Red Rock

“Woo hoo – finally,” yelled Ren upon winning a small jackpot at a slot machine. He was dressed casually, wearing old and comfortable jeans and tee-shirt. His only new article of clothing was a bright blue LA Dodgers ball cap purchased that morning at the casino. A small audience accumulated and cheered him on.

Ren is a Tarot Reader. Young and in his early twenties, he’s been in the business for only a few years. His age and relative inexperience are reflected in his readings.

“Come on,” said a friend he met at the hotel. “We’re gonna be late.”

Ren cashed out and grabbed his winnings receipt. Reading the slip of paper, his eye caught fleeting movement below. He flinched, dropped the receipt, then bent over to pick it up. His ball cap fell off his head and rolled in between and underneath two slot machines where it couldn’t be reached. He stood and looked at the group somewhat embarrassed. The audience got bored and started to disburse. He and his buddy left and headed toward the convention area.

They were at the Global Psychic Expo, a week-long conference and trade show for the metaphysical – psychics, mystics, magicians, occultists, and anyone with special abilities or respective interest. The event is hosted at the Venetian in Las Vegas, and consists of the show floor, training and classes, discussion panels, and finally events, food and entertainment.

Ren almost didn’t come to the conference. Prior to leaving for Vegas he had drawn the Tower card that indicated trouble ahead. But this was an event he really wanted to attend. There were classes and demos he wanted to see, and people he wanted to meet – good intentions to improve his skills. He decided to go.

That evening at the fancy event dinner, his friend mentioned that they should go to Red Rock Canyon for an early hike since their first session is scheduled at eleven a.m. Ren agreed and both confirmed to meet in the lobby at six.

The next morning, Ren received a cancellation from his friend. With his schedule still open, Ren decided to go hiking by himself.

Red Rock Canyon is a jewel in the Nevada desert. It’s mountainous rock formations provide tourists and hikers a nice alternative to the Vegas strip. In the morning, Red Rock is magnificent, especially when the early sun hits the mountain, making its reddish stone glow brilliantly. The air is fresh. The sky is a clean blue. The mountain has well-traveled hiking trails that beg visitors to walk its paths. Ren was mesmerized by the beauty and started his hike.

An hour in, and somewhere behind the mountain, Ren saw a less worn path that led to a cut at the foot of the nearest hill. Curious, he took the path.

As expected, it led him to the cut – a deep gully formed by a now-dry stream bed. Ren walked all the way to the edge. It wasn’t that deep, maybe twenty to thirty feet. Some areas at the bed are quite wide – a car could drive through. But at others, both sides come together fairly close, not more than a few feet, like the spot just below Ren.

There is scrub brush following a dry stream. His eye caught some movement below. He leaned over the edge just a bit more to figure out what was moving down there. The rock he is standing on cracks, splits off from the edge, and slides into the gully, bringing Ren along with it.

He goes down feet first. The sides funnel him along with the cracked rock into the tight space.

He and the rock abruptly jam together just above the floor of the gully. The air clears. His upper body is sitting up against the boulder. He is pinned where he can only lean forward on the rock. He’s in pain and his leg is caught. “This is the Tower card’s warning,” he thought.

Ren tried to free himself but neither his body or boulder moved. He yelled for help but no other hiker was there to hear him. He checked his pocket, found his phone, and calmly dialed 911 for rescue. 911 took his information and said they’ll be there shortly.

Relieved, Ren relaxed a bit and surveyed his immediate surroundings. The place was quiet and serene. If he wasn’t stuck he would actually have enjoyed the spot.

With nothing to do, he grabbed his favorite Tarot deck from his backpack. Using the boulder’s flat surface, he laid out the cards and asked, “Okay, how will this turn out?”

From the deck, he drew the Three of Cups, which immediately brought a smile to his face. “A good ending to this accident,” he said.

The Three of Cups represents a celebration. On the card are three women, festive and dancing, each raising a gold chalice in revelry. Drawing this card usually means good fortune and time of plenty – truly a time to celebrate.

“But I’m still stuck here until I’m rescued,” he said. “I guess I’ll do that afterwards.” Ren sat back, closed his eyes and relaxed.

Not quite half an hour later, he was concerned that the rescue hadn’t yet arrived. His leg was numb, enough so that he couldn’t feel his feet He became anxious. Ren grabbed his phone again, but it slipped from his nervous hands and dropped to the floor of the gully.

He didn’t panic. “They’ll be here soon,” he thought.

Unable to see below his hips or the rock, Ren didn’t know that blood had been dripping down his leg and onto the gully wall. The blood formed into a narrow stream and collected into a pool at the bottom. Its brilliant, deep red was complemented by the rusted rock of the canyon.

Ren hears a soft scuffle by a scrub brush in the distance and gazes at it. Above the brush pops a bright blue LA Dodgers ball cap. “Help,” he yelled, “I need help.”

Moving from behind the scrub, an Imp appears wearing Ren’s ball cap. It was small in stature but had all of the ‘defining’ imp attributes – hooves, a barbed tail, batwings on its back, and horns. It had the quintessential form of the Devil, especially with its leathery, reddish skin.

Ren was petrified. He was unable to move or speak. Then things got worse – the imp was joined by two others.

The imps looked at each other, and suddenly charged toward Ren. He watched, still unable to move as the creatures’ hooves scratched the sand and clacked on rocks heading his way. They disappeared beneath him and the rock.

The imps stopped at the pool of blood and started to lap it up. After satiating themselves, they stepped back and started hopping around each other in glee. Ren, now able to see the imps from below the rock, realized they were celebrating. Their revelry was unmistakable. This is the Tarot card’s message.

The imps stopped and looked at Ren. The one with the ball cap jumped onto the rock and stood inches from Ren’s face, arm reaching out to touch him.

About to yell, Ren heard a siren in the distance. The imps also heard and scurried off as quickly as they appeared.

An hour later, Ren was in the EMT vehicle being driven to the hospital. No longer afraid of the imps, all he could think about was how severely he misinterpreted the Tarot cards.


This is Dante P Ramon, your author and host of The Dark Reading, a collection of original scary stories inspired by Tarot cards. I invite you to follow my website as I present new stories on a weekly basis. I also record and distribute my stories via podcast. So, visit us on the web at, and feel free to share The Dark Reading with your friends.

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


Season 1 Episode 22.

©2021 The Dark Reading. All Rights Reserved.

This, and all stories on The Dark Reading are original and written by Dante P. Ramon.

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