Chapter 5 - Madame Babé Knows All
The store was dimly lit with curtains pulled taut over the windows, giving the place an eerie vibe. Strange relics adorned the walls from top to bottom - herbs, tiny, filled pouches, shrunken heads, beads, animal bones, voodoo dolls, candles, tribal masks... And glancing upwards at the ceiling, Oliver noticed there were even more strange pieces hanging there - skulls, moonstones and what looked to be...but no, could it really? Dried alligator tails?
Shuddering slightly, he quickly walked past other surfaces that were filled with miscellaneous items - it was probably nothing he needed to see anyhow. It was then, though, that something really caught his eye - something he couldn’t just pass by. There in the middle of a rounded, mahogany table at the center of the room was a large crystal orb. He knew he shouldn’t go near it - gosh, what would his mom even say if she knew he was in here? But the pull towards it was undeniable as he crossed the floor in two strides, ever so slowly reaching out his fingertips to the cloudy sphere.
“Curious, isn’t it?” a voice asked from behind him.
Oliver quickly spun around, almost losing his footing as he came face-to-face with a short, middle-aged woman. Her skin was the color of dark chocolate, hair hidden beneath a crimson-colored tignon and her body adorned with all manner of beads and jewels. The expression on her face was neutral, though - as if she expected he would come.
“Oliver Sage, correct?” she asked, taking a seat in front of the crystal ball.
A shiver ran down his spine at that, feeling spooked. He glanced at her warily, not sure what to make of this.
“How could you possibly have known that?” he questioned.
“Madame Babé knows all...” the woman said mysteriously and gestured for Oliver to sit down.
Finally, after a moment’s hesitation, he sat down across from this Madame Babé.
“So...why have you come to me? What is it that you seek?”
“If you’re the fortune-teller, shouldn’t you know?” Oliver sassed her, not being able to bite his tongue before the words spilled out.
Madame Babé raised her eyebrows, giving him a sly grin.
“You are a smart one....but you won’t figure this one out. No, I’m afraid it will take some time before it reveals itself.” she said, leaning back in her chair.
Oliver rolled his eyes impatiently, “Look, can I just have my fortune, please?”
With a sign, she leaned forward once more before placing her hands on the orb.
“All right, all right....You’re very pushy too. Not that that surprises me.”
As he watched, she started to move her fingers across the smooth surface of the orb, almost willing it to show her something.
“Hmmm....yes, it’s becoming clear now....” she murmured.
“What? What do you see?”
“There’s an impending darkness descending over your life now. It is coming for you very soon....”
He swallowed. This was definitely not what his mother had had in mind when she agreed to “exploring”.
“And?” he pressed her.
“And you will also meet someone. A mysterious stranger who will play a big role in your life.... ”
He furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. Who in the world...
“Ah, but you mustn’t be scared of the darkness....Because when all seems hopeless-” she said before abruptly stopping.
Oliver’s ice-blue eyes darted from her to the orb then back to her.
“What? When all seems hopeless....what comes next?”
“Hm? Oh, that’s all I got.”
“Look, I’m sorry, but I get what I get,” she waved a hand dismissively, “If it’s not in the orb then I can’t tell you.”
“Well, do you know what’s going to happen then?”
She pursed her lips, “Very possible....but I can’t tell you because if-”
“-if it’s not in the orb, you can’t tell me,” he repeated, “Yeah, I got it.”
He got up from his chair then, feeling slightly let down from his ‘reading’ and reached in his pocket.
“How much do I owe you?” he asked her.
“Twenty dollars.” she replied, holding out her hand.
He looked at her incredulously.
“You want twenty dollars and you didn’t even finish my fortune?”
“Fine,” Madame Babé sighed, “I’ll be soft on you.... Nineteen dollars.”
Oliver rolled his eyes and handed her the money. But just as he turned to leave, the woman spoke up.
“Oh, and Oliver,” she called.
Glancing over his shoulder with one hand already on the door to leave, her words drifted to him.
“Don’t forget what I said. It will change your life.”
He nodded, still a bit confused, then pushed open the door of the little shop. Light from outside hit him then, blurring his vision momentarily as he adjusted to the brightness. But as he shook his head in disorientation, he failed to see the person in front of him. They collided instantly, Oliver managing to accidentally knock a cellphone and car keys out of the other person’s hand as he did.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you,” Oliver apologized, bending down to pick up the man’s belongings.
“Ah, don’t worry about it. Mo bon,” he replied, his voice tinged with a slight Cajun accent, as he handed him back his things.
It wasn’t until Oliver stood up then that he finally got a good look at the man standing before him. He was tall, looking to be in his late 20′s with dark blonde hair, blue eyes, and barely noticeable was a bit of light blonde stubble that covered the lower half of his face.
There was something about him that...felt familiar. But Oliver knew he had never met this man before-
“Well, enjoy the city!” the man called over his shoulder then, striding on down the long sidewalk lining the shops.
Before Oliver even had the chance to reply, he was out of sight, lost in the shuffle of the crowd that littered the streets. He pursed his lips. This day just kept getting stranger and stranger.
Little did he know that things could only grow weirder... It was the way of things here...
But he didn’t have time to dwell on it too much because he was just now taking note that it was getting darker out and...he didn’t quite know which way he’d come.