By Alex Finch
Everyone who claimed psychics were a scam truly had no idea what we really did. We’re not weathermen, lottery number sources, or sports casters. We don’t see the future at all! No man, dead or alive, can actually see the future. Psychics don’t bother trying to do the impossible. Instead, we see the past and present, and we find all the details people tend to miss. We do work with spirits, though. Gods tend to be rather unreliable. Some things are better left to mortal hands.
A man walked into my place of business, a spare room, no distractions, no sage smoke or drapey shawls across walls and mirrors. If you’d ignored the sign and simply wandered in of your own accord, you wouldn’t have guessed I was a psychic. You might’ve guessed I was a business consultant or perhaps waiting for a job interview. But, if you walked into my place of business, it was because you saw my advertisement online and because you noticed the sign. The sign clearly read “psychic, low-cost and accurate forecasting for the unselfish.” False advertising, you could say, but I’d yet to see a single complaint.
My customer was a lone man, in his 30’s, perhaps, dressed in plain, casual clothes. A low, quiet sound filled the room. His past followed him like a shadow. Too faint for most, but any psychic would see it. What are you hiding, I wondered silently. He sat down in the chair across from me, the empty desk between us.
“Yes, I’m Avery, the psychic. The scarves and smoke and crystal balls are in a costume vault where they belong. I don’t need your sign, your hair, or your blood. Are you ready to begin?” I only answered simple questions that everyone asked after walking in for the first time. But it did tend to set a client’s mind at ease, getting the sensation that I could read their mind. “Payment comes at the end of the session. I know you’re good for it.”
“Are you ready to begin, Simon?”
Silence. “You’re not exactly what I expected.”
“Would you prefer an old woman with a tarot deck and a black cat?” I was anxious to begin. This man wasn’t here to ask when he’d meet his soulmate or what tonight’s lottery numbers would be. He was here for a reason, and the sooner he let down his guard, the sooner I could figure out what it was. He wasn’t like my usual clients. He was desperate. I was his last resort, but for what?
He smiled quickly, his eyes dropping to his lap. “No, I just have a few questions… no questions asked.”
Naturally. I pulled a small mirror out of the lowest drawer of my desk, placing it on the desk between us. He glanced at it suspiciously. “What’s this for?
“Look into it.” It was as helpful for seeing the future as the top of the desk, but fulfilling some of the expectations of a client helped them relax enough for me to see their past. “Your first -don’t look up- your first question?” His mind was filled with blurry scenes, like a watercolor painting, colors and shapes running together.
“I’ve gotten the sense that some people…” blue and red painted his mind, flashing. Red. Black. Blue. Silver. Red and blue again. Silver again. “Have become suspicious of me. My reputation is at stake. I have to know, is this…”
“Truth or paranoia.”
The image cleared, his mind beginning to trust. “Yes.”
The scenes across his mind solidified, flashes of experiences, moments in time. Emotions, mostly fear. But nothing in the scenes to suggest he had anything to fear. “So, these people… you’re frightened of them, you see them often, but they’re rarely ever engaging with you, are they?” Police officers, at another person’s house speaking to a stranger, at Simon’s business, speaking to everyone else, once again at the other person’s house.
“Right, perhaps you can tell me who the man in the mirrored sunglasses is? You’ll be confronting him soon. The man was littered all over Simon’s paranoid memories, the man the cops were frequently speaking to, and someone Simon would doubtlessly see again, one way or another.
“You can see that?” Simon was incredulous. “That’s… my neighbor, Clint. He always wears those sunglasses.”
Yes, he did. He wore those sunglasses every time Simon saw him. At the mailbox… in the front yard… through his window… “That wasn’t your only question, though.”
“No, I-“ he glanced up at me before quickly looking back at the mirror. “I have two more questions.”
Papers across a desk, numbers, Polaroids of Simon in a darkened room with a checkered floor, blackmail, ‘I have to-‘ “My boss, she died recently, you see.” His words snapped me out of his memories, replacing them with a new one, a woman in a blue button down, standing by a mailbox, sending letters with no return address, kissing a man with mirrored sunglasses.
“I presume you want me to contact her?” I knew he wouldn’t.
“No, no. Thanks. I just wanted to know… where…”
“Hell.” The answer that would satisfy him, of course.
“Positive. I can feel her torment. I’m so sorry for your loss.” But he wasn’t. Silver and red, she wore a red dress, she was alone in her house writing letters at a desk in black ink, by the window, the glass shards that were once a window reflected silver in the moonlight, silver like the revolver in Simon’s hand. Silver like the sunglasses she’d never see herself reflected in. Silver like the car that drove up the driveway hours later to find a silent house. “But you assumed that. I take it she wasn’t the nicest in life?” And I take it you hope that killing someone cruel will keep you out of Hell?
He shook his head. “No.”
“And your final question?” Red, red and blue, lights and sirens, Simon had called the police as the man in mirrored sunglasses knelt with his back to the window, weeping over a scene of red lips and a red dress and red stains on blue skin. Red and blue flashing, silver moonlight, a black night, everything blurring together.
“I want to know my future. Where does my life go from here? Do I-“
“Drink this.” I poured a cup of steaming almond tea from an electric kettle I kept on a small shelf in the corner, one of the few possessions that marked the space. “Leave the leaves at the bottom.”
He drank quickly, grimacing at the taste and handed the cup back to me. I held the teacup, turned it, and watched him more than the leaves. He rubbed his temples. “What do you see?”
I smiled. “Every second of your future, Simon.” I turned the cup in a slow clockwise circle.
“Aren’t you going to tell me?” He pinched his hand, between the thumb and forefinger. Good sign.
“You’re due for a promotion, clearly. You’ll take the same position as your boss.” I smiled again. I could never resist the opportunity for a joke. “But in the much nearer future, you’ll fall ill. Stomach pain. Food poisoning, no doubt. Should be setting in any moment now.” He clutched his stomach, starting to sweat.
“Do you want to know when you’ll die, Simon? It’s a question almost all my clients ask. A question I’ve always gotten right.”
He paused. “Alright, but I want to know-“
“In about 2 minutes.”
“In. About. Two. Minutes.”
His hands shook, sweating as he fumbled in his pocket for his phone. His eyes caught his reflection, the face of a dying man, and his panic tripled, only succeeding in moving the cyanide through his bloodstream quicker. “It’s no use, Simon, there’s no cell service here, and even if there were, you’d be dead by the time they arrived. Also, you’re down to one minute. You deserve this, you know.” I reached the desk, pulling the phone from his hand. He barely resisted, weakened. “Thirty seconds, Simon. Any last words? You know, you’re not like my usual clients. I won’t regret it this time. Not in the slightest.” Silence. His body slumped in the chair across from me, growing cold.
Another satisfied customer, or at least another one who wouldn’t complain. And another correct prediction. The room was spare, easy to clean. A few decorations, a few objects, and a sign, all easy enough to fit in a backpack. A dead man with an empty wallet at a desk in an unused building was all that remained. Maybe they’d find him, but I’d be long gone, with his cash lining my pockets. He’d have no use for it anyway, even someone who couldn’t see the future could see that much.
Some say that psychics are full of it. I doubt those people have ever received a prediction from me. I’d never made a false prediction in my life.
Bio: Alex Finch is an American writer. He has published another short story on The Yard, called “Raiin“
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