Day Twenty Two - The Other Side

I’d like to make it clear right away that my intention was always to be a fraud, a con artist. I knew what I was doing right from the start. I didn’t believe in fortune-telling, in tarot cards, or contacting the ‘other side’. I just knew two things: one, I was a good actor, and two, people are so incredibly willing to believe.

I started my business in 2009. I started small. I took appointments online and held seances in my living room. I read cards for people over the phone and I saved up enough money to buy an authentic-looking crystal ball. And actually, that saving didn’t take very long. I was a little surprised at how quickly my business grew, but I should have known that on the internet, word of mouth travels quickly.

In 2012, I was able to move into a slightly larger apartment with a large front entrance that I used strictly for business. I had everything you could possibly think of. Tapestries on the wall, candles burning everywhere, beads and tassels and softly lit lamps. It was oh so cliché, and just about perfect.

I suppose I wasn’t doing any of this out of malicious intent. People would come to me with questions, problems, and I would give them my honest advice under the guise of spiritual direction. If some lady ended up divorcing her abusive husband and living a happier life, she believed it was because the spirits told her to, not me.

I tried to make my prophecies useful, I didn’t want to do any of that ‘tall dark stranger’ nonsense. And I think that’s why people came back. I told them what they needed to hear, rather than what they wanted to hear. And if I happened to look up their info before they came so that I could ‘magically’ know things about their past, who’s to say that ever hurt the situation?

Like I said, I didn’t believe in ghosts or the veil or even in the power of my tarot cards. I thought it was all a load of pretend nonsense, and I was just a simple actor making use of my talents to support myself.

I am writing this today to tell you not to make that mistake.

I’m not sure why I was allowed to continue in my disbelief for so long, but eventually I got caught. And I got caught by something bad, something so old and so powerful that I’m not even sure it has a name.

I was running an ordinary session for a new client, a woman I had never met before, but who seemed much more into the whole thing than my average customer. She even told me that she had slept with lavender soaked cotton balls in her ears to better ‘hear the spirits’ when she came to her appointment. I was certain that she had just made that one up, but I commended her on her thoughtfulness and told her it would make the séance even more productive.

We sat in front of my crystal ball and I eased her into it with a light guided meditation, slowing her breath and having her close her eyes while I lit the candles and spread out my tarot cards. Having looked at her social media profiles before this appointment, I had seen her posts about her cat’s vegetarian diet, and I was planning on mystically telling her that cats are actually carnivores.

But something started happening when I asked her to open her eyes again. As I fanned out the tarot cards into a semicircle, some of them stuck to my fingers. The woman gasped, and I made a show of it, telling her that these cards held meaning, they wanted to be seen. I flipped over the first one. The tower. She paled, I winced. Not a great card to start out with, but I could make it work.

I launched into a speech about how the tower could be good for her, symbolizing a revelation, a violent throwing off of old ideas (specifically the vegetarian cat diet). But then I flipped over the second card and stopped dead in the middle of a sentence.

The tower. Again.

There should only be one of each card in my deck, and I only had the one deck. There was no way I possibly had two identical tower cards in the same deck without ever noticing. The woman was shaking a little bit now, mumbling words that I couldn’t hear over the rushing in my own ears. I smiled weakly, told her it was a mistake, and flipped over the third card.

The tower. Fourth card, tower, Fifth, sixth, and I finally stopped after the seventh, because the woman in front of me had fully fainted to the ground.

I moved to help her up, but at that moment, all the candles I had lit a few minutes ago blew out in a cold rush of air. I sat heavily back down in my seat, and I felt like I had gotten the breath knocked out of me. My eyes started fluttering, and my vision went blurry.

By this time, my heart was pounding, and I had no idea what was happening to me. I thought I was having a stroke or a heart attack, at least until my hands started moving of their own accord. I nearly cried out, but my jaw felt like it was wired shut. My hands shot up to clutch at my face, and through the thin skin of my fingers, I felt something move beneath the surface. Like little suffocating vines were twirling around my bones and wrapping around my ligaments.

I realised I could still control the rest of my body, and I wrenched myself up out of my seat, and over to a hanging mirror. I could see my own terrified face, hands clutching at it so hard that my knuckles were white, while dark shapes snaked underneath the surface of my skin.

My eyes looked wide and hollow, set deep in my face as if someone else were looking out from them, out of the bottom of a deep pit. My mouth snapped open involuntarily, and a black substance rose up out of my lungs, choking me and spilling from in between my teeth. And that’s when I heard it. The voice, speaking from deep within my chest and resonating through every fibre of my body.


The black liquid continued to flow from my open mouth, staining my clutching hands, and I started to see spots in my vision. I screamed at myself not to pass out, but I just couldn’t fight to stay awake. I felt the tendrils receding from my hands as my last shred of consciousness faded away.

I don’t know how long I was out, but the woman and I awoke at the same time. She rushed out of there as quickly as she could, and I was too stunned to realise that she had left without paying. I probably wouldn’t have stopped her anyway.

I didn’t want to tell anyone at first. Not even my girlfriend, who knew that my practice was fake. Well, it used to be fake. I cancelled all appointments for a week and just lay in my bed, terrified to touch any of my instruments for fear of that voice taking over again. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer and decided to write my story.

The business side of my brain wants to know if there’s a way to use this. A way to come to an agreement with whatever voice spoke to me, a way to coexist and continue to run my shop. The sane part of my brain wants to run away to a different country and take up accounting.

Either way, I urge everyone reading this to believe it. Don’t mess around with things you don’t understand or believe in, and don’t underestimate the power of the other side.

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