“Okay, kid. Calm down and focus. What‘s on your mind? Do you want to know if you’ll meet a girl, or if you’ll catch a humongous mackerel?” the Tarot Reader asked Martin, a young nine year old boy.
Martin smiled at his dad sitting next to him. They exchanged goofy looks and eventually agreed using only expressions. “Um, ok,” yelled Martin.
His dad and the Reader laughed. The Reader said, “Not so loud, you’ll wake the Death card.”
“Sorry,” giggled Martin. After settling down, he continued, “Am I gonna be a fisherman just like my dad?”
With that said, his dad started beaming. The Reader smiled, spread the cards on the table and asked Martin to choose one.
Martin drew the Six of Swords and handed it to the Reader. “Very good,” the Reader said. “This Tarot card represents travel, a journey. Specifically, a passage of sorts. The images on the card show a man ferrying a woman and child across choppy waters to reach the calmer, other side.”
“You’ll be leaving behind some hardship – a kind of transition, a healing.”
“But also notice the fishermen in the background. There’s a good chance you’ll master the sea just like your dad.”
Martin was proud and satisfied, so he and his dad headed back home.
Weeks later, Martin and his dad are at their small village on the sea in Newfoundland. It is mid-morning. Small fishing boats have already come back from the waters and unloaded their meager catch. Martin, his dad, and other fishermen were in the natural harbor. They were checking and prepping the nets for the next trip. It was a a typical overcast day. And everyone was working hard to make enough to survive.
“You’re doing a good job, son,” said Martin’s dad. “You’ve been really helpful this season. Keep it up. Look at the other fishermen. We’re all struggling. Always do your best to help, not just for us but for each other – everyone here. This village is your family now. You must help it, protect it. Understand?”
“Yes sir!” Martin said enthusiastically. He finished his work and asked his dad if it was ok to see his friends. His Dad nodded.
Two years earlier, Martin had lost his mother and sister to a boating accident. He was left with his dad and the fishing village, and by now knew everyone and considered them family, And they were all he had.
The next day, a storm blew in from the sea. It began in the morning. Sheets of rain pelted the village as strong winds pushed the storm inland. Late afternoon, the winds tore several boats from their moorings. The fishermen, including Martin and his dad, ran to the harbor to save what they could. One by one the boats were again secured. Martin and his dad, having helped all the others, were last to leave the harbor.
Just then, a cold and heavy sheet of rain blasted the two of them off their feet. As they helped each other up, they noticed someone in the distance also getting up from the ground. They couldn’t make out or recognize the person through the rain, except that he was a young boy. They ran to help. Martin’s dad yelled, “Who is that? Who are you? Stay there, we’re going to help.”
They got to the boy but did not recognize him. In fact, they had never seen anyone like him before. This boy, about the same age as Martin, was odd looking. Aside from being wet and thrown about, he was gaunt and pale, with dark, sunken eyes. His clothes were – well he was wearing knickers, a shirt and vest – akin to what boys wore in the early 1900’s.
“Are you alright, are you hurt?” asked the dad.
“No, not hurt, sir” said the boy politely while getting his footing. “I think I’m good.”
As he spoke, they could see his yellowing teeth. Each looked slightly pointed or maybe sharpened. Martin and his dad were startled by this, but continued asking questions to find out what happened.
Pointing toward the sea and the turbulent horizon, the boy said that he didn’t remember exactly where he came from, but he knew he lived somewhere beyond the mist. He could not remember anything except for his name, and that he was blown in by the storm. He was called Conner.
The dad said Conner will need to follow them home, and that tomorrow when the storm has passed, he’ll take the boy to the sheriff. To this Conner said, “No. I will not join you. I have to go back home right away. I have to get home.”
“You can’t. I won’t let you,” said Martin’s dad. “It’s too dangerous and you’re too young. You will come with us.”
“Very well sir,” replied Conner. He looked directly at Martin and continued softly, “I will go with you. But be warned – I will need to feed soon.”
Inside their small house, they prepared for sleep. Sheets and blankets were laid on the kitchen floor for a makeshift bed for Conner.
Martin came into the room to peek at their guest. Conner spoke, “I’m remembering more. I have to get back home and you must take me. You must. If you don’t, you and your village are in danger. You cannot let that happen.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” said Martin. He turned around and left. Martin woke up the next morning feeling a little groggy. It was also much later than usual. Why didn’t his dad wake him? He got up, stretched, and changed his clothes. He went to look for his dad.
In the kitchen he froze upon seeing a most horrific scene. His dad was laying on the floor, dead. Where his chest should have been was a gaping hole. Blood drenched his body and spread onto the floor. Conner, similarly covered in blood, was in the corner of the room crying, cowering, ashamed. He pleaded with Martin to take him home. Martin threw up, then grabbed his dad’s nearby harpoon.
He walked slowly toward Conner and raised the harpoon, pointing it directly at the bloody boy. He hesitated, then said, “I can’t kill you. But I can’t leave you here because you’ll kill others in our village. I will take you home.”
Martin guided Conner to their boat, got in, and launched it. They headed toward a thick mist on the horizon. For hours, the small motor propelled them steadily. Martin had taken a spare gas can and emptied it into the motor. He had already refilled the motor once before. As they got closer to the mist, Conner’s demeanor changed from regret to excitement. He said, “I’m sorry about your dad, but I warned you the night before. Yet, I am grateful to you for bringing me home. But you know you cannot go back. I have to feed, you see.” Conner turned away from Martin and looked forward ahead of the bow savoring the mist just ahead.
Martin grabbed the harpoon, stood up, and thrust the weapon all the way through Conner’s body. At that moment the sea was still and all was calm.
Before Martin and his dad left, the Reader got up and said, “Be strong Martin. Stay true. You are the Ferryman, after all.”
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 thedarkreading.com. And please feel free to share The Dark Reading with your friends.
I just picked the Death card, so good night for now.
Season 1 Episode 8
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All third party marks are the property of their respective owners. Image credit: Golden Tarot, Kat Black.