The cards sat lifeless in his hands. The divine knowledge of the universe, the outcomes of future decisions – all blocked.

The tarot cards had been with him for as long as he could remember. A simple old Rider-Waite deck that spoke with a comfortable symbolism borne of long acquaintance. Their mere presence had been enough for him to feel their energy and open him up to prophetic visions.

A chill rippled down his back as he clutched the cards and felt nothing. His muse, his crutch; it had been taken from him. The world blurred as his eyes ran with burning tears of rage and his hand clenched around a lone card. Force of habit kept him from destroying his cherished card and he gazed down at what he held.

The Lovers.

He threw the card, finally pushed to such a desecration and cradled his head in his hands and sobbed.

He knew why. Why the cards had abandoned him, and it was his own damn fault! She had wanted the cards for a tattoo design, and he had foolishly let her use his precious cards as the models for the tattooist.

The card’s potence had bled away while being pawed at by all and sundry at the tattoo studio. The tattoos! Without the tattoos the cards would still be intact and their energy would be his. He needed to take it back, even if that meant flaying the tattooed skin from her bones. He smiled and calm returned to him as he glanced at her door, and moonlight glinted from the blade he held.

She saw him come for her. She lay in bed with widening eyes and saw his shape fill the doorway, knife extended.

He leapt forward into the darkened room and ripped the covers away, knife already in motion, arcing down to an empty bed. She was gone. He stared at the bed and his head twitched in confusion. The knife fell from numb fingers and he slumped to the floor, finally howling his frustration.

She had seen him come, hours earlier, fed by the captured power of the cards.

Constructive criticism welcome. © 2009 Damian Herde

Currently unavailable for purchase

A little story inspired from a conversation with a friend, and a 15min writing challenge, using the words ‘tattoo’, ‘flayed’ and ‘tarot’.


  • Lisa  Jewell
    Lisa Jewellover 5 years ago

    Played indeed.

    What a stunning piece of writing…it held me captive all the way. Such strong imagery…


  • Thanks Lisa, glad you liked it :)
    It felt good to write something again.

    – Damian

  • Cathie Tranent
    Cathie Tranentover 5 years ago

    Oooh. Fabulous!

  • Thanks Cathie :)

    – Damian

  • Krystle
    Krystleover 5 years ago

    Your words broke out into comic book style action in my mind. I love it when writers can make that happen :)

  • Cool Krystle! I’ve been storyboarding an image-based narrative recently, so may have an influence seeping through.

    – Damian

  • Mel Brackstone
    Mel Brackstoneover 5 years ago

    Fantastic story, the images are so clear in my head!

  • Thanks Mel, glad you liked it :)

    – Damian

  • PintaPinta
    PintaPintaover 5 years ago

    hey, i’ve missed your tales about the place d. i gobbled this up and i loved that the tattoos fed her tarot readings… so visual and what a pace! what a 15 min writing challenge! bravo, you :D

  • Hey Holls, thanks so much! I apparently need pressure and a rediculous time limit to get anything done :)

    – Damian

  • Rex Inkpen
    Rex Inkpenover 5 years ago

    ha! excellent Damien… seems like more wants to emerge from your pen..

  • Lawford
    Lawfordover 5 years ago

    Nice one Damian. The power of the image is mightier than the ink? Or somesuch thing.

  • kiya
    kiyaover 5 years ago

    “Constructive criticism welcome.”
    Are you serious? You don’t need the above line. The story is perfect.

    Hmm.. the power of tarot? Dare I say he was “dealt” with a heavy blow. Exactly work. And congrats on the feature.

  • sunsette15
    sunsette15over 5 years ago

    I like your writing, to visulaise each line in my mind, that’s what every writer should be aiming at. Loved it! Great work!

  • Zolton
    Zoltonover 5 years ago

    Hi Damion! Well done. Mystical!

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