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



Toowoomba, Australia

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Artist's Description

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

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