You flopped down on your bed and sighed. What a boring summer day. Absolutely nothing to do. All of your friends had gone on vacations with their parents while you were stuck in this town with nobody to hang out with.
Well, nobody but Sara, but she was at work right now. You almost wished you had gotten a job, just so you had something to do. The extra money wouldn't hurt anything either.
Just then, your mother walked into the room and tossed something onto your bed.
"You got a magazine," she said. She walked right back out the door.
Well, at least it's something to do, you thought. You picked up the magazine, which turned out to be Seventeen, and started flicking through it, wrinkling your nose at some of the uglier new styles and rolling your eyes at the celebrities.
After you had finished taking turns laughing or gasping and covering your mouth at the embarrassing moments, you turned to the horoscopes.
Now, you weren't one who actually believed in those things. They never worked. You had thought they were true when you were like, ten, but were no longer so easily deceived. Still, you read them for fun, just to see what the "stars" had in store for you so you could joke about it with Sara later.
When you found your horoscope, you had to read it twice. This was not the usual bubbly, yet warning Seventeen horoscope. It was simple and straight to the point, yet still extremely mysterious. It simply said "Be prepared. Danger is rapidly approaching."
You wondered what Sara would have to say about this one.
Unlike you, Sara was not a disbeliever of horoscopes or astrology in general - she was simply skeptical of the horoscopes in things such as newspapers and magazines. In fact, she claimed that a horoscope done by a professional astrologer was usually very accurate. For the record, she also believed in palmistry and tarot cards and a few other forms of fortune-telling. Besides those, she also looked out for omens or "signs," but could not be viewed as superstitious (after all, she had a black cat). Sara was a firm believer in the capabilities of the human mind -- that if people only used a small percent of their minds like science said they did, then the rest could be devoted to psychic perceptions or powers, though she did not claim to have any of these powers herself.
A few hours later, when Sara should be returning from work, you hopped on your bike and rode it to her house. It was too far to just walk and be able to get there at a decent time and driving was out of the question since you didn't have any money for gas.
You rang the doorbell and Sara almost immediately answered the door.
"Hey, _____!" she said brightly.
"Hi Sara! Do you have your Seventeen magazine?"
"Yep. I was just about to look at the horoscopes. Coming?"
You nodded and followed Sara into her house and upstairs to her room.
The place was decorated like any teenage girl's room, with a couple of exceptions. The walls were plastered with posters of bands nobody had ever heard of and actors from foreign countries. The ceiling was practically covered in cheap glow-in-the-dark stars, broken only once in a while by various dream catchers. Sara was insistent on the feng shui in her bedroom; her bed was as far from the door as possible and not in line with it, the room only contained one mirror, the colors were warm tones, and she kept the place spotless. If anybody even suggested shifting things around, she became very testy. When asked about her adamancy, she would state that her room was too busy already (the posters) and the feng shui counteracted it.
Sara plopped herself down onto her flawlessly made bed and picked up the magazine from her nightstand, flipping straight to the horoscopes. She claimed not to like the articles in Seventeen, but you knew that she secretly read it cover-to-cover, if for nothing more than to make fun of it later.
You had to read the horoscope twice this time as well, not because the same odd straight-to-the-point prediction met your eyes, but because this one was completely different than the one in your magazine.
Sara noted your bewildered expression. "What's going on?" she asked, crowding her head in close to yours.
"This isn't the same horoscope that was in my magazine," you told her.
Instead of looking at you like you were insane, Sara demanded proof. "You brought yours, right?"
"Yeah." You gestured to the magazine you had been holding since you got off your bike. It was now sitting next to you on Sara's bed.
She snatched it up and turned to the horoscopes, her dark eyes widening considerably when she saw that you had been telling the truth. "_____, this is a sign," she said, sounding awestruck. "This is amazing! We have to see a psychic or something, like, right now!"
You rolled your eyes at her enthusiasm. "It's probably just a misprint or something."
"They usually don't make misprints that are that huge. And besides, you wouldn't be able to find anything like that in a Seventeen magazine," Sara challenged. "Come on. Just do it for me?"
And so you and Sara were off to find a psychic/fortune-teller person who was apparently going to read your palm, cast some bones, and tell you what your future was to bring. What a crock.
Sara assured you that she was on good terms with the psychic you were about to visit. There was nothing to worry about. She had gone to the fortune-teller many times and nothing bad had happened to her... yet. She put special emphasis on the "yet."
The fortune-teller was not advertised. Her shop had no sign or indication of her profession. In fact, if left to find her on your own, you may have walked right past the place without a second thought.
The inside, however, practically reeked of a fortune-teller. The place was dark and smoky, the color scheme consisted of mostly black and dark purple, and beaded curtains separated the rooms. A bell tinkled as Sara ushered you through another door and suddenly, there was an extremely tall young man standing in front of you.
You looked at him quizzically, then whipped a glance in Sara's direction. She simply shrugged, trying to hide the grin that was slowly taking over her lips.
"Are you the fortune-teller?" you asked hesitantly.
The man, who appeared to be in his very late teens or possibly early twenties, chuckled. "Not me," he said. His voice was higher than you expected for somebody of such height. "That would be my grandmother. Hello, Sara," he added with a nod, and then he left.
You gave Sara a suspicious look. "So that's why you come here," you teased. "It all makes sense now."
Sara, who was never usually one to be flustered, flushed a little. "I do not come here for Russell!" she exclaimed indignantly. "Though he's one of the perks," she added sheepishly.
You grinned evilly and were about to tease poor Sara some more when the psychic made her appearance.
She was not dressed any way like you would have expected. Her top consisted of an oversized flannel shirt and her pants were jeans. No bangles adorned her arms, no necklaces circled her neck. She was so completely unlike the stereotypical fortune-teller that for a second, you wondered if this was just another resident of the place or maybe even a customer.
"Hello, Sara!" the woman said happily. "I see you've brought a friend this time."
"Hi Madame Charlotte," Sara replied. "This is _____. I insisted she come here and get her fortune read."
"Well, it looks like I'll be reading your fortune then, dear," Madame Charlotte said to you, motioning for you to step past a curtain of beads.
You did so, deciding that this woman seemed nice enough and that you didn't really feel like arguing with Sara about it.
"Have a seat, child," Madame Charlotte told you, sitting herself on the opposite side of a small table from you. "So what made our valued Sara decide that you needed your fortune read?"
"A magazine," you replied. "The horoscope in my copy was different than the one in hers, so she thought it was an omen and I should get my fortune read."
Madame Charlotte looked intrigued, but not surprised. "Tell me what it said, dear."
"It said 'Be prepared. Danger is rapidly approaching.'"
"Is that an exact quote?"
"Well, Fate must like you, child, for it saw fit to warn you that something dangerous is on its way."
You didn't comment on this observation. There was really nothing to say. You didn't particularly believe in this stuff anyway, so what could you say?
"We'll start with the palm reading," Madame Charlotte told you, extending her hand across the table.
She examined your palm for quite a while, which was starting to make you a little nervous. What was she seeing on there that kept her looking at it for so long?
At length, she gave up your hand and turned her attention to you. "The palm is not a very accurate way of predicting the future. Predicting your feelings and personality at the moment, yes, but predicting anything much further forward is often a fool's errand. The lines in the palm change as you grow older, as do you, so you can see why this is so. Your palm tells me much about you, but does not give me insight into what lies in your future."
You wondered if she was this vague with everybody, in which case, they shouldn't have to pay any money for her services.
"We will try the bones instead."
She pulled a handful of straight bones with odd markings on them from a black velvet bag. With a piece of chalk, she drew a nearly perfect circle on the table and tossed the bones into it. She studied the way they landed for a long time. You couldn't read the expression on her face.
Finally, she looked back up at you. "As the horoscope in your magazine said, you will soon be in danger. The danger will not only affect you, but your whole family. Unfortunately, I can only tell you that this danger comes in the form of a person -- possibly multiple people -- which is typical. Nor can I tell you exactly when it will happen, but it will be within the week.
"What I can tell you is that your life is about to change drastically, young lady. You will want to keep alert. That alone will not be enough to avert the threat, but it will keep you from being harmed physically."
You were still skeptical, but it was hard not to be at least a little shaken when somebody told you that danger was coming your way. You told the woman thank you and showed yourself out of the room, dragging Sara behind you and outside into the bright day.
You told Sara about Madame Charlotte's prediction and her eyes widened.
"I knew it!" she told you. "This is definitely a sign, _____. You better be careful."
"Nah!" you scoffed. "You know I don't believe in that stuff. I have nothing to worry about."
Sara grabbed you by the shoulders and shook you once. "_____, I don't care what you believe or don't believe. Just be careful, okay? For me?"
You sighed and rolled your eyes, but nodded anyway. "Okay, fine."
So you and Sara split ways when you reached her house. She went inside while you grabbed your bike and started to ride it back home.
You were about halfway back, thinking about what the psychic had said, when you nearly hit somebody who was walking in the middle of the sidewalk. You swerved so quickly and so sharply that you lost your balance, crashing onto the pavement of the road.
You groaned as you kicked your bike off your leg, sitting up and starting to pick little pebbles out of your hands.
"Are you alright?" asked a masculine voice.
You turned around to see who was speaking to you and were met with an eye-catching sight indeed. He was about six feet tall with reddish hair and dark eyes -- probably brown. He wore a trench coat even on this sunny summer day and his eyes seemed distant, though he sounded concerned.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine!" you assured him immediately, still picking the small rocks out of your hands. "It was my fault anyway. I should have been paying better attention."
He did not reply, probably because he couldn't think of a way of agreeing with you without making you feel bad. He did, however, extend his hand in a silent offer to help you up. You took it and were hauled up quite effortlessly.
"Thanks," you told him. "You didn't have to stop and help."
"You crashed trying to avoid me, so it was the least I could do."
"Well, thanks anyway. And sorry for almost running you over."
He nodded and started to walk away. As he did so, a slight breeze blew his open trench coat to the side, revealing a gun that rested in a holster on his hip. He casually yet quickly pulled the coat back into place.
Was that the danger that was supposed to happen to me? you wondered, watching the young man as he walked away. He couldn't have been too much older than you, if he was older than you at all. He may have been the same age as that guy you had met at the fortune teller's place today.
Despite your reluctance to believe in anything the psychic had said earlier, you couldn't help but feel that you had to watch out for that guy in the coming week, just to be sure.
You picked up your bike and rode it home, parking it in the garage as usual. You entered the house through the garage door into the kitchen when you were grabbed from behind. A hand pressed over your mouth until you stopped struggling.
"_____, don't struggle," said the voice of your mother.
Your eyes widened. Mom?
"I'm going to explain what's going on, but you have to promise not to say a word. We're in deep trouble here."