The room was dark. Two human-shaped shadows were dancing on the walls to the song of flickering candles. The glow of the Magical Orb shed some light on the focused and serious face of Lady Magdalena Florea. The smoke machine she installed under the small, round table added to the eerie atmosphere in The Chamber of Mystic Vision, as it was called by the Mystic Lady.
The back wall was decorated with a big black carpet with red and yellow flower motifs, flanked by two paintings of the Eye of Horus and above this triad, reigned an icon of Jesus Christ on the cross on top of Golgotha.
One could argue that Jesus Christ would not be happy that Horus made an appearance. The icon was there to comfort her clients who knew they were sinning by dabbling into the mystic arts and the eyes represent her power to see beyond our realm. Or so she told them.
“You shall have great riches in the year to come, Sebastian, but beware! I see a face! A yellow face! It’s the face of a dog! Stay away from the dog, Sebastian, whatever you do!”
Her voice grew in intensity as she spat out the warnings. A sudden gust of wind blew out the candles and swayed the window curtains. A thunder blew from the surround sound system on the walls. The orb started flickering, the red light emitted from it grew in intensity until suddenly it went off. The thunder stopped. It was quiet and pitch dark.
After a few seconds of deathly silence, a purple and bluish light was cast upon the two from the orb. Sebastian was speechless. His hands rested on the knees and his whole body was tense. His eyes were wide open and the teeth were clenched. Lady Magdalena’s hands were raised to her mouth with the fingertips touching. She rested her chin on her chest and kept her eyes closed.
“Now go, Sebastian! The Orb has spoken!” whispered Lady Magdalena without opening her eyes.
Sebastian rose clumsily, hitting the desk and making the orb wobble. He reached to stabilise it, but was too afraid to touch it.
“Th-Thank you, Lady Magdalena, for your guidance!” said Sebastian as he left the room through the red door.
Lady Magdalena stood still a couple more seconds to make sure her client left the house.
“Ok, Google! Turn on the lights!”
“Ok! Turning on two lights!”
The room was fully illuminated with a calming yellow light. In a corner there was a one metre tall green cactus, surrounded by a lot of succulents of different shapes and sizes. Next to them was a bookcase filled with literature related to her profession, on top of which rested a bust of Buddha. Seems like Lady Magdalena wanted to anger more deities.
The floor was covered in a huge, dusty, dark-blue rug decorated with green, spiky vines, the moon in the middle and coffee stains.
All over the walls there were prints of mandalas, hanging crystals, dream catchers, tarot cards, paintings of eerie sceneries from misty forests and plastic moons.
The centrepiece was her working station. In the middle of the room was the Vision Table. It was covered with a white cloth, on top of which was the Magic Orb, a glass sphere that rested on top of a wooden square-shaped support. Lady Magdalena was sitting in her red-upholstered armchair and the patrons would sit on a blue one on the opposite side.
Right next to her chair was a pedal with which Lady Magdalena would activate the smoke machine.
She was wearing a red dress, a red headband that would hold her curly black hair, a golden necklace with a rabbit foot pendant, two big, round, golden earrings, a pair of blue silk pants and black stilettos.
As she was finished for the day, Lady Magdalena took a sip from her tea mug and left the room. The rest of the house was a typical modern-style, east-european home. In contrast to her extravagant workspace, the house seemed mundane, but nonetheless, clean and well kept.
“Alex, dinner time!” she called the 17 year old.
“In a minute, mom!” came the swift response.
Magdalena went to the bathroom to freshen up and afterwards changed into an ordinary light-blue, flowered house dress. She went into the kitchen to heat up yesterday’s lasagna for her and Alex.
They have lived alone since she divorced her husband 5 years ago. He was an alcoholic that would spend his money - or better yet, her money - on gambling, cheap beer and vodka. He was more of a drinker than a father to Alex. The boy was more his mother’s wish, hence the resentment of his father. Mr. Florea had a history of abuse in his family and the chain did not break with him. Even though during Alex’s first years everything seemed to go on well, it all fell apart when the factory shut down and he lost his job.
Magdalena came from a troublesome household as well. Her father was a con artist and her mother died when she was young. She did inherit her father’s knack for scamming people out of their hard earned money, but she was an exemplary mother otherwise.
“Alex! I won’t tell you...”
“...I’m here. Stop shouting! I cannot pause an online game.”
Alex was at that age when he wanted to spend most of the time with friends, but he enjoyed eating dinner with his mom and listening to her stories. He was not ashamed of her choice of profession. Alex considered that if people were stupid enough to believe in these things, they deserved to lose some of their money. Also, a good prediction for a dignitary got him a new gaming setup.
“What did this guy want to hear, mom?” said Alex with his mouth half full of day-old lasagna.
“The usual stuff,” his mother responded. “ ‘Am I going to get rich? Should I invest in bitcoin?’ At least I told him not to buy dogecoin. Thank you, by the way, for that crash-course on cryptocurrency. More and more people are asking about that.”
“No problem, mom! But maybe dogecoin isn’t such a bad idea. I mean, Elon Musk tweeted about it.”
“How about we don’t throw my money into the fire. You study to get into medical school and leave the doges alone. How was school today?”
“Boring! Gabriela is going to have her driving exam soon and she is freaking out. All day she watches Youtube videos about driving dos and don’ts. During maths class, Mr. Ionescu took her phone because she wasn’t paying attention. It was funny, actually. He called her twice and she did not respond. Everybody went silent and turned to her, but she was so focused on some video, she did not even see Mr.Ionescu literally standing next to her. We all laughed, except Gabi.”
“Poor thing! She’s a smart girl. I’m sure she’ll do just fine.”
After they’ve finished dinner and washing the dishes, Alex went back into his room and Magdalena went on the porch to smoke.
It was starting to get dark sooner and sooner. The clock showed 6:30 PM and the lights were on.
The wind ripped the leaves from the trees making a beautiful multi-colored rug on the grass. The village children were out on the street playing and neighbours were putting the chickens in their coop for the night. Some music could be heard from a couple of houses down the street. Maybe somebody was having a get-together.
She had just sat down on the chair in her verandah and lit up her cigar when her neighbour walked outside.
“Good evening, Mrs. Popescu!” Magdalena said politely.
“Good evening!” came the cold reply. “I see another man left your house today. You are playing with fire, Magdalena. You are angering God with your meddling in great powers and one day, he might punish you.”
She found out about Magdalena’s profession when the Mystic Lady forgot to pull the blinds one evening while having a client and the prying eyes of her neighbour exposed her.
“Ah, Mrs. Popescu! You are more superstitious than me and that’s supposed to be my job. I’m just telling people what they want to hear. I’m the cheap alternative to a psychologist,” Magdalena said, waving her hand dismissively.
“You can kid yourself as much as you want, but I urge you to stop with the psychic nonsense. I’m going to pray for you Sunday at church. Goodnight!” she said as she entered the house.
Magdalena was not able to reply before the door had closed.
She went inside, watched TV for a while and went to bed. That night she had a very peculiar dream about a little girl on the street with a red balloon in her hand that was crying “Stop!” and the balloon popped.
The next day went on as usual. She had some clients yearning for good news, went grocery shopping, got pestered by Mrs. Popescu again, made dinner and went to bed. The odd thing was that she had the same dream, only this time, the girl was more vehement with her cries. She did not have a good night’s rest.
The morning after, she woke up with a headache. It was like she drank two bottles of wine by herself. She wobbled into the bathroom, washed and took a pill.
“Today I’m going to take only a few customers. I’m not feeling that well,” she said to herself.
The first client was a man who wanted to know if he should confront his boss regarding his laughable pay raise.
“You must go into his office tomorrow and demand more money! My orb says that you shall receive it!” Magdalena said.
Her second client was the mother of one of Alex’s classmates. She wanted to know if her mother was going to get better since she hadn’t been feeling too good.
“My Orb tells me that she will be ill for a few more days and afterwards will recover!”
Her last client was an elderly lady from the village who wanted to speak to her late husband.
“Mr. Cojocaru says he also misses you dearly, but you won’t be together for many more years to come. You shall live to be 100 and reunite in the afterlife soon after!”
Her headache did not go away no matter how many pills she took throughout the day. And it did not help that Alex came home with another surprise customer.
“Mom, Gabi wants your services!” Alex shouted from the hallway.
Magdalena dragged her feet from the living room couch to greet them.
“Mom, you don’t look so good!” Alex said.
“I‘ve been having a headache all day. Hello, Gabi! I’ll be with you in a minute.”
“Are you sure, Ms. Florea? I can come back another day,” Gabi said with some worry in her voice.
“No, no, dear! Go ahead and sit on the blue chair.”
The girl hung her jacket and entered the room.
“Sorry, mom! She is really scared of the exam next week. I was thinking you could calm her down a little,” Alex whispered.
“It’s ok. I’ll be quick because I need to lay down”
Lady Magdalena entered the room and sat down. She did not change into “work clothes”.
“Oh, Mystic Orb of Vision! Tell me about this girl’s exam prediction! Will she fail or will she pass?”
The orb started flickering, the smoke rose from the ground. No thunder this time.
“Yes! I see! You shall pass, my dear Gabi! You shall be a great driver! The Orb has spoken. Now go!”
She rushed the process a little because her head was throbbing.
“Oh, thank you so much! I’m so relieved,” the girl yelled. “Have a nice evening, Ms. Florea!”
And she left the room running, with a big smile on her face. But Lady Magdalena would not be having a nice evening at all.
“No! Get away from me! Don’t come any closer!”
The girl walked towards Magdalena and her tiny head rotated 360 degrees. Her eyes turned black. Her voice became demonic.
“You have been warned!” said the dark and sinister little girl.
Magdalena woke up screaming, panting and sweating. She felt like a thousand needles had penetrated her head.
“What the hell was that?”
Magdalena took the week off from “work”. She needed a break. She spent her time watching tv, strolling around the village, shopping, cleaning the house and scrolling social media. It was a rather boring holiday, but at least it made her feel better.
One day she was smoking on the verandah when a drunk man barged into her porch.
“You lied to me, you witch! I got fired because I listened to you. Seventeen years at that job and that bastard let me go because I’ve asked for more money! I’m ruined!”
She recognized him. It was the man from the day she started having the headaches. She rushed inside the house and locked the door.
Later, as the sun went down, Alex came home from school.
“How was your day,” she asked.
“Not that good. Do you remember Vlad? His grandmother passed away. He left the history class in tears and ran to the hospital. Poor guy! It’s the one who’s mother came here some days ago.”
“Yes. I remember,” said Magdalena worryingly.
She rose from the table without saying anything, took her jacket and went outside.
“How odd! I’ve had clients whose predictions failed, but with these, it happened exactly the opposite. I should check if Mrs. Cojocaru is ok.”
After a 5 minute walk in the cold autumn evening, she reached the old lady’s house. The lights were off.
“That’s strange. She is always at home.”
She approached the fence to investigate.
“Mrs. Cojocaru!” she yelled.
“She died yesterday. They took her away,” a voice came from behind.
She turned around and almost had a heart attack. Small, blonde, with a pink skirt and a red jacket stood a girl resembling the one from her dreams. In her right hand she had a red balloon.
“Th-Thank you!” Magdalena mumbled.
Magdalena stepped lightly away, constantly looking into her eyes. The little girl was expressionless and motionless.
As the Mystic Lady was walking away she looked back one more time to check on the girl. Magdalena screamed and started running as fast as she could. The little girl’s head was turned 180 degrees like an owl and her eyes went black.
Panic penetrated her heart. She trembled uncontrollably. Rivers of tears rushed down her cheeks. She ran as fast as she could, occasionally looking behind to see if the little girl was following her, but nobody was there.
“What is happening to me?” Magdalena screamed.
Thousands of thoughts rushed through her head. How many more lives were destroyed? Did this start with her headaches? How could it be that psychic powers were real? She did not believe she had a special talent, but somehow, one was given to her.
When Magdalena arrived at her house, she noticed the lights were turned off.
“Alex?” she cried.
She opened the lights to see a note on the table.
“You left your phone at home, so I couldn’t reach you. I’ve gone out with Gabi. She got her driver’s licence and wants to go for a ride in the city to celebrate. I won’t be long!”
She fell on her hands and knees, panting. A bit of sweat dripped from the tip of her nose. As much as she could at that moment, she started analysing the situation.
“I told that man to face his boss and he lost his job. Then, that woman with her ill mother who died and Mrs. Cojocaru whom I told would live 100 years and she died! Everything I say happens in reverse and in a horrible way.”
Magdalena had a look of confusion on her face.
“But I told Gabi that she would pass her exam and she did. But how? Oh, wait! I also said that she would be a good driver! That means that this part will be the opposite. Oh, no! My son!”
She rushed to her phone to call him.
One missed call from Alex.
It was ringing... and ringing.... and ringing. The wait was unbearable.
“Alex! Are you ok?” Magdalena cried.
“Madam, my name is Mr. Georgescu from the police department. Your son was in a car accident near the bridge. He was in the passenger seat of a red Volkswagen when the driver lost control of the car and crashed into an upcoming truck. I am deeply sorry, madam. There are no survivors”
Magdalena dropped the phone. She fell on the ground crying.
“I killed my son!” she whispered.
“I KILLED MY SON!” she yelled.
She banged her head with her fists and pulled out her hairs. Screeching sounds came from her mouth. A mother killing her son. No parent should bury their child.
Magdalena stood up. With great grief and without control she walked on the front porch. She raised her head and screamed at the moon and the heavens.
After a few more minutes she pulled herself together.
“I must go there!” she thought.
She went back in to take a jacket and some shoes, closed the door and ran towards the crash.
The red door to The Chamber of Mystic Vision was open. The orb was sitting on the table, the curtains were pulled, the wall decorations were in place, the Eyes of Horus watched over the room, but the icon of Jesus had fallen.