Tea Leaves and Silver Rings

Secrets, Woman in Red, and Fear

Match Thirty-One: Secrets, Woman in Red, and Fear:

“Who told you about her?” Yao asked. I have never seen him look so afraid before in his life. Hen-to and Fei had the same expressions on their faces when I asked about that folder while I was away at college. Why wouldn’t they tell me the truth?

“She came to me at three in the morning,” I said.

“Are you sure you weren’t dreaming?”

“No. I was awake and she was there.”

Yao broke down trembling and shaking his head. “This can’t be possible. It can’t be.”

“What is going on?” I asked. “Why won’t you, Hen-to, and Fei tell me anything?”

“It’s best that you didn’t know.”

“But why?”

He lowered his head, defeated. “Bad things are going to happen.”

“What are you talking about?” I grabbed him by the shoulders. “Tell me what’s going on. Does it have to do with the clan?”

“Not just the clan, all of us,” Yao said. He placed his hands on my cheeks. “You have to listen to me closely. Promise me that you will not panic after I tell you the truth.”

“Yao… you’re scaring me,” I said. “Why are you talking like this?”

“You have to promise me!”

“Okay, okay. I promise.”

Yao breathed heavily. “This is going to be a bloody history to tell. Long before the world was established, there was an entity powerful enough to destroy the planet. She left a wake of death and terror in her path. Days and nights were filled with blood and screams.”

“Did she cause wars?”

“Yes, endless wars.”

“So what did you do?”

“The older countries and myself could stand the deaths anymore. It was Heracles’ mother who came up with the idea to seal this entity away far from all living beings. For six years, she worked on a spell that would lock up that entity. On the beaches in France, we sealed on a prison without doors. But we still had to push the box away somewhere far from the living world.”

Yao went pale as he trembled.

“Yao?” I asked.

He pressed his lips together. “I was the one who suggested placing in the Land of the Dead in Kiku’s land.”

“You didn’t…” I murmured.

“I had no choice at the time,” he said. “I had to act fast, Heracles’ mother was losing strength. The spell was taking everything she had. The poor woman slept for a year.”

“But why would you do that?”

“The land under what would be Ikebukuro now was empty and I hadn’t found my brother at the time. By the time Kiku betrayed me, I had forgotten about her.”

I made a face at my husband. “Is that why Kiku’s been acting…?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“But what does this have to do with me? Why did she come to me this morning?”

“I don’t know.” Yao dropped his hands from my cheeks. “I don’t know what her plans are for you or any of us.”

“But, I wasn’t born around your time. I didn’t lock her away. It doesn’t make sense.”

“I know.”

“What happens now?”

“I don’t know.” His voice sounded so hoarse. He stopped making eye contact with me. I began to think about the mysterious tape was e-mailed to me. I shivered as the images flashed in my head.

“Yao,” I said.

“What?” he asked.

“I think… I might have gotten a glance of her before.”

“What do you mean?”

I looked down at my hands. “I got a video a while back. It was very creepy.”

“What kind of video?”

“Hang on.” I climbed out of bed and walked across the room to my desk. I came back with my laptop. I booted up my machine and searched through the files in my documents.

“What are you looking for?” Yao asked.

“Give me a second,” I said. I scrolled through the results and I spotted the icon. “Here it is.” I clicked on the film.

The silent clip began its with grainy images jumping from shot to shot.

A pair of jeweled hands laid out the tarot cards from the main deck. The Lovers card appeared on the screen. Different people were nailed down to crosses dead. The first one was a man, possibly a doctor or therapist, with his cross outside his practice. His neck looked broken at an angle with his mouth wide open and dried blood under his eyes. Another victim was a woman nailed down to another cross on top of an apartment building. Only, her cross was upside down with her pearls tightened around her neck like a noose.

The third victim was dressed in a school girl uniform nailed to her cross, but she had no head. That low whisper that I swore was Japanese flooded out of my speakers before it turned into many voices repeating themselves. The cross images repeated themselves while speeding up. Soon, it got to the point that they blended into one image before the screen went black. I was about to close the video when that awful noise like a death filled the room.

Yao quickly closed the lid. He turned to me with the same panicked expression on his face that he had when I first saw this video.

“Who else have you shown this video to?” he asked.

“No one else,” I said. My husband grabbed me by the hands.

“You can’t tell anybody about this,” he said. I opened my mouth to speak.

“No, listen,” he said. “The Wasteland is coming for all of us. It’s already leaking out among the older countries. We do not need the younger ones and your clan to know, do you understand me?”

“Yao…” I said.

“Do you understand me?”

“Yao… You’re scaring me.”

“Please!”

I pressed my lips together as I trembled. “Alright.” Yao pressed his forehead against mine.

“Good,” he said. “We will talk about this with Fei and Hen-to later.”

“But what about the others?” I asked.

“We cannot drag the rest of the clan into this!” Yao shouted. “It’s bad enough that you now know about the Wasteland and the Woman in Red. We don’t need to feed them with fear and panic!” His strong tone made me draw my mouth closed and lower my eyes.

“Alright,” I said, quietly.

“We will talk about this later,” my husband said. I had a sinking feeling as he crawled out of bed to take a shower. At the time, I had no idea that I had already dragged my clan, and possibly, the rest of the world, further into the Wasteland opening up around us.

For now, I could only sit there in bed and prepare how to deal with what was coming next from the Woman in Red, the Wasteland, Junjie, and Jianjun. Did father have to deal with all of this mess that keeps unfolding in front of him? Why did this have to happen to me?

I don’t understand anything that’s happening around here. I didn’t understand it then and I still don’t understand it now.

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