Seven mysterious people sat at a round table in a dark room, waiting. A single light shone down from a hanging ceiling lamp, barely illuminating everyone present.
Eight Dice clatter and roll on a table.
Cards shuffle in masterful hands.
A sip of tea leads to silence again.
A woman with long locs of hair and forest camouflage robes spoke first, breaking the silence. Anyone that knew her also knew that she had a love for animals that reached much deeper than that of vets, caretakers or the love people have for their pets. It was clear to see that what she had to talk about hadn’t been pleasant for her to experience and undoubtedly involved some tragic experience with one of these creatures.
“I saw an eagle today. I was walking down the street and I saw firemen trying to put out a burning building. That’s when I saw the eagle. Something must’ve hit it because it fell at an angle right into the fire. It came back out though, obviously in a panic, but it did manage to fly a bit before falling to the ground. It was dead.”
A few healing teardrops slid down her cheeks at having to recall the memory. Another woman in the room, an older woman with stars tattooed on her face, just below her right eye, and a crescent moon tattooed just below the left, was quick to respond to the story.
“That’s pretty foreboding and direct. When was this Anna?”
“Two days ago, not too long after sunrise.”
“This is strange. Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto will be completing their orbits around the zodaic soon, like this week. A lot of precursor effects would’ve started to occur about two or three days ago. Illusion, rebellion, and power, these three specifically will be aligned. It doesn’t give me a cozy feeling at all, though. I think is part of the reason why we’ve been getting signs that are strikingly direct and it’s unsettling. I’ve never seen it like this before, and to make it worse, some of them are rather dire. We really need some answers from 8Ball because this is making me very anxious and it’s been hard for me to concentrate. This is serious.”
Eight Dice clatter and roll on a table. The man who rolled them spoke for the first time.
“This is most definitely is serious Ashley. That’s why Tess, Digit and I decided that we should meet with 8Ball today. She signed to me about what the tea leaves showed her. Apparently, I had some sort of message for her. The moment she got there, I rolled a one, a pair of twos and the rest were three’s. This was out of six die; I had the other two in my pocket. Digit said that’s what the message was, but we don’t know what it means.”
“At least the ones you got weren’t so morbid Dom, those poor animals. Alexis would’ve loved to see what I’ve been running into lately. As much as I wouldn’t want to see her, it might be a good idea to look for her. She might actually be helpful.”
“Oh, hell naw!”
A bald man with dark glasses spoke up. His hands were resting, folded across an upright walking cane as he spoke
“Absolutely not! Listen, I’m glad I got to train under someone as gifted as Alexis but Haruspex is definitely not something I have the stomach for. I only put up with it and her, because she actually helped me develop my allsight. I wish her well wherever she went to but we’re gonna have to let her stay where she stay, we got this. With that being said, Dom, lemme ask you somethin, when you rolled what you rolled, what position were you and Digit in?”
“Digit and I were facing each other. When Tess came in, she was almost directly to the right of me. That’s about it. We stayed that way until we left the room.”
“Okay so, this what were gonna do, when 8Ball comes in, Dom, you have to sit on his right-hand side. Digit has to be on his left. Next to Digit will be me, then Ashley, then Anna, then Tara, and then Tess, who’ll be on your right. That’s the orientation that’ll let him to process whatever we need to figure this out in the best way.”
Ashley, the woman with the tattoos of stars and the moon stood up and moved toward the bald man with the cane who just explained the seating arrangements.
“Okay, so we’ll have to move around a bit. You’ll have to move too Gio. You said I’m sitting next to you, so I’ll walk with you to make sure you don’t trip over anything. Allsight or not, you might need some help.”
“Thanks love, but you know allsight really is a beautiful thing. Even though my eyes don’t work I can still sense everything around me.”
“Yeah, I know but your allsight has horrible depth perception sometimes. How many walls have you walked into today because you were too stubborn to use your cane?”
“Aww come on, stop. That was one time, weeks ago, and it was a giveaway wall remember? I can’t sense what’s meant to deceive is all. Now that I think about it, Anna, I think you were the only one that actually knew this.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right. I remember a few years ago Gio and I were walking and Gio pointed out a woman saying that she must be cold because she doesn’t have a coat on. I actually got upset when I realized it was a fur coat, but he said not to worry because if he can’t sense it, that most likely means it’s not real fur.”
A quiet woman who had been shuffling and drawing playing cards from the start of the meeting decided to speak up and ask Gio the next question.
“Wait, so if someone tried to trap you by digging a hole and covering it with leaves or a rug or something like that, you wouldn’t be able to tell it looks suspicious?”
“Not exactly. I’d just see the hole, not whatever they tried to cover it with. That’s why I walked into the wall. I didn’t see the wall, just the open space behind it that it was meant to hide.
“So, if I ever wanted to hide from you, I’d just have to tell you a lie or something like that.”
“Something like that, but in this case, as long as we don’t have any fake chairs or nothing like that in my way, I should be fine.”
As soon as everyone was seated, eight dice clattered and rolled on the table. At the same time, a man in a black dress suit, decorated with blue lining and embroidery appeared in the doorway. The blue mirror sunglasses he wore reflected everyone seated at the table.
“Well would you look at that, five sets of five and three sets of three. How’s that for a welcome? It’s good to see you 8Ball.”
8Ball took off his glasses so he could make eye contact with everyone. He usually wore them so most people wouldn’t realize that he had two different eye colors, but everyone in the room was already familiar with the deep black right eye and the crystal blue left eye.
“It’s good to be here. Now, from what I hear we have some things to figure out. Anna already told me about the eagle. Dom, Digit and Tessa told me about the leaves and the message. The one, the two and the three, it seems to me that they were meant to form an arrow pointing to this moment. As it turns out, the message was to indicate that this will be an important meeting. The eagle in the fire? That’s symbolic of the phoenix, but the phoenix is supposed to resurrect when it burns and from what we can see, there hasn’t been anything like that, so that’s troubling. I’m not sure what the details are but the general premise is quite foreboding. So far, what I can gather is that something major is on the horizon. To be honest, it’s not looking good, but we can do some orchestrating to be sure. I’m assuming we’re already oriented well, Gio? This empty seat is for me?”
“Yup, finished arranging ourselves just before you got in.”
“Good. Tara, I’ll need you to pay attention to Tess. When she finishes her tea, what she sees would be best supplemented through your cards. Do you have your Tarot with you?”
“No, sorry, standard playing cards. I can divine more from the Tarot, but these are more accurate.”
“That’s fine, we’re gonna need as much accuracy as possible.”
Anna couldn’t help but stare at 8Ball. He had everyone’s attention because they knew if they had any chance at getting answers, it was through him, but for Anna, there was something that wasn’t quite right, and she was struggling to figure out what it was. She figured that she was just upset about the fate of the animals she had been seeing, and shrugged the feeling off, but she had to say something.
“8Ball, I think you might need to try getting some more sleep. You seem very stressed out.”
8Ball was just about to answer Anna but before he had a chance, the sound of breaking porcelain ripped through the air and reverberated against the walls of the room. The cup that Tess had been sipping her tea from had slipped from her hands and fell on the table. The cup broke into several pieces, causing the tea and the leaves to leak around it. Tess stared at it for a moment, confused, until the expression on her face changed from inquisitive to horrified. She was clearly distraught and started to sign frantically.
In her younger years, Tess had gotten sick from a nearly fatal infection in her throat. As serious as the infection was, she survived, but her throat and vocal cords were so severely damaged that the doctors said she would never be able to speak again. Fortunately, she had deaf and hard of hearing relatives that had helped her learn sign language. Everyone at the table had also learned to sign so that they could communicate with her directly and freely. The damage to her throat also caused minor irritation from time to time, but Tess learned early on that hot beverages, specifically tea, helped immensely, which is why most of the time she could be found sipping tea and reading things that she would see in the leaves after she finished.
Tara and Dom tried to help Tess calm down and clean up the mess. Once she managed to gather herself, she started to sign calmer and clearer, apologizing for the mess. 8Ball was less concerned about the mess and more concerned about how Tess was feeling.
“Tess, are you okay? If you need a minute to gather yourself, we can wait until you come back or try to do this on a different day.”
Tess leaned forward, a little more into the light before she started signing again.
“No, we talk today. I’m fine.”
“Okay, alright Tess, can you tell us what you saw?”
“Yes, I tell everyone now. I see before three giants. One giant is machine, body is metal. One giant has magic inside. Last giant is person but is something more. I don’t know sign to explain.”
Tara began to slowly shuffle the cards in her hand as she interjected.
“Something more, like a superhuman or something?”
Tess signed, facing towards Tara
“Yes, but different. Same human but transform.”
Gio cleared his throat to speak.
“Hey everybody, I don’t mean to interrupt but I just gotta remind everyone that I can sense where Tess is and I know what she’s doing but she’s too far for me to sense her hands or her fingers clearly, so I don’t know what she’s signing. Anyone mind helpin a brother out?”
8Ball was quick to fill Gio in.
“Oh, yes, sorry Gio. When Tess spilled her tea, she saw three giants. A metal giant, a giant that knows magic and we’re trying to figure out what the last giant is. She said it’s like a superhuman or something.”
“Sounds kinda like a giant mutant to me.”
Tess’s eyes widened as she started to sign excitedly
“Yes! Yes! Last giant is word Gio say, mutant.”
“Well, there we go Gio, she just signed that the third giant is a mutant.”
Ashley couldn’t help but blurt out the realization she came to.
“Illusion, power and rebellion, I think that’s it! Illusion, power, and rebellion. Magicians, mutants, and mechanics! That has to be it! The only thing is that these planets typically have generational influences, but it makes sense otherwise.”
A quiet, twitchy man who was previously whispering numbers to himself stopped to say something. Having an exceptional affinity for math and number sequences at a young age, he decided that other things like language and speech were less valuable and refused to put any more effort to learning them than the bare minimum.
“Sixty! But don’t need sixty! Use twelve! Twelve for time, easy divide by two, three, four, six. Change the time. Noon, afternoon, evening, night. Change the time, three, six, nine, twelve, change the time, change the time! Three in everything.”
8ball usually liked to rephrase anything that Digit would say, just to make sure he understood what was being said, but sometimes when Digit got too excited, even 8Ball would have difficulty understanding him.
“Um….Digit, I don’t think I understand. What are we changing the time to or from.”?
“No, change the time. Always change the time.”
“Hold on 8Ball. Three, six, nine and twelve, those are all the mutable houses, they’re relative to the signs that mediate change and change their modes of expression frequently.”
“Yes! Change the time! Always change the time. Three in everything”
“Ahh, I see. The time is always subject to change. Three, six, nine and twelve are the parts of the day that make up noon, afternoon, evening, and night in the P.M. hours. When you say three is in everything, it’s because these numbers are also evenly divisible by three.”
“Yes! 8Ball brilliant!”
“Dom, I’m going to need you to roll only three die. Tara, shuffle your deck three times and each time I want you to pull a card from the top and put it down, so it doesn’t get reshuffled.”
Three dice clatter and roll on the table
“Three of three. Man, you really weren’t joking when you said three is in everything.”
Cards shuffled in masterful hands and came to a halt
“Ace of Spades.”
Cards shuffled in masterful hands and came to a halt
“Ace of diamonds.”
Cards shuffled in masterful hands and came to a halt
“Ace of Clubs.”
“…and if you shuffle and pull one more card…?”
Cards shuffled in masterful hands and came to a halt
“Three of hearts.”
“Ashley, what else is going on with these planets that are completing their orbit? I just need a little bit more before I can start to figure this out.”
“Well, it’s a tough call really because it’s so far ahead but Pluto will complete its next orbit in about 248 years, and I’m not 100% sure, but it looks like these same three planets are all going to go into retrograde until Uranus makes another complete rotation 88 years later. At that time there will be a Solar Eclipse.”
“Really… and if I remember right, retrogrades are not so good, right?”
“Generally, no, not really.”
8Ball takes a deep inhale before speaking.
“Dom, I’m going to need you to flip a coin periodically as I’m trying to figure this out. We want heads. If you flip and it comes up tails let me know immediately.”
“No problem sir.”
“Gio, are we in the right position for this?”
“Absolutely, 8Ball my brother. I took into account you might want to do something like that too. We don’t need to move around again.”
The flipping and spinning of a coin could be heard in the background while 8Ball thinks out loud
“Three Aces, okay. Depending on how you use them or what game you’re playing, they’re either the strongest cards or the weakest. The suits, I’m assuming, don’t mean very much, we may just dismiss that.”
“Really? Flip three more times for me.”
Dom flipped the coin three more times, each time catching it in his hand and slapping it on the back of his other hand.
“Each one tails.”
“Okay, I guess we’ll take into account that the suits mean something also. Depending on who you ask, the suits from the aces represent military power, wealth, and prestige, respectively. These are social facets which would mean that these giants are actually factions of people rather than individuals. This would also make sense considering that Ashley pointed out that the aligning planets typically have generational influences. People who build machines, people who practice magic, and apparently mutants. Rebellion, illusion, and power. It’s very strange though, I don’t see what that has to do with our current situation, unless there’s a dissonance between these people that leads to destruction within our world.”
Dom fumbled the coin, causing it to drop and land on the table on edge.
“Well okay then, that’s new.”
8Ball stared at the coin for a moment before standing up in excitement and exclaiming.
“In between! I’m Half right?”
As 8Ball stood up, the coin wavered a bit before falling, showing heads.
“Okay, so something about these groups has them closely intertwined with change. As Digit said, change will come with time and three is in everything, but that must mean they’re involved somehow with changing our world. They would have to be the cause of the change then.”
Tess, looking just as confused as 8ball, starts to sign.
“How 8 Ball wrong? My cup break when fall. Break happen first, then giants come. Words you say before need heads for coin.”
“Oh wait, no, you’re right Tess. That could mean…. Oh, no no no… Digit, what’s the probability of a coin landing on edge?”
Dom is quick to add in the type of coin. Since he and digit often spend a lot of time together, they had talked about how much of a difference coin sizes make when Digit is trying to calculate numbers with them.
“Standard U.S. quarter, by the way.”
“Not sure. Maybe one time when it flip fifteen thousand.
“1 out of 15,000… and the probability of it happening twice in a row?”
“Big, big number. Digit don’t know it.”
Dom’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Wow! Okay, now I’m concerned! I’ve listened to this guy rattle off the first however many numbers of pi for about an hour, but this number, this number he doesn’t know!”
“Pi easy. Pi common everywhere, natural in circle and follow routine. This edge coin weird and not natural thing.”
“Yes Digit, it’s definitely not natural. None of this is. Alright, back to business. We’re banking on the fact that the dissonance between these three factions leads to destruction within our world. Flip it Dom.”
Dom flipped the coin and it landed on edge. 8Ball sat down and put his head in his hands.
Anna still couldn’t take her eyes off of 8Ball. Something was nagging at her, almost making her forget the initial reason for even having the meeting.
“8Ball? I don’t know what this means and I’m very concerned but, please try not to stress yourself out too much.”
8Ball lifted his head and took another deep breath.
“Yes Anna, I’m sorry. I think I have most of the picture now. Our world, the outside of what we know as our own personal world, will be facing a major catastrophe soon. That’s the change. Most of the population will be wiped out. The people that remain, will either become builders of giant machines, they will learn magic and the arcane arts, or they will mutate and become metahumans. These three types of people will form their own communities and subcommunities which will be very intolerant of the other groups. They will constantly be at war with each other, but that isn’t what concerns me though. Our methods of divination have been mocked, scoffed at and met with even greater antipathy as civilized society grows. There is entirely too much going on when trying to divine a single sign to be able to do so with immaculate precision, and it doesn’t help that most of what is going on is beyond the average person’s realm of understanding. Each of us are all well enough versed in our own unique methods to know that it doesn’t work in the way we’ve been seeing recently. We know just how much studying and training it takes to properly divine, and our group has the only people that have studied and learned well enough to divine in a way that would satisfy even the most skeptical naysayer’s expectations. This, what we’ve been seeing, this is not how things generally present themselves to us. The fact that these very clear and direct signs are pointing to this catastrophe means that eventually, this right here, everything that we’ve learned, studied and built together, will see its own catastrophe.”
Gio tapped his cane twice.
Anna stared off into the distance, as if watching a movie only she could see before half whispering her next words.
“Snake eating its own tail”
Both their voices echoed into the room with perfect synchronicity.
“Yes. It may be a good thing that most of this will happen after we’re long gone. I say that because I’m convinced that the situation is involved with the retrogrades and I don’t believe any of us will be alive 248 years from now. We need to make sure that those who come after us know and are well prepared for what may come. The apocalypse, the first cataclysm that’s going to occur during this alignment is what creates the opportunity for the events of the second to reach us during the retrogrades and as we all know, if that’s the case, then it means that there’s a disturbance in the very fabric of reality, and if we can’t figure out what’s causing it, then no one can, and the problem may never be resolved.”
“This all scary. All of it scary. Only feel good is baddest part happen after Digit and friends dead and gone long time. Best thing do right now is make team after very ready.”
“Yes, the worst of it will be when we’re all long gone and we have to make sure the group that comes after us is well prepared.”
Anna seemed to break out of her trance as she directed a woeful gaze towards 8Ball before she spoke again.
“And from what I can see, our first challenge will be deciding on and training the next decrypter, right?”
A hush falls over the room as Dom’s quarter could be heard falling to the floor.
“What do you mean by that Anna?”
“I thought it was just stress that I was sensing from 8Ball before, or that maybe I was too stressed out to focus. Well, it was a little bit of both, but it’s more than just that. I think there’s something else important that 8Ball needs to tell us.”
Tara had been shuffling her cards, somewhat indifferent to the conversation but had abruptly stopped after Anna spoke, a look of concern on her face.
While everyone looked at 8Ball, 8Ball glanced over at Gio who had both hands folded over the handle of his cane and whose blind eyes were undoubtedly staring into nothingness through his dark sunglasses. He then turned to address the others, all fully attentive, faces filled with concern from Anna’s new divination.
“50 years of studying this world of divination and in the final 10 I’ve never been wrong. Even with that, I may still not be the greatest decision maker. I probably should’ve told everyone sooner, and you wouldn’t have had to deal with the revealing of two unpleasant situations in the same moment.”
“Don’t worry 8Ball. All connect with numbers. Hard to see but turn out good at important time.”
“Yes Digit, I sure do hope everything does turn out well.”
Gio leaned forward in his seat before speaking again.
“8Ball… You’ve never lied to us and you’ve never interfered or tried to distort any of the things that we’ve seen or tried to see. If you had, you would’ve disappeared from my allsight and there’s never been a time where I couldn’t sense you since I’ve known you. Even before Alexis helped me fully develop this ability, I could always sense your presence.”
“Yes Gio, I know.”
“The cataclysm…it’s the key reason why you’re leavin us so soon, isn’t it? One of the signs results in causing you undue stress, taking you away from us sooner than what we’d expect.”
“Yes Gio, yes it is.”
“It’s difficult to put into words how serious this must be then. You know that if there’s anything I can do to help; I will do it.”
“I know you would Gio. For someone who can divine reality from falsehood as well as you can, I know that I can trust you completely without any trace of doubt.”
Gio nodded slowly, pulled his cane up to rest it crossway in his lap and leaned back in his chair.
“I just want you all to know that I’m honored to have lived a lifetime with such a talented, compassionate, and dedicated group of people. I don’t need to try to divine or calculate to see that things will work out for the best because of who we are and what we represent. I trust that we will venture into a beautiful final fruition.”
Digit let out a high-pitched squeal as he did when something amused him.
“Beautiful final frution. 8Ball not name no more. Name fortune cookie now.”
Everyone laughed at Digit’s joke before leaving the room and making their way towards a beautiful final fruition.