Slam! A woman with graying hair forcefully sets a dirty, empty glass on top of an old, scuffed-up dryer. She wipes a dribble of sherry from her chin. Only mid-morning, she is already drinking.
The laundry room has a strong musty smell due to mounds of dirty laundry strewn about the washroom. It also houses miscellaneous stuff – supplies, brooms, iron and ironing board, boxes, other junk, and trash – basically a dirty storage room. The washer, smoothly humming, has another 20 minutes to go.
The dryer, however, had finished. The door creaks when she opens it. She pulls out clothes and realizes they’re a little damp. “Piece of crap doesn’t dry very well,” she says while returning the clothes into the dryer and slamming the door shut. She spins the dial to set it for another fifteen minutes and restarts the machine. She grabs her dirty glass and leaves the washroom.
After a bit, she returns, this time with her glass topped off with more sherry. The dryer had stopped. She drinks and sets the glass on the machine. The washer slows and also stops. She opens the dryer and checks the laundry. It’s still damp. She slams the dryer door and drinks more of her sherry.
“Alvin,” she yells to her husband who is likely in the garage. She continues, “Alvin, your dryer sucks and is a worthless piece of shit.” She kicks the dryer as she leaves.
Again returning after a while, she checks the clothes and is relieved that they are dry. “Finally,” she said, speaking directly to the dryer. She leans down and grabs the clothes in handfuls. There were more in the back of the drum, just outside her reach. She gets on her knees, leans into the dryer, and grabs the remaining clothes. “This is a big dryer,” she thought.
She starts to empty the washer and transfers the wet clothes into the dryer. After tossing in the last handful of wet laundry, she notices a playing card sandwiched between a shirt and socks. She reaches in and grabs the card. She looks at it front and back, then focuses on the side with the image.
The card was titled ‘The Wheel of Fortune.’ On the card is a great wooden wheel surrounded by angels and impossible creatures. To herself, she thinks, “What the fuck is this?”
She yells, “Alvin, what’s this frickin’ playing card? You left it in your pocket. It’s messing up the laundry. Asshole. Alvin, Alvin?” No response.
She looks intently at the image. Transfixed and mesmerized, her gaze turns into wonder, at least for a few seconds.
She regains her composure, crumples the card in one hand, and tosses it in the trash. She finishes loading the dryer, tosses in a dryer sheet, and slams the door. Setting the dial to maximum, she starts another cycle. The dryer moans as it struggles to roll its drum. It turns slowly at first, then picks up speed. The drum lurches, hisses, and wobbles as it finally reaches a top spin rate. It makes a repeating mechanical noise which annoys her. She pounds on the dryer and says, “Unbelievable.” She then loads the washer, and leaves.
What she did not know was that the card came from a Tarot deck and is one of twenty-two special Major Arcana cards. This one symbolizes a change or turn of events – a mystical construct of karma. The person that draws this card will experience what they have dealt. The universe spins and returns what it has been given. The Wheel of Fortune is the ultimate vending machine – you put something into the universe, and something you may or may not want is spit back out.
The washer stops. The dryer stops.
She returns with another drink in hand, and checks the clothes in the dryer. Again, they’re damp. “Waste of time,” she says under her breath. She takes a long drink from the glass and sets it down. She sets the dial to maximum, and restarts the dryer.
Looking and fuming at the dryer, she grabs her glass and finishes her drink. The glass slips from her shaky grip, drops on top of the iron sitting on the floor, and breaks into pieces. Her rage erupts. She grabs the iron and slams it into the dryer several times, leaving deep dents.
Late that evening, the house is dark and empty. Alvin left with his drinking buddies. His wife is alone, mostly drunk.
She returns to the room to check the dryer. She opens the door and is greeted with the warmth and smell of freshly cleaned, dry laundry. Unstable, she drops to her knees and begins to unload the clothes.
She reaches in, grabs a handful, and uncaringly tosses the clothes behind her onto the floor. The dryer is nearly empty after repeating this a few times. Some pieces are at the very back of the drum. She reaches in and stretches. “It’s pretty deep in here,” she again considers. As she strains to reach the remaining clothes in the back, the dryer makes a gurgling sound.
“What the…” she says.
She reaches even deeper. Her head and chest are now inside. The drum starts to slowly spin. Startled, she retracts herself but something has a hold of her hand. She pulls back but is pulled in and lunges further into the machine.
In a split second, the dryer sucks her entire body inside its drum. The door slams. The dryer wobbles as it speeds up its spin once again. The machine hisses when it eventually reaches its top spin rate.
This is Dante P Ramon, your host and author 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 TheDarkReading.com, and feel free to share The Dark Reading with your friends.
I just drew the Death card, so good night for now.
Season 1 Episode 30.
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This, and all stories on The Dark Reading are original and written by Dante P. Ramon.
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