Gods, An Epidemic: Chapter 0

‘The Fool.’ Again. It was the 42nd time she’d pulled that card today. The odds of this happening were truly astronomical, and she knew it – what she didn’t know, is what was it supposed to mean? What, indeed, was she supposed to do about it? There in-lies the hair-pulling, brow-furrowing, nail-chewing frustration that Tarot cards can sometimes excite in a person… sure, they are quite insightful on all sorts of occasions – so long as you don’t need a terribly specific answer. Getting guidance from Tarot is like asking a blind tourist for directions to a place you don’t know the name of, nor it’s address, nor why you’re even trying to get there and instead, end up having a nice conversation about the weather.


She was a fairly clever girl, as girls go, but only in the sense that she could figure things out in really creative and interesting ways – and so long as it had nothing to do with figuring herself out, that is. When it came to that, she was the blind tourist in a foreign land.


But Eve was a very good listener. Luckily, people actually paid money for such a service, under the guise of Tarot card and palm reading – this being her latest occupation. Eve’s resume looked like the index from a career assessment test. Well, if she’d ever bothered to type one up, it would. Her parents had always told her that she could be and do anything she wanted, so she did…anything and everything. A veritable Renaissance Woman, she could wield a power tool and darn a sock, develop a database and design furniture, she could bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan. What she couldn’t do was stay committed to any one of these paths. As soon as she’d achieved some semblance of success at a new skill, she’d get bored and move on to the next. Unfortunately she was getting bored with getting bored and wished she knew what the hell she was meant to do – what was the one thing the world could actually benefit from her existence in it? And if there wasn’t that one thing, then what was the point? She tried not to think about it most days, but there was forever that tickling anxious feeling at the back of her soul telling her there was something more to life, she just had to look for it harder.


Eve put The Fool back in the deck and wrapped it in black silk (which was supposed to protect the cards from psychic vibes, or something – she didn’t know, it’s just what the book had said to do) and put them away. The light had grown dim in her small living room; the lights from the old-fashioned gas lamps in the garden outside flickering and making the statues of children in the hedge maze loom eerily. The breeze coming through the window was getting chilly, Eve went to close it and glanced over at the mansion in whose garden the house she rented was located. Johnny Armstrong, owner of said mansion, was on tour again – his absence obvious by the lack of music, which usually streamed from the back parlor windows. As Eve closed, locked and curtained the window – the phone rang. Caller ID said it was Armstrong, Johnny Lee. Speak of the devil…


“Hello my pet, I was just thinking about you.” She always called him that, her pet – since they were roomies back at UCLA years ago. That is technically they were roomies, but more often than not Johnny spent the night on the beach crashed after a full day of surfin’ and partyin’.


“Hey, gorgeous!” He always called her that, gorgeous – he did think she was gorgeous. And just him saying it made it true, since it caused her to glow on impact.


“Good, good. Can’t complain. How’s the tour?”


“Fantastic, next stop Greece. It’s gonna be an epic show, you should be there – I’ll send the jet if you want.”


“Oh Johnny, don’t do that to me! You know I’d love to…ugh…but I can’t, I’ve got appointments all week.”


“Hmmm, gotta do your psychic duty? I can respect that. No worries, just thought I’d ask.”


“Thanks again, uh - next time give me a little warning, huh?”


“Sorry, will do, darlin’. Did your bee problem get resolved? You still under siege?”


Over the last month or so, the bees had taken over the garden and had started showing up in Eve’s hallway bathroom… in the oddest way too – they stumbled about as though drunk, though more often than not they were immobile and dead.


“Funny you should ask, it seems to be getting worse. I found seven in the bath this morning, and a few stumbling towards the front door as well. It’s really weird.”


“You want me to get an exterminator?”


“No… they’re just bees. Besides, I think I read somewhere that killing a bee is bad luck, cause they’re heaven sent or something like that. I don’t want any enemies up there, if you know what I mean.”


“Yeah, I hear ya... Hey, I gotta run… let me know if you change your mind though. Ciao bella.”


“Will do, break a leg.” She hung up, cursing that Johnny never thought to plan ahead; and that she hadn’t said ‘Yes! I’ll pack my bags!!’ But then his child-like conception of Time and ensuing complete inability to make plans, lead to a streaming life of spontaneous combustion which is what made him so lovable in the first place, so she decided it was useless to get annoyed by something you loved.


“Beep”, her calendar popped up a reminder ‘6:30 Appointment w/ Nancy.’


Crap, she’d forgotten about making that appointment – and Nancy rarely showed up on time for her weekly therapy, ahem – I mean, tarot session. She was always early.


Today was no different, the doorbell rang, Eve quickly put on her happy face, and headed for the door – letting in Nancy, closely followed by her not-yet-school-aged boy, Sam, who was carrying a conch shell bigger than his head.


“Hey Sammy,” she said in a hyper-happy voice, mimicking the way people on little kid shows always talked, “uh, cool shell you got there.”


Sammy half-smiled and held out the shell for Eve.


“Yer supposed to blow it and you can hear the ocean too.”


“Wow… um, okay,” Eve replied as she imagined the slobber from Sammy’s previous blows still residing in the pink and white folds of the shell’s tip. She surreptitiously wiped at it with the end of her t-shirt, turning her back towards him as she led them into the living room. Lifting the shell to her mouth she hoped the munchkin didn’t have a cold, glanced at his nose to check the snot factor (coast was clear) and taking a deep breath,


          …she was sitting on a marble stone, the ground was filled with puffy white

          clouds, a voice on her right was as deep as thunder “Call them hither.”

          And reaching for the shell, she caught sight of a golden eagle with ruby

          eyes, she drew in the fragrant air and…


blew.


“aaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm” the sound was quintessentially deep, it vibrated through her body right down to her strands of dna…


          …and she could see the sound as it surged from the shell, seeking out the

          ones it beckoned, and soon she heard the stomping of hoofs, the turning

          of wheels and the fluttering of wings, as all came forth to bow before…


Sam and Nancy stumbled back, open-mouthed, eyes cringing and hands over their ears… Sammy began to cry as Nancy grabbed the shell from Eve’s hands.


“Wow, sorry – guess I don’t know my own strength,” she said weakly, “I bet they heard it all the way to the coast!”


And further, much, much further.




Lantz was going over the dna reports when he heard, or more precisely, felt it… and it had been more than two millennia since the last time. The sound came from inside him, emanating from his depths, somewhat like that volcanic burrito did yesterday – only this had ethereal, not digestive, origins.


He found himself moving up and out of his seat without actually instructing his body to do so. And he kept moving in this manner, not as his own master, but as a slave to that sound – it called to him. He grabbed his keys, walked out of his office, managing a quick “I’ll be back, uh… soon?” to his secretary before heading to the nearest exit.


He got to his car, the sound now an echoing pulse in his breast. He drove. An hour later he’d arrived at a 1930’s Carriage house behind a mansion, in front of it was a hand-painted sign:


Tarot & Palm Readings by Eve

No appointment necessary


He parked and with not a little amount of curiosity, went to find the one who had summoned him.




Nancy abruptly recalled another appointment she had to get to, and cutting her reading short, well - before it had even begun, departed with the still sobbing child-in-tow.


With this newly found free time on her hands, Eve drew a bath. An hour later, she was pruney, but not relaxed. That vision in the clouds, the sound from that shell – she couldn’t shake it. She’d had visions like this since her childhood, and though they were becoming more frequent, they grew no more enlightening. As she ruminated and toweled herself off, the doorbell rang.


Still damp and swathed in a towel, she opened the door. Standing before her at roughly six feet was a man with glowing olive-toned skin, long dark hair, smiling dark brown eyes, cheekbones that hinted of Native American descent and what was obviously an athletic body garbed in a tailored black shirt and James-Bond looking (of the Sean Connery sort) narrow-legged pants, his perfectly shaped mouth opening to release his deep and melodic voice “Hi, are you Eve?”


Suddenly short of breath, Eve found herself heading back to her bedroom and putting on clothes before she returned to complete consciousness. What she had wanted to do, but her sub-conscious had prevented, was to have thrown off that towel and ravaged the mysterious man right there on the doorstep – an odd feeling because now she wasn’t near him, it was like someone else had felt it. Taking a breath and a quick glance in the mirror, mentally slapping herself, Eve strolled as casually as she could back to the man, in the doorway. As she approached him, her x-rated thoughts began to invade again. With a supreme force of will, she shoved the intruding thoughts under the proverbial rug and stomped down on them. Hard.


“Hi, sorry about that… I’m Eve,” she said holding out her hand.


“Lantz, Aston Lantz.”


They shook hands.


She was going to need a heavier rug. Titanium should do. thunk! The sound of her renegade thoughts being squished was kind of pathetic and sad.


“Are you here for a reading?”


“I suppose I am.”


“Cards or palm?” please say cards, please say cards, please say…


“Cards?”


“Great!” at least she wouldn’t have to touch him again…


She started going through her ritual, finding comfort in the habits she’d formed which required no thought… dim the lights, no – don’t dim the lights, light the candles and incense, wipe the table, wash her hands and get the black silk-wrapped deck of Tarot cards from the hand-carved mahogany box. She then brought two goblet glasses full of iced tea from the kitchen, ice tinkling inside and set them at the end of the table, carefully away from where the cards would be placed. Sitting down, she took a breath with her eyes closed, exhaling - her shoulders distinctly dropping an inch, her face less taught… opening her eyes, she unfolded the silk from the cards, spreading them out with both of her hands across the width of the table top. As she mixed the cards around and began to gather them together again, she asked, “Do you have a specific question, or would you like a general reading?”


“General sounds good.” He replied as he followed her lead, somewhat hesitatingly settling in the chair opposite her.


She gave the deck to him and instructed him to think of his current situation as he shuffled the cards. Then she asked him to cut the pack with his left hand into three piles, placing each face down; then to put the piles together again before handing them back to her.


“We’ll start simple, the three-card Jungian spread.”


As she laid the first card facedown, Eve explained, “This is the Animus, the father figure – telling you what you should do and how you should be.”


Upon laying the second card, also facedown, she said, “This is the Anima, or mother-figure – it reminds you of your responsibilities towards others and yourself.”


She placed the last card facedown,  “This is the Child, it represents your true nature.”


At this point, Eve turned over the first card, The Lovers – a couple stands under cupid who is pointing an arrow at them.


Eve glanced at Lantz, then back at the card. “Interesting.” She shifted in her seat, uncrossing and crossing her legs. Letting her libido influence a reading wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of professionalism Eve typically attempted to achieve. “The Lovers is number 6 of the 22 major arcana cards, as a whole they show the major themes and events in our lives and carry more weight than the other 56 minor cards.” Eve sipped her tea before continuing, “This card, other than obviously symbolizing love, is also about relationships and choices; sexuality; the coming together of the masculine and feminine. As your Animus card, it seems you should be and act as a Lover – listening to your heart more than your head.”


She cleared her throat and sipped more tea as she turned over the second card. The Lovers! She spat her tea all over the table.


“What the…”


They both looked at the identical cards, lying there, side by side – as if daring them to declare themselves real.


Lantz was the first to break the stunned silence, “Is that unusual?”


Eve chuckled uncomfortably, “Uh…yeah.” She went to the kitchen and returned with some paper towels. She gently patted the table and cards dry, all the while her brow furrowed. She sat down again, staring at the delinquent cards. She picked up the first two, examined the patterns on the backs of them, “There’s no such thing as duplicates in a Tarot deck. I only have one deck like this, and these patterns on the backs match…but this can’t be, I’ve used these cards hundreds, thousands of times, I know them intimately. Weird. Maybe I’ve always had this duplicate and just never noticed? I mean I guess it had to happen to someone at some point...”


Setting the cards down, she smoothed out the folds of her skirt, peered suspiciously at the third and final card still lying tauntingly face-down, crossed her legs at the ankles, sat up straight, took in a deep breath and holding it in, reached for the third card… at this point Eve swooned a bit… The Lovers, again.


“Okay, I’m going mad. Utterly, thoroughly and completely mad.” She hadn’t let go of the card yet, just sat there, staring at it as her entire body deflated, laying her head in her left hand as though it were too heavy to be supported by her neck alone.


“Huh.” Lantz said with a smile, “You alright?”


Eve responded with a non-committal moan.


“Mind if I use your bathroom?”


She waved toward the bathroom, without taking her eyes from the cards.


“Thanks.”


Lantz headed to the bathroom, closed the door and picked up the hairbrush on the counter and a tissue. He took a few of the hairs and wrapped them up, flushed the toilet and ran the water in the sink. Looking in the mirror, he whispered to himself, “Good job, dumbass. Now she thinks she’s nuts.”


Lantz came back to Eve, who hadn’t moved, and possibly didn’t even realize he was still there.


“So, what do I owe you?”


This seemed to get her attention a bit, she looked up – visibly taking a moment to remember who was talking to her and why… “Oh,” she chuckled, “this one’s on me. Can’t very well charge you for a messed-up reading like that.”


Lantz smiled.


“How do you do that?” Eve asked.


“What?” Lantz stopped smiling, his eyes flicked to the cards and back to Eve.


“Nothing. You have a very nice smile, that’s all.” She smiled sheepishly back.


Lantz smiled again, and his eyes twinkled. He reached his hand out to her, “Well, thanks anyway.” She shook his hand as he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.


Lantz headed for the door, Eve didn’t. She just sat there. Immobilized.


He reached in his pocket and laid something down on the entryway table and without looking back, he left.


The moisture from his kiss had time to evaporate from Eve’s cheek before she moved another muscle (besides the one that was pumping blood furiously through her veins.)


If she had been only slightly more alert, Eve might have noticed the teenage girl, dressed in all black with a mass of multi-colored dreds and braids all over her head, mulling around her front yard with a rather confused look on her face; or the elderly gentleman with a similar visage who had previously shooed away the scruffy mutt that was currently getting unsolicited attention from the girl -- she’d mistaken the canines advances as supplication for a scratch behind the ears, when he was just trying to figure out why he was there and where that sound had come from; and if Eve had been really astute, she might have caught a glimpse of the worm that also had an air of confusion about it as it wiggled around aimlessly within a ten foot radius of the front door of her house. But Eve was neither alert nor astute at that moment and the unknown guests eventually left of their own accord; except for the worm, who had found a nice rotting apple to lunch upon and simply had no place else it wanted to be.




God had just been in the middle of morning praises to herself by her angels, when she heard the sound. It was faint and muffled but unmistakable – like hearing someone in the flat above playing a small horn – “Silence!” She listened, yes – she could just make it out, and it wasn’t music to her ears. Only an immortal could make that kind of sound. On a scale of A to G, this was π. Not merely a fluctuation of audio waves, it carried with it an implicit order, “Come” it said, “you are beaconed.” And not just any immortal was endowed with the power of calling the gods, Zeus had granted that gift to only one… one whose immortal soul was supposed to be currently imprisoned – she was supposed to be mortal now, incapable of immortal feats.


This was bad. This meant God was going to have to speed up her plans; work, work, work – that’s all she ever does, was she to have no rest?


“Get me my horse.” She said to no one in particular. “The pale one.”


She would find this trumpet blower. She would find them and silence them. Can’t have gods, even ones stripped of their powers, congregating together and figuring out how to get their powers back. That just wouldn’t do.


{continued...}

by, tracy yarkoni odell

{warning:  contains strong language and adult themes,

if you're not an adult or don't have one's permission, go read somewhere else}

“The Fool is the spirit in search of experience. He represents the mystical cleverness bereft of reason within us, the childlike ability to tune into the inner workings of the world. The sun shining behind him represents the divine nature of the Fool's wisdom. On his back are all the possessions he might need. In his hand there is a flower, showing his appreciation of beauty. He is frequently accompanied by a dog, sometimes seen as his animal desires, sometimes as the call of the "real world", nipping at his heels and distracting him. He is seemingly unconcerned that he is about to walk off the edge of a cliff, engaged in the supremest act of idiocy or trust.


The number 0 is a perfect significator for the Fool, which can become anything when he reaches his destination. Zero plus anything equals the same thing. Zero times anything equals zero.[1]… The Fool is the period, the pregnant pause.” {wikipedia}

Chapter 0