By: The Earthotic Way
Seth, not known for having good times, was actually doing all right at his co-worker Dana’s birthday party until ‘center of attention’ Lila brought out her Tarot cards. Until that point, the center of attention had been baseball on TV. The home team ahead, but not by much. Dana insisted on the game. Otherwise, she said, her husband would switch over to news for updates on the local homicide investigations. The newscasters loved to say “serial killer” regarding the two women and one man found with their throats slashed in the past two months. Not great background noise for a party.
Thanks to the liquor, Seth was having good luck schmoozing the husband, Billy, a guy with influential friends. The subject of Billy’s Saturday golf game came up and Seth nonchalantly said, “Yeah, it’s been too long since I’ve been on the course.” This should have given Billy the perfect opportunity to invite him along.
Then came Lila with her Tarot cards, ruining the moment. At the office she was just the fruitcake receptionist, always reminding people that meat was murder and that lemon grass would cure their hemorrhoids or whatever, but once everyone got liquored up, they took her cosmic-princess act seriously.
“Are you going to let Lila read your fortune?” asked Tabs, darting by with a plateful of cheese and crackers. “She’s good. I think she really may be psychic.”
“I’m just going to stick with the game,” said Seth glumly, watching his opportunity for golfing with Billy’s influential friends going down the drain. Dana dragged Billy into the next room so Lila could read for them, saying, “Maybe she can tell us if we’ll be pregnant soon!”
“That’s a little personal, isn’t it?” asked a shocked Seth, but he was all alone with the TV now.
In the next room, the fun exploded, as Lila divined fortunes in front of everyone. Laughter and gasps all around. Someone exclaimed, “Oh my god how did you guess that!” and someone else whispered loudly, “I just got chills – you really do know how to read those cards!”
Seth rolled his eyes. That paranormal stuff was demonic. It brought out the worst in people.
Eventually someone noticed that Seth wasn’t participating – Tabs again, sticking her fat nose into his business. “Seth hasn’t had a turn! Seth come on!” Now everybody was craning their necks to look at him.
He laughed nervously. “We’re in the last inning. I don’t want to miss it.”
Lila herself poked her head around the door frame, smiling at him at first – a smile that faded abruptly as she took him in. Then she said, “Hey, Seth.” When he flicked his eyes to hers she said, “When the game is over, let me read for you. I think it’s a good idea.”
“I really don’t want to. I don’t believe in that stuff, and neither should you.” What difference did it make, if he sounded rude? He knew what most of the office crowd thought of him anyway: that he was a boring kiss-ass; that he had ambitions he couldn’t back up with any talent. They knew nothing about him, these people.
Unhappily Lila returned to her fans, and Seth swore quietly. He was in no mood to be badgered about this again, so left without a word. He’d listen to the rest of the game in his car. By Monday morning, hopefully everybody would have forgotten about this.
But the following day, on which he was most definitely not invited to Billy’s golf game, Seth opened his mailbox to find his phone bill, an offer for a free oil change, and a Tarot card. A DEATH card. On the backside, “CALL ME! URGENT! – LILY” along with her phone number.
He called her only because he did not want her harassing him at the office. “What is this?” he asked her dryly when she answered.
She spoke fast. “Just listen. I took an oath before my mentor, that I would always help those in need with my skills. When I read the cards, I go into a trance-like state that allows me to see beyond the world before our eyes, to see auras and sometimes the future.”
Seth groaned. “I see a headache in my future. What in the hell are you talking about?”
“There is something terrible, a tragedy, in your aura. I’m afraid for you. If I can help you avoid this tragedy, I have to try. It might be just a car accident or illness, but there are those murders going on, you know.”
Seth barked a laugh, but Lila responded only with hurt silence. He demanded, “All right, what should I do then, Madame Future-Seer?”
“I have to read your cards.” Real urgency was in her voice. “The sooner the better.”
“Have you told anyone else about this?”
“Of course not!”
“You sure were vocal enough at the party,” he accused.
“That was just party stuff. I didn’t realize your danger until I got a look at you. If you were Victim Number Four, I’d never forgive myself.”
“Well that’s ridiculous,” Seth told her flatly. Yet he imagined her, come Monday, giving him looks at the office, whispering things about him to her girlfriends. What if someone took it seriously – what if they started watching him?
He had no good choice in this matter, only a couple of bad ones.
They met at a park on the outskirts of town – some crazy reason she gave about being closer to the source of her power, a stone altar or something – but Seth didn’t care, as long as they weren’t going somewhere public. As instructed, he followed the trail into the woods and found Lila already waiting for him there, looking up at him with huge, alert eyes. Her “stone altar” was a concrete bench. She straddled the bench in a very unladylike way, Tarot cards in a stack before her on the rough surface. “Thank goodness you came,” she said.
Seth rolled up his sleeves. “I wish you’d stayed out of my business, Lila. Let’s get this over with.”
“Have a seat,” she said, gesturing to the other end of the bench, suggesting he straddle it as she was doing.
Glaring, Seth sat.
Lila waved her hands over the cards. “Let’s proceed. Select seven cards from the deck.”
He did so, and she lay them in a star pattern between them. “Please turn over the first card.”
He turned it over. DEATH. Seth grunted, not particularly surprised. Their eyes met over the cards. Lila said, “Most readers say that the Death card means transition rather than literal death.”
Her hand flashed out so quickly that Seth didn’t even understand she’d slashed his throat open with the razor blade until he was slumping toward the ground, blood from his jugular spurting everywhere, even over his murderess. She said, “I take the cards very literally, dearest Number Four.”
Denial swarming him, Seth desperately grasped toward the bench, light fading from the world amazingly fast. His hand found only the deck of Tarot cards and toppled them onto the ground all around him. The last thing he saw was almost funny. They were all Death cards.