Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company! discussion

Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 424 (September 4-10) Stories Topic: Fortune Teller

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 658 comments You have until the 10th of September to post a story and from the 11th to around the 16th of September, we’ll vote for which one we thought was best!

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group. Only one submission per person is allowed.

Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long.

REMEMBER! A short story is not merely a scene. It must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

This week’s topic is: Fortune Teller

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject/photo but it must relate to the topic somehow.

Most of all have fun!

message 2: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9608 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Incelbordination, Chapter 12
GENRE: College Fiction
RATING: PG-13 for swearing

“It’s over…it’s all over…I’m dead…” Oswald silently mouthed as he sat in his jail cell awaiting whatever hell was coming his way. “Shit, I’m already in hell. I’ve been in hell ever since I was fucking born!” he ranted while attempting to punch the cell bars. He pulled back at the last minute after learning his lesson in the interrogation room. But that was where the learning ended for him. Even if he somehow was found not guilty for these pseudo crimes, he figured he’d get expelled from college in a heartbeat. Then what? Why all the hard work if it was just going to be ripped away from him? “This is bullshit!”

“Oh, please! Stop being such a baby. At least you’ll live another day,” said a familiar feminine voice from within the cell. Oswald hopped down from his bunk and got a better look at the shadows covering this woman’s face. It wasn’t a woman at all. It was the teenager from McDonald’s, complete with a black eye and scratches on her bare legs.

Referring to the “live another day” remark, Oswald asked, “What are you, a fucking fortune teller now?”

“No. I’m just stating the facts,” the girl said while sitting on her own bunker and swinging her aching feet. “It finally happened. I got picked up. At least you have a future of some kind. Me? I’ve lost everything. Can’t you tell how happy I am? Maybe I should try again at getting someone to buy a Hap-Hap-Happy Meal for me!” She swung her arm in mock joy to drive home her point.

“At least you’re not being accused of terrorism,” said Oswald with rolled eyes and folded arms.

“Terrorism, shmerrorism. As long as you didn’t do a damn thing, they can’t hold you forever. I’m the only one between the two of us who actually committed a crime. Meanwhile, my asshole client is probably partying it up somewhere. Nobody will tell me what happened to him.” The girl laid on her back and placed both hands behind her head in a vain attempt to relax, which was nearly impossible to do on these rock-hard beds.

“How do you know what I’m being accused of?”

“Because you wouldn’t shut up about it!” snapped the prostitute.

It finally dawned on Oswald that he had been muttering to himself this whole time while being oblivious to everyone around him. He was so anxious, distracted, and traumatized that he had been arguing with his demons rather than real people. The little guy held his head and whined, “Oh, what I wouldn’t give for some weed.”

“I suppose it’s better for you than what I was eating at McDonald’s.” Oswald gave her a confused stare before she clarified, “I meant the food, you nimrod.”

“Oh…of course…well…” He cleared his throat and also tried in vain to relax on his iron bed. He suddenly remembered that he was injured when the uncomfortable bed aggravated his lower back wounds. He clutched his spine and muttered “Ow!” multiple times.

“So tell me…why did you leave me back there?” the teenager asked. “Were you afraid of getting arrested? But now you’re already in jail, so how’s that working out for you? I could have used your help, you know.”

“Pfft! Help with what? I already gave you an ass load of food.” Oswald got an awkward stare from the teen and clarified, “Ass load is a figure of speech, you fool! I wouldn’t do that to you even if you paid me instead of the other way around.”

That got a giggle from the teenager. “My name is Jessica, by the way.” Extending her arm halfway across the cell, she said, “I’d shake your hand right now, but I don’t feel like moving around. As you can tell, I’m pretty banged up. You don’t look so hot yourself, little guy.”

“My name isn’t little guy. It’s Oswald. I’d shake your hand too, but my knuckles are fucked up from punching a glass door. No terrorist in his right mind would do that for a woman.”

Holding her hands up, Jessica said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa…there’s a woman in your life that I’m not aware of? And you came to McDonald’s looking for a good time?”

Oswald shrugged. “Eh, she’s not really my girlfriend. Then again, I’m not really boyfriend material. Too much baggage and not enough height to carry it all. I believe in certain terrorist circles, my type would be referred to as a manlet.”

“You know, you don’t need to hang around with people like that, Oz-Man.”

“Oz-Man? Never been called that before.”

“Get used to it, especially if you do someday hook up with a nice girl. Truth is, if Disney movies taught me anything, it’s that physical appearance is highly overrated. Sometimes all you have to do to win a woman’s heart is to be your sweet self.”

“Trust me, Jessica, I’m not sweet.”

“That’s because you don’t give yourself the chance to be. I still remember how nervous you were around me. You had all of this fast food to pay me with, which pretty much guarantees you a night of fun sex, and you still couldn’t steady yourself for just a few minutes. I’m not saying you have to be obnoxiously confident, but believing in yourself just a little bit might go a long way.”

Oswald sighed and shook his head. “I don’t know…”

Jessica sat up in her bed. “Oz-Man, look at me. You’re selling yourself shor…I mean…you’re not giving yourself enough credit. I don’t know what it is that’s holding you back, but you’ve got to let that shit go. Do you want to be miserable and angry along with the rest of the incels or do you want a little bit of happiness every now and then?”

Oswald sighed again and wiped a modicum of tears from his eyes. “Obviously, I want to be happy, but…”

“But nothing! Happiness is an inside job, don’t you know that? Believe it or not, there were times in my life when I was happy to be on this earth. I loved going to McDonald’s back when I didn’t have to hump anything that walked just for some chicken nuggets. They had a play place, a friendly clown, and some cool toys. Now…” Jessica wiped tears from her own eyes as well. “But no, go on, keep thinking that you’re miserable. Keep pretending that you’re the one who’s hurting.” The teen rolled over on her belly and sobbed silently into her pillow.

What the fuck am I doing here? Oswald thought. All of this legal trouble, all of this heartache, all of this sadness…for what? Sure, he was clinically depressed and anxious, but he knew in his heart of hearts he didn’t do enough for himself. Maybe there was truth in Valerie Sand giving him a C-. Maybe Nikita Johnson was right to take his pot away. Maybe Antero Magnus wasn’t much of a friend to begin with. And Wacey Judge? Well, he could just go fuck himself.

“Jessica…I’m sorry,” Oswald mouthed before being cut off by the sound of a baton banging against the bars. The sudden shock jolted the two cell mates into attention.

“Oswald Crow? You need to come with me now. It’s time to make a decision,” said the chunky police officer with his face covered in shadows.

Decision? What kind of decision? Oswald thought. He couldn’t help but give the guard a weird look on his way out of the cell. Was now the time to decide his plea? Did he have to choose which one of two sentences was the lesser evil? Did he have to choose whether he wanted to be prison raped or beaten to death? These were all unreasonable, yet solid questions, but the one thing Oswald couldn’t help but ask was, “Aren’t you a little out of shape to be a cop?”

Just like that a black hood was placed over his head, causing Oswald to thrash around despite his injuries. Documentaries he watched of water boarding, whipping, and suffocation in Gitmo flashed through his mind while various officers aided in keeping him stabilized. The dwarf was sure he wouldn’t survive such a hellhole. If this was his ticket to the afterlife, he’d rather live in misery despite Jessica’s young wisdom.

And then a familiar voice crept up from behind and asked Oswald a question he’d heard many times before: “Need a light?”

message 3: by M (last edited Sep 10, 2018 12:47PM) (new)

M | 11454 comments A Maltese Cross
(3,453 words.)

We called ourselves The Pseudo-Intellectual Quorum. It was Lora Barrett who came up with that name for our after-church group. She was a reporter for the Marsh Island Snorkel. When the Sunday service at St. Luke’s was over, several of us would go downtown and wander about among the old buildings. I guess Lora wasn’t favorably impressed by our conversations.

Among our regulars was Rick Roche. He had degrees in psychology and computer science and worked in some department at the medical school. He played the guitar, and helped with St. Luke’s vacation Bible school. Rick would raise his bushy eyebrows when we both found our eyes on Lora’s attractive rear end or on the considerable endowments of “Miss Bustworth,” a college girl who attended the chapel services.

Will Hymes, an astronomy and physics professor at the state university’s maritime branch, proved a wealth of information on almost any scientific subject, and he good-naturedly took part in our adventures. He had recently helped the police department on a case in which he established, from the shadows cast in a photograph, the time of day the picture had been taken. I remember the morning he dropped by my office, a newspaper in his hand, and asked me if I had seen the article about the fortune teller’s disappearance.

Janet Townsend, whom I later married, was a medical student. The gas pedal in her little red hatchback had only two positions: not pushed or pushed all the way down. How she managed to study, hold a job with an insurance company, and spend time with us, is a mystery I’ve never solved. Her fondness for me has remained an enigma as well.

Rynn Ashland, my sister, was a surgical nurse at the medical school’s hospital. At that time, she was serving as junior warden at St. Luke’s--a peculiar thing, since she wasn’t a parishioner. She lived upstairs from me at The Mews, a gray, rambling, board-and-batten apartment complex at the end of 5th Street.

Sometimes after shifts on Fridays or Saturdays, Rynn would accompany other nurses downtown on pub crawls. More than once, as I sipped my first cup of coffee at daybreak on a Saturday or Sunday morning, having just opened the drapes, I glimpsed Rynn as she approached up the pebbled walk, then heard her steps in the stairwell, as she returned to her apartment after a night in bars.

And of course there was me, M Ashland. I worked as an administrator at a foundation the offices of which have since been torn down. I don’t like to think of their demolition as a commentary on my efficiency at work, but the vacant site that was there last time I went to Marsh Island seems a fair symbol of what I’ve made of my life.

In our wanderings after church, we didn’t always visit the brick streets of the historic district near the wharves. Sometimes we went across the island to the beach. Not far from The Mews, overlooking the ocean, was a dilapidated motel in the shape of a steamship. Decades before, my grandparents had honeymooned there.

We lingered among the colorful shapes in the kite shops. Hungry, we patronized the seafood-and-burger joints. Sometimes we sat at outdoor tables, under big umbrellas, and watched vacationers pedal rented surreys along the wide sidewalks that lined Beach Boulevard.

The best sandwiches in town were served at a ramshackle diner called The Lobster Pot. It faced the surf, in those seedy blocks between Asylum Avenue and 19th Street. One Sunday in early September of ’93 we were sitting at a table by the bleary front windows. Someone had brought up the topic of what our future would be like.

“I’ll be a writer,” Lora said matter-of-factly, looking up from a patty melt. She shrugged. “I’ve never wanted to be anything else.”

Janet related that she’d made the decision to go to medical school when she was working in customer service at New York Life. “I’d get complaints about the medical care.” She sipped her Diet Coke. “I thought, ‘I could do a better job than that.’”

I mentioned that I always intended to take up sketching yet never got around to it. There was a discussion of sketching and of art. Reaching for another French fry, Rick remarked, “We should form an artists’ group.” He looked around at us for signs of interest. “We could call ourselves the Post-Pre-Raphaelites.”

It seems that after lunch we ambled along the walk by the boulevard. An onshore breeze was the only relief from the merciless heat. A week before, the Labor Day holiday had brought the last of the seething crowds from Bayou City. Then, in long lines of taillights, the beachgoers had departed across the causeway. Summer was officially over, and we had entered that wonderful part of the year in which we had the island practically to ourselves.

A dozen blocks to the west, jutting far out above the sparkling waves, was an old amusement pier, its rusting rides motionless but for things that turned in the wind. We came to a stop and gazed at it, each lost in his own thoughts. We had walked past a lounge that was a relic of the fifties. Just ahead on our right was the weedy perimeter of Altamira Courts. The brick cottages, their windows boarded, looked forbidding.

The two-story building we stood before had seen too many storms. The fascia was rotting. The front was decorated with dead palm fronds. The sign over the door read “Fortune Teller. Readings that will not doom your budget.” Beside the door was a sign on which someone had painted a striking likeness of an armillary sphere. Professional hand-lettering supplied the information: “Open Afternoons Wed., Thu., Fri, Sat., & Sun.” In the small lot beside the building was parked a sage-colored Honda Accord that was beginning rust out.

We traded uncertain glances. Janet looked at her watch. Beyond the boulevard and low dunes, seagulls wheeled above broken pilings in the surf. Yet we loitered before the fortune teller’s door. Naturally, we wanted to know if our future held more interest and excitement than our current lives did. After a few exchanges of “I’ll do it if you will,” we went in.

I wondered what the building had previously been used for. The dingy waiting room was floored with green, speckled vinyl tiles that looked as though they dated to the seventies. Through a screen of beads hanging in a doorway, we saw a figure approaching.

The beads parted. Gowned in creamy embroidered silk, a tired-looking woman with short, dark hair appeared. At the end of a braided silver chain around her neck hung a beautiful Maltese cross.

I was immediately attracted to her, though I’m at a loss to say just what it was about her. She surveyed us with evident curiosity. We were dressed for church, and I had the feeling we weren’t the kind of customers she usually had. Lora informed her that we would like to have our fortunes told.

The woman asked us to make ourselves comfortable. Her name was Olivia Parish. She was from Moreauville, Louisiana. I know that from the newspaper article that, not long afterward, related her disappearance and the suspicion of foul play.

I remember driving past the building months later. The sign, even more faded, was still there. I wish now I had thought to take a picture of it. Not much was left of the palm branches. We were in my sister’s Volvo. At the time, she was dating a British anesthesiologist named Paul. Most likely, we were headed for a restaurant for shrimp and margaritas. As we passed the fortune teller’s shop, Paul remarked drily, “I wonder if she foresaw her own demise?”

In my mind, I can see the woman as if it were yesterday. She was 41, medium height, and had a long-waisted figure. According to the article, her disappearance coincided with the release from prison of Billy Droder, a man she had once been involved with. The day before she vanished, she had reported that he was lurking in the vicinity of her place of business.

When the police had searched the derelict Altamira Courts, they found evidence that someone had been living in one of the cottages. They were able to identify with some certainty a torn and blood-stained article of Parish’s clothing because of its tag or embroidering, and among the refuse were empty cigarette packs, of a brand Droder was known to smoke.

I’ve wished many times I could return to that afternoon our little group dared to have its fortune told. How should I warn her that her short future wore the face of a psychopathic killer?

Her shop had an incongruous aspect. The waiting room, though dingy, was tastefully arranged. It was merely absent of pretense. The chairs were office furniture made by Knoll, and when new had been expensive.

One by one, she invited us through the screen of beads. Lora went first and was beaming when she returned. “I knew it!” she exclaimed, her eyes sparkling. Janet flatly refused to have her fortune told, and sat there drumming her fingers on the arm of a chair.

Dr. Hymes went next. When he emerged from the beads, he was chuckling to himself. “Could be worse,” he said, and couldn’t quit smiling.

Rynn had seemed indecisive, but sprang up from her seat as Dr. Hymes rejoined us. When her reading was over, however, she strode back out into the waiting room, her jaw set, her face flushed with exasperation and impatience. “I do not have control issues.”

Rick flashed me an eager look that wasn’t difficult to interpret, and went next. When he came back out, he glanced my way and raised his eyebrows. “I’m not entirely surprised to learn that I’m going to be a musician,” he admitted, settling himself in a Danish Modern chair. “It isn’t as if I haven’t been playing instruments all my life.”

The woman stood in the doorway and waited for me. We went back to a small room in which there was a circular table that was made of oak and looked like something from the Old West. There were two or three ladder-back chairs. On the table were a deck of tarot cards and a deck of playing cards. The discolored walls were bare but for places where the plaster needed to be patched.

I asked who had done the sign out front. She said she’d painted it, that she had majored in art, and that for a while after college she had done lettering for a sign company.

She indicated a chair. As I sat down, she drew a chair over and sat down facing me beside the table. Then she took my hands and looked into my face. I’m at a loss to pinpoint just what it was about her that had the effect on me. She excited me yet made me calm. Perhaps it was her ease, or that she had fine features and was beautiful without makeup, or that she had understanding eyes.

Her fingers roamed my palms, then she studied the lines. “I’m picking up on a lot of creative energy that doesn’t know where to go.” After a few moments, she said thoughtfully, “Your life has lost its way somewhere, and you’re drifting.”

There was no doubt about that. This was the shore I had washed up on after four years of college and six years of graduate school, and an adventure involving a police detective’s unhappily married wife. Something about the fortune teller reminded me of women I was lucky to have escaped selling my soul to the devil for.

She smiled. “Let’s see what the cards tell us about your future.”

message 4: by M (last edited Sep 11, 2018 02:49AM) (new)

M | 11454 comments (“A Maltese Cross,” continued.)

She seated herself across the table from me, set the tarot deck aside, and laid cards from the playing deck in lines, turning up cards in various places as she proceded. Her brow furrowed. With a shake of her head, she scooped the cards together, carefully shuffled the deck, then tried again. As she turned up one card and then another, she appeared more and more perplexed. I noticed that both times nearly all the cards she turned up were spades. The jack and queen of spades appeared both times.

“You’ll fall in love with a woman you’ll never have,” she interpreted, “but not because she doesn’t want a life with you.” She seemed desirous to know more. Hesitating, she turned up another couple of cards. They left her even more nonplussed. She muttered, “I know that’s pretty vague.” With a sigh of frustration, she stared for a moment at the cards, then regarded me apologetically and said, “The rest of this makes no sense in terms of you.”

Her disconcerted expression told me it made sense to her in terms of someone. As she nervously gathered up the deck, I wondered what fate lay ahead for whomever it might be.

She tried to give me my money back, but I replied, “Your comment about my life’s losing its way was worth more than I paid you.” I admitted to her that my curse seemed to be to watch my life go by without ever living it. I didn’t tell her how badly I wanted to talk to her, to pour my life out to her, to put my arms around her.

I wondered if she sensed it. I have little doubt now that she did, because when I moved toward the door she seized my hand, as though she couldn’t help herself. The expression in her eyes was complex. I sensed vulnerability. More than that, I sensed dread--but of what? What had all those spades meant? After a moment’s hesitation, she urged, “If you need to talk to me, call me.”

In retrospect, the futures she had predicted for the other members of the Quorum turned out to be remarkably accurate. Dr. Hymes had a long, uneventful career at the maritime branch. Lora became an author of local histories and met a man who was politically connected. Rynn married a military officer, lived on the West Coast and the East Coast, and owned numerous dogs.

Olivia stayed on my mind. Repeatedly, I pulled her business card from my pocket: “Lady O. Psychic Readings. Astrological charts. 708 Beach Boulevard.”

That evening, almost surreptitiously, I left my apartment and on foot followed the alley to Asylum Avenue. The streets were quiet. It was a short walk from there to the boulevard. The sun was sinking beyond the western end of the island. In the last light, the amusement pier stood eerily.

I shook my head to clear it. What in the world was I doing? Distractedly, I went down to the beach and flung a few broken shells into the surf. At length, I became aware that there was no one else in sight. As I walked back to The Mews, it was with a yearning I’d hoped to have relegated to an earlier chapter of my life.

Monday morning, at the staff meeting, I learned that someone had donated a property to the foundation. For the next couple of days, my energies were tied up with meetings, with the complications of the title transfer, and with the tedious research that constituted much of my job. Tuesday after work, I tried several times to call the fortune teller but got only a busy signal.

The following morning, Dr. Hymes showed me the article reporting the disappearence. Olivia lived in an apartment house on Avenue L and hadn’t come home Monday night. Her terrier had barked and whimpered until a neighbor had alerted the police.

I spent the morning too worried to concentrate. Rick dropped by at lunch. We grabbed a burger at Coley’s, then went to see what we could find out for ourselves. It was a muggy, overcast day. The bedraggled palm fronds above the fortune-teller’s sign moved in an indecisive breeze. The forecast was for high tides pushed by a tropical disturbance.

The sage-colored Accord was parked in the lot beside the building. We got out and went to the front door. It was locked. The sign hanging inside it read “Closed.” That harm might have befallen her made me feel ill.

I can’t remember now just when it was that Lora and I drove down to the west end of the island to explore, though my guess is that it was in late September or early October. There was no development that far out from town. We parked where the road became impassable for my sportscar, then picked our way through brush to get to the beach.

It was a lovely afternoon, the sky a deep blue, the air filled with the roar of the surf. We pulled cockleburs from our socks. It’s easy to guess the things we discussed. My job at the foundation was problematic. Lora had become involved with a prison guard who was going through a divorce.

I hadn’t told anyone of my feelings for Olivia. My life seemed shaken. I still hoped fervently that she would be found alive.

Down the shore a ways, glowing in the warm light, was the leviathan hulk of a cabin cruiser from Humphrey Bogart’s era. We deliberated briefly whether enough daylight remained for us to explore it. It would be a long walk back to the car, and there was the treacherous part of the road to negotiate. Then we hastened down a stretch of beach that appeared as wild and lonely as if the island were uncharted.

On the boat’s sun-bleached stern were the letters Lenore. We ducked and went between exposed ribs to the cavern-like interior, of which there was little left. It was merely a hulk. From overhead, light came mistily through the smudged windows. The upper part of the engine, a rusted mass, protruded from the sand.

Lora peered around. “This is so creepy, it should be used in a movie!”

I wondered if the bronze propeller had been scavenged, or if it were buried deep in the sand. It was then that I noticed, further up toward the bow, something glinting among debris of seashells and scraps of wood that had washed up. I stooped and went to see what it was. From the background sounds of surf and seagulls, I heard Lora’s anxious voice, “Where are you going?”

I didn’t have to dig up much of the silver chain to feel certain it was the one that had been worn by the fortune teller. Lora and I returned to the car as quickly as we could.

She could hardly contain her excitement. “Wait till I write the story on this!” The county’s Reporter-of-the-Year award was practically in her hands.

We went to the police. They investigated but found nothing other than the chain and cross. They theorized that the woman had been murdered at Altamira Courts, and her body removed somehow to the cabin cruiser. The killer had probably buried her somewhere out there among the marshes. Since she’d disappeared, a storm surge had inundated the low areas of the island and would have removed any scent.

The officer who gave me and Lora this information, as we sat in a small office furnished with a battered metal desk and filing cabinet, related that the police were still looking for Billy Droder. After considering for a moment how much he should disclose, he leaned forward and lowered his voice. “I have a feeling he’s no longer in this area.” He fingered a staple puller on the scarred desk top. “I have a hunch he came here specifically to kill her.”

Lora’s inquisitive eyes were wide. “Why?”

He looked at her frankly. “It’s the way some men are. They feel a woman is a possession. It wasn’t her right--” He glanced at the door, beyond which was a short hall that led in one direction to the reception desk, and in the other to more offices and the jail. “In the killer’s eyes it wasn’t her right to escape him and have a life of her own.”

We were thanked and told we had filled in a piece of the puzzle. It made the newspaper, but someone more senior than Lora got to write the article.

The fortune teller’s disappearance occupied a good deal of conversation in The Pseudo-Intellectual Quorum. Sometimes, after visiting the Seaport Museum, or the Marine Model Shop, or wandering the docks where the shrimp trawlers were kept moored, we’d go to the Avenue A Deli. The proprietor was an Egyptian who made wonderful muffalettas.

message 5: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4304 comments My mind is rushing about a story I am excited about! But it would take just a tad more time than I would be able to do it or put it here right away so I will put up an unrelated small story hopefully.

This one at least will follow the prompt!

And it's a good one Courtney! :)

message 6: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9608 comments Happy writing, CJ! :)

message 7: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4304 comments Thanks Garrison! :)

message 8: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments I wanted more to go on in this part of my Helen Singer story, but I think I need more time, so I'm publishing what I have. I might come back and edit it in a day or two...

Title : Revelation Devastation (Helen Singer, Chapter 24, Part Two)
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 998
Rating : PG13

I do find it relaxing getting my haircut, but I felt a little tense with Mandy doing it. Every so often she’d brush her hand against the back of my neck, and I’d feel a little weird that I kind of liked it, so I’d tense up. I wondered if my Helen of Troy curse might work in reverse, but that didn’t seem very likely…

Maybe I was…

“This is nice,” I told her, “I’ve never had my head massaged before.”

“That’ just how I cut hair,” Mandy said, “do you like it.”

“Do I ever,” I smiled with my eyes closed, “I could just fall asleep right now.”

“Well, don’t do that,” Mandy said, a chuckle in her voice, “who would I talk to?”

I started to think back to a trip Carmen and I had made to a fair a few years back. Don’t worry, it’s relevant. We would have been fourteen or fifteen, and I’s always wanted to get my fortune told. The lady in the tent had been middle-aged, made up to look older, with the usual hoop earrings and head scarf you’d associate with the role. She smiled at us, her perfect teeth jarring considerably with the effect that the rest of her outfit was giving off. Clearly she was trying to look like a Romany peasant, but clearly she’d had paid dental work done at some stage in her life.

“Cross my palm with silver,” she said when we entered the tent, pointing at a sign that read ‘Fortunes : Two Pounds’. They should have changed her spiel to ‘Cross my palm with gold’, to be perfectly honest.

Anyway, I handed over the money and sat down, Carmen taking the seat next to me.

This particular fortune teller used a crystal ball, possibly the least talented method of telling fortunes, but we were young and easily impressed.

“I see a great change in your future,” the teller told me, “a big move is on the horizon…”

In hindsight, she’d actually been pretty accurate.

“And you will meet a dark stranger,” she continued.

“A tall, dark stranger?” Carmen clarified.

The teller shook her head, “It is hard to tell if they are tall,” she said, “but they are dark.”

“And strange,” I chuckled.

So what if this dark stranger was Mandy?

Would that be weird? I mean, when Carmen had her fortune told after me, the teller said something about a past life coming back to haunt her, and that had never come true. Maybe it was just a load of nonsense.

“So how are you finding things in the village?” Mandy asked, finishing off my hair after less than thirty minutes. I snapped out of my reverie as she spoke, focussing less on her fingers on the back of my neck and more on her voice, “Are you adjusting to small town life better than you thought you might?”

“Hmm?” I half-asked, then replied, “oh. It’s been okay, I guess.”

“Anything stand out as a problem?” Mandy asked, “I may be able to offer some advice.”

I moved over to the sink at Mandy’s direction, leaning back as she rinsed my hair in preparation for recolouring it, “I don’t know really,” I told her, “there’ve been a few… adjustments I’ve had to make, but I’m getting by.”

I closed my eyes as Mandy ran her fingers through my wet hair. I was so relaxed, I just can’t describe it. I’ve never been brave enough to get a full body massage, but I imagine that having one felt a little like Mandy massaging my scalp.

“I’m just going to add the dye,” Mandy warned me as she put on a pair of plastic gloves, “so don’t move too much.”

I held still as Mandy began adding the dye while she continued our conversation, “I know it can be tough,” she said, “my cousin didn’t really feel like she fit in when she moved to town, mainly because my Auntie never married. She always thought people were wondering where her dad was.”

“Who’s your cousin,” I asked, “have I met her?”

“I doubt it,” Mandy said, “she’s only twelve, but you might her mum, Auntie Piper.”

I sat bolt upright at the sound of the name, “Auntie Piper?” I repeated.

“Hey, sit back,” Mandy said, sounding frustrated, “you’ll get dye all over the floor.”

“That’s not important,” I said.

“It is to my mum,” Mandy said, “she’ll kill us.”

“Who’s your Auntie Piper?” I asked, panic filling my voice, “Why would I know her? I haven’t met anyone called Piper.”

Mandy furrowed her brow, “Why does that matter?” she asked.

“It’s important,” I said angrily, “who is she? How do I know her?”

“She works with your mum,” Mandy explained, “at the police station.”

I thought over all the police officers at the station that had been listed by my mum. From what I could remember they had all been men, but I might have been wrong. I hadn’t seen some of their first names, “What’s her last name?” I asked. I could feel the hair dye dripping down my neck, but that wasn’t important right then.

“Her last name?” Mandy repeated, “The same as my mum, Reynardine.”

Piper Reynardine? I thought hard, why did that name ring a bell?

Then it came to me.

Officer Reynardine! My mum’s absentee partner!

“She’s been off work sick,” I said, more to myself than to Mandy, “that’s why I didn’t think of her.”

“What are you talking about?” Mandy asked, “And please can you put your head over the sink!”

“I’ve got to go,” I said, standing up, “can I grab a towel?”

Mandy reluctantly handed me a towel which I used to quickly wipe my hair dry.

“You realise I haven’t finished your hair, right?” Mandy shouted after me as I ran down the stairs.

“I’ll have to sort it out later,” I called back, “but this is important. In fact, it’s life or death!”

message 9: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9608 comments With three entries so far and possibly a fourth coming from CJ, this is definitely going to be a fun week to be a WSS pirate. :)

message 10: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 658 comments I've written two stories, neither of which I'm very satisfied with, and will likely post one of them. Or something else.

message 11: by M (new)

M | 11454 comments Mine is like a picture that keeps developing. Something I always found helpful about the contests is that if I could get something posted, however rough, I was likely to keep working on it just because I had put it out there.

message 12: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Title: We Can't Stay
Author: Angie
Word Count: 532
Feedback always welcome!

Veronica wasn’t sure she liked that shade of green; it made the house look solemn. But it seemed large enough for their family, and close enough to work for both her and Michael. She decided that she would research the area and consider repainting it if the school district proved promising. She bookmarked the listing and scrolled to the next house. She found a reasonably priced two-story home with a yard and picket fence. Evan peered over her shoulder on his way from the kitchen. The crunch of his apple was loud in her ear.

“That one has a pool! Can we buy that one, Mom?”

“Chew with your mouth closed, sweetheart.”

He swallowed and pressed a sticky finger to her screen. “Five bedrooms and three bathrooms. That’s even more than you wanted! And we can have a pool. It’s perfect.”

“It’s kind of far from here. You’d have to make all new friends.”

“That wouldn’t be too hard if I could invite them swimming! And you already said we couldn’t live in the one that looked like a wizard’s cottage. I would be the coolest kid at school if we lived in a house like fortune-teller’s in The Dragon Master.”

She smiled. The logic of a ten-year-old was difficult to argue with. Before she could answer, the front door thumped shut. She recognized the rhythm of her husband’s footsteps long before she felt the kiss on her head. “How was work?”

“It was g—”

“Dad! Look at this house! It has a pool.”

“I see. It’s in our budget, too. Oh! And the master bedroom has a west-facing balcony. Think of the sunsets. That could be romantic. You’re always saying you wish I was more romantic.”

“Eww! Stop kissing.”

Veronica landed a gentle swat on her son’s arm. “You’ll understand when you’re older. Now go finish your math homework.” She turned back to her husband. “What do you think of the house? Is it too big?”

He shrugged and flashed her a mischievous smile. “We could always have more kids.”

She rolled her eyes. “Michael!”

“I’m not the one who wants to move!” He held his hands up in surrender.

“We can’t stay here! They had our son arrested.” She hissed the last words, glancing over Michael’s shoulder to make sure Evan was out of earshot.

“None of these websites are going to tell you if any of that neighborhood will be any different.”

“The real-estate agents might know the area better.”

“And what will you ask them? If our neighbors will mind living next door to a black family? If these families can tell the difference between a black kid locked out of his house and a burglar?” He was almost shouting now. Evan’s tentative face peered into the living room. They smiled at him until he disappeared upstairs again.

“We can’t stay here.” Veronica looked away. “I just want Evan to be a normal kid.”

Michael took a deep breath. “We’ll talk about this later. I’m cross-examining witnesses tomorrow and I have to be ready.”

In the silence of the now empty room, Veronica continued searching through houses, but she no longer knew what she was looking for.

message 13: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 658 comments M wrote: "Mine is like a picture that keeps developing. Something I always found helpful about the contests is that if I could get something posted, however rough, I was likely to keep working on it just bec..."

That's a great point, M. It helps just to have the ideas flowing.

message 14: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 658 comments Title: The Fair
Genre: Middlegrade Fantasy
Length: 1826 words

“I have five tokens left,” Callie says to her friends, licking the last bit of cotton candy from her fingers. “What should we spend them on?”

“The Ferris wheel?” Blake suggests.

Sarah shakes her head, braids whipping back and forth. “Needs too many tokens. Two apiece to ride and Callie’s five are all we have.”

“More candy?” Ian asks, biting into his fourth chocolate bar. “We can always save it,” he adds, noticing Michelle’s upraised brow.

The kids continue their walk through the fair, pointing out new things to each other, suggesting ways to spend the remaining tokens. With only one token for each of them, their options were slim. Callie wanted to spend the coins on something they would remember, a keepsake, maybe. More candy would taste good, but it wouldn’t last.

“What about a fortune?”

Callie and her friends pause, all following Sarah’s pointing finger. A little booth tucked between a nacho stand and a blindfold dart game reads Madam Cabanis – Fortunes for the Bold. A bead curtain hangs over the entry, jingling as a light gust of wind blows past.

“Ma says fortune telling is satanic,” Ian offers, mouth ringed with melted chocolate.

Blake rolls his eyes. “Only if you’re doing it seriously. This is for fun. Probably not a real fortune teller anyway.”

“I don’t know,” Michelle chimes in, shifting uncomfortably. “Seems kinda creepy.”

“Now we have to do it,” Ian says.

Michelle glares at him, folding her arms across her chest with a huff. Ian grins back at her. Callie shakes her head. One of these days those two are going to have a fight no one can smooth over. Thinking that makes her sad. What if things change when they go to middle school? She doesn’t want to think that in a few weeks she may not be hanging out with the same group of friends.

“What do you think, Callie? They are your tokens.” Sarah is still pointing, as if afraid they will forget the discussion topic if she doesn’t keep a finger on the place.

Callie glances around at her friends. Ian and Blake are nodding, Sarah gives a shrug, Michelle one shake of her head. It’s executive decision time.

“Let’s do it,” she decides. It’s not a keepsake, but it should be memorable.

The sounds of the fair seem to recede, growing muted and dull as they walk toward the booth. Blake pulls back the beads, waving everyone through with a smile, using chivalry to hide nerves. The beads fall into place behind them, clicking as they swing.

The light inside the booth is dim, issuing from a single candle on a table in the far corner. Callie pushes her glasses up her nose, trying not to squint. There’s a haze in the air and it takes her a second to realize it’s smoke. Something is burning in a small pot beside the table with the candle.

“This is creepy and there isn’t anyone here. Can we go now?” Michelle has her arms wrapped around her body as if trying to stay away from everything and everyone.

“It is kind of creepy,” Ian agrees. This earns him another glare from Michelle. Callie steps forward, hoping to stall a fight before it can start.

“Hello?” She calls into the small booth. It feels cramped with the five of them inside, so she doesn’t know why she bothers. There isn’t anyone else here. The entire rectangular space seems smaller than her parents’ walk-in closet.

“Hello, dears,” a husky feminine voice says, seeming to issue from everywhere. A woman steps through another beaded doorway that Callie hadn’t noticed. From the surprised glances her friends are exchanging, they hadn’t noticed either.

The woman’s tall frame fills the doorway, beads held back in one hand. She has a smile on her face, hair twisted up in a messy arrangement on top of her head, a piece of cloth holding it in place. A long shawl is draped over her shoulders, trailing onto the floor around her ankles.

“Um, hi,” Callie says, trying to rid herself of the nerves that have overtaken her. “We were hoping to have our fortune told.”

The woman’s eyes shift between them, studying each in turn. Callie tries not to fidget, Michelle squeezes her folded arms a little more tightly, Blake gives a lazy grin, Ian shifts from foot to foot, and Sarah meets the gaze with curiosity of her own.

“A group fortune,” the woman says, stepping forward and letting the beads rattle behind her. “This will be fun.”

Motioning the friends to follow, the woman—Madam Cabanis, Callie assumes—walks to the corner with the candle, a pack of cards slipping from the folds of her sleeve into her waiting fingers. “Gather round,” she says, motioning them around the small table. Smoke rises from the little pot they now stand beside, lending the air even more haze. Light from the candle casts dancing shadows on the wall.

“Do we have to do this?” Michelle whisper-hisses to Callie.
“It’ll only take a few minutes,” Ian assures her.

Michelle glares at him. “Oh, so now you’re the expert on fortune telling? You didn’t even want to come in here!”

“I sense friction between some of our group,” Madam Cabanis says. The cards are shuffling smoothly through her fingers.

“Your cards tell you that?” Michelle snaps.

Callie can see the surprise on her face as the words leave her lips. Michelle is never rude to adults. Madam Cabanis smiles, continuing to shuffle her cards.

The five friends fall into uneasy silence as they stand ringed around the table. Callie wanted something memorable, not something that would drive a wedge between them. Had she made a mistake bringing them in here? Too late now. The haze in the air floats under her glasses, blurring her vision.

“Let us begin.”

The words sound ominous and the friends cast each other another glance. Even Michelle and Ian share a look of unease without a hint of anger or irritation.

Madam Cabanis flips a card, Callie and her friends lean in close, but the image is foreign. They don’t know anything about fortunes or card reading. The fortune teller’s lips turn down and she makes a tut-tut with her mouth.

Another card flips, just as foreign. And another. This one spooks the friends, as it shows a gruesome scene. Another round of uneasy glances is shared as Madam Cabanis flips another card, unbothered by the image that has them all spooked.

Callie stiffens as Madam Cabanis sets the remainder of the deck aside, eyes on the dealt cards. The woman taps the face of each card in turn, then her eyes move up to the friends, gaze shifting between them.

Madam Cabanis taps the first card and the friends lean forward as she begins to speak. “Five begin the journey,” she says, then moves down the row of cards, tapping each one in turn as she speaks. “A new destination awaits, travel paid with gold. Trials are plenty but if faced alone, disaster’s in store. The only way home is through a beaded door.”

Madam Cabanis goes quiet and the friends wait expectantly. There has to be more. But the fortune teller begins to stack the cards, adding them back to the deck.

“That’s it?” Sarah asks. Her braids bounce as she shakes her head.

“The cards have spoken,” Madam Cabanis responds.

“Not as exciting as I expected,” Blake says as he turns away.

“Thanks anyway.”

“Was that so bad?” Ian asks Michelle as they move to follow Blake and Sarah, who are nearly to the beaded curtain.

“Don’t bother,” she sighs, moving away from him to stand beside Sarah.

Callie watches her friends for a moment, thinking that this was not going to leave the lasting memory she had hoped for. Fishing the coins from her pocket, she lay them on the table beside Madam Cabanis. “Thanks,” she says, though she isn’t sure for what.

The candle flickers and the booth seems to tilt. Callie freezes and notices her friends do the same. Then the candle sputters back to full strength and the booth is once again straight. “Let’s get out of here,” Callie says, catching up to her friends.

Blake pulls the beads aside once again, but steps through first this time. The friends stop dead in their tracks as soon as the beads fall closed behind them.

“What happened?” Michelle asks, tremor in her voice.

“It has to be an illusion of some kind. A stage trick,” Ian offers.

What stands before the small group is not the fair they left behind, but a wide expanse of icy hills. It’s beautiful in a terrifying way. There is no sign of the fair or its visitors, just an icy landscape stretching out as far as they can see.

“Maybe we got our money’s worth after all,” Sarah says, the only one more awed than freaked.

“Right,” Callie says, trying to play along. “But I think we better go and ask her to stop her magic or whatever and let us out.”

“Definitely,” Blake agrees. “This place is starting to feel too real. It’s so cold.”

“Uh, guys?” Michelle says, panic in her voice. “Where is the booth?”

Callie spins, snow shifting beneath her feet. Behind her, where the booth stood a moment ago, is more icy expanse. There is no sign of Madam Cabanis, not even hazy smoke in the air. A booth can’t just disappear. Then again, a fair with rides can’t become a snow laden land either.

“A new destination awaits,” Sarah says, still sounding excited.

“That’s what she told us, in our fortune. Do you think…”

“No way,” Blake shakes his head. “That’s too Narnia. You can’t be serious?”

Michelle stomps away, Ian following close behind. They search the ground for any sign of the booth, hoping to find a logical explanation to their predicament. Sarah and Blake continue their discussion about transportation to fantasy worlds. Callie listens and watches in stunned silence.

After a few minutes of searching, Michelle and Ian return, shaking their heads. “Nothing,” they say together. “It’s as if…it’s as if it was never even there. As if none of it was there.”

Sarah claps her hands, excited, and the others turn to face her with mixed expressions of horror and surprise. She grins back, braids flipping as she bounces on the balls of her feet. The snow makes a soft crunching sound as she dances.

“We’re in a fantasy world!” She declares. “I’ve always wanted this to happen. Of course, I never thought it would. Do you think the booth was magic?”

“I don’t know what it was or where this is, but if we don’t do something soon we’re all going to freeze,” Callie says.

Her friends nod in subdued agreement. Sarah is the only one smiling. Maybe that trip to the fortune teller is going to leave a mark after all.

message 15: by M (new)

M | 11454 comments The ending took me completely by surprise, C.P.! I was as astonished as the characters at the change in scenery.

Great stories, everyone. These have been fun to read.

message 16: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 658 comments Thanks, M. :)

I've been wanting to play around more with middlegrade stories and this kind of just happened. I may keep playing around with it and see where it goes.

message 17: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 658 comments I'm going to try and get to all of the stories tomorrow.

message 18: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4304 comments I hope I'm not too late (Sorry for doing this. I know it's probably against the rules. I should slap my wrist for it. *smack*) but I have a story.

I feel like it's probably going to be a little long though so.. check this out.

message 19: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (last edited Sep 10, 2018 10:17PM) (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4304 comments Title: Sam Lucky Man (Part 1)
Author: CJ
Word Count: 1,270

Sam Holden considered himself a lucky man. Having a successful job, teeter-tottering on a possible future (with his girlfriend Janie), and loving every opportunity that came his way he was comfortably happy.

That is until the one day his car broke down and he sprinted to a stop nearly missing to take the bus for work. After he got on, crammed but caressed by total strangers he heard the driver sigh towards a disgruntled passenger: “Come on, take it easy on me. This is my first day.”

This is his first day... Sam repeated in his mind, eyes gouged in worry. And he had to pass by fare zones and be lead to goodness knows where. Would he end up in a different state, off-course to never neverland just because it was that man’s first day? He dreaded that he was going to find out in the next hour or so.

After what felt like hours of bumpy roads, excruciating passes, and at least one long highway his feels became realized. He was right. This man did not send him the right direction.

After he got off and told the man if he was getting to “Dryden Street, the spot by the New York Times building” the guy hurriedly said this way was too far off. He would have to get back the right way but it would take about thirty more minutes before he would get back to the road that Sam wouldn’t get to on time.

Confused and unsure of this crazy fate, Sam made a quick cell call to his workplace. “Umm, you know how I said I might get there late? Looks like I just might not get there at all. I’ll take a sick day today. Yeah I know I am supposed to do those in the morning but pretend that something suddenly came up. Just say anything.” The coworker joked and said not to worry that he’d tell everyone he got stuck in the “john” with a case of the poopsies.

He shot back with a smile. “Thanks. I won’t forget that. I owe you one for your birthday.”

Next he rang up his lady love. “Hi hon. Listen, because of things that happened not by my own control I’m gonna get home and take a day off.”

“You’re not going to work? Okay.” Janie spoke, feigning disappointment. “Do you know if AAA showed up yet?”

“I didn’t get to find that out. I was gonna wait but then I saw a bus and the bus stop a few paces down the street but I just had to get to work.”

“You mean the workplace that you aren’t going to now? You always get to work and nothin’ stops you. Funny, I thought you were Sam, the Lucky Man?”

“Well turns out I’m only lucky cuz I have you.”

He heard her make a noise, one that he knew outside she wanted to call him a cornball but in her heart she skipped a beat, at least just a little. She then wondered.

“Well you want me to find a way to pick you up?”

“No, don’t do that. I want to see if I can find an Uber. I’ll let you know if that doesn’t work out.”

“Please.” she said, now serious. “Just let me know either way. I wanna hear from you as soon as possible, okay?”

“Alright.” he chimed.

He started to move and found a quaint store. This would be a good marking place just in case I get a ride. Sam said to himself.

There was something pleasant about it. It was a humble abode, large windows with old sticker lettering. It looked like in a literal different life it was probably once a teeny diner.

Now it proudly stated on the glass door: “Terry’s Shoppe, Est. 1953. Cakes, Candy, Newspapers. Take your pick. Welcome.”

He accessed his profile and sent out a message. “Need a ride plz. asap.”

As he waited impatiently he couldn’t help but see there was a movie theater just a stone’s throw away.

But that wasn’t what had caught his eye. In front of the probably abandoned piece of work, which was only “alive” because of a stubborn historical group was a huge decorative box that contained a toy Fortune Teller. He felt drawn to it.

Getting closer the designs around the woman’s casing came into view. MADAME ROSE was her name. Her upper torso which was the only part of her that was visible wore a stereotypically gaudy outfit, complete with a robe-like coat, a salmon colored bandana tied around her plastic head, and her dark black, curly hair that housed the silliest piece of all, a huge nose ring which was latched to the lower part of a big honker she might call a nose.

Wow. This is old. Sam thought. The “pc” people have yet to protest this place, haha...

He inserted a quarter just for guffaws. Impressed she didn’t light up and implode from old age, the fake gypsy lady instead jerked her head as if alive. Then with her hands which were perpetually stuck in two different positions she twisted back and forth, the view entertaining yet was pretty creepy admittedly so. She had long, blood-red nails almost giving a “c’mere” motion as her wrists twisted and continued to move. The theatricality of the whole show stunned him. It was like going to a wax museum. Sure the people there weren’t real but sometimes when ones would take a selfie with the subjects they wanted to be careful they hadn’t turned their backs on them. They weren’t real but there was always a doubt. Some things in life seemed ridiculous but they weren’t too ridiculous to believe in them, were they?

As it pointed to three cards just out of view of the window he thought about the second reason he asked for this “magic” lady’s service. Yes, this thing was probably just for show but it was at least a little real, wasn’t it?

Before he knew it he heard music rise from the box, a singing noise could be heard that could have easily been a woman singing dramatically higher and higher, or it was possibly a reverb added to some kind of shouting noise. A screaming?

Then three cards slipped out into a little catch opening at the box below. Each card made a little “ssssrrrip” sound like they were each just as crisp as they were individually important.

He picked up the cards and glanced at each one. Sam stared at them unmoving. He felt his life would never be the same again.

He felt as if the day became the afternoon as quick as he was told his fortune. Noticing the sun was now settling behind a patch of clouds he knew this fake setting would reside in it reaching the horizon in the next hour or so.

He ran across the street, nearly getting hit by an oldsmobile as soon as his ride showed up.

He spoke on the phone now sounding desperate almost like he was scared.


“You got the ride?”

“Yeah but that’s not why I called you…”

She sounded a bit offended. “But that is what I wanted you to--”

“Listen. Seriously. You’re going to think I am crazy but I think I found something that will blow your socks off.”

There was a pause. She seemed to be waiting for a catch. “And that is...?”

“Something that will change both of our lives.


End of Part One

message 20: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4304 comments I know in part of my story it uses the slang word "feels." When I did a brush of editing I knew it wasn't the right thing to use there but I found it too amusing not to take out, lol.

"Feelings" obviously.

back to top