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Erin had gone to the fortune teller at the funfair for a laugh. She had announced to her friends that she didn’t really believe in that new age hippy stuff, but she thought it would be funny.

She hadn’t even listened to the pale young woman who dealt out the cards one by one. It sounded vaguely like the standard “tall dark handsome stranger” stuff she was expecting.

But then they reached the last card. The fortune teller held it up silently, fixing Erin with a look that said, “You know what this means.”

It was the thirteenth card. Death.

That night, as Erin lay in bed listening to her husband snore, that card was all she could think of. When she closed her eyes she could see the bony face of the Grim Reaper leering out at her, and that strange, pale woman with white hair looking at her silently, expectantly.

She knew what she had to do.

She put on her dressing gown and crept downstairs to the kitchen. A steak knife perhaps? Or the big one from the block?

She closed her eyes. The Reaper leered at her; the pale woman waited.

Erin took both knives upstairs.

Later, the police listened to her story with obvious skepticism. They didn’t believe her story about the fortune teller who made her do it; but just to be sure they sent a detective to the funfair. The only fortune teller there was an old gypsy with a crystal ball; nobody there had seen a pale young tarot reader with white hair.

Nevertheless, at the trial they made sure they covered all their bases. The prosecution called an expert on the tarot to testify.

“The death card, like all the Major Arcana, is purely symbolic,” he said. “It indicates change; the end of one thing so that another can begin.”

In the dock, Erin closed her eyes and saw the pale fortune teller laughing.

© Kari Fay

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