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Jerusalem Grave Digger's Club: Jade

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Unedited/First Look of a work in progress.

Horror / Thriller
Age Rating:

Chapter 1 (First Look/Not Edited)

First Look: Unedited. Ideas? Suggestions?

Jade stepped from a client’s business with a pile of their ledgers in arm. She settled everything into her well-used compact car. She looked around at the Sandpiper mile, amusement tilting her lips. Up and down the street – as far as here eye could see – were dozens of citizen journalists recording sound-bites for their blogs, podcasts and radio shows. She looked to a gawking couple strolling through and asked, “What’s going on?”

“It’s the ghost hunting convention.”

“Ah. Sounds . . . interesting.” The thought of ghost hunting made her shudder.

As a matter of habit, Jade sent out a group text to the family, “Up in Sandpiper heading to South-West of Vanity Hollow. Anyone need a ride?”

Near at once she got a response from Jasper, “Would love one! Where to meet?”

She gave her location. In no time Jasper hurried over. He gave Jade a warm smile. “Thanks. I forgot a few pieces of equipment at home and wanted to compare notes with a team I fell in with. Can I get a ride back?”

“Not likely. I have work to do this evening.”

“You work too much.” He said.

“Jasper!” A lady shouted to him. “Hold up.” The woman hurried over. Blonde, blue eyed, and sharp as a tack. She looked Jade up and down before holding her hand out to her. “Hi. I’m Chrystal Jerusalem.”

Jasper said, “This is my sister, Jade. She doesn’t work in the family business.”

“I’m an accountant.” Jade said. “Very boring stuff.”

“Can I come along?” The female asked. “I’ve a ton of questions about the area. And Cynthia, she’s the psychic of us lot, wants to explore outside of the confines of Sandpiper.”

“Sure. Jasper will sit in the back.”

Jasper grumbled about his legs getting crushed. But he still climbed in, set his seat belt on, and got comfortable.

Chrystal looked around the interior of the car. “This isn’t a new car, but it sure is clean.”

“I got lucky. Jade said. “Dad bought it from a friend, passed it on to one of my brothers. The one who’s a clean freak. It got passed onto one of the sisters, also a clean freak. It got sold to a cousin, who sold it back to a younger sibling of ours, who sold it back to the clean-freak brother, who then sold it to me. I think I’ve had it the longest, drive it the most.”

“Heck of a story, sis.”

“Yeah, not as exciting as working as a bounty hunter. Every few years I think I want to give it another try. But no, it’s too much at one time and I get confused. That doesn’t make for a safe experience. So I stick to accounting.”

Chrystal popped open the glove compartment and started searching through it. After a moment she gave a ‘huh’.

Jade gave an unamused, “Something you’re looking for?”

“It’s just one of my sisters is a psychic. She said I’d meet someone today who was into numbers and had a map. A very important map.”

“That fits at least half of the people in Sandpiper.”

“And she said the woman’s name starts with a ‘J’.”

“So your plan was to go digging through my glovebox and steal my map?”

“I didn’t say my sister made any sense.”

“And yet you’re following the path she laid out for you.” Jade kept her cool. Though, honestly, it irritated her this woman took such liberties.

“You ever read Tarot cards?” The woman asked.

A pit formed in the bottom of Jade’s stomach. A cold sweat gathered at the back of her neck. She forced a cheery voice, “I think that’s enough of the questions. I will, however, let you pick either the news radio option or the easy listening.”

Chrystal gave a small laugh. “Okay, I’m bugging you. I get it.”

Jasper said, “At a certain age a lot of us played with Tarot cards. We got in trouble for it.” He continued to chat with Chrystal, amusing the woman with stories. At times even Jade laughed along. Later, she thought it was this lighthearted mood in the car which had her agreeing with Jasper when he said,

“It’s been a long day, sis. Why don’t you come back with us?” He dipped into his apartment long enough to claim that specialty equipment. He returned and asked again, “C’mon Jade.”

Jade gave in. “Sure, I’ll drive us back to the ghost expo.” Once more Chrystal and Jasper delved into friendly chatter. Jade parked in the hotel’s parking garage and followed her brother and friend up to the friend’s hotel room. There, she was introduced to two more sisters. Cynthia, who sat at the small table in the room, with a deck of Tarot cards out before her, and Allia, who sat with her laptop on the bed and surfed the net.

After the greetings, both the others fell quiet, while Jasper and Chrystal continued to chat.

Jade dared sneak a look at the cards before Cynthia. After a moment, and with the spread clear in her thoughts, Jade turned away. She went to stand at the window and look out over the bright lights of tiny Sandpiper.

Cynthia said, “What did you think of my reading?”

Jasper walked over. “Like the images on the cards. Haven’t seen a deck in a long time, though. Why don’t you take me through what you see?”

Cynthia huffed. “I was asking your sister.”

“Jade got in a lot of trouble as a kid – more trouble than me – for playing with cards.”

“This is true.” Jade agreed. She ran the thumb of her left hand over the scars along the back of her right hand. She turned from the window. “What’s the question being asked?”

Cynthia said, “If a legal issue at home is going to turn out the way I want.”

“What is it you want exactly?”

“To win.” Cynthia said.

“That’s not good enough. What exactly do you want to win?”

Cynthia’s mouth opened and hung there. After a moment she closed it. “I really don’t know. I mean, I want to win the case, but I don’t think I’ve ever thought about the amount.”

“Sounds like it’ll be an empty win.” Jade said.

Jasper jumped to Cynthia’s defense. “Hey, go easy on her. She’s just learning the cards and –“

Jade watched Jasper’s face. “She’s intermediate at worst, Jasper. Cynthia’s been reading for a while.”

“It’s true.” Cynthia agreed. “Five years now for family and friends.” She looked to Jade, a frown between her brows. “How did you know I’d been reading for a while?”

“You’ve go the little white book out but you’re not pouring over it. And you’re not digging for meanings elsewise. Shows some maturity in readings.”

“Thanks.” She gestured to the cards. “What do you see?”

“Nothing of value until you determine what it is you specifically want from the court case. That’s where your hang-up is. Until you figure that out, you can ask all the questions you want on the matter and you’ll get crazy, non-related answers. Take a day or so and figure your wants out. Then ask again. You’ll see: night and day.”

Jasper gave Jade an odd look. “You read sis?”

Jade rolled her shoulders. “I’m an accountant, Jasper. Digging out answers is what I do.” Then, “I’m hungry. I heading downstairs to the buffet.”

She had her hand on the door when Jasper said, “That’s not a real answer.”

“I’m hungry.” She repeated, and slipped out. Not even halfway down the hall to the elevator and Jasper joined her.

He set his arm on her shoulder. “I can be an idiot sometimes. I’m sorry for bugging you.”

“Brothers are supposed to torment their sisters.”

“I wasn’t too bad as a kid, was I?”

She traced the scars with her thumb. “Not that bad, no.” Then, “I didn’t see you show off your equipment.”

“Chrystal’s brothers will be back in a bit. I’ll brag then. Or I’ll come back tomorrow and catch up with them.” He said more.

But Jade wasn’t listening. Like a magnet, her eyes drew to a deck of tarot cards. She couldn’t see the deck from here as the deck rested in the hands of a stranger across the lobby. Her finger-tips tingled in the way they did only around tarot cards. She forced herself to see the whole picture, and not just the cards. Their half sister, KG, talked with great animation to the woman holding the deck. The woman holding the deck shook her head. KG’s expression turned pleading.

Jade shook Jasper off. She came up behind KG and listened to the woman turning KG down say, “It just doesn’t feel like a safe experience for me. I’d check with some of the male tarot readers and see if they’re open to it.”

KG shook the woman’s hand. “Well, thank you anyways. It really was lovely that reading you did.”

Jade waited for the woman to step away before saying, “We’re about to get dinner. Come, join us.” After they’d found a booth and settled in, she asked, “What’s going on?” She had to stop herself from begging for the details on the deck.

“I have a client in prison who wants a Tarot reading.”

“To what purpose?”

KG shrugged. “He wants to know whether to fight to get out of prison, things about his brother’s killer and such.”

Jade shook her head. “Good luck finding a reader for stuff like that. Most of those out there are not going to handle anything other than love readings. Those who do other stuff, like career and business, won’t be seen near a prison. Have you asked any of the male Tarot readers in the area?”

KG said, “They were the first group I approached.” She sighed and picked at her pasta salad. “I just . . . it shouldn’t be this hard to find a reader. This ghost-hunting convention is my last option.”

Jade snorted. “It should be twice as hard to find a decent reader. I’d be worried if someone jumped out of the shadows swearing to do a great job for a convicted criminal.” She pointed her fork at KG. “Why are you mixed up with him anyways?”

“He has a parole hearing coming up. I’ve worked with a few people he knows inside. He reached out. But then he said the only reason he’d work with me is if I got him a Tarot reader.”

“Walk away, KG. Don’t take this one. Prisoner tarot readings never go down easy. It’s not like what the likes around here will do.” She looked to Jasper. “Can you imagine Cynthia doing a tarot reading inside a prison?”

“No. Don’t even think about it.” Jasper shook his head. “Drop that line of thought at once. Cynthia’s a sweetheart and doesn’t need to get herself mixed into something like that.”

“Damn.” KG muttered. Her shoulders slumped.

Jade changed the subject. She told small stories of accounting muck-ups for the rest of the meal. These gained smiles and soft chuckles from both her siblings. At the end, Jasper decided to stay and rent a room for the night. KG brought her own car and did not need a ride home.

Jade’s drive home was made in silence. Once home, she spread her accounting books out on her desk and began work right away. But the numbers began to slip away and she found herself wondering more and more on the type of person asking KG for a reading. Finally, mentally worn, Jade neatened up her desk, changed into her nightwear, and climbed into bed.

It was like blinking. One moment she saw dark ceiling of her bedroom. The next she stared up into the dreary expanse of a tower. She put her foot on the bottom step of the circular staircase. For a moment Jade paused to look around her, look behind her, look for the door. None existed. At the top of the tower, her life would lay around her in ruins. But she had no choice. She was locked in with no other option but to start the climb. The longer she took, the more this agony dragged out.

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