Tea Leaves and Silver Rings


Match Eight: Entrückung:

The first signs began to leak out towards the “newer” countries.


The first time Ludwig saw her was on his way home from another boring World Meeting. Only, it wasn’t so much as boring, but rather tense. He and Alfred had to be the ones to speak up for the most part. The older countries awkwardly looked at each other as if they were itching to shout something out loud. Kiku was conspicuously absent today too. Ludwig tried to piece it altogether as he drove home. Judging by their faces, the older countries had heard about the Woman in Red. No one would explain why they were so afraid of her. He pressed his hand to his forehead when he pulled up to a red light.

Why did Feliciano have to go and open his mouth? That Italian man had to go and create possibly needless panic. Ludwig leaned back and sighed. If only Gilbert or Kiku would tell him what was going on…

Ludwig pulled up to the gate of his house when a peculiar sight caught his eyes. A woman stared up at his house as if she was looking for something. The brown waves in her hair bounced as she looked at what appeared to be a piece of paper in her skinny hands. Ludwig turned off his BMW and walked got out.

“Excuse me!” he shouted. “Are you lost or something?” The woman turned around with big eyes. Despite it being summer, she clutched her thick red coat to her chest. Ludwig approached her with a puzzled look on his face.

“Are you lost or something?” he asked in a slower pace this time. The woman blinked with a pale face.

“Lost?” she asked. Her accent further puzzled the German man. She didn’t like she came from Germany, but it didn’t really sound she came from anywhere else either. The best that Ludwig could place her was from somewhere in Eastern Europe.

“Yes, are you lost?” Ludwig asked again.

“Am I lost?”


The woman’s pale trembled as she looked down at the piece of paper in her hand. She shoved it forward to the German man. Ludwig tilted his head as he read the smudged and faded writing on the crumbled paper.

“6972 Polanów?” he asked. The German man looked the woman in the eye. She had frightened hundred-yard stare at him.

“Are you feeling okay?” he asked. The woman shook her head.

“Do you want me to take you to police?” Ludwig asked. The brown waves in her hair bounced against her sullen cheeks as she frantically shook her head.

“Are you trying to look for this place?” the German man asked. She slowly nodded. The longer Ludwig interacted with this pale lady, the more confused he became.

“Would you like me to take you to wherever it is that you are trying to get to?” he asked. The woman froze.

“Take me there?”

“I can if you want me to. I don’t mind.” He noticed a little bit of light appearing in her eyes.

“Get in the car,” Ludwig said. He led the woman back to his BMW. She climbed into the passenger seat as he climbed into the driver side. They didn’t speak as they began the long drive towards Polanów. The woman wouldn’t even make eye contact. She looked down at her pale, skinny hands. Ludwig had a few questions of his for this lady.

“Can I ask you something?” he asked. The woman didn’t look up.

“Why exactly are you trying to get to Polanów?” the German man asked. “Are you trying to meet with someone?” She still didn’t respond. Ludwig frowned as the traffic light turned green.

“Alright then,” he said to himself. They had driven onto an empty road when the woman lifted her head. She said something almost inaudible. Ludwig glanced over at the passenger.

“I’m sorry?” he asked.

“Stop the car,” the woman said.


“Stop the car! Stop the car!”

Ludwig pulled his BMW to a stop. “Are you-?” he began to ask. The woman jumped out of the car as if to run off the side of the road to throw up.

“Okay?” he asked. But the woman had vanished. Ludwig got out of the BMW and looked around. There was no sign of that red coat or those brown wavy locks. The German man rubbed the back of his head.

“Now where did she go?” he asked himself. She left behind her sheet of crumbled up paper in the passenger seat of his BMW.


Alfred had just come home from spending the afternoon with Florence and Lydia. He too received a strange visitor at his house.

A little girl about nine years old stood in his front lawn. She wore a Hello Kitty backpack with a long white dress as she looked like she was waiting for something or someone. The American man looked at the cute little clips in the child’s hair.

“Uh… can I help you?” he asked. The little girl looked up and noticed him.

“I get to go home today!” she said.

“Okay…” Alfred said. “Why are you here?”

“My grandma walked me to the airport. It’s my first time of getting on a plane by myself.”

“’Kay.” Alfred looked at the little girl’s face. Did she even hear his question? “But why are you in my yard?”

“Mommy’s going to take me to McDonalds when I get home.”

“But why you in my yard?” He noticed that the child looked like she was about to cry. “What’s wrong?”

“I can never go home,” she said.

“Wait, what are you-?” Alfred began to ask. He reached out and grabbed onto her shoulder. When his fingers made contact with her skin, a shade of black filled his eyes.

Silent howls flew over his head. The images flashed too fast for him to comprehend what he was viewing. White bomb-like flowers exploded in his eyes. Pieces of giant letters flew by between said flowers. Rivers of blood raining from the sky into the hollow darkness. Grey waves swirled in a circle before turning into fire.

What is this?

A face appeared in his mind. It only had black holes for eyes and no teeth. The face opened and closed its mouth as if it was hungry. Alfred wanted to run away from the stitches on the neck. Was that a maggot crawling around under the skin?

No. No. Stay away! Who are you? What do want from me?!

His body felt as if it was getting pulled in closer to the big hole of a mouth. Alfred could only struggle in vein in his mind.

Don’t pull me in! I don’t want to go! Let me go.

Once inside the mouth, there was only blackened fires. And then…


By the time Alfred came back to his senses, night had fallen and he stood alone in his yard. He sank to his knees, trembling. He moved his lips as if trying to say something, but no words came out.


Toris stood in front of Feliks’ desk that evening. The Polish man was looking at his MAG-08 unloaded and playing with it.

“What is that?” Toris asked.

“Oh,” his friend said. “This is my future wife.” He turned the empty chamber with his thumb.

“Future wife?”

“That’s right.” Feliks closed up the gun.

“Why do you have that?” Toris asked.


Toris gave him a strange look. “Protection? From what?”

“You know, protection.”

“I don’t think that’s going to be enough…”

“It’s better than sitting around, waiting for it all to end.” Feliks pointed the empty gun at Toris and cocked it. The Lithuanian man flinched at the sound. His friend smirked and lowered the pistol.

“Say, do you know where I can find bullets for this baby at a low price?” he asked.

“Why?” Toris asked, trying to have a little bit of sanity left from talking to his Polish friend. Feliks looked at his MAG-08 and opened it. His eyes glanced into the empty chamber.

“Oh,” he said. “Just need something to scare away some annoying kids that keep harassing my ponies.” Toris nervously chuckled as Feliks played with his gun.

I don’t think you need a gun to scare off some children…

Feliks smiled as he closed his gun.

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