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    CassieQ
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Prompts? - 4. Prompt #461

You’ve had a wonderful night out with friends. While going from the restaurant to a movie, the group passes a shop promising to tell your fortunes. One of your friends drags the group in. When the gypsy teller gets to you, she stops and the color drains from her face. When you ask what is wrong, she states she knows you are cursed. What is it you are cursed with?

         I had never noticed the little shop tucked within a strip of other small boutiques, restaurants and bars until Harper pointed it out. 

         "Hey, look, a psychic!" he exclaimed, stopping on the sidewalk.  He had his other hand clapped on top of his head as a breeze threatened to steal his cap.  I stopped walking and glanced over.  Bright neon signs in the window boasted psychic advice, tarot and palm readings.  

         "Oh come on," Ashley said.  "You can't possibly be serious."  Hannah joined her and rolled her eyes.

         "Come on, it'll be fun," Harper insisted. 

         "What is it?"  Tanner asked as he approached with Drew.  Tanner and Drew were our group's newest couple, still stuck in the dopey eyed, holding hands phase of a fledgling relationship.  Ashley and Hannah thought it was adorable, I thought it was nauseating.  Ashley told me I was just jealous. 

         Ashley is a bitch. 

         "Harper wants us to see a psychic," Hannah said, the last word laden with as much disgust as she could pack into it.      

         Gray and Spencer were the last to approach.

         "Hey guys, let’s get our fortune read!" Harper tried appealing to them. 

         Gray looked it over, appearing unimpressed.  Spencer raised his eyebrows.  "Seriously?"

         "Nah, just as a goof," Harper protested.  "Just to see what they say."

         "Psychics aren't real," Hannah pointed out.  "They just tell you what you want to hear and take your money."

         "Yeah, but it's fun," Harper said.  "I'm going in.  Anyone else?"

         Drew was saying something to Tanner in a low voice.  Tanner smiled and Drew looked faintly embarrassed.

         "Fair enough," Tanner said, straightening.  "We're in."

         "Well, I'm not," Ashley said, crossing her arms.  Hannah nodded in agreement.  "Me neither."

         Gray laughed.  "Oh come on, there's no harm in it.  What are you afraid of?"

         "We're not afraid." Ashley scowled.  "It's a stupid waste of money, that's all."

         Gray glanced at me.  "What do you think Sam?"

         I glanced over to where Ashley and Hannah were standing.  Ashley was already tapping her foot impatiently.  I was tempted to refuse.  I was starving and the aromas coming from the nearby restaurants were incredibly tempting.  But Ashley had that smug, knowing look on her face.  She was thinking I would refuse, expecting it even. 

         "Sure," I said, just to piss her off and walked inside.       Everyone except Gray and the girls elected to try the psychic out.  I felt ridiculous inside the small waiting area, surrounded by heavy incense and lyricless music that sounded like it came from a few decades before.  There were stacks of books and cards and candles lining the walls that were for sale, but I just settled in a chair and waited.

         Harper, Drew, Spencer and Tanner all went in and came out with the same story.  Apparently the psychic would look at your palm, read a few Tarot cards and tell you a bit about your past life.  The past life reveals were the funniest.  Harper, a steady C student at most, was a biochemist from the 1890s, and Drew--shy, gentle Drew--was a gladiator.

         I was the last to go in.  I looked around the small room as I closed the door behind me.  It was dimly lit with candles and shawl draped lamps.  The psychic, a dark skinned woman of indiscriminate age, sat at a small table with a deck of cards spread out in front of her, a small crystal ball on one side.  I took the chair on the other side of the table, pulled out the money and gave it to her.  She took it with a smile, then handed me the deck of cards, asking me to shuffle them.  I glanced down as I did so, seeing fleeting images flashing across the glossy surfaces as I did so.  These weren't playing cards.  I gave them back to the psychic, who pulled cards from the deck and laid them in an intricate pattern across the table-top.  She glanced at them, then frowned.  "Um...let me see your hand, please."

         She sounded surprised, maybe a little nervous.  Maybe it was part of her act.  I extended my hand and she took it.  Her hand was cool and dry against my own as she turned my palm up.  She studied it with an unnerving intensity for what felt like a long time.

         She finally glanced up at me.  "Dear Lord, child.  The Devil has set his mark on you."

         I could feel my mouth drop open.  "I--what?"

         "You are cursed, child.  It's all here.  In your cards.  In your lines.  I can even see it, staining your aura."

         I pulled my hand back and looked at it.  It looked perfectly normal to me.

         "What kind of curse?"

         "I--I'm not sure.  It's not clear."

         "Well..." I probably should just humor her.  This was probably part of her shtick.  "I'm here to get my future read, so better tell me what's going to happen."

         "I can see that this is not the first time that such a curse has afflicted you.  This same mark, is reflected over your past lives.  It's a powerful thing, it follows you through each one of your reincarnations." 

         "Oh really?"  I tried not to sound skeptical or sarcastic, but something must have come through my voice, because she gave me a look that was decidedly unfriendly.  Trying to placate her, I decided to ask for more information.  Besides, I was genuinely curious at this point.  "When did it start?"

         "Long ago.  You were born in 1577 in Newcastle.  You were the son of nobility.  You had a fairly sheltered and privileged life, training with the knights of your father's kingdom.  You weren't an heir, but you were allowed to travel to neighboring estates to handle small disputes.  The curse was placed upon you as a way to punish your father over a decision that the curse giver felt was unfair.  He...you..." The psychic looked back up to me and I felt a real trickle of unease crawl down my spine.  There were tears in her eyes, shining in the light of the candles, glowing a faint orange as they slipped down her cheeks.  "You killed so many.  Your entire family, the knights that you trained with.  People who loved you, trusted you.  You were eventually killed by your own betrothed to protect the land and the kingdom."

         "Well, there you go.  I haven't killed anyone yet.  Curse must be inactive."

         "Only until you come of age.  That is when the curse will start."

         The entire situation had been vaguely eerie and unsettling, but now I felt a surge of relief as everything became clear.  Obviously one of the guys had told her that today was my birthday and had cooked up this little prank for me.  Probably Harper or Spencer, this seemed right up their ally.  Drew was too shy and just too kind to think of something like this and it wasn't Tanners style.  Wouldn't put it past one of the girls either, but they didn't have a chance to set this up before hand, unless this was some elaborate ruse they cooked up with Harper's complicity, but I seriously doubted Ashley or Hannah was smart enough to show this kind of forethought.

         "Well thanks for the warning," I said, standing up.  " And thank you for an entertaining evening."

         The psychic grabbed my wrist as I tried to walk by.  "Please.  Please.  The curse is real.  It has followed you, from life to life to life.  It will plague you through this one too, if you don't address it.  Each time, it results in tragedy.  Each time, it results in your lover having to kill you.  Each time, the misery and sorrow.  You must find a way to break it.  Otherwise, the cycle will always continue."

         "I'm sure," I said, pulling my wrist free of her grasp.  "A curse that you can't even tell me anything about."

         "I can't see it.  It's been hidden from my sight.  But I can only tell you that there a beast lying dormant inside of you and when it awakens..." She shudders, then reaches inside her pocket and draws something out, pressing it into my hand.  "At least take this, it should give you some protection."

         "I don't have anymore cash on me," I lied.

         "No charge, please, just take it."

         I sighed a little, but closed my fingers around the small cloth bundle.  This had better not have drugs in it.

         Spencer, Harper and Drew were all still waiting for me when I came back out.  Through the window, I could see Tanner outside, talking with Gray and the girls. 

         "Let's go," I said.  "Which one of you assholes told that lady it was my birthday?"

         A chorus of denials was my only answer, although I didn't really expect anyone to cop to it anyway.  As we exited the shop, Harper asked "So is that why you got it?"

         "Got what?"

         "That."  He pointed to the bundle I was still gripping in my hand.  "Come in on your birthday and get a free gift or something?"

         "She said I needed protection."  I considered telling the group about the curse and decided that the whole experience had been ridiculous enough; no need to rehash it for everyone.  Ashley and Hannah would just laugh anyway.  I examined the object.  It was a bag, tied tightly at the mouth and smelling of something mysterious and earthy.  I squeezed slightly and felt whatever was inside crunch under my fingers.  Wasn't heavy at all.  I shrugged and threw it to Harper, who caught it easily.  "You probably need it more than I do with all the trouble you get in."

         "No doubt," he agreed with a grin.  He sniffed it, made a face, then stuffed it into his pocket.  "Stinks like hell, too," he grumbled.  "The girls want to know what you want for dinner.  Mexican or Korean?  It's your birthday, so you get to pick."

         I knew Ashley loved Mexican food.

         "Korean it is."

 

         I arrived a little bit after my curfew, but my mom had a hard time scolding me, considering it was my birthday and all.  I undressed for bed and lie there for a while.  I wasn't really tired and while the majority of the evening had been great, presents and a movie and dinner with my friends, I was still unsettled by the psychic from earlier.  It had been easy to consider it silly and ignore it while I was with my friends, even though we had all gotten a good laugh and jokes about being spoiled when I told them about being the child of nobility.  But it had been different in the shop, surrounded by all that incense smoke and the psychic's obvious panic.  And it was different now, in my dark bedroom, with the memories pressing in against my mind.  I felt hot suddenly, and the air was heavy and suffocating.  I got up from my bed, opened my window.  It helped, but only marginally.  I shot a nervous, almost guilty look at the ceiling, but my parents were heavy sleepers and I was quiet.  And I needed to get out of here.  I felt trapped suddenly, like the walls were pressing in on me.  I dressed and slipped out the window.  A walk quickly turned into a run and I finally collapsed in the grass when I ran out of fuel.  I felt like there was something inside of me, caged behind muscles and flesh, struggling for release.  I stared up at the sky as scree of dark clouds cleared away, revealing the cratered surface of the full moon.  I felt the light of it wash over me.

         And smiled.

 

         I woke up late the next morning, in my bed, my entire body aching, including my head.  I blinked and pushed my blankets off my body.  I remembered slipping out for a run last night, but I must have been exhausted when I get home because apparently I didn’t even bother to change out of my filthy clothes and my sheets were currently smeared with mud and weeds that I had tracked in.  Wonderful.  I stripped the bedding and stumbled into the bathroom, turning on the shower.  As I waited for the water to heat up I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and gasped a little.

         Holy crap. 

         There were bits of grass and twigs in my hair, my face was smeared with blood and dirt and there were bloody abrasions visible on the heels of my hands, my elbows, and when I checked, on my knees and feet too.  What the hell had I gotten into last night?  I racked my brain for what had happened after I ran, but came up empty.  Obviously something had happened on the way back to the house.  Had I been hit by a car, attacked by a dog?  There were no bite marks.  Maybe a car had hit me.  I must have banged my head and that's why I couldn’t remember anything.  If that was the case, how the hell did I get back to the house though?

         Contemplating all of this made me feel sick and uncomfortable, so I just got in the shower.  I hissed a little through my teeth as the hot water found the blood smeared rips in my skin, but I tried to ignore it and washed my hair, wincing just a little at the pull of my sore muscles. 

         Maybe I didn't get hit by car.  Feels more like a truck.

         I wasn't sure what I would tell my folks, so I settled for jeans and a long sleeved shirt, to do most of the work.  My sleeping in, stiff movements and even sour demeanor could be put down as a result of too much social activity the previous day.                         

 

         My phone was buzzing on the mattress when I stepped back out and I scooped it up and hit talk.

         "Holy shit, Sam, I have been trying to get in touch with you all morning!"

         It was Harper.

         "I overslept," I told him, running my hand through the damp strands of hair.  "What's up?"

         "You are never going to believe what I found out.  It's so fucked up.  You remember the psychic?"    

         I rolled my eyes and sat down on the mattress to pull on my boots.  "Harper--"

         "She's dead."

         I dropped the boot that I was holding and shifted the phone to a better position near my ear.

         "What?"

         "Dead.  Her assistant found her this morning when she went to open up the shop.  Hannah's dad was there and he said it looked like some sort of animal attack, like she had been mauled or something.  A bunch of us are heading over there to see what's up.  Wanna come?"

         I didn't answer.  When I had dropped my boot back onto the floor, something had fallen out and was lying on the rug.  I put the phone down on the bed and knelt down.  It was one of the psychic's tarot cards, the patterned back of it spotted with blood.

         With trembling fingers, I picked it up and flipped it over.

         Death stared back at me. 

Holy crap, this was fun.

Copyright © 2015 CassieQ; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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It's nice to see a story from you again! I loved this. Apparently the werewolf within didn't want the psychic to reveal his secret. I feel bad for his friends who will have to kill him and then start the cycle anew. Nice job. :)

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Holy crap this was fun is right! Wonderfully written short. Fun and creepy and a murder too. Great response to the prompt.
Congrats.
tim

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On 11/17/2015 03:20 PM, Valkyrie said:

It's nice to see a story from you again! I loved this. Apparently the werewolf within didn't want the psychic to reveal his secret. I feel bad for his friends who will have to kill him and then start the cycle anew. Nice job. :)

Thank you Valkyrie. This prompt was just too much fun not to write! Maybe this time, the cycle might change, never know! I'm hopeful. :)

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On 11/18/2015 03:30 AM, Mikiesboy said:

Holy crap this was fun is right! Wonderfully written short. Fun and creepy and a murder too. Great response to the prompt.

Congrats.

tim

Fun and creepy and murder, can't get much better than that! :P Glad you enjoyed this, it was a really fun response to write. Thank you for the review!

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