I say
    The Fortune Teller takes my hand and cuffs it in her own, she shuts her eyes, this causes her to jolt, her eyes are rolling in the back of her head for a brief moment and she doesn’t say anything. The woman is a bit creepy for my liking.
    “I have two paths to present to you; it is your choice of which one to follow.” She says, with dread in her voice and a look of concern upon her face.
    “Theo, I have foreseen the future of now leading into the next week. It all starts when you walk into a gas station tonight, after you leave this place. You plan to buy a lottery ticket for the 100 million dollar jackpot when you are there. After you pay for your purchase, you will leave this gas station, another man will walk in and he will buy the second lottery ticket right after yours. Two days from now, you will learn the lottery numbers, and you will find that you had the winning ticket. You will be the happiest man on earth. What you didn’t know in what I have seen is that the man who walked in after you was ‘all-or-nothing’, if he doesn’t win the lottery which is a 1 in a million chance, he will commit a murderous act that will end with over 36 lives lost including that of his own. He has nothing left to live for if he doesn’t win, Theo. So what will it be? Will you take wealth for the lives of over 30 people? Or will you save them all and stick to your mediocre, middle class life? The numbers are 23-41-15-63-11-2”
    Baffled is the only way I can describe my feeling, by what she had just told me, as to how a fortuneteller would feed someone such negative garbage.
    “Thank you, I think we’ll be going now, have a great night.” I say.
    Of course, I stop at the gas station; anybody could have predicted that, it’s a pretty hefty jackpot. I purchase the ticket from the clerk, I pause and I look at the ticket. A man walks in and stands beside me, he begins to purchase a ticket as well. I read mine; the numbers are 23, 41, 15, 63, 11 and 2. I suddenly don’t feel so well. I feel like I had just seen a ghost, it’s just as she said, the numbers alone could not have been predicted like that. The man beside me sounds depressed as he asks for a power ball ticket. I intervene.
    “Sir, you can have mine, I don’t want it, I realized my wife had bought one already, and this is silly anyways, have mine, I hope you win.” I say
    “Oh, well thanks for saving me the few bucks…” He chuckles and seems grateful for the small, polite gesture.
    Two days have passed and power ball is in the newspaper. The winning numbers are 23, 41, 15, 63, 11 and 2.

  20. mzurawski2 says:

    The County Fair was grating on her nerves. Baby’s crying, children screaming, music blaring, vendors hawking their wares, and commotion at one of the rides. The noise lures Nancy into the quiet building. For a moment, Nancy thinks about her children, and all the fun they are having with Joey’s friend and his mom riding the rides. A lady with a gilded costume beckons Nancy to have a seat. The lady touches her hand and jolts backward. Honey, you‘re in a heap of trouble, disaster will strike you before you leave the fair! “What? “Exclaims Nancy. Nancy leaves abruptly dismissing the lady’s uttering’s. Looking around for her children and friends, as the fair is winding down, and doesn’t see familiar face in the crowd. Suddenly, she hears her name on the bullhorn coming from the deputy standing 30 feet from her.

    “Where are my family and friends?” asks Nancy. In her heart, she knew there was something wrong. After all, the fortuneteller said something bad was going to happen.
    Deputy: “Come with me!” Alone in a dimly lit office, the Deputy says, “I have bad news. “
    “What happened?”
    Deputy: “Nancy, your friend and three children were on a ride that malfunctioned. “
    “Are they ok?”
    Deputy: “No, she is at County Hospital. “
    “Where are the children? There are seven of them. “
    Deputy: “Three of the children are at the hospital with her. What are your children’s names? “
    Panicked, “my children are Nancy, Kathy, and Joey. Why?”
    Deputy:” Two of your children was on the ride when it malfunctioned. They were treated and released. The doctors waited over an hour for your call. The children are at the hospital waiting for you to get them. We’ve been paging you for hours; we left countless messages on your phone.”
    “My phone is in the car with my purse. I have no way to get to the hospital. I didn’t drive.”
    Deputy: “We will take you in a moment. Sign this report and we can go.”

    At the hospital, Joey’s yelling at his seven -year old sister “stop crying, mom will be here soon, she didn’t forget us. “ Nancy was so happy to see her children, she ran and hugged her children and started crying, thanking God Joey and Kathy were ok, and her friend and son were going to be ok.

    Kathy asked,”Mommy what took you so long, I was so scared.”
    “I couldn’t find you. My phone was in the car, when I went to the car no one was there. I presumed you were in the exhibits, shows, or on the rides. It wasn’t until I heard my name paged that I knew something was wrong. Now, tell me what happened. I want to hear all about your adventure.”

  21. nmdiaz says:

    “Come in. Come in.” The voice beckons.

    I step through the opening, the musty cloth flopping closed behind me. The cacophony of the fair immediately drops to a soft hum, the tent’s heavy canvas dampening everything except the occasional dull strike of a thrill seeker’s eager scream.

    A welcome relief from the sticky heat, the tent is cool and dim. My eyes adjusting, I glance around the cluttered womb, coming to rest on the table at its heart. A small, gnarled woman sits, swathed in an explosion of fabric, wrinkled hands folded neatly across her plump midsection.

    “Yes, come in then. Sit down here. Relax yourself. Take the load off your feet.”

    Her voice is gravelly, with the affected accent of gypsies from the old vampire flicks I sometimes catch, those late nights I can’t sleep. Clearly fake, I chuckle to myself. This whole thing is a scam, I know. But I have some time to kill, and the coolness is a relief, the chilled sweat on my neck already erupting a pleasant shiver. Worth the five bucks, I think, easing myself into the opposite chair, sliding the bill towards her.

    “No, no,” she clucks, gold earrings tinkling as she shakes her head. “Your first time, yes? This I make to you a gift.” She grins then, dark windows punctuating the absence of several teeth.

    I silently chastise her. How does she expect to make any money if she gives it away to every virgin that stumbles her way? Still, I’ve never been one to look a gift horse in the mouth, even one as homely as this, so I just smile and settle back.

    She smiles too, reading under the table. Her heavily-ringed hand reappears with a stack of worn cards. Shuffling them briskly, she begins the work of turning them one by one, brows furrowed in thought. The soft slap of the last card, and her hand hovers mid-air as if suspended by an invisible wire. She raises her eyes to mine.

    I notice everything in that moment, the milky film seeping across her dark irises, the red capillaries criss-crossing her wrinkled lids, the sparse spattering of brittle lashes. She stares at me, then opens her mouth to speak, a white thread of spittle bridging the edges of her lips.

    “Now I see there is good news for you, but also some that is very, very bad,” she nods gravely, taking my hands in hers.

    Sunlight and fairground sounds punch momentarily through the tent, then the soft closing of flaps, the pulse outside cut off once more.

    The gypsy woman speaks softly, caressing the backs of my hands with her thumbs. “Today, you will die,” she reveals.

    Her eyes search mine, and now I feel the icy steel against my throat, a thick hand grasps my neck from behind.

    “But,” she pauses, a mischievous grin seeping across her face, “it will be quick.”

  22. Dsix21 says:

    When we walked by her on the way out of the county fair, fortune-teller asked for my autograph. My fiancé, Sasha, jokingly nudged me to oblige her.
    “The penalty of fame is often paid with immeasurable cost. You will be a very famous writer one day but your success will come at the consequence of a price that cannot be replaced,” the psychic offered in her strong Gypsy accent.
    We were both shocked by her statement. I had submitted a manuscript to a publishing company after working three years on the story. They called this evening and requested to meet in their office in the morning. Sasha suggested that we come to the fair as a pre-signing celebration. Only the two of us had known about the call.
    Sasha went straight to the kitchen when we got back to our apartment and put the bottle of champagne in the fridge. She had bought it the day after I let her read the final copy. She then opened a bottle of wine and poured a glass for both of us. “Jake,” she whispered. “You will be a very famous writer,” her lame accent mocked the teller at the fair.
    I love her so much. She had sacrificed for me since the day we met. After my lease expired, Sasha told me to move in with her to allow me to keep writing without worry. She worked double shifts as a cashier at the Costco to meet our expenses. I hoped and prayed all night that things would go right so I could repay her for all she had done by giving her a better life.
    When morning finally came, I was out and arrived forty five minutes early and stepped to the receptionist desk. She led me to a side conference room and offered me something to drink. I declined even though my lips were parched and stomach growled loudly. The representative finally joined me at the table. He told me they liked the book and discussed a few changes that needed to be made before it went to print. I looked at the “Pay To” line to verify that my name was on the check he gave me. “Jack Price…Ten thousand dollars.” I screamed for joy in the empty elevator.
    I called to tell Sasha the news but was surprised when the neighbor answered our phone. He told me that Sasha had been taken to the hospital.
    “She fell when she was trying to escape the fire that happened when an empty pot was left on the stove this morning. She suffered a few burns that should heal in time and she bumped her head pretty hard so we’ll do some follow up appointments to check for concussion symptoms. Unfortunately we weren’t able to save the baby,” the doctor told me.
    “What baby?” I was confused by this news.
    “I think you guys have a lot to talk about when she wakes up. Congratulations,” the doctor said as she walked away.

    • don potter says:

      The good news with the bad angle of the story worked for me. However, the doc offered congratulations after telling Jack he was not able to save the baby, or did I read it wrong?

  23. TheGreat123 says:

    We sat down at the table and waited for the woman who would be reading us our fortunes. The tent was small and cluttered with dusty knick-knacks of all shapes and sizes, making me a little claustrophobic and my wife a little nervous. Fake, shrunken, aboriginal heads hung by beaded strings from the ceiling; or where they real? Either way, this looked more like the hut of some mad voodoo witch than any psychic reading room id ever seen.

    “I kinda hope she doesn’t take too long. I mean, we’re kinda stuck here since we already paid” I said.

    “I know, this is so creepy! I thought this was supposed to be family-friendly?” Said Hannah as she poked at the wing of a stuffed crow perched in the middle of the table.

    Just as she brushed the dirt off her finger, a head appeared from around the corner of the back room. We looked over to meet the eyes of a very strange, elderly woman gleaming back at us. Her skin was flaccid from old age, but her emerald eyes carried the light of a youth long past. Her frizzy, grey hair hung down past her shoulders, and her robes where decorated in elegant amethyst and gold designs.

    “Here for a reading are we?” Asked the woman as she carried herself through the beaded curtain and placed herself at edge of the table in front of us. “What will it be, a look at your palm, and i can tell you your life story; a peak into the crystal ball, and I can summon the spirits of the dead; or, if your feeling a little more inquisitive, a shuffle of the deck, and all your future may be revealed. Which shall it be?

    I briefly turned to Hannah, and with a consensual look of indecisiveness, i said, “Um, we’ll take the future reading please.”

    “Future reading it is, however, as a precautionary reminder, the future is a foggy place. Not all will be shown, and the things that are, might not be pleasant.”

    We shook our heads in agreement and the woman pulled out the deck of cards. She shuffled them and placed six cards, in two groups of three, face down on the table before us.

    “The first card, is “The Hierophant”. This card represents kindness. One who has drawn this card usually is on a path to good things. Sometimes though, they can be over-kind, and their weakness may hinder them with foolish exercise of generosity.”

    We looked at each other, and shared our reactions of both interest and doubt.

    “The second card… is “The Hanged Man.” This card however, is often misleading. The Hanged Man represents self sacrifice, devotion, and a binding connection. The third card of this group… is the “Ace of Scepters.” This card represents new life, beginning, the origin. These three cards, together, mean that there is indeed a child on the way. That the strong bond and kindness that you both possess, will reward you with an infant.”

    “Oh, thats great!” Said Hannah as she took my hand. “We’ve actually been trying for a while now.”

    It was true, for the past eight months, the one thing Hannah wanted more than anything was a kid of our own.

    “Have you?” said the reader, “Well congratulations, it looks as if your future is bright, so far. There are still three cards on the table, let us have a look shall we?”
    My hand stayed with Hannah’s as we watched the psychic begin with the final set.

    “The Ten of Swords” she said in a curious tone.

    “What does that mean?” asked Hannah.

    “This card holds a darker omen. With this, comes grief, sorrow, tears of passing success.”

    Hannah turned and gave me a slightly worried look.

    “Does the second set have to do with the first in any way? Its separate right?”

    “Hmm, one can never know, the cards play the game, we are merely observers. All will be revealed in the end.” She said as the slit of her mouth began to twist into a thin, almost sinister grin. She turned the next card. The picture on the front was of a tree, bursting into flame from a stroke of lightning.

    “The Lightning Struck Tower. This card speaks its purpose. Behind this card is ruin, disruption, and loss. These two cards together are ill fortune indeed, but alas let us turn the final card.”

    Hannah gripped my hand even tighter. I could tell she was taking this more seriously than i was, and that her high hopes from the first reading were slowly starting to shatter. I put my free arm around her in an attempt to comfort her as she focused on the remaining card in silent dismay. The fortune teller flipped the card, and slapped it firmly back down, its face still unexposed.

    “This last card is ill omen indeed, do you wish to continue?”

    I looked at Hannah, who was really beginning to get caught up in the reading. Hannah wasn’t usually the type to fall for senseless superstition, but I could tell she had been seized by the psychics words.

    “Are you ok, honey?” I asked. She slowly turned toward me and nodded. Then she looked back at the woman and spoke.

    “Turn the card” she said. The psychic nodded in compliance and proceeded to turn the card. Her hand seemed to move very slowly, until the card was almost on its side, and then with a flick of her wrist the card smacked down on its back.

    “Death” she muttered.

    “Oh my god” said Hannah to herself. “Does this mean the baby will die?”

    “Well, this is an odd batch of cards to be drawn. On one side you have the fruition of a joyous life. On the other, the ruination and death of a subject that has yet to be revealed… or subjects.” She worded this last portion in a very ominous tone, her eyes flickering up from the cards to our own.

    “Subjects? You mean plural? Like me and Hannah?”

    “Yes, yes I do, but I do not think the final card, in this situation, is representative of its traditional meaning. This is a special case; one which involves the two of you, and comes as a direct result of your newborn child.”

    Our jaws dropped. We starred at her in horror, frozen in anticipation for the words that we believed all to well were about to come.

    “Divorce.”

    • don potter says:

      I know nothing about card reading, so the descriptions provided each time a card was turned fascinated me. My attention was held to the end. Sorry, but with half the US marriages ending in divorce, I was less than whelmed by that prediction.

  24. Silentdon says:

    Dearest Billy,
    I hope you are doing well, I miss you and I love you. It was so nice to see you this past April, I know it has just been two months but it seems like forever ago. I haven’t told mom about us yet but I will this weekend. She will be mad because you are older than I am and she may not like me being with a military man but she will just have to get over it.
    Billy, I have something to tell you, I really wish you were here right now because I’m really scared. Jenny and I went to the fair and I went into the fortune teller’s booth to have my fortune told. You know I don’t believe in that crap but why not, right?
    She was old and kinda scary. She only had one good eye; the other was milky and dead. She had long black greasy hair and maybe three teeth in her head. She wouldn’t let Jenny come in with me. She said “Her fortune is for her only!” and shooed Jenny back out the flap. Jenny laughed but I could tell she was upset. She then took me by the hand and led me to this little round table with an ugly multicolored table cloth. I should have turned to leave then but she was smiling at me telling me she was glad I had come. It was like she was expecting me Billy! My heart was in my throat.
    She sat down after I did and pulled out some weird picture cards. She called the ‘Tarot’ or something like that. I can’t remember now. She told me to cut the cards into three stacks then I had to pick one of the stacks. I picked the second stack because I know your lucky number is two. She laughed for some reason, I don’t know why.
    She turned over the first card and told me it was the Ace of Cups, then without even saying anything more about it, she turned over the second card and put it on top of the first. This one was the Page of Cups. She looked up and said “You’re pregnant honey.” I know we were careful the last time but could this be? I did miss my last period but I’m never regular. She told me she knew I didn’t want the baby but the baby would grow up to be a very important person and that I should be happy about this pregnancy.
    The next two cards she laid down is what really scared me. These were the Tower and the Ten of Swords. She told me that the father of the baby would be killed suddenly and that she saw war around him. I started to cry then because she scared me. I ran out of the tent before she could say more. I’m scared now and I want to see you!
    Please be careful Billy.

    Love always,
    Rebecca

  25. jen says:

    As usual she had spent the afternoon cold-reading her way through her clients. The lady clutching the broach, wanting comfort on a female relative just passed. The lady without her wedding band whose hand kept returning to caress her stomach, needing reassurance that keeping the child had been the right thing to do. At worse what she did was gross, emotive and manipulative fraud; at best the only therapy her clients could afford or condone.

    She’d come to the tent opening to beckon them in and there stood the man a daughter holding each hand. A couple of paces behind, his wife stood with their son at her side, her eyes were wary and she tightened her grip on the boy when he had gestured to them. The wife insisted that this was to be a daddy- daughter treat; when he had given his assent her relief had been clear.
    His daughters mock dragged him in and made a show of sitting him down for his reading. He turned his well practiced smile on her and she gestured for his hand. She hadn’t needed his palm to see what kind of man he was, but it was a useful distraction while she gathered herself.

    ‘There is good news on your current business venture. It will be successful’ she said.

    She raised her eyes from his palm and stared into his pallid blue eyes. She would not give herself away.

    ‘Perhaps your girls would like their futures read too?’ Her voice was a masterpiece of calm control.

    ‘Isn’t the good news always followed by bad news?’ he said it in the same voice he used for his daughters. It was playful on the surface but reminded her of a gleeful cat with a mouse.

    ‘Not when I’m paid double by two such lovely young ladies.’ Her smile reached out to the girls and brought them closer, the younger moved to the man’s lap.

    She finished the reading by delighting the two girls with stories of future romance, travel and success. The man keeping a proprietary gaze on the proceedings. His lips wore a fake smile which had a tendency to lapse to a curl of disgust, but he had always caught it whenever one of his daughters had looked to him to share their excitement.

    When she had escorted them out of the tent she had attempted to make eye contact with the wife. The wife had looked up for only a moment and her look had been vacant, betraying nothing. She returned to her tent without collecting any new clients.

    The man of course had been right, there was bad news. He was the bad news. She closed the tent for the rest of the day and sat alone in the dark thinking about what she had glimpsed behind the horrifying mask he wore.

  26. don potter says:

    Nice little story with a couple of fun twists in the last two lines.

  27. don potter says:

    “Can’t I stay home? You know how much I hate the county fair.”
    “Yes, about as much as the kids love it,” my wife said.
    There was no sense in starting an argument I could not win. “Okay, but I don’t want to be hanging around there until closing. Gotta work tomorrow.”
    “I’ll make sure you’re home in time to get that much needed beauty sleep.” Kay laughed.
    Unlike past years, I found a prime parking spot near both the main gate and the road home. Talk about luck.
    “You take the boys with you while Ashley and I check out the girly things with her friends over there.”
    “What time do you want to meet and where?”
    After looking around, Kay said, “It’s not crowded in front of the fortune teller’s tent, so we’ll meet there in exactly two hours.”
    “Yes, sergeant, want to synchronize our watches?”
    “Don’t be late. Remember tomorrow’s a work day,” she chuckled.
    We ate enough junk and went on enough rides to be sick, but nobody threw up, yet. As we approached the rendezvous spot, I realized we were fifteen minutes early. We had a few tickets left, so the boys got in line for the baseball throw to try to win one more cheapo prize. While standing there, an old woman in gypsy garb came out of the fortune teller’s tent.
    “Tell your fortune?” she asked in a thick Eastern European accent.
    “No thanks I’m busy.”
    “You do not look busy.”
    “Looks can be deceiving.”
    “I am ready to close for the night and it is bad luck for people like me to lose the last potential customer. For ten dollars I will give you two predictions.”
    The kids were busy and I still had ten minutes before Kay was to arrive, so I agreed.
    Once inside the musty tent I felt creepy and itched all over. If I had not given her the money, I would have left.
    “Two events will occur, one good and one bad.”
    “Okay, let me have the bad news first.”
    “Your children will go missing.”
    The words were no sooner out of her mouth when it dawned on me that I should not have left the boys alone. I dashed out of the tent. They were not were I left them. Panicked, I ran down the midway calling their names. I finally found them watching a neighbor boy play the ring toss. I grabbed Tyler and Blake and hugged them.
    “I should have been watching you guys, but never walk away without telling me.”
    “Okay, Dad. Are we in trouble?”
    “Don’t talk about it or we’ll all be in trouble. Now let’s go meet up with Mom.”
    As we walked back, the fortune teller, covered by a long raincoat, walked by.”
    “What about the good news?” I called out.
    In a strong Brooklyn accent she replied, “You found them didn’t you?”

  28. dford says:

    Well, the good news is: I’ll have a lasting marriage.

    The bad news is: (see above)

  29. williamturberville says:

    “Hey, Bobby look at this. They didn’t have this last year.” Not that the Lacy paid much attention the preceding year. She was too busy smashing faces behind the funnel cake stand with Bobby.

    “It looks like some sort of fortune teller booth. It’s probably some idiot trying to rip kids off.” He spit a glob of skoal at the base of door, as if it to emphasize his lack of interest.

    “Awe, c’mon Bobby don’t be such a killjoy. It’s only five dollars.”

    Bobby still wasn’t happy, but he scooped the wad of skoal from his lip and tossed it down. Maybe if he did this, it would help him score later tonight. Lacy has been evasive when it comes to intimacy lately.

    They sat down at a cheesy table, just as a woman emerged from behind a wall of beads. “Welcome to Madame Willow’s house of fortune! Where clairvoyance is at your every whim, but of course, for just a small price.” Willow’s hand was now across the table, open.

    Bobby placed a five in her dark palm. “Five dollars, eh? Seems pretty expensive for a bunch of lies.” That comment received a nudge from Lacy, whom looked all too intrigued.

    “Oh, are they?” She snatched the bill and stuffed it down her bra. “My boy, I see death in the near future. A death that you will be the cause of,” She pointed a bony finger at Lacy, then jutted it towards Bobby. “but YOU will benefit from this. You will get what you so desperately long for, but at what cost?”

    “I knew this was stupid!” Bobby abruptly stood up and hauled Lacy from the room.

    “Bobby! Let go of me!” She snatched away and stormed to a vacant porta potty.

    She layered the seat with toilet paper and plopped down. She brought out a white stick and stuck it directly under her, in the toilet bowl. After a few minutes she brought it up.

    Positive.

    She’s going to be a mother, or she would be if she wanted to keep it.

    A loud knock came to the door. “I’m sorry Lacy. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

    Lacy quickly tossed the pregnancy test in the hole and emerged. “No, it’s ok Bobby. I just don’t feel good is all. I think I’ll go to the doctor tomorrow, then maybe soon,” She gently kissed him on the lips. “we can do that thing you like so much.”

    • don potter says:

      Did she decided on the abortion or what? Guess I missed the payoff in the final paragraph.

      • williamturberville says:

        Yea, that’s why I mentioned the doctor. She had already known she was going to get an abortion, that’s why she played it off like she wasn’t feeling well. Also why she said, “maybe soon.” You’re not supposed to have sex for a while afterward.

    • JR MacBeth says:

      Couple nit-picks, maybe ditch the “whom” (whom looked all too intrigued). Caps and punctuation, para 7 and last para.
      Also, not sure I’ve ever seen a “dark palm”, although I think I got your intention.
      Good story.

  30. catbr says:

    “Can you smell that?” Brad said while strolling along the county fair grounds with his wife.

    “Smell what?” Shelly looked at her husband.

    “The smell of fried onions and horse shit. It always reminds me of the fair. I look forward to it every year.”

    “You’re weird.” Shelly said laughing at her husband. “Hey look over there at that booth. They’ve got a fortune teller this year. Let’s go over just for the hell of it.”

    “If that’s what you want to do, but I’m not going in. Looks like you’re the weirdo.” Brad looked at his wife with a smile.

    “You know I don’t believe in that stuff either. Come on, let’s go.”

    After Brad found a picnic table to sit at, Shelly went to Madame Madeline’s booth of fortune
    telling. There was no line up.

    “Come in my darling and have a seat.” said Madame Madeline, with a glint in her eye, extending her arm out toward the empty chair.

    “Oh, hi. My name’s Shelly. You must be Madeline.”

    “That is correct. Before we start the reading you must pay me 10 dollars. Things are a little slow around here today as you can see.”

    “Here you go.” Shelly handed the old woman with the starry purple and blue head scarf a 10 dollar bill.

    “Very good.” She tucked the 10 bill into a small box. “Please give me your right hand so I can study it and then I will look into the crystal ball.”

    Shelly gave the old woman her hand. After some eyebrow raising and shaking her head she asked, “Are you married?”

    “Yes I am.” Shelly thought the old woman would know that if she was a real fortune teller.

    “Well, that is very good then. Now for the crystal ball.” She gazed into the sparkly glass ball with an intensity worthy of an academy award, oohing and awing. With an eerie expression she looked at Shelly. Shelly wanted to leave.

    “I found two things in your future. One good. One not so good. You and your husband are going to have a baby within the next 2 years. That is good, yes? The other thing is that one of you is going to get very ill. I am not sure how long the illness will last but it might not happen for many years so try not to worry about this.”

    “Thank you for the reading. Good bye.”

    “My pleasure darling. Come back again soon.”

    “So what’s the verdict, are we going to be rich?” said Brad, rolling his eyes.

    “She said that we’re going to have a baby in the next 2 years. Some fortune teller. I’ll never be able to have children.” Shelly had to have a hysterectomy a year ago due to some cancer cells. This surgery saved her life and she was now cancer free. She was very disappointed with the old woman’s act.

    Almost 2 years later Shelly’s 15 year old pregnant niece asked her if she could adopt her baby because she was too young to be a mother. Of course Shelly excitedly agreed and promised to keep her niece informed of the child’s life. As for the illness in the family, that was still not an issue, but Shelly was no longer a skeptic of fortune tellers, at least not the one she went to.

  31. livvykitty says:

    Jade bit her lip, the intricate black ink of the faded letter in her hand staining her sweaty palm. Wide emerald eyes searched the darkness around her, a petite body shivering from the cold. She couldn’t make out a path anymore, only the twisted trees that seemed to reach for her with gnarled branches. She shuddered as black, bony fingers raked past her cheek, through her cascading ebony hair, and into the chilling night breeze.

    Jade squeaked, swearing she could feel something grip the hem of her shirt. She spun around, her pale green skirt flaring around milky white legs, to face the shadows, nervously calling, “Who’s there?” The only answer she received was the playful wind caressing her face. Unsure, she turned and continued going ahead.

    If there were more moonlight, she would have read over the letter she had received once more, to make sure that this was the right path. Unfortunately, the forest blocked out any light over head, only leaving a sort of gray twilight over her surroundings. She contemplated going back home, but got a feeling that if she tried, there would be something waiting for her. Something would reach out and grab her, bite into her neck and end her. Shivering at the thought, she pressed on.

    Why did she come in the first place? Jade knew the legend of these woods. Anyone who enters never returns. Why would she come, knowing this? She cursed herself for her curiosity and sense of adventure. What fun was an adventure that scared you half to death?

    Perhaps it had been the fortune teller she met along the way. The old woman had sat at the edge of the woods, promising her a grand fortune. Curious, Jade had paid the woman and asked for her fortune. “Ah, yes,” the old woman smiled, “I see something. There are some good news and bad. Which do you want?”

    Always an optimistic person, Jade had said, “Good, please.”

    “There will be a grand party,” The woman said, gazing into her crystal ball, “and you will meet a new friend. The bad news, however…” She shuddered, “It will be a bad end night…” Jade tried to probe for more information about the bad news, but the woman would say no more. The words were enough to convince her to continue on, dressed up in her finest clothes and go deep into the woods. She was just losing hope when the trees began to thin out, moonlight streaming through the gaps. There was an opening up ahead.

    Jade started to quicken her pace, eager to leave the dark forest. As the trees rapidly thinned out, she could make out the shadow of a building in the distance. The moonlight streamed through the leaves, finally illuminating her way. It seems that sometime along the way, she had strayed from the path, going through the woods. Her heart dropped when she realized this. Now how would she find her way home?

    The breeze ruffled her hair, running to play among the blades of grass that shone a dark teal in the moonlight. In front of her stood the shadow of what was no doubt a majestic building in the daytime. In the black of night however, it loomed threateningly, rotted and seeming to gasp for air. Its glassen eyes gleamed in the moonlight, a doorway acting as its gaping mouth. Jade hesitantly began walking towards it.

    As the mansion, as Jade soon realized, came into view, she shivered. The frigid wind twirled around her, chilling her to the bone. She pulled the thin, richly green colored cloak around her tighter, the garment doing little to protect her against the cold. She grimaced as the somewhat comforting tickle of the prairie grass ended, leaving her at the mercy of a cold cobbled walkway. She pressed on even though her body screamed for her to run.

    Now that she stood in front of the manor, she could make out the high stone archways and artful statues that were no doubt older than her, the girl who was fourteen years young. The door stood meekly in front of her, a dull dusky hazel emblazoned with golden and tarnished silver details and riddled with worn and rotten holes. This rich mansion seemed wrong, darkness slipping through it. It seemed rotten at its core. However, she couldn’t turn back.

    Gathering up the withering wisps of her courage, Jade knocked on the door softly, calling out, “Hey, is there anyone home?” Biting her lip with a slight overbite, she knocked again, “Helloooooo?” Gaining no answer, she turned her back to the manor and began to walk away.

    The door creaked open behind her.

    Jade spun around, eyes wide with panic. Instead of seeing a terrible monster like she had expected, she saw a rather ordinary looking boy, perhaps a few years older than herself. He was sharply dressed in a well tailored black suit, a dark green bowtie around his neck. His green eyes, mirroring her own, shone with pleasant surprise.

    “Oh my!” Jade was immediately assaulted with a distinctly British accent, “You’re out so far quite late! Do you need help?” Before she could say anything, she was immediately whisked inside. “My name is Jake,” He bowed to you before continuing on, “And you?”

    Jade didn’t answer right away, feeling rather overwhelmed. The mansion looked much better kempt on the inside, richly furbished and decorated. The plush carpet underneath her shoes sunk with the imprint, deep red complimenting the violet hues around the hall. On the wall to her right, there was a picture of a man with orange eyes and a proud smirk, a woman with deep purple eyes, blonde curls cascading down her shoulders and a martini glass in hand, and a little girl with light purple eyes holding two dolls in her arms.

    She was finally brought to reality with Jake’s question, blushing slightly in embarrassment. She answered, “Uh, I’m Jade!” She gave a grin to the boy, getting another in return. Suddenly, a squeal sounded from ahead.

    Before Jade was nearly knocked over by a blur of light blue and white lace, she spotted the two dolls from the photo leaning against each other against the wall. One had platinum blonde hair and red button eyes, a line serving as a mouth, and a black suit embroidered with crimson, a red gear on his breast pocket. The other had messy black hair and blue button eyes, a stitched smile stretching across its face with little buck teeth, a suit of dark green embroidered with dark blue on its body, a blue wind symbol on the breast pocket and a little hat on its head.

    How cute! Jade thought to herself before her vision was filled with lace.

    “Oh, Jake! Isn’t she precious?” The girl took Jade’s hands, smiling happily. She had on a simple, pale blue dress embroidered with white lace and a white apron around her waist. Her blue eyes shined happily behind round glasses and her short black hair bobbed as she curtsied in front of their guest. “My name’s Jane! And you are, sugar?”

    Jade was about the answer when a new voice filled the hall, clear and full of command, “What’s the ruckus about?” A girl about Jade’s age descended the stairs, looking at Jade with calculating violet eyes. Jade recognized her as the little girl with the dolls from the photo.

    Jane bowed to the girl before turning to go, “Dear, let me serve you tea! It will help ease the cold!”

    “I’ll help you,” Jake bowed to the girl before following Jane out, leaving Jade and the mysterious girl alone.

    The two examined each other. Jade self consciously tugged at the green bow around her waist as she noticed the girl’s expensive looking black gown. There was a dark purple sash tied around her waist, a skull gleaming on the light violet headband that held her blonde hair back, a golden bracelet with a sun gleaming on her wrist. Jade bit her lip nervously as the girl seemed to analyze her.

    The girl in front of her finally smiled faintly in amusement, starting to speak. “Well, you don’t look like one of mother’s friends.”

    “I, um… Just came here…” Jade fidgeted a bit, shyly twining her hands together and looking at the fingers. “I’m Jade Harley.”

    “My name is Rose Lalonde.” She held out a hand, giving a polite smile. Jade grinned at her and shook her hand. Jane flitted back into the room, holding a tray of tea in one hand and plate of small frosted cakes in the other.

    “The tea is ready!” Jane announced, “Shall we relocate to the sitting room?”

    “Hold on.” Rose went towards the wall, scooping up the black haired doll. “Jade, you can grab David if you wish.”

    “David…?” Jade tilted her head, obediently going to the wall and taking the red eyed doll in her arms. This struck her as a bit odd. Did Rose still play with her dolls? Holding the little toy to her chest, its still face against her bosom, she followed the chipper maid into another room.

    This room was outfitted with a theme of cream and pale blue, a comfortable and pleasing palette to the eye. She sat across from Rose on a soft armchair, sipping her mint tea and nibbling a cake. Rose told Jane, “You should inform mother and father of our unexpected guest.” Jane nodded and was off.

    “Oh, am I imposing?” Jade asked.

    “No, not at all!” Rose answered a little too quickly before continuing calmly, “We almost never get guests anymore, much less any of my own age.”

    “That’s so sad!” Jade frowned. She eyed the little dolls set beside Rose and reached across to hold Dave again. “Do you still play with them?” Jade thought that she could see the slightest hint of painted red on the Dave’s cheeks, as if the doll were blushing. That was ridiculous, though!

    “Not ‘play’, per se,” Rose replied, watching her guest over the rim of her teacup, “David doesn’t like me calling it playing and John complains about it.”

    Jade smiled, “I think that’s cute! You devised personalities for them!”

    Rose chuckled, as if that thought were folly, “I never created their personalities. They’re their own people.”

    “Huh?” Jade held up the doll in her hands, glancing over it “They say that puppets have personalities like that. Is it like using a puppet, then?”

    Oh hell no, Harley. You did not just compare me to a puppet.

    Jade dropped the doll in shock, looking at it with wide green eyes, “It… It talked!”

    “I’m a he, thank you very much.” There wasn’t a doll there anymore. Jade saw a pair of long legs. Slowly looking up, her eyes widened even further as she looked into a pair of shades. There was a boy a year older than herself, wearing the doll’s same clothes, standing in front of her. “Like what you see, Harley?” His lip twitched upwards in a smirk.

    “But, I, you, doll, wha-” Jade spluttered, but was cut off by a puff of air blowing down her neck and a voice.

    “Boo.”

    Jade shrieked and scrambled away, Dave smirking off to the side and Rose silently laughing behind her tea. The other doll- no, the other boy- snickered. Bright blue eyes seemed to twinkle in merriment as Jade finally got to her feet, huffing and glaring at the boy, “Don’t startle me!”

    Rose giggled quietly from her spot across the low coffee table, “I forgot to mention that John is a bit mischievous.”

    “Now you tell me.” Jade sat back in her spot, nibbling on another cake, pouting. John and Dave leaned on each side of the armchair, raising an eyebrow.

    “You just saw two dolls come to life,” John began.

    “Not dolls,” Dave corrected, “Figurines.” That was hardly the right word to describe their once plush limbs and button eyes, but Jade let that slide. Dave seemed too cool to be called just a doll.

    “Anyway, you saw us come to life, and there’s no shocked silence? No asking if we’re possessed?” John asked, seeming a bit disappointed.

    “It was surprising at first,” Jade admitted, “But I’m over it. You seem perfectly normal now to me.”

    “You’re no fun!” Two boys whined in her ears. Well, John whined. Dave just said it because he’s obviously too cool to whine. Jade still detected some disappointment in his voice though.

    Rose rolled her eyes, “Oh, sod off you two. You don’t have to scare every guest we have, you know. Isn’t it nice to not have anyone run screaming from you?”

    “Nope,” The two boys said in unison once more.

    “Who’s the little lady?”

    Jade turned towards the doorway where the voice originated. Standing there were a man and woman, like in the photo from before. The man was dressed in a fine pale orange suit overlaid with a white cloak while the woman had her hair up in an elegant bun, a flowing pink evening gown pooling around her feet. Orange eyes studied her, an eyebrow quirked.

    “Hello, father,” Rose said politely before gesturing to Jade, “This is our unexpected guest, Jade.”

    “Oh, isn’t she just the cutest thign!” The woman slurred. She paused before correcting herself, “Thing.”

    The man took a few more moments to examine her before striding into the room, holding a hand out. “My name is Dirk. That’s my wife, Roxy and of course you’ve met my daughter and her dolls.”

    “Not a doll,” Dave corrected again, “A figurine.”

    “Sure, whatever the doll said,” Dirk rolled his eyes, as if the conversation were a daily occurrence. Jade shook his hand and caught the smirk playing on his lips. “You know what this means…”

    “A party!” John clapped excitedly.

    Roxy smiled at Jade, “We’ve already got the dining hall set up. Jane and Jake should be back any moment now!”

    Rose got up and stood by Jade’s chair, whispering, “Jade, you have one more chance to escape. These parties can get a tad… out of hand…” There was no way that Jade would leave now! She loved parties! Besides, it didn’t look as if Rose really wanted her to leave.

    Jane and Jake entered the room, bowing to its occupants, smiles of accomplishment gracing their faces. Jane happily sang, “The party is ready! Be merry and festive~”

    Jake added, “Only if our guest wishes to join us. We wouldn’t want to overwhelm the poor dear.”

    “I’m in.” Jade looked at everyone in the room as she said this. Rose looked completely delighted, light violet eyes shining with barely contained excitement. Jane squealed, beginning to flit out of the room. Jake grinned as well, standing by patiently. Dirk gave a small smirk and Roxy hid a large smile clumsily behind her martini glass (which failed).

    Dave and John, however, glanced at each other with slight frowns.

    As quickly as it was there, the looks of disapproval were gone. The two previously fake boys turned to her, smiles in place (a smirk, in Dave’s case). Jade decided it was just her imagination playing tricks on her. John took a hold of her hands and Jade couldn’t help but notice how cold and wax-like they were. It was as if he was dead… Almost like a corpse…

    Jade pushed the disturbing thought away when John cheerfully said, “Welcome to our mansion!”

    “Come on, Harley,” Dave grabbed her hand, wrenching her away from John’s grasp, “You agreed to party, so let’s party.” Jade shivered as she realized that his skin was cold as well.

    “We’ll pour the finest wine!” Jake grandly announced, walking away with a quick stride.

    Dirk twirled Jade away from the two doll boys and the poor girl was relieved to come into contact with warm, living flesh. He said, “A meeting like this must be fate, you know.”

    “Lord knows how long Rosie has waited for another friend.” Roxy said loudly, sobering up slightly.

    “Mother, please,” Rose said, a hint of embarrassment coloring her tone and a light pink on her cheeks, “don’t.”

    “You see, Rosie, bless her little heart, is a bit shy,” Roxy said dramatically, “It just breaks my poor heart. She still plays with the dolls we got her for her fifth birthday!”

    “For the love of God,” Dave whined slightly in the background, “We are not dolls!”

    Roxy ignored him, “It’s wonderful to see my little Rosie Posie coming out of her little shell!” Rose groaned loudly in the background.

    “Are we going to this party of not?” Rose snapped, face flushed red as she glared at her mother. Roxy laughed heartily and, being lead by Dirk with a hand on his arm, she left to the dining area. Rose began to follow, her dolls in tow. Jade, giggling slightly at her new friend’s plight, followed everyone else.

    Jade was left speechless at the grandeur of the dining hall.

    The high ceiling reached far above their heads, painted a pristine white and gold. The plush cream carpet underneath her stockings was soft with a gold carpet leading towards what looked like a dance floor. The table looked as if it could seat dozens more than just their measly party of eight, but the entire length of it was laid with delicacies, pastries and wine as far as the eye could see. It took Jade a few moments to stop blinking in awe and actually sit down next to Rose.

    Jake poured everyone a glass of wine and Jane brought out more baked goods. Now that Jade looked at it, it looked like most of the table was overlaid with sweets as far as the eye could see. It made her fondness of the sugary confections become insistent, and she was half tempted to just have a meal of sweets. But, of course, that would be terribly rude.

    Dirk held up his glass, the others doing the same. Jade was confused for a moment before realizing that she should probably put up her glass as well. She quickly did so, nearly dripping the red substance on her mostly white blouse. Dirk spoke loudly, “I propose a toast to our guest and new main character. Let us celebrate the beginning of a happy night!” They clinked their glasses together and began to feast.

    Jade, while finding the man’s words to be odd, looked over to Rose, who was neatly eating her food in between sips of wine. She asked, “Aren’t you a little young to drink?”

    “I usually don’t drink at all,” Rose replied, “But tonight is special, so I think I’ll make an exception.” She took another sip of her drink.

    Jade began to eat, nearly exclaiming her delight out loud at how delicious the food was. The roast lamb was so tender, it fell apart as soon as it entered her mouth, the creamy mashed potatoes seeming to melt on her tongue. After setting aside her empty food plate, she immediately started on the sweets. It was a wonder that she could resist them for so long!

    Between bites of a perfectly sweet and sour berry tart, she spotted Dave and John having an almost silent conversation. John refused to touch the confections before him while it was all that Dave ate. This struck her as slightly odd, for Dave didn’t seem to enjoy the sweets and John seemed to want to steal the pastries right from his companion’s mouth.

    Those dolls are so strange… Jade thought to herself. She giggled as she imagined Dave’s exasperated voice say, “We are not dolls. We are not puppets. WE. ARE. FIGURINES.”

    Rose looked at her friend curiously, “What’s so funny?” She hiccupped a bit, causing Jade to giggle more. Perhaps the alcohol was finally settling in their systems.

    “Oh, nothing!” Jade giggled again and Rose started to giggle along with her, both girls’ cheeks becoming increasingly flushed. Soon, most around the table were laughing at jokes that weren’t really all that funny, crying at stories that really weren’t that sad, and just losing what little sense they had.

    John and Dave rolled their eyes, as they were dolls and couldn’t get drunk.

    When the plates and feast were cleared away, Rose giggled, taking Jade by the hand and leading her to the dance floor. While an invisible band played a fast paced waltz, the two girls clumsily danced with one another, although both had no rhythm due to the alcohol.

    As Rose was spun away by her (only tipsy) father for a dance, the two dolls (I apologize, I meant figurines) entered the floor. Dave was the first to take her hand, pulling her in and leading her in the dance. Jade giggled as John spun her away, twirling around with her to avoid being caught by Dave. Dave eventually caught her arm again and took her back. Jade laughed, enjoying the fake fight over her.

    Soon, the party had ended. Dirk carried his passed out wife while Jake and Jane began to clean up. Rose started to lead Jade to her room, giggling and hiccupping the entire way. Jade stumbled a bit, but eventually the duo made it to the guest bedroom. Jade lay down on her bed as Rose swayed a bit. The drunk blonde finally tipped over, plopping on top of Jade and sending the two into another fit of laughter.

    John and Dave (who weren’t beside the bed five seconds ago, Jade’s foggy brain failed to recognize) rolled their eyes in unison as Rose passed out. Jade made a sound of discomfort as the weight on her back grew heavier, then laughed again as she realized that such a funny sound came from her mouth. Dave picked up Rose and began to carry her away, presumably to her room.

    John stayed behind to properly tuck the village girl into bed, smiling as she attempted to make jokes. Then, she said something between slurs that made him freeze, “Hey, John, you’re really cold! Are you dead or something?”

    Jade watched as his face grew to be completely different. His smile became more forced, his eyes not visible behind his bangs. It could have been the alcohol talking, but Jade could swear that John looked as if he wanted to kill her. As if a gust of wind had blown, the expression was gone, replaced with a look of innocent confusion. “That’s silly, Jade! Why would I be dead?” He turned away, leaving the room.

    “After all, I was never alive.”

    Unfortunately, Jade had passed out before catching those words.

    ~~*~~*~~*~~

    Jade awoke to distant voices calling, “Emergency, emergency!”

    She winced, rubbing her sleep blurry eyes, looking around the dark room. Looking out the window, she could see the full moon high in the sky, stars burning like little embers. Ugh, her head was pounding from the night before. She could barely remember any of it.

    Jade stretched before leaving bed, swinging her feet on the ground. As her headache ebbed away, she realized that it shouldn’t be night. She was naturally an early riser. There was no chance of her sleeping in, especially this late!

    Jade padded into the eerily silent hallway. She couldn’t hear the voices of the other occupants of the mansion, only a tense silence. As she went along the hallway, she could swear that she could hear whispers. She couldn’t make out what they were saying, only that they muttered near her ear sadly before running if she turned to look.

    Jade, was becoming steadily unnerved by the soundless abyss that seemed to engulf her surroundings and called out, “Rose? Jane? Jake? Anyone? Is there anyone there?” Her calls echoed off the walls before fading, engulfed by the darkness. Biting her lip, she continued to pass by hallways and empty rooms.

    Soon, she spotted a clock, still and lifeless. It was devoid of any ticking, its hands stuck five minutes to midnight. There was something wrong with the minute hand, though…

    She shrieked as a hand tapped her shoulder.

    “I didn’t even try to scare you this time!” John raised an eyebrow. Jade breathed a sigh of relief.

    “John…” Jade looked behind him, “And Dave too! Do you know where Rose is? Or maybe Roxy and Di-”

    “NO!” Both quickly answered. Jade looked at them in shock and confusion as the dolls shook their heads rapidly, eyes widened.

    “You don’t want to go near them now,” John warned, face paling and matching the cold and waxy texture of his skin, “It’s never a good idea to do that when time stops!”

    Jade blinked at them, green eyes widening in shock. It took her a while before she answered, “Time stopped…?” That was when she realized how sick Dave looked. His skin was too pale to be natural; his shades had been discarded, showing that red eyes had clouded over, blonde hair in disarray. Jade noticed that he was leaning on John, body trembling badly, the red gear on his suit slowly losing color.

    “Dave… Are you okay?”

    Dave tried to answer, but it was cut off by a series of harsh hacking and coughs. He collapsed to his knees, holding a hand over his mouth, red blood dripping from the crevices between his fingers. Jade looked on in horror, watching as he stopped, standing up shakily and leaning back against John. John frowned before something that Jade couldn’t explain took place.

    John tilted his companion’s pale and dying face towards him, pressing his lips softly against the boy’s. Color gradually returned to Dave’s face, his eyes regaining life again. The red gear on his suit’s pocket became bright red once again while the Breath symbol on John’s suit glowed with a sort of aura. It was as if John was breathing life back into the other doll.

    As they both pulled away, Dave looked at Jade with a straight face, placing his sunglasses back on his nose. “I’m fine now, Harley.”

    Jade was silent for a few moments before asking, “Why can’t I go to Rose or Dirk or Roxy?”

    “Rose is fine,” Dave said, “It’s just Dirk, Roxy, Jane and Jake you shouldn’t go near right now.”

    “But why?” Jade asked, looking at him. The red eyed boy reached into the pocket on his suit and took out a folded piece of paper. Dave silently handed it to her. Jade carefully unfolded it and smoothed out the creases before her eyes widened.

    The picture was similar to the one in the hall from the day before but with one big difference. Rose was no where in the picture. Instead, there was a little boy with red eyes, holding a strangely dressed puppet with ‘Cal’ printed on its shirt. Jade looked up at Dave, shock written on her face, “Dave… This is you!”

    “Yeah…” He laughed bitterly, no humor showing in his tone, “With my mother and brother.” He gestured to hi right, where a red gear had appeared. Jade turned to it, watching as a scene unfolded through the disk.

    “You know… John and I were like you and Jade, once.”

    ~~*~~

    Dave frowned, flinging the offending puppet away from him. He had spent thirteen years with it. He was tired of it by now. Lil Cal came to life before his eyes, still grinning even with tears streaming down his face. “Don’t you want to play anymore, Dave?”

    “Hell no.” Dave answered before hearing a squeal from downstairs. Curiosity peaked; he wandered downstairs to find out what had Jane squealing this time.

    There was a guest?

    Surprised, he looked at the awkward boy with buckteeth as he talked to Jane. He hadn’t had any human interaction except those of his family for a long while. In truth, he had become quite lonely. Perhaps this is what drove him to be friendly to the stranger, in his round about way of course.

    Or maybe it was because no one could hate John.

    ~~*~~

    Jade watched as the two friends interacted, a party starting. She shivered, noticing how eerily similar it was to the night before, from what food John ate to Dave drunkenly dancing with him. Jade was becoming freaked out.

    “And then time stopped. When we woke up…”

    ~~*~~

    John ran, Jane and Roxy hot on his trail. He tripped in his haste, sprawling out on the floor. Jane smiled as she held the knife over his cowering form.

    “STOP!”

    Dave pushed him out of the way before he was struck down, the knife lodging inside his throat. He looked back at John, gurgling as the blood entered and pooled past his lips, spurting from the wound before he silently fell, no more sound leaving his throat.

    John had no time to react as Dirk sliced his throat cleanly.

    ~~*~~

    “Oh my God…” Jade slowly shook her head, tears starting to gather at the corner of her eyes. She looked in shock at the doll boys beside her, expressions blank and backed away. “Are you… dead?”

    “Yes and no.” Dave replied. “Keep watching.”

    ~~*~~

    Jake came back, two little blank dolls, one with a red gear and the other with a blue symbol, in his hands. Jane set one over each boys’ hearts and kissed each on the forehead. Slowly, the bodies disappeared, the dolls slowly gained new features, one with blonde hair and red eyes, the other with black hair and blue eyes. The bodies were gone… And in their place were dolls.

    ~~*~~

    “So you’re…” Jade looked away, a quiet sob escaping her throat, “You were killed!” Through her tear blurred eyes, she saw the dolls look at the floor. She also figured out what was so wrong with the clock.

    The minute hand was the knife.

    Gasping, she looked around. John had disappeared who knows where and Dave was slowly relapsing into another fit of coughs. To the right of the clock, she could see the outline of a doorway in the wall. Frantic and fearing for her life, she tore through the wallpaper, letting the door swing open. Dave tried to call from behind her, trying to warn her of something, but was left on the ground, gasping for breath.

    As the door slowly swung open, a low, low room was revealed. It took Jade a little while to adjust to the dim lighting, but when she realized what the room held, she gasped. Her eyes widened with open fear, her shaking hands clasped close to her body as she froze, screaming.

    “Oh my God!”

    In the room, there were eleven coffins.

    Terrified, but with her curiosity peaked, she slowly trudged into the room. As her feet padded across the chilled tile on the floor, she took time to examine each coffin. Six of them had two dolls, with one soiled with a strange color of blood and the other dressed in rich clothes, all with grey skin, black hair and horns.

    The first coffin held a bull horned boy splattered with orange all over his legs, a beautifully eerie girl beside him with ram horns and pupil less eyes. The second held one boy with a red and blue eye, covered in yellow with his red eyed companion, who was sitting with a scowl. The third had a boy with a broken horn, covered in blue sitting next to an innocent looking, catlike doll. And so it went on, until Jade counted twelve. Looking at the nameplates, they went as follows:

    Tavros and Aradia, Sollux and Karkat, Equius and Nepeta, Terezi and Vriska, Gamzee and Kanaya, Eridan and Feferi.

    Jade shivered. Had they all been killed as well? In the back of the room were four coffins, each with a symbol. She recognized Dave and John’s symbol, as well as the gold sun that was on Rose’s bracelet. That could only mean that the white symbol… was hers. She heard footsteps and hurried out of the room, making sure to close the door. Around the corner came Jane, who went up to her with a worried expression.

    Jade flinched as she came close. All she could see was Jane’s joyful face as John’s throat was slit. Jane flitted around worriedly, “Oh dear, did you hurt yourself? I can look over that if you want!” Jane gestured to a small cut of Jade’s wrist and gently started to take her hand, about to examine it.

    “No!” Jade quickly pulled her hand away, imagining the blood from Dave’s still body staining the maid’s baby blue dress. Holding the cut defensively, she started to back away, “Stay away from me!” She turned and absconded, flying through the halls quickly and leaving a worried Jane behind.

    She quite literally bumped into Jake, who had nearly dropped the tray of empty dishes in his hands. He looked at her oddly, a look of almost brotherly concern in his eyes. He looked at Jade, frowning, “What’s wrong? What has you so spooked?”

    She backed away, her eyes widening in fear. In Jade’s eyes, Jake had the same heartless look as when he carelessly handed over the blank dolls that seemed to have trapped John and Dave’s spirits within them. As Jake reached a hand out, she swatted it away, causing the other hand to drop the china dishes, “No! Leave me alone!”

    Jade ran through some more halls, leaving a hurt Jake behind. She ran again, wondering where Rose was. Jade had to warn her. If not, she would be next! Jade didn’t want to die, nor did she want her friend to meet her fate. She wondered if their deaths would end up being similar to the dolls’. Pushing away the disturbing thought, she ran by those who were once friends, now unfamiliar faces. She ignored their voices, giving into her fear and the urge to just run and never look back.

    “Where are you going?” “Are you okay?” “There’s danger!” “Please, wait!”

    It had become a crazy night, with the maid, butler and heads of the house chasing after their guest. Jade knew she had to find the ending to this madness. She needed to find a happy ending. But where could it be? Nearly sobbing, she called out, “Please, let me go! I want to go home!”

    But she knew that she would only be allowed to go home when the play ended. She would only go home with the happy end. She wondered, as her legs grew weak and ached from running for so long and her mind foggy with fear and exhaustion, if the true end was with the grave. She shook her head. She couldn’t allow herself to think this.

    It wasn’t much longer before she was cornered by the four, her back to the clock and secret room. Could she somehow escape into the room? No, she couldn’t. If she did, then they could catch her. She backed to the clock as they closed in, hands reaching for her. In the corner, Dave’s lifeless corpse stared back at her, his face and gear on his suit devoid of all color. John mourned over him.

    She looked desperately for any means of escape. There had to be a key to the ending she needed! Jade screamed, burying her face in her hands and sobbing, “Leave me alone! Stay away from me, you monsters!”

    Perhaps it was the primal fear, or perhaps it was just her body trying to defend itself, but she remembered the gleaming knife in the clock behind her. She stopped moving for a few moments, her eyes shadowed by her bangs as she bowed her head.

    Jade smashed the glass above her, tearing the knife from the clock’s frame triumphantly. She held the shining, coldly glinting key to herself for a few moments before finally speaking.

    “I fooouuund it!”

    Jade lashed out, the knife quickly slicing through her first victim’s throat. Jake’s eyes widened in surprise as he fell back, blood draining from his body. Dirk made a sort of strangled gasp and slumped beside the lifeless body, gathering the butler into his arms. Roxy grabbed Jane by the wrist and ran from the room.

    From where Dave’s body lay, John let out a pained moan. The blue symbol on his suit began to dull, and his face took on a sickly pallor as he coughed. Jade raised the blade above Dirk as he mourned, a manic grin spreading across her face. She giggled slightly as Dirk held his servant to his chest, whispering sweet words to him.

    “Please don’t leave me…” “Please stay with me.” “I love you.”

    Jade struck, the knife lodging into the man’s skull with the force of the blow. As blood poured down his forehead and dripped past his shock widened eyes, he fell to the side, his lover’s body falling from his grasp.

    Jade smiled, gripping the knife’s hilt and pulling the blade out. She smiled as she held the blade proudly; thinking that this must have been what Arthur felt when he pulled out Excalibur. She stopped killing to defend herself.

    She continued killing for the fun of it.

    The weight of the shining steel felt good in her hand, empowering. It was like a lifeline of sorts. If there was any fun to be had, there was only one way. Someone was going to die. Jade was perfectly delighted with the idea. She started to walk through the halls, her previous fear forgotten in her new found madness as she stalked her prey.

    Jane was the next one she had found, cowering in the corner of the kitchen, holding a sort of pitchfork to her chest tightly. She seemed to be praying, blue eyes squeezed shut and her hands clasped over the weapon, her mouth moving silently. Jade laughed silently to herself. The maid looked so pathetic now! Where was the joyful look of the kill?

    Jade tapped her shoulder. Jane spun around and tried to defend herself, attempting to drive the pitchfork through Jade’s chest. Jade, amused, slapped her when she started to gain a hopeful look. As the weapon fell from her grasp, Jane tried to reach for it but shrieked as Jade stabbed her hand. Giggling, the villager grabbed her by the hair, pulling her for eye contact. Jane trembled, her wide eyes brimming with tears as they streamed down her face.

    “Don’t be sad…” Jade used her hands, knife still clenched in her right, to tilt the corners of Jane’s lips upwards. Jane squeaked as the blade grazed her cheek, a little droplet of blood dribbling towards her neck. “After, Dirk died with his lover and Roxy will join you soon.”

    Jane tried to scream but Jade had already slit her throat. Jane’s sounds were reduced to frightful gurgles as her vocal chords overflowed with the blood. Jade stood up, letting the carcass drop unceremoniously on the ground.

    Jade heard movement and silently followed, her now rust colored knife glinting in hand. She stalked her last prey as she ran back into the room with the clock. Roxy stopped, throwing her hands over her mouth as she saw the still body of her husband. Looking back at Dave, she saw John gasping for air, clawing at his chest, as if he were teetering between life and death.

    Roxy sank to the ground, her gown becoming stained with red. She buried her face in her hands and started to cry, tears running down her cheeks. Jade, not liking the sight, decided to put her out of her misery. She stabbed the woman in the throat, watching as she fell forward to join her husband and his secret lover. Jade felt as if she were forgetting someone. Was it John? She turned and saw that John had died along side his friend, his skin and symbol having lost all their color. But there was someone… Jade couldn’t remember…

    As Jade pondered, someone slit her throat from behind.

    Jade’s eyes were widened in surprise before she slumped to the ground, the bloodied knife falling from her limp hand. Jade had died, never really finding the happy end. In the now dark room devoid of all life, a shadow gave a round of applause.

    “Even if it wasn’t the right ending, it was a wonderful show…”

    As the shadow picked up the letter that had fluttered from Jade’s placid skirt, it wept.

    (This is about 6,500 words. Oops. Well, I hope you enjoyed anyway!)

    • smallster21 says:

      I never say this, because I don’t mind stories going over two or three hundred words over the limit, but this is way too long for this forum. Also, a problem with publishing 6,500 words is that if you want to submit this somewhere, it will already be considered previously published. You might consider work shopping a longer piece like this on Book Country. I’ve used that forum for working on my short stories and novel ideas.

      • livvykitty says:

        I apologize. I wanted to try and push myself and, well, this was the result! I’ll try to keep responses to this forum shorter in the future. And I think that I’ll take a look at Book Country.

        • livvykitty says:

          P.S. The plot is actually my interpretation of the song Bad End Night by the group called Vocaloid. I cannot pass it as my own and that’s why such a long story is not being ‘shopped’. I’d feel terrible about it.

    • catbr says:

      Sorry I did not read all of your story. It was a tad too long. But I did read some of it and you had good descriptions in it.

    • DMelde says:

      I enjoyed this livvykitty. You have some wonderful descriptions and I think you managed to stay true to the Bad End Night story line. Well done.

  32. calicocat88 says:

    “Hey there, little boy! Do you want a balloon?” Zach stared at the clown with intense disgust. Why did Jasmine want him to meet her here? Wasn’t she one of those mall chicks that always smelled like Dillard’s? Were county fairs even supposed to have clowns?

    The sun was setting and the night air was beginning to drift in. He shrugged deeper in his jean jacket and looked down at his phone hoping the clown would get the message.

    “How about some cotton candy?” the clown thrust a mound of pink fluff in Zach’s face, but he shoved it away.

    “Back off, clown. I’m not in the mood.”

    “Uh, no! Somebody needs a hug,” the clown threw his arms around Zach’s waist, his hand drifting too low for comfort.

    Zach punched out as hard as he could and backed away from the clown who staggered off clutching his gut and dry heaving into one of the trash cans.

    “Freaking pervert,” Zach mumbled and he made his way through the thinning crowds of people. Everything smelled like popcorn and grass. October was cold this year. Too chilly for a Mississippi Fall. Whether it was his imagination or paranoia from being a Yankee in a redneck town, the whole place made his spine tingle. What was it about country towns that gave him the creeps?

    “Carnies,” Jasmine was leaning against the gaping mouth of the fun house, her rippling blond hair tied up in a messy bun, “Both fascinating and scary as hell, but part of the carnival experience.” She wasn’t wearing much despite to dropping temperatures.

    “You were supposed to be here an hour ago,” he said, trying hard to hide the irritation in his voice. “What changed since yesterday?”

    “I got…detained.”

    “Oh, yeah, that’s rich.”

    “I’m not going to argue with you,” she said, “You’re here because since you don’t believe me, you might believe it if somebody else with more,” she weighed the words carefully, “freedom told you.”

    “What? You’re saying someone won’t let you tell me everything?”

    “Come here,” Jasmine led him to a tiny old woman wrapped in swathes of brightly colored scarves and smoking a cigar. Her matted hair was rolled in puffs on her head and she leaned back in an old rocking chair watching the towns folk drift by. Her eyes lit up in remembrance when she saw Zach.

    “Zachary LeFarris. You’re a lot shorter than what you looked like in the vision,” the woman said. Her voice was like old iron. “Are you still as curios as you are stupid?”

    “Do I know you?” Zach looked from Jasmine to the old woman.

    “I tried explaining as much as I could without crossing the limits,” Jasmine frowned.

    The old woman raised a thin eyebrow and gestured for Zach to come closer. “Kneel,” she said.

    Zach obeyed. Now that he was closer he could see the old woman was missing most of her teeth and she smelled strongly of rubbing alcohol.

    “Be still,” she grabbed his head with one claw-like hand and jerked a strand of hair from his head.

    “What the f—“

    “Oh, you think that hurts now. Just wait.” She took the hair and dropped it onto a small clear stone where it seemed to melt into the smooth surface and disappear. The clear stone began turning different colors—ruby, violet, emerald—until it settled on a deep onyx. The old woman looked grave, her gray eyes enveloped by the pupils. “You are what you are, son. Your future, just like anyone else, has good and bad coming. But there’s something you should know.”

    “Just tell me and let’s get this over with,” he said, but something in the pit of his stomach lurched.

    “You will be gifted with long life and perfect health with amazing strength and agility.”

    “Okay…?”

    She tossed the cigar to the ground and put it out with her bare foot. “Every gift comes with a—“

    “A price,” he said. “Everyone knows this.”

    “Shut up, Zach, and listen.” Jasmine kicked his boots.

    “You will be hunted,” said the old woman. “You’ll take a lot of lives in order to sustain your own.”

    The old woman was crazy, but that didn’t get rid of the feeling of rightness of her words. This was insane. She was insane. Jasmine helped him to his feet.

    “They’re hunting me too,” Jasmine said. “Our fates aren’t much different. I’ll stick with you.”

    “One more thing,” the old woman said. “You have a choice as to which side you choose. But I suggest you follow the boy with the two different eyes. He won’t be the one to lead you, but he’s the one to follow.”

    And just like that the old woman vanished, the swathes of clothes floating to the empty rocking chair.

    • jhowe says:

      Great writing. Very mysterious ending. I lkied it.

      • jhowe says:

        That was supposed to be ‘liked’

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks jhowe :)

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          There is a story within your story. I know you wrote with this in mind. It got me stirred up and I wanted you to continue it. If you chose not to, I wanted to jump into the middle of it.

          Zach and Jasmine are likeable enough to build a series of adventures around them. Sounds like you had a lot of fun writing this, building the characters and setting the scene for more adventure.

          • calicocat88 says:

            Thanks Kerry :) I tend to always write stories within my stories and they don’t pan out so well sometimes since I have all the details of the backstories in my head. I have to constantly remind myself “Oh, yeah! The readers don’t have all this floating around in their minds.” I’m glad this one turned out well and you enjoyed it. Zach and Jasmine are in the process of development along with a group of other characters they’ll be involved with eventually. Glad to know they’re likable. And I did have fun ;)

    • reba_O says:

      Great writing! And like others have said, very likeable characters! If this turns into a series, I will be the first to read it! I really want to know what adventure lies ahead for them!

    • don potter says:

      I love the voice like old iron description and, adding to the fortune teller’s toughness, the way she stomped out the cigar with her bare foot. Good piece of writing.

      • calicocat88 says:

        I was hoping that description would make sense to the readers. My grandmother actually knew an old woman who used to stomp out her cigarettes with her bare feet. I thought she would make a very colorful character, lol! Thanks :)

    • DMelde says:

      Good story. I liked the characters and the chemistry between them.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks DMelde :) I worry about the chemistry between my characters–if they’re really connecting with each other and the audience or if it’s just me imagining it being there.

    • catbr says:

      Good story. I liked the tough crusty old woman too, who crushes out cigars with her bare foot. Must have some pretty thick calluses.

    • smallster21 says:

      I always love reading your stories. I get so wrapped up in them, and am left wanting to know more. The narrative was great. Actually, this is my favorite story from you in regards to voice. The voice is very distinct and unique.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks smallster21 :) Glad to know you enjoyed this. I wasn’t even thinking about the voice, honestly. But I suppose Zach’s voice is a strong one. He must be a good character to keep around ;)

    • JR MacBeth says:

      Another great story calico. I agree with others, this sounds like it could be expanded into quite a story. Very imaginative.

    • this was a layered and complex piece. I enjoyed it very much. Nicely crafted dialog.

      • calicocat88 says:

        It’s hard for me to see the layers since I wasn’t really thinking of it that way, but I’m very happy that it came out like that. Thanks Doug :) I really appreciate the encouragement from all you guys.

  33. Kerry Charlton says:

    A SOFT SUMMER BREEZE

    In the summer of ’54, Woody Curtis locked his arm in Cindy’s as they strolled through the center square of Kilgore, a small oil town in East Texas. Soft breezes wafted between tall pines and abandoned oil derricks, who as rusted ghoasts lined the streets, the parks and surrounded the courthouse.

    “I can’t wait to get to the fair,” Cindy said.

    At seventeen her natural beauty hadn’t peaked, but with flashing, green eyes, luxurious red hair and perfect skin, she was well on her way.

    “Are you going to ride the tilt-a-whirl?” Woody asked.

    Captain of Kilgore High’s football team, he stood six three with sandy hair and piercing blue eyes.

    “If you want me to,” she said.

    Best friends since grade school, their recent love for each other had caused chaos between their families. The oil boom had left by 1940 but the money had stayed, despite the slant-well oil scandels.

    Cindy’s father, Ed Broadhurst owned a good share of real estate in Kilgore, while Woody’s father operated the auto repair on the outskirts of town.

    “Oh, I want my fortune told.” Cindy said as they entered the fair.

    “It’s really nonsense but the tent’s in the next aisle,” he said.

    “You go first,” she said.

    Woody opened a flap on the tent. A dark room with a small table, a large looking globe illuminated from underneath and a tiny, ancient woman greeted his sight.

    “Sit down son,” she said. “I see wonderful things in your life but also a great tragedy if you walk this pathway.”

    “I don’t believe in this,” Woody said.

    “Oh, it’s true all right,” she answered. “”You will become a powerful senator in Texas and a great influence in the country. But there is a price to pay.”

    “How much,” he said.

    “It isn’t money but your sweetheart will be at great risk and possibly die from your success.”

    “How can you predict the future?” Woody asked.

    “I’m an old woman who’s seen life as it really is. There’s always a cost involved.”

    Woody rushed from the tent with tears streaming his face. He put his arms around Cindy, holding her tight.

    “I can’t go on like this,” he said. “Our families are at war and I don’t want harm to come to you.”

    “What did she tell you,” Cindy asked.

    “it doesn’t matter. I really do love you but I can’t risk any tragedy happening to you.”

    Woody walked away from her, not looking back. Cindy approached the tent, her eyes filled with heartbreak.

    Mr. Broadhurst stood beside the fortune teller.

    “I hope your satisfied, Father,” she said.

    “I’m only thinking of your future,” he said.

    “Well, I’ll tell you a thing or two. I’m moving in with Sally. She said I could stay as long as I wanted.”

    “I won’t allow it,” he answered.

    “You don’t have any say in this, Dad. Don’t mess with Sally’s father. He’ll ruin you financially.

    “But can’t you see, I’m trying to guide you,” he said.

    “It’s over. When I finish high school, I’ll marry Woody. Don’t bother yourself over me. I don’t ever want to see you again.”

    Cindy rushed from the tent and ran after her love.

    “Woody, wait up for me.”

    • jhowe says:

      Great story. A rusty Texas town, a county fair, young love and a controlling father, all in 500 words or less.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you, jhowe. The first time I drove into Kilgore, I parked the car and started counting the abandoned rigs still in place. Good thing I didn’t try counting all 1100 of them.

    • smallster21 says:

      Your ability to establish a setting and create descriptive prose is definitely your strength. I’m always impressed with the settings you create and the flow of the narrative when you establish the mood. I love the nostalgic feel of your stories.

      I like this plot idea, the Romeo/Juliet type forbidden love scenario, and I think this particular story could be strengthened with more tension and conflict. It’d be nice to hear just how serious this feuding is between these two families, and I don’t mean dead bodies and Hatfield/McCoy type shoot-outs, but maybe mentions of exact slights/fights that show why they hate each other so much, which would support why the father would go to such great lengths to trick Woody and ruin Cindy’s relationship. And, would her father have let her off so easily at the end? I think it was good the way you have it, but that would make it more heart-wrenching if he didn’t let her run off.

      One more thing. I think you could consider foreshadowing the father’s presence. Not like make it blatantly obvious. I just was confused when he showed up out of nowhere. There were no indications anybody else was in the tent, so it threw me off.

      I really enjoyed this, and your happy endings are always so refreshing and make me smile :) Have you published anything yet? I think you have the descriptive and setting part of storytelling mastered, in my opinion. I’d like to see you take those strengths and build longer, higher conflict/tension-filled stories.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you smallster, you’re critiques are on the mark and detailed so well, you write as a literary agent or better yet a professor. Each week, I rewrite my story using all the help I receive from the forum.

        I’ve been fortunate enough to have six stories published in the last two and a half years. Most of them range in the 2500 word count. I have learned to write in the 500, but I try to cram too much story in it. On my rewrites, I leave the barn door open. Thanks to all of you who read them

        • smallster21 says:

          Thank you, that is very kind. And, if only I could go back in time, I would have chosen a career path different from the one that was chosen for me, which would most certainly be an English professor. That is fantastic about your stories! Do you have a website? I’m working on mine, and it is confusing, lol :)

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            I don’t have a website yet but as soon as I find someone with more smarts then I have, I’ll have one. I also wonder if I took the wrong path in my education. But at this stage in my life, I am now doing what I always wanted to do.

            Thanks for all your help. A BBA in marketing is not much help in writing.

    • sheila95 says:

      Nice story :D I really liked it, it’s cute.

    • DMelde says:

      forbidden love. well done.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks DMelde, Texas has so many stories to tell. Not being native Texas born, gives me such an advantage here. “Oddball out, I am.” I don’t ride horses and I don’t talk, “Texas talk.”

    • don potter says:

      The rusted ghosts lining the streets painted the picture of the town. The father buying off the fortune teller painted the picture of the people who run the town. Good read.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks Don. You hit the nerve of small towns everywhere. It’s those that have and those who don’t and never the twain shall meet. That’s the gist of my story.

    • JR MacBeth says:

      Great story Kerry. I think your opening paragraphs were incredible, but your story seemed a bit large for the tiny 500 word limit, like you needed more word allowance to properly finish it off. For me, 500 words never seems like enough, but that’s the challenge. I consider it good exercise, but like exercise, it can be painful too.

      Loved your title, and your character names definitely felt authentic 1950′s.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks JR. That’s a very nice complement. I always want to push too much story in . Smallster also mentioned it. I rewrote the story to 1250 words today. It fits now and I like it so much, I’m going to submit this week to The Storyteller Magazine. I rewrote a tragic ending to it. [Smallster, I guarantee you'll cry to it.]

    • I love your settings, Kerry. They are always so richly vivid. Well done, my friend.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks Doug. Coming from you, it means a lot to me. I’m having a tear-up ball on this forum and soaking all the good writing up like a dry sponge.

  34. la vie en rouge says:

    “Cross my palm with silver, and I shall tell your fortune.”

    “Are you really going to tell my fortune?” I ask. “’Cause I’ve heard this is all just cold-reading and mumbo-jumbo. Anyway, they haven’t made coins out of silver for centuries, they’re all cupro-nickel these days. It’s a fiver or nothing, I’m afraid.”

    “Oh alright. Although I’d have thought I’m worth ten. I’m very gifted, you know.”

    “I’ll be the judge of that, shall I?”

    I hold out a grubby note. The old lady stuffs it in a box and uncurls my fingers further. The back of my hand brushes the cold formica of the table. It’s freezing in here. And dark. Considering how decrepit those curtains are, you’d think they’d let a bit more light in.

    “Now let’s have a good look.”

    She pushes her glasses up her nose and squints. The bridge of her nose wrinkles oddly.

    “Well, let me see… some good, some bad, I’d say…”

    She pulls my hand closer to her eyes, turns it over to inspect the back as well, and studies my face again.

    I look intentionally unimpressed.

    “Like what?”

    She pauses.

    “Well… doesn’t look like your health gives you many worries.”

    “Not really, no… But you could have worked that out anyway.”

    “If you say so… But this is definitely the palm of a healthy person. Look at this line.”

    I reckon it’s too dark to see any lines.

    “If you insist.”

    “Oh, I do… Now, the romance in your future…”

    My brow furrows. Does she mean Emily? That’s hardly future. If she’s talking about anyone else, it doesn’t sound like entirely good news. Or is that the bad bit? I try to read her eyes, but it’s too dark.

    “Yes… what about it?”

    “Well… you’re clearly a very romantic person. Definitely.”

    I suppose she’s right, I do like to consider myself a bit of a romantic, in my own way. Maybe I should surprise Emily with a nice dinner this weekend. It’s been a while.

    “And… creative too…”

    “I’m not sure about that.”

    Another pause.

    “Well… not in the traditional way, maybe, but there’s more than one kind of creativity, you know. You can be creative at… business for example. Starting a company, that sort of thing.”

    I become more attentive. She’s right that not everyone understands the creativity an entrepreneur needs.

    “You’re right. You do have to be creative in business.”

    “And you’re in business. Oh, of course you are. You see this line here, that one’s for wealth.”

    I peer in the dark and think I see the one she means. My business acumen, written in my palm. I should have known.

    I suddenly realise she’s forgotten something, although I’m not sure I like it.

    “So what’s the bad news from my palm?”

    “The bad news is that you’re right. It is all cold-reading and mumbo-jumbo. I make this whole thing up. A tissue of outrageous great whoppers that I get people to believe by asking leading questions. Sorry ‘bout that. You’re not getting that fiver back, either.”

  35. sheila95 says:

    Second entry ever! :D Sorry that I went over the word limit!
    By the way, (not sure why I mention this) I’m 17 so this is mostly around my age, I hope that no one minds!

    ————————————————————————————————————————————

    “I really don’t believe in these things, why did you even thought about it?” I asked Alyssa as we walked through the light filled theme park. It had been her idea to go there to begin with, and to tell the truth it was thrilling sneaking out of your house at ten when you knew your parents were probably still not completely asleep and having the constant feeling that someone you knew would catch you and your friends at such a late hour in a carnival thirty minutes away from your house.

    But what I was actually complaining about was the fact that my friends, Alyssa and Monica, had forced me to go into this crazy lady’s tarot sop for her to read my ‘future’, actually it had given me the creeps and now only two of her many premonitions stayed inside of my head.

    “Oh, if you don’t believe in those things then don’t worry about it!” Monica shrugged. “Hey why don’t we go to the spooks house?

    A chill went down my back at the thought of the many, many dark places a spooks house could have.

    “Nah, I’ll pass.” I laughed.

    “Why? Scared?” Alyssa teased.

    I would have loved to say that I was in fact scared to my very bone about the creepiness the carnival suddenly had taken, when we had arrived it simply looked fun and inviting now everything seemed like a big threat.

    “Nope, just not interested.” I continued, after all I didn’t wanted to look like a chicken in front of my friends.

    “Okay, fine, but wait for us outside the house then.” Monica stated and that’s when I realized we were right in front of the old castle looking spook house, the windows broken and dark wood seemingly rotten with many people screaming for their lives inside.

    “Fine.” No, there was no way in hell I was going inside there.

    Just as my friends showed their twenty dollar bracelet to the guy in the main door I began to remember what the old gypsy lady had told me inside her smelly wood tarot shop.

    “My dear, you seem to have a very good fortune. Your boyfriend and you will last many years, he is the one after all.” She had murmured while passing her wrinkled hands on top of mine. I almost squealed at this, I loved Kevin, I had always known he was the one, though my stomach suddenly fell when her face suddenly turned grim and she looked up at me with worried eyes. “Stay away from the dark girl, don’t go near it! Something is chasing you down, and it has been following you for a while now, something or someone dark, very dangerous.”

    And that had been when I had stormed out of the shop, of course I had paid her first so I believed she didn’t really cared about it.

    The nerves were making me crazy so I decided to walk for a little since it seemed my friends weren’t getting out any time soon.

    Going back to the food stands seemed like an impossible deed since the carnival rides were placed in a complex manner and I felt as I if I was lost in a labyrinth. Though as I was walking to the ever going crowd of people I became aware of one consistent sound.

    Boots… or more like the clicking of metal against some shoes. It didn’t mattered where I turned this noise kept following me. My pulse quickened and my breath got shorter as I started to walk faster. I should have stayed in the spooks house!

    Suddenly the all the lights of the carnival (except the ones from the rides) went out, leaving the crowd in the dark and giving the sky a perfect view for the fireworks that started popping against the midnight sky. I stood there, frozen as the crowd started clapping with joy oblivious to anything else. My skin crawled as I could almost hear someone breathe out way too close my neck. I tried to bolt around and scream, call out for help, but before I could do that a hand slithered around my face from behind and covered my mouth and nose with a cloth.

    All I heard before the world disappeared were the words.

    “I’ve finally got you, Rose.”

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      A nice suspenseful story building up to the final line. One thing that might give a little more power; separate dialogue from within a paragragh and double space it as you would a paragraph. A lot of powerful writing for seventeen. I compliment you. My story above yours, “A Soft Summer Breeze’” is about a seventeen year old girl. Funny coincidence.

    • livvykitty says:

      I’m fourteen, so I wrote my entry closer to my age. Mostly, anyway… Don’t worry too much about the word limit! Most people go a few hundred words over (or in my entry to this, six thousand). I quite liked the setting and plot line, although it was a bit vague. Why did they want Rose? That’s the price of suspense, I suppose. ;)

      • sheila95 says:

        Wow you’re young! :)
        And I’m sorry I wasn’t so specific, but because of both the word count and the suspense I left it to the reader to decide who was that person and what would happen to Rose :) Thank you for reading :D

    • don potter says:

      Good story. A little overwritten, like the labyrinth scene, so an edit is in order. I also question how Rose could hear the sound of metal clicking against shoes with the overwhelming sounds of the midway surrounding her or was this only in her mind? The bottom line is keep on writing.

  36. sheila95 says:

    Hello, sorry I’m checking if the comments work for me since they haven’t in a while.

  37. ShawnJohnson78 says:

    We kept trekking through the hay infested fair grounds looking for something more interesting than gut-busting food inappropriate for human consumption (yet bizarrely, people paid cash for their future coronaries) or hula-hoop contests. Hand in hand with my girl we went in and out of the fair’s setups; art exhibits, sheep shearing race; an amalgam of blah and what the fuck. Children in adorable superhero face paint ran amok and grownups in creepy face paint chased after them. This is the theater of the absurd.
    The sun had conceded to a night looking to be cold. As the last rays of light tried to provide reassurance I gave up my jacket to the girl so lovingly holding my arm and flexed my muscles to stem off the chill. Defeated and believing this to be the same fair we have been to every year we decided to abandon the herd for a house of warmth. But getting lost in a fair this massive was a given and we were turned around. Ahead of us was a tent of the most extravagant colors with an all-seeing eye sewn into the patchwork; a couple walk in. A sign near the flap told us that for $10 our futures will be ours to know. The night air convinced my now cold extremities that this is a viable option; today I learn about tomorrow. “What d’ya say Kate? Wanna see the future?” I ask the top of her heat that has burrowed into my chest somehow. “Not really” she says. I move my head side to side trying to look inside. “It looks warm in there” I say to her. No further words need be spoken. She pulls me inside. The warmth hits us in the face as though we walked into a sauna. The place is empty. I reach in my pocket and pull out a $10 bill. The lights go out and a table lights up with a bowl full of $10’s. I place my money in the pot and those lights too extinguish. Slowly light returns to the world and the heat has leveled off. The flap of the tent seemed to have closed to where we couldn’t see outside. My hand slipped out of my Kate’s and I move further into the room. The lights flicker out again and I can’t see Kate. “That’s annoying” I say. She says nothing back. “Kate?” I turn around and the lights are back on but where Kate was is an old, rather large “gypsy” lady. “How ya doin’?” she asks almost excited and placated at once, ready to jump or sleep. I lean slightly right to look around her. Kate is just standing there looking bored. “So. The future, huh?” I say. “Hmph” she replies. She pulls my head towards hers and whispers in my left ear “she’ll say yes if you ask” My heart beats faster and I’m happy with that. She then whispers in my right ear “but it’s not yours”.

  38. jhowe says:

    This seems long to me. Sorry about that.

    One minute I was struggling to operate The Zipper at the Allegan County Fair and the next I knew I was sitting on a bench in a room with no visible walls. I knew it was a room because there was a ceiling and a floor, but no walls for as far as I could see. A man appeared in the distance and walked my way. He was tall, light haired and nondescript. The suit he wore was also unremarkable though it seemed to fit well.

    “I’m afraid a mistake has occurred,” the man said in a clear toneless voice.

    “A mistake?” I said. “Who are you?”

    “I prefer for one to draw his own conclusions, even though introductions are in order I will refrain at the moment,” the man said.

    I felt entirely uneasy right then and I noticed the man’s eyes for the first time. There was something behind them, something unnatural but something comforting at the same time. I could look right through them into what I could only describe as his soul. He then broke the escalating tension and said, “Many people get confused by the way I operate. Don’t be alarmed.”

    “What do you want?” I said.

    “As I said, there has been a mistake. You’re not supposed to be here and I have to decide what to do with you.”

    What do you mean I’m not supposed to be here,” I said, rising from the bench. “Where the hell am I?”

    “Please respect my modus operandi.” He smiled for the first time and continued. “I’ll send you back on one condition.”

    “What’s that?” I said. “Back from where?”

    “I am in a position where many people come to me for help. But who can I go to? Where can I turn to get something off my chest? That’s where you come in. I will confess my troubles to you and send you back with no questions asked or answered. Agreed?”

    I nodded my head.

    He began to speak. “As I said, many people get confused by the way I operate. I remain mostly silent, much to the dismay of my loyal supporters and much to the delight of my resolute distracters. Why, then, do I remain silent you ask? The question has plagued me for as long as man has occupied the lands, or at least as long as my memory permits.”

    “What are you talking about,” I asked. He held up his hand and continued.

    “To be completely honest, I myself am becoming confused by the gradual decay of what I actually remember and what is perceived as reality based on what has been written. I have read about my past endeavors and exploits in many of your books. I don’t discriminate between the multiple writings that exist. They are all interesting to read. My problem is I can’t remember many of the events that have been immortalized in the sacred pages of these books. Perhaps I once had more power than I do now or maybe there was some entity before me that I’m not aware of. In any case, either I have changed or the writers in question enhanced their stories for effect. My assumption is that a little of each occurred.

    In the old days, when there were fewer people, maybe I paid attention more than I do now. Maybe I got more involved in the lives of man. The thought intrigues me. I wish I could remember it. Some of the stories are exciting and curiously violent. I’m surprised that I may have been so wrathful. I think that I’m now so accustomed to mankind that I have given up on making any more improvements. I’ve made my bed and now I’m lying in it.”

    His face was passionless as he paused. I wanted to say something but he held his hand up again.

    “I now am content in my role as one who is less wrathful and more compassionate. I believe my silence plays to my strengths as a metaphysical entity. I can soothe a troubled mind. I often provide hope for the sick, the dying, the loved ones of the dying, the faithful and unfaithful alike. I’m good with hope. I’m good at providing food for thought if the individual is open to my presence in those thoughts. I’m good at instilling positive thinking which is a powerful tool for mankind if I must say so myself. As I said before, I’m good with
    the metaphysical world.

    The physical world, though, is a whole different animal. It is far easier for me to calm the thoughts of a dying man than to remove the malady that is causing his death. Even if I could remove this malady, I wouldn’t. The ramifications are too numerous to list and too complicated to explain. When good people die, my silence is often met with discontent and disbelief. It happens many thousands of times every day and I simply cannot intervene. I’m sorry but I can’t.

    Many of you give me a great deal of credit in this area and I’m happy to say it’s mostly you. Perhaps that is my purpose. Maybe I’m here to spark some hope and provide guidance. The truth is I don’t know all the answers. I am not all knowing by any stretch of the imagination. I just hope I’m on the right path and doing the right things. If I’m not, God help us.”

    The man turned and walked away before I had a chance to say anything. I found myself lying on my back with strange sounds all around. “Hey, this guy is alive!” Several men lifted a steel beam off me as two others pulled me from beneath the wreckage of The Zipper. A man said. “Buddy, you’re lucky to be alive; someone upstairs must be looking out for you.” I looked to the sky and said nothing.

    • calicocat88 says:

      This was very interesting! I liked it immensely. It actually reminds me a lot of Poe’s works with the dialogue and cryptic worlds going on here. Great job :) Don’t worry about the length. Some stories can’t be limited.

    • smallster21 says:

      The beginning in which you describe the man’s surroundings are very surreal. I wish you would have described his surroundings besides the roof and floor, what lay beyond the walls that weren’t there? That is really me just being curious, I know you were restricted in how much detail you could provide. So, I pictured they were in the middle of a desert at night, with two moons in the sky, and stars shining all the way down to the horizon, like a starry curtain. I became wrapped up in the dialogue. It certainly is one of those stories that makes you think. It’s a discourse on modern day societal views of theology. Good story jhowe :)

    • lailakuz says:

      This is cool. I love the fact that you leave the man ambiguous. I think the ambiguity adds to the piece and I love the voice of the stranger, whoever it is. You know he’s old, because of his structure, but his voice also sounds as confused as a little kid’s. Also makes a lot of observations about religion and humanity. Overall, really cool piece! Good job!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I was mesmerized by your story. I would also correlate it to an essay within a story. A most unusual experience in reading it. I’m not so sure it isn’t closer to reality then most people imagine.

    • DMelde says:

      I liked this a lot. the two sides; physical and spiritual. well done.

    • don potter says:

      I was looking for the fortune teller in this, but never found her. Instead I was taking through a well-told tale about a trip to the other side. Nicely done. Since this took place at Kennywood Park, I thought the mysterious man might have been Art Rooney (this comment will not make sense to anyone who never lived in Pittsburgh).

  39. vfg487 says:

    I really had trouble with this one. I had no idea how it would turn out, so I just kept stalling till I ended it completely abruptly and out of the blue. I know it doesn’t really correspond with the prompt, but I’m posting it anyway. And it’s way over the word limit so I don’t mind if you don’t read it… really.

    “Hey, come check this out!” My friend Katy grabbed my wrist and yanked me over to a dingy little stall that was half-hidden in the shadow of the Big Top. A sign hanging lopsided on the curtain read: “Fortunes for all.”
    “Aw, Katy!” I groaned, snatching my arm out of her grasp. “You know very well I don’t believe in that stuff.”
    “Come on!” Katy beseeched. She lowered her voice to a husky whisper and her eyes glowed with excitement “I tried it, and my fortune actually did came true!”
    “Really.” I remained unconvinced, crossing my arms across my chest in the most belligerent way I could muster.
    “Well. Half of it, anyway.” Katy said, thoughtfully, absentmindedly touching a beautiful carved locket that hung from her neck.
    “What do you mean, half of it?” I narrowed my eyes.
    “Why don’t you go and find out?” Katy grinned, and managed to shove me, still protesting, through the weather-beaten velvet and straight into a tall silver stool. It looked like something you’d find in an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. Katy shut the blinds behind me and the last thing I heard was a muffled “Have fun!”
    “I’m going to get you for this, Katy.” I muttered to the curtain, and resigned myself to the stool. There was a box-shaped table in front of me, which was covered in a thick layer of dust and in the middle of it sat a shiny little bell. I picked it up gingerly and rang it, twice.
    Immediately there was a snuffling and banging sound from inside the table. I shot up from the stool and took a step back, just as something poked its head out from under the counter and regarded me with big brown eyes. It had shaggy golden fur, a smiling sort of mouth with a long pink tongue, and a tail that wagged with happy ferocity.
    “A dog, Katy?” I said through gritted teeth, though I knew perfectly well she was well outside hearing distance.
    The mutt ducked his head under the table again, and came out with two small cardboard boxes in its mouth. It placed them on the table in front of me. They were both full of small index cards, though one box of them was green, while the other blue. I furrowed my brow at them. They all looked completely blank. Then my eyes widened as the dog pawed out a blue card, which immediately bleached white. A neat line of type appeared on the surface.
    Please take one green card and one blue card and leave your payment on the table. Thank you.
    Uh oh. Payment? I reached into my pocket nervously, praying that I had my wallet on me and keeping a wary eye on the dog’s slobbery mouth. This kind of dog had great big fangs, didn’t they?
    I pulled out a fistful of junk and let it clatter onto the table. No wallet. Argh! Just my luck!
    The dog crossed its paws on the table in front of me and gave me a very kindly look. It looked so human that I scooted back a step further – but I took two cards. I nodded to the dog and said, “Thanks.” It didn’t look up, now diligently sorting through a pile of pocket lint. I turned round and left in a hurry before the thing realized there was nothing of remote value there.
    I stepped out into the bright sunlight. “There, Katy, happy now?” I rubbed my eyes, letting them adjust.
    “Oh, I should certainly hope not.” Came a casual voice from beside me. I whirled around and caught sight of a boy a bit older than me, grinning wide. His eyes gleamed darkly and malice dripped from his every word. Or maybe that was the blood making little rivers down the blade of the long knife he held casually in his hand…
    My body seemed frozen as my eyes travelled down to the ground where Katy lay, her hands pressed convulsively against the hole in her chest. Red oozed sluggishly across the dirt and staining the shattered pieces of her locket, which glittered on the ground. When my gaze connected with her blank, lifeless stare, I turned and ran as if the very devil was on my heels.
    I heard him laugh, so lightly, that it jarred the image of him standing over the corpse of my best friend that was branded into my mind. My fists clenched hard as I sprinted wildly away, crumpling the two colored cards in my hand.

  40. DMelde says:

    I’m sorry. This came in at a hefty 713 words. My apologies to everyone willing to read it.
    ################

    Pride splashed across Bob’s face as he gazed at the picture of himself in his brand new captain’s uniform.

    “Just like the fortune teller said.” Bob thought. She also warned him about getting sunburned, but he thought, “Sunburn, what’s so bad about that?”

    His picture was propped against a book on the dashboard of his spaceship, a Class III Screamer transport, and he was sailing on his maiden voyage from the Earth to the planet Mars, to deliver cargo to the colonies. Earth and Mars were at apogee, on different sides of the solar system, making Bob travel dangerously close to the sun, but for this he had a plan. He was traveling at night.

    Everything was smooth sailing when Bob looked out of his windshield at the asteroid that shielded him from the sun. By staying in its shadow, Bob was indeed traveling at night, and he was perfectly safe. He gazed again at his picture. Then he saw a cockroach hop up on the book and stare at him. Bob’s face contorted with disbelief. Slowly, he drew his ray gun from its holster.

    He remembered his two days of captain’s training. The instructors had yelled a lot.

    “Don’t do this! Don’t do that! Don’t fire your ray gun! Don’t call it a ray gun! It’s a molecular atomizer! And above all else, DON’T PUSH THE RED BUTTON!!”

    “They must think I’m stupid.” Bob thought. “Well, they don’t know what stupid is.”

    He took careful aim and fired at the cockroach. With a “poof” half of the cockroach was gone, and what little remained lay smoldering on top of the book. Satisfied, Bob peeled a hard-boiled egg for lunch.

    A light on the dashboard started blinking furiously. Soon, other lights joined in.

    “Pretty lights.” Bob thought as he ate his egg.

    It wasn’t until the warning bell went off that Bob looked up to see what was wrong. He watched as his spaceship drifted away from the asteroid, and into the full glare of the sun. Bob suddenly knew why they called it a screamer transport, and like many pilots before him, Bob screamed.

    He tried the thrusters. Nothing happened. He grabbed the spaceship manual, the same book he was using to prop up his picture, but there was a hole through it from his ray gun. The hole continued through the dashboard and into the engine, which was dead. Bob panicked. He grabbed some sunscreen as his spaceship started glowing red.

    Bob looked at the still smoking remains of the cockroach and made a promise, “I will eat that cockroach on a cracker if I can just get out of this mess.”

    Looking wildly around, Bob gave up all hope, and in a desperate act of futility, he slammed his head against the dashboard and in doing so, he pressed the red button.

    Suddenly, everything went silent. No blinking lights. No blaring alarms. This scared Bob even more, so he started screaming even louder than before.

    “AAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!”

    “Who’s doing all that screaming?” Bob heard a tinny voice say over his radio.

    “This is the Percival. Are you in need of assistance, Screamer Class III?”

    “Yes! Yes!” Bob shouted into the radio.

    “Oh dear, Victoria, there’s a human on board. You know how I dislike humans.” Percival said to his sister ship. The two spaceships gleamed in their protective solar shields, the most advanced artificial intelligence spaceships ever created.

    “Still, I suppose we should help him.” Victoria replied. “Think of all the paperwork if we don’t.”

    “Very well, although I won’t like it. Human, ugh, prepare to be towed to safety.”

    As suddenly as it began, it was all over. Bob was being rescued. What he didn’t know was that he would be fired in the morning for pushing the red rescue button. Rescues were expensive, and the company he worked for would rather lose him and the ship, than pay a small fortune for his rescue.

    But for now, Bob sat in stunned silence, with sunscreen dripping off the tip of his nose from the bottle he had pored over his head.

    “Well, a promise is a promise.” Bob said to himself as he looked at the charred cockroach remains. Then, he started looking in his lunch bag for a cracker.

  41. ndokken says:

    I am not the superstitious kind of guy or the kind of guy that believes in the “supernatural,” but then two weeks ago over lunch in the cafeteria at work, my co-worker Roger asked me something out of the ordinary.
    “Bill, would you ever see a fortune teller?”
    I started to laugh but I then realized he was dead serious. His eyes grew weary and concerned. I shook my head. “No. Why do you ask?”
    “Do you think for a second,” He paused. “That maybe, somebody could see if the merger is going to happen and that our jobs would be eliminated?”
    “Nobody can predict that.” I chuckled. “The current Board of Directors are for the employees, but one simply doesn’t know.”
    He left a few moments later and as I attempted to finish reading my newspaper, I thought maybe he was on to something. What if there was a person who could tell the future? What about my job?
    Later that next weekend, my wife Eloise and I had taken our daughter Jessica to the Dodge County Fair. After devouring almost all the freshly-baked cookies at the Sweet Martha’s Cookie stand we slammed down an ice-cold glass of milk.
    “Let’s meet back here in an hour. I’m gonna take Jessica into the Agriculture center to look at the grand prize winners.” Eloise said.
    “Bye daddy!”
    They vanished into a sea of people and just as I was about to walk into where the livestock of cattle and horses were kept, an older couple had stopped abruptly. I quickly stepped to the side to avoid running into them and it was then I had seen the Madame Geneviève’s Fortune Telling booth right in front of me. It was a sign.
    Madame Geneviève’ sat quietly inside her red velvet-draped tent with golden tassels on all four corners that hugged the ground. She looked directly into my eyes with a “Come hither” look.
    “I’ve been expecting you.” Her voice cracked.
    “W-w-what?” I choked. “You have? How do you know?”
    “Your eyes. They never lie.” She kicked out a chair from beneath the table. “Here, take a seat.”
    “But I only have five dollars on me.”
    “I’m not here for the money. Take a seat.”
    She reached over the table and grabbed my right hand which she flipped over so my palm was upright. She dug her long finger nail into the lines of my palm and followed them towards my fingers as she quietly muttered to herself.
    “You’re gonna be promoted. I see fortune coming your way. Your friend, not so much. But this won’t last long. Two years, maximum.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “That’s all I know. Now go.”
    That next week, Roger had came into the break room weeping and informed me that it was his last day. I sat there with my newspaper unfolded out in front of me and froze. She was right, but my fate is next.

  42. MCKEVIN says:

    “I don’t like Fortune Tellers!”
    We approached the mystery tent laughing at the possibilities.
    “C’mon it’ll be fun to see what she says.” My best friend Amy said.
    “How do you know the fortune teller is a she?”
    “Intuition! Something tells me it’s a she okay?”
    Amy rang the golden cow bell that hung on a black shepherd’s pole. Saber the fortune teller snatched back the curtain. She looked like a deranged pirate more than she did a fortune teller. Bright red hair, a black left eye patch and skin as white as milk. She had the aura of a B rated horror movie star. Amy and I looked at each other trying to keep from laughing.
    “Which one of you wants their fortune told?”
    “We both do but you should’ve known that?” I said laughing.
    Saber was not impressed.
    “You! Follow me! And You, Wait here!” Saber said to me.
    She disappeared behind the black curtain as quicklyt as she’d appeared. Amy looked frightened entering the tent.
    “Gon’ head. You’ll be fine and then, my turn.” I assured her
    I got a queasy feeling in my stomach and I remembered why I didn’t like fortune tellers. I heard the laughter of children screaming on the Ferris wheel behind me. Amy broke my thought process when she exited the tent crying.
    “What’s wrong?” I asked.
    “She said I’ll travel to high places and I’ll spend my last days with my best friend.”
    “So why are you crying?”
    “I’m happy that’s all. Now you go.”
    “Are you sure?”
    “Yes. Now go!”
    Amy pushed me through the curtain and suddenly my stomach needed to purge.
    “Sit!” Saber said.
    “I’m not a dog.” I said.
    “Whatever!” She said.
    I sat at a white wicker table with a mirrored top. Saber, seated across me, motioned for my hands which I placed on top of hers. Her head spun around ,she made sounds like a cat in heat and then snatched her hands from me.
    “Go!” Saber said.
    “What?”
    “You’ll spend a lifetime with your best friend and when it’s time, she’ll die in your arms.”
    “What?”
    “GO! NOW!” She stood hollering.
    I heard a scream outside and realized it was Amy. Saber pushed me out of the tent and I looked toward the Ferris wheel and saw a figure falling.
    “Oh My God!” I screamed and ran through the crowds. Amy lay twisted, mangled and bloodied on the ground. I cradled her head and her brains oozed out.
    “She musta was talking about the height of the Ferris-“
    “Shhh…” I said.
    “It felt like I was flying then the seat snapped-“ Amy said.
    “Shhh…”
    Blood spilled from her mouth and her eyes glassed over. Amy’s body went limp and she was dead.
    Saber appeared with her eerie skin and red hair glistening in the sun. She lifted her eye patch and looked down on us in horror.
    “It is done!” She said and vanished in the crowd.
    That’s why I don’t like fortune tellers.

    • reba_O says:

      Interesting story. I liked your description of the fortune teller; however, as a reader I was confused on how I was supposed to feel in this story. It started off light-hearted and humorous, switched to shocking and sad, then ended light-hearted again. A suggestion would be omitting the last line. The narrator’s statement takes away from the seriousness and shock of her friend’s death. The line “It is done!” is very nice and would give a better closure to the story and help the reader walk away with a clear idea of how she/he is supposed to feel. Just a suggestion.

      • smallster21 says:

        I agree with Reba’s suggestion about the last line. I suppose it depends on the overall tone your aiming for.

        • MCKEVIN says:

          smallster21, you know too well. Lol. Remember I always go for the phone conversation you accidently picked up on and couldn’t put the receiver down. Sometimes, you get the “whole” and sometimes not so much. You and reba-O were right this time. Hope my explanation helps. Smooches!

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Thank you reba-O for stopping by and reading. Originally, I ended this story with the sentence “It is done!” line. I realized I still had 7 words to use and I wanted to use them. I should have ended with “Sometimes, fortune tellers tell you the truth and that’s why I don’t like them Amy.” Thanks for the suggestion and thanks for reading. See you at the next prompt.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        reba-O see reply posted under smallster21 below. Sorry ’bout that. lol.

        • reba_O says:

          Hey! Nothing to apologize for! The one thing I’ve enjoyed the most about these prompts is that everyone’s comments (on my stories and others) have helped me improve as a writer! Smallster makes a good point on the changing tone adding a factor to the story. I didn’t see it that way till I read his/her comment. Smiles!

    • smallster21 says:

      Loved the line “She had the aura of a B rated horror movie star”. Great descriptions! I was only confused about why it is the MC doesn’t like fortune tellers. S/he is reminded when hearing the children on the Ferris wheel, but we never find out what happened in his/her past that created these feelings. Besides that, I really liked this. I actually didn’t mind the sudden change in tone. I usually dislike this technique, because I think it feels out-of-place and disrupts the flow of the narrative, but here there was more of a mystical, weird-fic vibe, so I think it was appropriate; it reinforces the shock and ickiness factor.

      Always look forward to your stories. It’s been awhile. Hope all is well.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Hi smallster21, long time no hear. I have been a quiet observer for several weeks and not posting. I’m working on another project that I promised myself I’d finished. Please know that I’ve been reading “you”, the regulars as well as the newcomers here. You made my day by acknowledging my absence and for that I am humbled. Thank you for being a fan and always know you have one in me. All is well.

    • ndokken says:

      I also was confused about the last line too but it made me think at the end that it was narrator flying off on a hypothetical tangent…such as myself in conversations when I make up exaggerations and stories and people are always like “WHAT???” I liked it :-)

      • MCKEVIN says:

        I actually was going to try to explain the story exactly as you stated. I changed my mind because it seemed too wordy but you did a much better job. Thanks for getting it. You made my day.

    • don potter says:

      I got it. I liked it.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I liked your story also. It packs a lot of power in the 500. I have a distaste for funture peddlers; the only time was at a Halloween party at my own house. I dressed as Dracula, including a ghostly white make up. The spinner told me I was very ill and needed a doctor. DUH!

    • DMelde says:

      Hi MCKEVIN, welcome back. I don’t like fortune tellers either because they’re scarey. Not as scarey as clowns, but they’re right up there, just behind milk and spiders. I don’t think it would take a fortune teller to predict the seat would snap on a ferris wheel because they’re scarey too, but, well, anyway, I’m starting to ramble. Good story. I enjoyed it.

    • catbr says:

      Good story. Scary scenes regarding the Ferris wheel and the old hag in the tent.

  43. JRSimmang says:

    I hate clowns. Hate them.

    My kid, on the other hand, thinks they’re hilarious. Chuckles? Yes, please. Bozo? Sure, thanks! So, when the clowns go on, I go out. I leave all that… stuff with my wife. I go out and tour the grounds.

    Yesterday, however, an old woman approached me and told me something good and something bad would happen to me. Well, she’s a little late for that. I’ve had my heart broken and stitched back together. I lost my parents in a plane crash, and got two foster parents who actually, actually, took care of me. It seems she’s just been telling me about my life so far. Not much of a fortune teller.

    I pull in to my usual parking spot at the office. The air in the garage is stale and it settles on my tongue, inducing my gag reflex. I gag, naturally. I’m quick to gag. As I double over to wretch, I notice why. Under the garage dumpster is a hand. Yeah. A human hand, which only induces more gagging. When I finish, I wipe my chin and wander over to the dumpster, cell phone to my ear. I don’t think 9-1-1 is supposed to ring, but it does.

    “9-1-1. What’s your emergency?”

    “It’s not mine.”

    “Sorry?”

    “It’s not my emergency,” I spit out, realizing that my first statement didn’t make sense.

    “Then…” empty phone silence… “whose emergency is it?”

    “I don’t know him.”

    More awkward silence. “Can you give me an address.” Statement, not a question.

    “Uh, yeah. Garage.” And I proceed to tell her the rest.

    I wait for about five minutes, all the while staring at the hand that seems like it twitches every once in a while. When the medics finally show, they insist I step back while they move the dumpster. It takes them the better part of an hour, but when they do, they all step back at once.

    Under the dumpster is a brightly colored small car. There isn’t one body, but twelve. All of them with rainbow colored afros and bright red noses.

    The lead detective turns to me and starts asking me questions. He grills me for three minutes then says, “What we have is a case of hysterical homicide. I need all the information you can get me.”

    I step back and lean on my car. “Sorry, officer, I don’t mean to clown around, but when you work in the circus, life’s a laugh.”

    I can’t help it. I start laughing. Soon, the officers around the scene begin laughing. Then, the lead detective starts to laugh. As if almost on cue, the horn for the car starts to blare that awful de de de dum dum, de de de dum dum, and we find ourselves laughing last. So yeah, good day.

    • reba_O says:

      I literally laughed out loud at the ending. At first, I wasn’t sure where it was going, but the simplicity of the plot and dry humor made me smile. Thanks for the laugh. I enjoyed reading.

    • smallster21 says:

      Wait, so are the clowns really dead? Just making sure. I’m picturing the cops laughing at all these dead bodies, and for some reason I’m laughing too…maybe, because I am terrified of clowns. The beginning was a bit confusing for me. I wasn’t sure where the MC was and when. It took me a few times to realize that the first two paragraphs were flashbacks. Maybe it was the present tense, not sure. Overall, I loved the conversational tone. You write very well, and despite the dead bodies, I thought it was cute.

    • JRSimmang says:

      Thanks, y’all. I am experimenting with the present tense. It’s uncomfortable.

      I was actually thinking about ending it with the clowns getting up, performing some sort of act, and the main character totally freaking out, that being the worst of the worst for him.

    • don potter says:

      Guess I have a sick sense of humor, but I laughed at the image of twelve of those boring clowns flattened out in the crummy little car. The car horn was a nice button at the end.

    • DMelde says:

      Fun story! The 911 exchange reminded me a little bit of an old t.v. show, Dragnet. Well done.

  44. kkerber says:

    “Pst!” a haggard woman called from a nearby stall. I started to sidle away. She was at the county fair every year and every year she tried to grab me, literally grab me, and ask me for money, “Marie!”

    I shrieked as her vice-like grip enclosed about my wrist, “Let go Mama Grodo, I don’t WANT to donate to the Red Cross!”

    “Oh Marie, really?” she growled, her enlarged milky blue eye fixing on me, “This is not about donating money… or blood.”

    “Or plasma! It freaks me out, you know that!” I pleaded, but she would not let me go. Some people stared at us as they went by. Others ran hurriedly away from the booth.

    “I’m not volunteering for the Red Cross this year,” she snapped.

    “Please, let me go!” I whispered urgently.

    “I am working for the fortune telling booth!” she said pointing to the sign.

    “Oh, that’s nice,” I said tugging against my arm, “I really- need- to –go!”

    “Marie, I’m not going to take your money.”

    I relaxed and felt immediately ashamed. I had donated to Mama Grodo before. That was actually the problem. Ever since I gave her that first dollar, she had been a plague to me ever since.

    “I wanted to warn you. While you are here at the festival, two things will happen to you, one very good, one very bad.”

    “Why don’t I just go home and skip it altogether,” I argued.

    “Shtsch!” she said, spitting at me in the middle of the syllable.

    “Okay, so what is it?”

    “You’re going to meet a man,” she said, “Very well, off you go.”

    “But what, you said two- Oh never mind.”

    I groaned and hurried away from the booth. In fact, I was in such a hurry, that I ran head on into (you guess it) the handsomest man I had ever seen in my life. He was big, strong, muscled, and has a smile than just made me feel weak in the knees.

    “I’m sorry,” he said, “Hold it… is that- Stop!”

    He was running AWAY from me. I suppose that was the effect I had on men. Maybe I should go home, I thought… until I looked down and realized that my purse was missing.

    “Oh no!”

    I looked up and saw that the man was not running away from me, at all, but running someone down, someone who had my purse dangling from his right hand.

    “Hey! That’s my purse!”

    I started to run after him. My hero tackled the man, bringing him down right into a mud puddle.

    “My purse,” I sighed.

    My rescuer wrested the purse from the thief’s hand and jogged back towards me, “I’m so sorry.”

    I took the sopping wet purse, “That’s okay.”

    “Hey, let me take you out to coffee to make it up,” he took out a notepad and started to write out his number. I smiled.

    Mama Grodo leaned into my ear, “I take cash, check or card.”

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