Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)
TITLE: The Reading
By Larry Elliott
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“Kenny, get back inside.”
“Leave him alone, Shelby. He’s havin’ a good time. You go Ken!”
“You just pay attention to the road, Marcus Fallon. He could get hurt.” Shelby reprimanded.
“How can that happen? Huh? We’ve all ridden standing up through the sun roof, except you. It’s fun- and safe.”
“What if you hit a bump, or have an accident?”
“Like this?” Marcus swerve back and forth. He and Brook laughed and more whoops came from the open sunroof.
Shelby yanked at Kenny’s pants leg. “Kenny, please? I’m afraid.”
“Awh, little miss goodie two-shoes is afraid.” Marcus mocked and laughed again. “Look, you’ve been a downer all night- won’t drink or share our smoke- and now you don’t want Ken to have any fun. Why did you come along tonight?”
“I wish I knew.” Shelby wondered aloud.
“Hey Kenster, how ‘bout you come back down to earth and we grab some burgers?” Marcus shouted out the driver window.
“Sure, why not?” Kenny yelled back, but then he slapped the metal roof above his friends head. “Hey, Marky Mark, look up there on the right. It’s that psychic, voodoo, whatever, person.”
“Yeah, the fortune teller lady. Let’s go see if our parents are gonna’ find out what we’ve been up to.” Marcus slowed the camaro to a stop in front of a red neon sign that read ‘Palm and Psychic Readings’.
Everyone jumped out except Shelby- she remained in the back seat.
“Come on.” Kenny pleaded. “What’s the matter now?”
“This place gives me the creeps.”
“Creeps, shmeeps. You’re just afraid one of your church buddies will see you goin’ in and your perfect little reputation will be tarnished.” Marcus scoffed. “Stay out here if you want. We’re all goin’. Right?” he high-fived Kenny and Brook and they headed toward the steps of the old wood frame two-story house- the only one still standing downtown.
“Wait!” Shelby called out after them. “I’m not staying out here alone- at night.”
“That’s more like it.” Kenny put his arm around Shelby’s waist and Marcus rang the doorbell when they reached the landing.
Inside, the house was sparsely furnished, but tidy, and smelled of bayberry candles and sandalwood incense.
“Please, have a seat.” The older woman said. She was dressed like a gypsy character from a late night movie. “Who will be first?”
“Me!” Brook bounced excitedly from her chair.
Shelby watched and listened as her friends chemically enfeebled minds were filled with so much hog-wash. She could not remember a time or place she wanted more to be away from.
“It’s your turn, Shel.” Brook was tugging her arm.
“Oh no. You guys have your fun. Not me.”
“What are you afraid of, child?” the woman asked cynically.
“Afraid? I’m not afraid.” Shelby tried to recall something her Sunday school teacher read from the Bible once. The verse had something to say about fortune tellers, but she just could not remember.
Besides, greater is He that was in her than he that was in this place, right?
She sat down at the small round table and the woman cupped the glass sphere between her hands.
“I see… I see…. What is this? Some kind of joke?”
“What? What do you see?” Excited and curious the other three gathered close.
“Give me your hand.”
The instant the woman touched Shelby’s hand a chill shot through her arm and down her spine. A feeling of repulsion and dread like guilt flooded her soul. She became nauseous.
Shelby jerked her hand free and prayed out loud. “Jesus, forgive me.”
“No. No!” The old woman jumped to her feet, toppling her chair. “Leave. Get out of my house! Now!” She shrieked.
“What is it? We paid good money and we want to know what you saw.” Marcus ordered.
The woman picked up the bills from the table and flung them at him.
Shelby backed toward the door and continued to pray. “Send your angels to protect us, Father. Forgive us.”
Suddenly the crystal orb began to levitate. It spun in the air a foot above the table as an intense red light pulsed from within- then burst into flames.
Screaming and flailing the fortune teller chased the four terrified young people out the door and down the steps. “Never come back or I will call the police.”
In the car they mused over what had happened, but Shelby rode in silence.
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