Chapter Five – Fifty Two Thousand Pick Up

14 Jul

There were cards everywhere. It was as if someone had snuck in here and played a thousand games of fifty-two pick up and lost every one of them. The hallway floor was speckled with hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades and orbs.

I picked up the ace of orbs and examined it closely, it looked like any other playing card apart from the fact that there was a dark blue sphere in the middle of it.

Almost slipping up, I made my way to my bedroom door and pushed it open slowly. It took two falls and about five minutes of shoving, but I was finally able to dislodge the mountain of playing cards which had built up behind it. Moving carefully to my computer, I brushed half a deck of cards off of the keyboard and pressed the “power” button. Beside me, my computer kicked up a flurry of jokers as it whirred into life.

As I waited for it to load, I started to pick up the cards and put them back into piles. This could easily take all day. But, as I shifted a handful of thin cards into something resembling a deck, there was a subtle white-hot pain in my thumb.

A single drop of bright red blood slid across the card I was holding and settled in the middle of the heart symbol. It sat there in a single bubble for what felt like a minute before the heart beneath it twitched. Another drop of blood seeped out of my thumb and joined it – the heart twitched again.

I dropped the cards, sucked my thumb and tasted bitter copper. By now, my computer had loaded up and I shuffled my way back over to it and opened up a browser window. If the tea I’d drunk earlier was hallucinogenic, then there would be something about it on the internet. Either a stern warning from another unsuspecting customer or an enthusiastic review by a surprised stoner. There was nothing.

On the internet, The Caffe Noire didn’t even exist.

Likewise, the only articles I could find about jasmine tea were about actual jasmine tea rather than the bitter stuff I’d drunk in The Caffe Noire. When I typed “mysterious cards appearing” into Google, all it came back with were videos of magic tricks and articles about credit card fraud. Obviously I was the first person in the history of the internet to experience all of this. Either that, or I was looking for answers in all the wrong places.

Taking my bloody thumb out of my mouth, I opened the top drawer of my bedside cabinet to look for plasters. It was overflowing with them.

Dripping rhythmic droplets of blood onto the cards below me, I fumbled with a plaster until I was able to get it out of it’s casing and around my thumb. Once I’d done this, I picked up my jacket again and decided to head back to The Caffe Noire to get some answers. If the cards appeared here suddenly, then hopefully they would have disappeared by the time I got back.

When I’d opened the door, I heard a low rustling behind me. Turning around for a second, I saw something move under the cards by my bedside cabinet. It moved again. And again. Like the tell-tale heart, the cards around the cabinet had started throbbing and pulsing. I slammed the door and ran, almost tripping up another four times until I was back outside again.

If there was an explanation behind any of this, it would be in The Caffe Noire.

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