Focus your thoughts and clear your mind of all worries. What is it that concerns you? Now ask your question.

“I’m starting my own landscape business,” said Tracy. “I’ve worked for a few companies over the years and feel that I can go at it on my own. I know both the labor and the business side. What do you think? What should I do to make it really successful?”

The Reader spread the cards face down on the table. “Choose your card.”

Tracy, a confident, strong woman in her early thirties, was very enthusiastic about her business idea. She had put in the work at the other landscape businesses, starting from the bottom and moving all the way to the top office. She could dig, plant, design, consult with customers, keep books, and provide strategy to direct and grow the business. Her coworkers and boss would often praise her for being able to ‘grow anything.’

“Ok, here goes,” said Tracy as she drew and turned over her card. It was the Five of Cups. The card had an image of a man, head down and under a heavy cloak. The man is looking at five golden cups, a few of which are tipped over with their precious wine spilled onto the ground.

The Reader looked up from The Five of Cups and said to Tracy: “The card speaks of sorrow. There is loss, grief and depression. It focuses too much on the spilled contents. Your business and experience seem sound enough, but keep from despair or all will suffer.”

Tracy thanked the Reader, got up and left, while thinking to herself that she would heed the advice from the Tarot card.

We see Tracy a few years later. Having just left a client’s property, she was beaming and telling her assistant that she knew all along that she would win and close the contract to renovate and improve the park, a city block size property in front of her client’s corporate headquarters.

She went home that evening and was greeted by Axel, her black Doberman. Tracy loved Axel, and he similarly was loving and completely devoted her. He had his own pillow in the living room and would sit with Tracy while she relaxed and drank wine. Tracy would also often bring Axel to her business work sites. He was the perfect companion – obedient, protective, agile, athletic, friendly. He was loved by Tracy’s crew. During break time, they would often play frisbee with Axel. Tonight, to celebrate the ‘win’, Tracy dimmed her lights, poured a glass of wine, and relaxed with Axel in the living room.

Her business had been a success. She hit the ground running and after a short time, had grown the business to accommodate multiple jobs with over 25 staff. This park project would be her largest to date. Sometime well into the project, she went to the site for inspections. She brought Axel with her as usual.

The site had a challenge – several huge boulders, each almost half the size of a VW Beetle. The boulders were smack in the middle of where the new pond would be. Her foreman was there, frustrated and cussing while operating the bulldozer and backhoe to move the rocks.

“How’s it going,” she yelled. “Not good,” said the foreman. “These rocks are fighting me. But I’ll get them to move. Don’t worry.”

“Alright then,” said Tracy, “but take a break first,” which the foreman disregarded.

Some of the other crew were already on break and had been playing frisbee with Axel. They’d throw the frisbee as far as possible, and Axel caught each one with one elegant, graceful leap. This dog was strong and thoroughly in his element.

One of the guys grabbed the frisbee from Axel. As he ran backwards and threw the frisbee, he tripped on a shovel. The frisbee was launched from his arm, but in the direction of the foreman. As Axel leapt for the frisbee the foreman brought down the backhoe with force into one of the troublesome boulders. There was a yelp, then quiet.

Tracy and the crew turned toward the direction of backhoe. The foreman stopped the machine and jumped out. As they gathered around, they saw the horrific outcome. Axel was dead – mauled and mangled beneath the backhoe bucket. Part of his leg was off to the side. His torso was split in two.

A few months later we find Tracy alone at her house – lights dim and having had several glasses of wine – all alone in the living room. Outside, which once showcased a magnificently manicured sprawling landscape featuring trees and flower gardens, was now just a remnant of its original self. Many of the plants, including the lawns, were either dying or dead.

She had purposely been staying away from her business, only speaking directly to her foreman and managers by mobile. She was in a deep depression of which there seemed to be no relief. That night in a half drunk state, she got up and went to the garage. In a dark, tucked-away corner was a freezer. Opening the lid, her hand went in, fumbled a bit, and drew a plastic sack containing the frozen remains of Axel’s severed front right leg. She had collected and kept the leg in the freezer since that awful, tragic day.

Tracy set the leg out to thaw. She drank more wine in the living room and after a bit, went back to the garage for the thawed leg. She took it to her back yard which at this time of night and in its dry, dying state, looked more like the perfect setting for a cemetery. But she didn’t just bury the leg. She took it to a planter box prepared with fresh, rich organic soil. There she placed it roughly in a pre-dug hole and covered it under six inches of dirt. She smoothed the top layer of soil and watered it with a quick-grow fertilizer mixture. She wept as she placed a garland of dry flowers and Axel’s frisbee on the soil.

The next day, Tracy finally made it back to work. She spent the whole day visiting many of the active landscape projects she had in the city. She arrived home late evening as usual. She dimmed the lights, poured a glass of wine, and sat alone in the living room.

Scratch, scratch, scratch – she heard from the back door. Somewhat curious, she got up slowly, tripped, and staggered to the kitchen toward the back. She opened the door but found nothing, no one.

But wait. There was a frisbee just outside the door. “Who the heck is out there? Quit messing around,” she yelled. Hearing nothing she stepped outside teetering a little from the wine. Leaving the door open, she grabbed the nearby shovel, and walked for a bit. Being satisfied that all was okay, she returned to the house and locked the door, shovel in hand.

Heading back to the living room, she turned off the kitchen light. She heard a soft scraping, a heaving sound by the living room. And in the dim light, she saw it – the silhouette of a dog, clearly a Doberman. It was breathing, taking in long, slow breaths. She did not / could not move. The dog pushed up and clumsily walked toward her. She flipped on the light.

It was Axel! But where Axel was beautiful and in his prime before the accident, this Axel was, as best as we can describe, raw. His leg, the one Tracy planted, looked normal enough, but growing from it was the rest of Axel’s body – bleeding, some skin and fur just barely covering fat, muscle and bone. The other legs were not yet fully formed. Half of his head was recognizable. The other half was the skull and oozing. “Oh my god,” cried Tracy horrified at the sight of this creature.

This regrown Axel tried to smile. It’s shredded tongue slipping out of its malformed jaw. It tried to bark but only made a painful, raspy grunt. It was a pathetic abomination. But Tracy immediately recognized him. “Axel, is that you?”

Axel whimpered and kept smiling while slumping toward Tracy. She stood still, yet understood that dog was just happy to see its master. She slowly held out her arms. Axel came to Tracy and buried its face in her open arms. Tracy cried and wrapped her arms around Axel, hugging this regrown thing. They were together once again.

After a period of time, she helped Axel to his bed in the living room. She petted him and brought water. Axel did his best to lap it up. “Good boy. I’ve missed you so much,” she said through tears. “Stay here while I get you some food.” Axel looked up at her with his one formed eye and smiled contentedly. He laid his head down to rest and sleep.

Tracy went back to the kitchen. She thought to herself, ‘what have I done. I’ve brought poor Axel back. He’s alive but suffering. I can’t bear it. My poor Axel, my friend. No, this can’t be.’

She grabbed her shovel, slowly walked to the living room to find Axel asleep. And she did what she knew she had to do.

The Reader looked up from the Five of Cups card and finally said to Tracy, “Although it does portray despair, there may yet be a release, a resolution if you let go of your jaded regret and bitterness.”


This is Dante P Ramon, your host and author of The Dark Reading, scary stories inspired by Tarot cards. I invite you to listen to our podcast regularly, and visit us on the web at

I just picked the Death card, so good night for now.


If you like my scary stories, please feel free to share this website and our Podcast at with your friends and colleagues. Thanks!


Season 1, episode 3.

©2020 The Dark Reading. All Rights Reserved.


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