As it is lasting, so be deep!
Soft may the worms about her creep!
Far in the forest, dim and old,
For her may some tall vault unfold-
Some vault that oft has flung its black
And winged panels fluttering back,
Triumphant, o'er the crested palls,
Of her grand family funerals-
Some sepulchre, remote, alone,
Against whose portal she hath thrown,
In childhood, many an idle stone-
Some tomb from out whose sounding door
She ne'er shall force an echo more,
Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!
It was the dead who groaned within
~ The Sleeper by Edgar Allan Poe
Behold! We said to the angels, "Bow down to Adam": They bowed down except Iblis. He was one of the Jinns, and he broke the Command of his Lord.
~ Quran 18:50
And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven
~ Luke 10:18 (King James)
|Death in the Dark (by anarkyman deviantart.com)|
A Word To The Wise
Highgate, North London
Atticus Baxter could remember the exact moment in time that he stopped believing in the existence of God.
He was thirteen years of age and he was sitting beside his mother in a hospital waiting room at world famous The Wellington Hospital in St John's Wood, London.
His father lay dying on a hospital operating table as several nurses and a highly esteemed Iranian doctor fought to save him.
In spite of every attempt by The Cardiac Services Unit, Sir Roland Baxter was pronounced dead at precisely 8.09 pm.
Dr Amir Nazari gently broke the news to the shattered woman and her teenage son.
Melissa Baxter was overcome with emotion.
She was struggling to process the words the level headed doctor had just told her.
"He can't be gone!" She screamed in anguish "It can't be true!"
"I am afraid so" Dr Nazari replied.
"He was only forty-four!" Melissa Baxter protested as a nurse put her arm around her.
The distraught woman promptly broke into harsh uncontrollable sobs.
Atticus Baxter decided there and then that God did not exist.
It was highly improbable.
If God had existed then surely He would have prevented this tragedy from occurring?
Sir Roland Baxter had left a wife and son behind in the prime of his life.
He had been a sturdy man with a mop of red hair, grey-green eyes and a commanding presence.
A fitness fanatic and health conscious man.
Gone at forty-four.
And as the precocious teenager watched a nurse comforting his devastated mother, he concluded that life must be a game of chance and that only two things were certain - you were born and you would die.
This sentiment carried the boy through the trying weeks ahead as Sir Roland Baxter was finally laid to rest in Highgate Cemetery and he and his mother continued on without him.
The Hampstead mansion seemed large and empty without the patriarch of the family in it.
Melissa Baxter subsequently returned to public life as a secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister.
Her husband had left behind a laudable legacy as a Labour MP.
Sir Roland Baxter had been a man of principle and integrity who was respected by many.
And his son would forever strive to emulate him.
As if he could make him come back.
Now the sombre little boy was expected to follow in his father's footsteps.
And nobody could have doubted his aptitude and early promise.
Atticus Baxter quietly placed the flowers at his father's gravestone.
It was still hard to believe he was gone.
Melissa Baxter took her son's little hand in hers.
"Come on son" she said "let's go home"
Twenty-Three Years Later
Atticus Baxter must have lost track of time.
He wasn't sure how long he had been gazing fondly at his sleeping wife.
But if he could have frozen that moment - he would.
Noa Baxter was deep in slumber and there was a sweet expression on her face.
Atticus Baxter kissed her lightly on the cheek and slipped quietly out of the bedroom.
Then he paused at the partially open door to his three year old's bedroom.
Jazmin Baxter was fast asleep.
She was like a little kitten.
Jazmin was clinging to her favourite little teddy bear.
Atticus Baxter smiled to himself.
The little girl resembled her mother; with her olive skin, hazel eyes and glossy black hair.
He had forgotten himself.
Atticus quickly checked his watch.
"Blast!" He hissed.
Time waited for no man.
And he could almost hear the clamour of his constituents.
Atticus Baxter was Labour MP for Homerton in East London and as he swept out of his elegant Highgate town house, he felt a ripple of anticipation.
He felt ready to take on the world.
The momentum continued even when he was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic thirty minutes later.
Baxter fiddled with the radio dial in his car.
An outburst of Ella Fitzgerald gave way to a serious commenter and then to an impassioned preacher.
"Jesus is the way, the truth and the life!"
Atticus Baxter swore under his breath.
There was no place for religion in his life.
Baxter contented himself with science and "reason".
Although a recent pole revealed that many of his constituents counted themselves as having some kind of faith or religious belief - the Labour MP did not count himself as one of them.
Atticus Baxter presented a diplomatic front to the world and was just as happy to be seen visiting a church, mosque or temple.
He was just as happy to visit a Christian, Muslim or Jewish family in their home.
So long as religion was kept at arms length.
Baxter was attentive to the needs of his constituents and was tireless in his campaigning; speaking at numerous human rights rallies and appearing on countless political TV and radio shows.
Atticus Baxter was tall and slim, with tawny hair and deep green eyes.
He was athletic and boyishly good looking.
Baxter was photogenic enough to grace non-political magazines.
But he was fiercely protective of his private life, and rarely talked about his Spanish wife and their daughter.
Noa Avana was already a successful model when she met Atticus Baxter at a charity event in Madrid.
He was uncharacteristically shy with her and she found it very endearing.
Love blossomed and Noa quickly moved to London with Atticus.
She set up her own successful modelling agency and became a spokesperson for Mon Précieux cosmetics.
Noa Baxter conveyed effortless glamour and the paparazzi went into a frenzy every time she appeared on her husband's arm at social events.
She had breathed life into the staid world of politics.
The dark, silky raven haired beauty had large hazel eyes and a winsome smile that lit up her face.
She was tall and willowy and had a natural charm that made her instantly memorable where ever she was.
Life was never dull with his passionate Spanish wife and his affecting little daughter.
Atticus Baxter called his PA to inform her he would be late and he visibly relaxed.
The traffic subsided and the sound of Michael Hutchence and INXS filled his car.
Baxter was still singing the words to Need You Tonight as he pulled up outside his office in Homerton.
He was expecting a fruitful day.
Atticus Baxter was in good spirits until he noticed a small group of people standing outside the office.
This was the third day they were there and they appeared to be multiplying like ants.
It was a motley crew of men and women from all walks of life.
And one of them - a distinguished looking older man in a grey suit - appeared to be holding court and addressing the passers-by.
Occasionally a curious person would stop and listen to the man before eventually moving on.
"Prayer changes lives for the better!" He declared "Prayer is honest communication with God!"
Atticus Baxter paused before climbing out of his car.
Much to his chagrin, he recognised somebody from the previous day.
She was an older woman with a comely face, blue-green eyes and abundant auburn hair.
There was something very maternal about the small and well dressed woman and she had a charming smile.
Atticus Baxter wearily surveyed the scene.
"Bible thumpers!" He hissed under his breath before getting out of his car.
Baxter locked his car and as he turned he was suddenly confronted by the older woman he had noticed from the day before.
She was affecting that disarming smile and her blue-green eyes were very bright.
There was a calmness about her that unnerved him.
"Good morning Mr Baxter!" She said "Did you know Jesus saves?"
The woman spoke with a soft Irish lilt and the MP quickly deduced that she must originally hail from Dublin or thereabouts.
"Will he save my constituents?" Baxter replied sarcastically "Will he help pay their bills?"
"Jesus helps everyone!" The woman assured him.
Baxter could feel anger rising up within him.
"Including all the Jews and Muslims as well?" He shot back "And all the gay people?"
"Jesus loves us all!" Barbara Cleary replied knowingly.
Her response had unnerved him.
Atticus Baxter was a self-avowed atheist with no time for archaic superstitions and fairy stories about an invisible deity.
And he was already late for a meeting.
Baxter was in no mood for debate.
The infuriating woman was still standing there staring into his eyes.
"Is there something you want to tell me, because I'm very late!" He demanded.
There was a lot more annoyance in his voice then he intended.
"It can wait!" The woman answered him knowingly.
She was still affecting that curious smile.
"My name is Barbara!" The woman added "Barbara Cleary!"
"Well, hello Barbara!" Atticus Baxter responded "You know who I am! I bid you good day!"
"Have a good day Mr Baxter!" Cleary cried.
She was still smiling as the Labour MP swept into the imposing building.
There was something about Barbara Cleary that gotten under Atticus Baxter's skin.
By the time the MP left his office in the early evening, the group of evangelists had long dispersed and it was already getting dark.
But the older woman's twinkling blue-green eyes and knowing smile had etched itself into his brain.
The following day, Atticus Baxter noticed that the group outside his office appeared to have grown overnight.
|London (by valentina85 deviantart.com)|
"We cannot escape the conviction of Spirit!" He exclaimed "We cannot run away from the voice of Spirit within us!"
Atticus Baxter took a deep breath.
He felt much more prepared today and he was ready to take to task anyone who attempted to influence him.
Barbara Cleary suddenly appeared before the weary MP.
She was wearing a green tweed jacket, pale yellow sweater and grey pencil skirt.
"I have been praying for you!" She informed Atticus Baxter in her soft bur.
The Labour MP was almost relishing the exchange this dreary winter morning.
"I've always thought that it was action that made a real difference to people!" Baxter replied crisply.
"No action can compare to what Spirit can do through us!" Barbara Cleary informed him earnestly.
Suddenly all of Atticus Baxter's resistance melted away.
"If we allow Him!" She added knowingly.
Baxter had been prepared to decimate Cleary's argument with a well thought out diatribe.
He had been prepared to inform her that science had more or less proved everything that mankind needed to know.
And he was prepared to reel off a litany of reasons for why God did not exist and why humans needed to invent an imaginary deity to explain the inexplicable.
But suddenly Atticus Baxter found that he was unable to open his mouth.
Barbara Cleary was smiling warmly at him and looking directly into his eyes.
And the usually unruffled Labour MP was utterly perplexed.
"Well, I can't ... stand around chatting!" Baxter finally stammered "I have constituents to consider!"
Just as he was about to brush past her, the older woman put a small leaflet into his hand.
The gesture was so gentle that Atticus Baxter hardly noticed it.
He grimaced when he realised what he was holding.
But Atticus Baxter did not want appear ungrateful and he was aware that others were watching him.
Suddenly the Labour MP did not want to offend the homely Irish woman.
"Good day to you!" He managed.
Barbara Cleary nodded.
Ordinarily he would have tossed the leaflet immediately in the bin but he quietly accepted it.
Something about the curious Barbara Cleary had touched him.
And he pondered this as he sat alone in his modern office.
Maybe he was remembering his own mother in the softly spoken Irish woman.
Melissa Baxter had died three years previously after a short battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
"Displacement!" Atticus Baxter pronounced as he looked out the window at the grey sky.
The end had come quickly for his mother and he had always felt guilty that he could not have been at her side.
He was at a political conference in Canada at the time and his wife had broken the news over the phone.
Melissa Baxter had died in the same hospital as his father.
And as the Labour MP remembered his parents - he struggled to fight back the tears.
His father had cast a shadow over his life.
And Atticus Baxter had striven to emulate the man he had barely known.
But his mother's early death had been a terrible blow to him.
In the years immediately following his father's demise - Atticus had grown incredibly close to her.
They became inseparable.
And Atticus later chose a wife who resembled his mother both in character and in spirit.
Melissa Baxter's untimely death had torn her son apart.
And he had not yet fully traversed all the seasons of his grief.
That night Atticus Baxter slept fitfully.
He had a dark dream in which he was being chased through a wood.
Baxter could not see his foe and his heart was beating loudly and he was breathing heavily.
Whatever it was - it was gaining on him.
Suddenly Atticus jerked out of his sleep.
He looked at the clock.
It was 3 am.
Noa Baxter was sleeping beside him in the big antique bed.
He kissed her on the cheek and rose quietly so as not to disturb her.
Atticus walked out into the swish kitchen and poured himself a glass of filtered water.
That was when he noticed the leaflet on the large oak table.
He must have left it lying around and forgotten about it
Noa must have found it and read it.
Then he realised with creeping horror that perhaps his little daughter had seen it too.
He did not want his only child to become brainwashed at so early an age.
That was how they hooked them in.
"Bloody God squad!" Atticus Baxter growled.
But as he picked up the leaflet to throw it into the bin - a small note suddenly fluttered out.
Atticus retrieved it from the floor.
The note was written in an elegant hand.
Please read this with an open mind
Atticus Baxter paused.
The image of Barbara Cleary and his mother had merged together in his mind.
And although he felt a huge resistance to the leaflet he sat down at the table and began reluctantly reading it.
There is a God shaped hole in all of us that can only be filled by Him
Baxter grimaced but continued reading.
His resistance was beginning to soften.
It was 7am when Atticus Baxter eventually awoke with a start.
He had fallen asleep at the oak kitchen table.
Baxter yawned and stretched.
Then he noticed the leaflet.
"Good morning handsome!" Noa Baxter greeted him.
She was wearing a white Muji kimono and her raven hair was tied up.
Noa kissed her husband on the mouth and set about making some fresh coffee.
"I liked that leaflet!" She informed him breezily.
"Do we believe in Santa Clause too?" Atticus Baxter answered caustically.
One of the many reasons why Noa found her husband so attractive was because of his fighting spirit and the fact he cared so much about other people.
"Isn't there room for reasonable doubt? She proffered.
Noa knew Atticus was virulently anti-religion and that it did not fit in with his socio-politics or his world view.
Conversely, she had been bought up in a Catholic family and she always carried a string of rosary beads in her handbag for comfort.
"I don't regard a belief in God as reasonable or rational!" Atticus Baxter retorted "Its an archaic superstition that subjugates and controls countless people all over the world!"
"Especially women, right?" Noa interjected with a half smile.
"God or whatever you want to call it, is just a fantasy!" Baxter rumbled "It has no more credence than a Brother's Grimm fairy tale!"
"But what is the purpose of life?" His wife pressed him.
Atticus Baxter groaned.
"The purpose of life is to enjoy it while it lasts!" He exclaimed.
Noa passed her husband his coffee.
"Science has proved everything we need to know!" Baxter added.
"What is God?" A little voice suddenly asked.
Atticus and Noa Baxter turned to see little Jazmin standing in the doorway to the kitchen.
She was clutching her favourite teddy bear and there was a confused expression on her face.
Baxter leapt out of his chair and gathered up his daughter in his arms.
"Enough of this talk!" He announced sternly "Let's get you back into bed!"
Noa Baxter smiled.
As the Labour firebrand tucked his daughter into her bed he silently concluded that Barbara Cleary would have a lot to answer for come Monday morning.
But he could not hide the fact that he was troubled.
During dinner with a couple of friends at the Hibiscus restaurant in Mayfair - Atticus Baxter seemed preoccupied and distant.
He was unable to focus on any of the conversations.
Noa put her hand gently onto his.
"Se siente bien?" She asked him quietly.
Atticus smiled back.
Noa always spoke in Spanish when she had something meaningful to impart.
She was looking particularly delectable tonight in a red off-the-shoulder evening gown by Donna Karan.
"I'll be all right" Atticus answered.
Dominic and Clementina Parsons were the Baxter's oldest friends.
And Atticus had attended Eton with Dominic.
It was Clementina who eventually approached Noa in the rest room to discreetly ascertain what was up with her husband.
"He's still grieving for his mother" Noa replied quietly.
"Poor Atticus!" Clementina responded "If there's anything I can do - just ask!"
"Thanks" Noa smiled "Te lo agradezco! We'll get through it together!"
"Dom and I are here for you both!" Clementina assured her.
That night Atticus Baxter poured himself a glass of Merlot red wine and slumped into a chair.
"Want to talk about it?" Noa gently asked him.
She hated seeming him so conflicted.
Noa knew her husband hated talking about his innermost feelings but she wanted to at least try.
"I don't think it will help" Atticus replied sullenly.
"That pamphlet has really unnerved you, hasn't it?" Noa cried.
"It will take more than a bunch of God botherers to trouble me!" Baxter retorted with a half smile.
But Noa knew he was just brushing over the truth.
"Te amo!" She informed him earnestly.
And Atticus smiled sadly at her.
Noa and his daughter were his world.
Monday arrived with a another grey and rainy day.
The conflicted Labour MP had been rehearsing his speech to Barbara Cleary all weekend.
But as he pulled up outside his office and noticed the ever expanding rabble - the combative attitude suddenly deserted him.
All weekend he had been plagued by images of his mother morphing into the face of Barbara Cleary.
For some reason, the quietly spoken Irish woman had started to incarnate Melissa Baxter.
Atticus had put it all down to stress.
But the words in the pamphlet had also been weighing heavily on his mind.
And suddenly Atticus Baxter felt unreasoning rage at a deity he did not believe in.
Barbara Cleary was standing a little way off from the group.
She was wearing a beige woollen coat and there was a jaunty green felt hat atop her head.
Cleary seemed genuinely pleased to see the beleaguered MP.
Once again, all Baxter's resistance melted at her warmth.
"So, you read the pamphlet!" Barbara cried.
"That pamphlet has really messed with my head!" Atticus answered her sharply.
"Good" Cleary smiled.
If she hadn't been so earnest, Baxter would probably have laughed.
He was being held hostage by a bunch of Bible bashers.
"I feel terrible!" Atticus conceded.
It was quite a revelation for the buttoned up Labour MP to be so candid.
"You're being convicted!" Cleary informed "Spirit has you!"
Atticus wanted to protest but all the fight had gone out of him.
The ground seemed to be heaving beneath him and his head was spinning.
All he could see was Barbara Cleary.
She was still affecting that disarming smile.
Suddenly Baxter's phone went off.
Precipitously he answered it.
Noa began talking quickly in a distressed voice.
"Atticus ... oh, dios mío ... it's Jazmin ... we ... Clem and I were taking her to the park ... she just ran out into the road ... we didn't see the car and there was no time ... she is in hospital ...we took her to Highgate Private Hospital ... hurry ... por favor dios nos ayude ..."
The line went dead.
All Atticus Baxter could hear now was the thumping of his own heart in his ears.
His brain had flat lined.
Suddenly the world seemed to be spinning around him.
"My daughter ... she's ... she's had an accident!" Roland Baxter stammered "I need to ... I need to go to her!"
He was visibly overcome with emotion.
Barbara Cleary was looking at him with large concerned eyes.
And suddenly he knew what he had to do.
"I want you to come with me!" Baxter added "Please ..."
The woman nodded.
It took almost an hour to get to Highgate Private Hospital.
Noa Baxter was waiting anxiously beside Clementina Parsons outside the children's ward.
She leapt out of her chair at the sight of her husband.
"Thank God, you're here!" Noa cried as she flung her arms around him.
"The doctors are doing everything they can!" Clementina informed Atticus Baxter.
Silent tears were falling down Baxter's face.
"It's all my fault!" Noa wailed "If only we'd stayed at home like we planned! I should have kept my eye on her!"
"You mustn't torture yourself" Barbara Cleary gently informed her.
Noa, Atticus and Clementina slowly turned to the older Irish woman.
They had forgotten she was there.
"God moves in mysterious ways, eh?" Atticus Baxter addressed her.
But there was no longer any sarcasm in his voice.
It was broken with emotion.
Barbara Cleary silently nodded.
In a peculiar way - everything suddenly began to make sense.
Everything began to fit into place.
Atticus Baxter was no longer looking at Barbara Cleary.
He was looking at his mother.
All time seemed to have converged into this one moment.
And Atticus Baxter was a little thirteen year old boy again.
He looked at Barbara Cleary with big tragic eyes.
As if he were looking at Melissa Baxter on the day his father died.
"Please pray for my daughter!" Atticus Baxter cried "Please pray ... for me ... please!"
His mother smiled back at him.
The Fortune Teller
Guizin the fortune teller operated from a small shrouded room at the back of a carpet shop at the Grand Bazaar in the walled city of Istanbul.
She was a well known face in the bustling city and was regarded by many as a "wise woman".
|ISTANBUL (by HuseyinKaRa deviantart.com)|
Guizin Yilmaz originally hailed from Goreme in Capadoccia.
She was an older woman of indeterminable age who had been widowed many years.
Guizin had a swarthy, weather beaten face and small brown eyes.
She was short, birdlike and inscrutable.
Her long coarse hair had long since gone white and she always covered her head with a red paisley headscarf.
Guizin Yilmaz was a mystery.
Many of those who had known her in her former days were dead.
Apart from her long suffering brother Hassan.
He owned the carpet shop from which Guizin operated and she lived with him in his house on the outskirts of Istanbul.
His wife had long since died and his only son lived with his family in London.
Hassan Ozan believed that he knew all his sister's secrets.
But beneath the veil lay a wily and deceptive woman.
To call her a "charlatan" would be too harsh a word.
Guizin Yilmaz was a consummate actress.
She was an aficionado of the pretend.
Her performance was always very dramatic and those who witnessed it were immediately convinced.
Guizin affected a trance as she held her client's hands and the knowledge she imparted and her pronouncements were pretentiously meaningful and ethereal.
She cleverly played on her clients weaknesses and always told them what they wanted to hear.
Guizin Yilmaz simply made it up as she went along.
After all - nobody would question an ancient woman.
She had certainly managed to fool her own brother.
He honestly believed her story about a religious experience at the Zal Mahmud Pasha Mosque where she discovered that she had psychic powers.
Guizin spoke compellingly about the moment she received her divine gift during prayers.
And Hassan Ozan swallowed it all.
In spite of the fact that his sister was not noted for her piety.
She told him that the angel Mikail had appeared to her in a dream and informed her that Allah had chosen her to heal the forsaken with her new gift.
And Hassan gladly complied to his sister's demands and gladly gave her his workplace to operate from.
At the back of his carpet shop, a heavy red velvet curtain opened to reveal a small shrouded room which was sparsely furnished.
An ornate golden table and three elegant chairs were the centre piece to the room and there were large silk floor cushions scattered around it.
Incense wafted from a large brass burner beside the table and the oriental decor was completed by striking Turkish hangings and a large gold Buddha.
There were candles everywhere.
Guizin always conducted her business at the table.
A silver plate had been suggestively placed upon it for people to leave their offerings.
The fortune teller expected her clients to comply to her unspoken rule.
She always had her eye on the money and her ear was attentive to the chink of coins dropping like blessings into the plate.
Hassan Ozan did not interfere with his sister's affairs.
She was good for business.
Whoever came to see Guizin, always passed through his shop and invariably paused to look at his magnificent carpets and Kilim rugs.
And Hassan did not dig too deep into her past.
Once upon a time, Guizin Yilmaz had been a prolific pick pocket and petty criminal who preyed on the gullible tourists who visited Turkey.
Back then, she was just little Guizin Ozan.
She was very nifty and able to steal a wallet or purse without anyone noticing.
Her sleight of hand soon became notorious among her circle of delinquents.
Ozan felt no remorse or regret for her crimes.
And she soon began to turn the full force of her feminine charms onto the unsuspecting men who visited Turkey.
Guizin Ozan successfully conned countless wealthy European or American men who had come to Turkey for business.
She silkily ingratiated herself with them and they were beguiled by her exotic looks and persuasive personality.
By the time they left Turkey, Guizin Ozan had pilfered their money and it was already too late.
Hassan recalled how the family had quickly married his sister off before she could damage her reputation and the honour of the family name.
Ali Yilmaz was a quietly spoken man who managed to tame his wayward wife.
And she complied and played the submissive woman.
But that was all in the past.
And those who had once known Guizin were now dead.
Ali Yilmaz would have turned in his grave if he could see his wife now.
The day began well.
A mother and daughter had been ushered into the fortune teller's sanctuary.
Guizin Yilmaz had the gift of being able to profile people very quickly.
And she would adjust her responses accordingly.
It was very apparent to Yilmaz that the mother was troubled and it had something to do her morose teenage daughter.
Both mother and daughter were dressed in black Arzu Kaprol dresses and they were wearing matching deep purple head scarves.
And Guizin could tell that the woman was well heeled and had probably come from a good family.
She would pay well.
The mother was attractive with brown eyes and olive skin and the daughter resembled her.
"My name is Ebru Turan!" The woman informed Yilmaz "And this is my daughter Berrin!"
The teenager smiled shyly.
Guizin eyed the pair slyly.
Then she took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
She mentally counted in her head.
Precipitously Guizin Yilmaz heard the welcome chink of coins in the silver plate.
She opened her eyes and smiled at the woman.
"Don't worry, dear!" Yilmaz informed the mother "Tell me everything!"
And so Ebru Turan began.
Her daughter was very bright.
Berrin wanted to be a doctor and had been fated to go far.
But just lately she had not been doing well at school.
She had become deeply depressed and her studies were suffering.
"I am at my wits end!" Ebru Turan finished "Please ... tell me everything will be okay ..."
Guizin Yilmaz had been listening very intently.
She had affected a sympathetic gaze.
"We will let the Spirit decide!" Yilmaz replied.
The mother shivered slightly with fright.
Her daughter shifted uneasily beside her.
Presently Guizin took the teenagers hands in hers and slowly closed her eyes.
Clouds of sandalwood incense swirled around the fortune teller.
It had suddenly become very quiet.
Nobody noticed Hassan peering through the heavy red velvet curtain.
He was both curious and awestruck.
Guizin Yilmaz let out a long, dramatic sigh.
She appeared to have gone into a trance and she gently rocked in her chair for several long moments.
Finally, Yilmaz spoke.
"I see a big, bright door opening for your daughter ... it opens into a large garden full of every beautiful flower ... I can smell their aroma ... I feel happy and free ... now I stand before many closed doors ... there are so many ... and I have to choose ..."
Ebru was sitting on the edge of her seat in anticipation.
There was a frisson of tension in the air.
Several long moments passed.
"I choose a door ... it opens slowly ... this is the door that leads to prosperity ... your daughter will weather this storm easily ... success awaits her ... I see that she will become a very important doctor ... and be very happy"
Mother and daughter visibly relaxed.
They almost leapt out of their seats and danced with joy.
Guizin Yilmaz slowly opened her eyes.
Ebru emptied the contents of her purse into the silver plate.
The grateful woman missed the sly smirk on the fortune teller's withered face.
"Thank you ..." Ebru cried jubilently "Thank you so much!"
"It's my pleasure, dear" Guizin replied.
"May Allah prolong your life!" The grateful woman informed her.
The fortune teller grinned back.
"All too easy!"
As soon as the mother and daughter had departed, the fortune teller began to eagerly count the money.
She almost gave a yelp of joy as she fingered the flashing coins.
"People are so gullible!" Guizin Yilmaz sighed.
Hassan was silently observing her.
"Good morning?" He finally asked her.
Guizin Yilmaz slowly looked up at him.
There was a devilish glint in her eyes.
She merely smiled.
The following morning boded well.
And there was a spring in the step of Guizin Yilmaz.
Ebru Turan had told everyone she met about Guizin Yilmaz's predictions.
And news travelled fast.
A large queue of expectant clients had steadily been growing outside the shop since the early morning.
"I've never seen so many people!" Hassan breathlessly informed her.
"Allah be praised!" His sister replied piously.
As soon as her brother had departed, Guizin Yilmaz threw back her head and laughed out loud.
Then she rubbed her hands together in the age old sign of greed.
"Money! Money! Money!" Yilmaz chanted with glee.
By the end of the day she would be a very rich woman.
Suddenly the heavy red velvet curtain was pulled apart and a well dressed older man entered the room.
Guizin's face had suddenly fallen.
The aged man had a careworn face and haunted brown eyes.
Guzin hesitated before calling out to Hassan.
The new client probably wouldn't be able to offer much money - if any.
But something about the man suddenly made her pause for thought.
He looked oddly familiar.
And she didn't know why ...
"My name is Patric!" He informed Guizin Yilmaz in his softly accented voice "Patric Badeau!"
The fortune teller was still struggling to place his face.
Reluctantly she motioned for him to take a seat.
"I know what you think!" He informed her "But appearances can be deceptive!"
And she quickly concluded that he must be mentally disordered.
"How can I assist you?" Guizin asked the man through gritted teeth.
She had also decided to keep the prediction as brief as possible so she would not have to suffer his presence for much longer.
There was a whole queue of people waiting outside.
The man had an intense look in his eyes as he stared unflinchingly at Guzin Yilmaz.
Modesty dictated that he avert his gaze and she felt affronted that he did not.
Her hand flew up to her head covering.
|HEAVEN (by HuseyinKaRa deviantart.com)|
It was like a fountain of golden coins.
Guzin's eyes widened.
Her silver plate had never seen so much money before.
"I have been waiting a long time to meet you again!" The man informed her.
The fortune teller was perplexed by his words.
"At last the journey is over!" He finished meaningfully.
Then he held out his hands and Guizan Yilmaz tentatively responded.
Badeau's dark eyes were still burning into hers as she took his hands.
Yilmaz squeezed her eyes shut.
She would have to put on a good performance today.
But as she fumbled frantically for an appropriate reaction, she suddenly felt herself falling into a deep slumber.
As if somebody had injected her with an intoxicating cocktail.
She was spiralling deeper and deeper into a black abyss.
Tumbling into a dark and desolate place from which nobody returned.
Suddenly Guizin Yilmaz found herself looking out across a forbidding empty plane set against a fiery red sky.
A soulless place.
And Yilmaz was suddenly overcome by such a deep despair that it felt like physical pain that tore right through her and threatened to split her open.
The vision faded abruptly and the fake fortune teller was back in the room again.
She was gasping for air like a dying fish.
"Now, do you remember who I am?" Patric Badeau asked her.
Yilmaz avidly shook her head.
"Are you sure, little Guizin?" He demanded forcefully.
She struggled to let go of his gnarled hands but his grip was too strong for her.
His piercing eyes were still searing into hers.
And she felt an unreasoning fear.
"Are you sure, little Guizin!"
Suddenly she remembered.
It was a warm summer night in a hotel bar.
And Guizin Ozan had secured her new quarry.
He was a dashing French-Canadian man who looked like he would give her the moon and the stars.
And he was already eating out of the palm of her hand.
And she was determined to bleed him dry before he left Turkey.
Patric Badeau chinked glasses with his new lady friend.
"Here's to us!" He cried.
The young woman smiled.
"My little Guizin!" Badeau added.
She had already stolen a wad of notes from his wallet without him even noticing.
Now wave upon wave of guilt and shame washed over the older woman at the recollection.
"Please ..." Guizn Yilmaz pleaded "You can keep the money ... "
Patric Badeau grinned darkly at her.
"We do not want your money!" He replied "It's something else we desire!"
"Please don't hurt me ..." She pleaded.
His face had darkened and his eyes were burning with smouldering lights.
Guizin Yilmaz squeezed her eyes tightly shut.
Perhaps when she opened them again, Patric Badeau would be gone.
Perhaps it was all just a bad dream ...
But again she found herself tumbling back into the black abyss.
The desolate wasteland seemed to stretch forever beneath a blood red sky.
It was a place devoid of all hope.
A place of waste and abandonment.
Time stretched out interminably before her.
Suddenly Guizin Yilmaz realised she was not alone.
Countless others began to emerge from the shadows.
They were pathetic spectres; tormented beyond comprehension.
Gradually their voices began to rise.
They were weeping and wailing,
And something unspeakably malevolent was moving in the darkness.
Guizin Yilmaz was trapped.
She had nowhere to run.
This was no dream.
This was really happening.
Guizin Yilmaz put her hands on her ears as she began to scream.
But there was no one here to save her.
The Beast had risen.
When the fortune teller eventually opened her eyes, Hassan was standing over her with a glass of water.
Guizin was lying on a couch in the shop.
She was confused and disoriented.
"I found you lying on the floor!" Hassan informed her "You were out cold! I had to send everyone away!"
Suddenly Yilmaz remembered.
"Where is he?" She demanded "Where is the man who came to see me?"
She could still hear the anguished cries of the damned.
They were ringing in her ears.
"What man?" A confused Hassan replied "There was no man!"
Guizn Yilmaz looked helplessly at her brother.
Perhaps she was finally going mad.
Perhaps her misdeeds had finally caught up with her ...
Hassan Ozan wondered if his sister were getting tired.
Perhaps she had accomplished her tasks.
Perhaps she should retire so she could enjoy her final years in peace ...
Allah would surely release her from her hallowed vocation.
That night the older woman began to wonder if she had been hallucinating.
Perhaps there was something in the water.
Yet everything had seemed so vivid.
Perhaps the fortune teller had simply nodded off at the table and dreamt everything.
"Silly old fool!" She chided herself.
Nevertheless, she slept with the light on that night.
The following morning Hassan Ozan looked in on his sister.
She was sitting in her customary place and behaving as if nothing had happened.
He smiled at her and she smiled back.
It was business as usual.
A large queue was already forming around the shop and Hassan confidently predicted a bountiful day.
He motioned to the first clients to follow him.
They were a man and a woman of European appearance.
He was tall and athletic and she was small and nimble.
They were a pretty couple.
And they looked like they probably had money.
But as Hassan pulled back the heavy red velvet curtain, the young woman suddenly screamed.
Guizin Yilmaz was lying slumped at the table.
Hassan Ozan rushed over to his sister's body.
But it was too late.
She must have died of a heart attack.
That was when Ozan noticed something very disturbing about his sister.
Guizin's open mouth was full of gold coins.
They had spilled out onto the table.
There were coins all over the floor.
Guizin Yilmaz's blank staring eyes looked out at the land of the living.
Hassan's hand shot to his mouth in horror.
"The curse of Allah is upon us!" He cried.
There was a commotion outside the shop as restless people waited impatiently for Guizin Yilmaz to see them.
Several paramedics jostled past them as they entered the shop.
A large gasp arose among the crowd as a body was finally carried out, closely followed by Hassan Ozan.
Ozan had already lost his mind and he would spend the remainder of his days in a hospital.
Nobody noticed a solitary figure pause.
Patric Badeau had been fully restored.
His face shone and he was dressed in a crisp white suit.
Badeau smiled at the scene before him.
Then he disappeared.
|Large Gothic Doorway Premade (by Kittyd-Stock devientart.com)|