Fortune's Fool by Brian Gullen

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SUMMARY: October flash fiction entry, theme - darkness

His stubby fingers reached up brushing his blond hair from his sweat laden forehead. The rising moon and night air did little to quell the unrelenting heat the desert sun left behind. He stopped briefly as a flashing billboard caught his eye and then continued on as the cheers of patrons filled the lively air on the Las Vegas strip. Moving from shop to shop, his vibrant blue eyes searched for his destination. His gaze settled on a tiny shop; a pink neon sign hung crooked in the window, the last two letters flickering rapidly, nearly ready to expire. He rubbed his hands together, took a deep breath and stepped inside.

A soft chime rang as he pushed the door aside. Behind the counter, a young girl looked up from her magazine; an engaging smile came to her face. "Welcome to Madame Trulane's. You must be Stephen. We've been expecting you" she said.

"Sorry I'm late," he replied "Had some trouble finding the place."

"No need to apologize. Madame expected you would be late. Right this way please."

The young girl pulled aside a drape and led him to the next room; the sweet smell of lavender filling the air. An iron chandelier holding seven candles hung over a small oak table, casting shadows around the room. His eyes moved from the candles to the shelves holding various trinkets consisting of miniature totem poles, shrunken heads and other artifacts with symbols he couldn't recognize. Turning his eyes from the shelves his attention fell upon Madame Trulane.

Her floor-length, form fitting black dress was cut low in the front leaving hints at what lie beneath. The bottom of her dress flowed freely behind her as she walked over and placed a crystal ball on the table. Her curly black hair framed her soft pale face, bouncing lively as she approached Stephen.

"Won't you please have a seat?" She said taking his hand in hers and leading him to the table. "Will your wife be joining us this evening?"

How did she know he had a wife? He thought to himself. Realizing she must have noticed his wedding band, he took a seat at the table and replied, "I'm afraid she is busy at work and won't be arriving until tomorrow."

Madame Trulane smiled at him placing his hands on the sides of the crystal ball. "Try to focus all your thoughts and energies into the ball" she said.

Placing her soft hands over top his, she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. Exhaling her breath, her eyelids opened, her piercing green eyes focused on the crystal ball, losing herself in its secrets. She shot up out of her chair knocking it backwards, her eyes widened, placing a hand over her mouth as it trembled.

"You must not go back to your hotel room tonight! I see darkness and death in your future" She said.

"W-w-what are you talking about?" He stuttered, sitting back in his chair, slowly removing his hands from the crystal ball.

She knelt before him, grasping his hands in hers, her intense gaze captured his full attention.

"An important message will reach you late," she said "If you go back to your hotel room your night will end in darkness with the blood of the one circled in green on your hands.

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