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Katie’s Black Friday
A fortune telling craze is spreading through school. Katie warns her friends that predicting the future can be dangerous, and is proved right in this story that is just a little more SPOOKY than usual.
NATASHA’S COMMENT ON THIS STORY
I love the Seance scene and it really reminds me of experiences with scary Halloween antics that I shared with school friends. I also enjoyed the classical story that Katie’s mum shares with her about the kingdom of Croesus, that reminds me of stories my mother would tell me and when we all dressed up as witches for Halloween and would go out trick or treating.
Do you have any Halloween stories or experiences you could share with us from school or home?
Maybe you have a spooky costume for Halloween.
Share your comments with me and I’ll respond back to you!
Read by Natasha. Story by Bertie. Duration 19.40 minutes.
It was the long-hour of the school lunch break. In a corner of class 4a, a group of children huddled around a desk. In the midst of them, Samantha was nimbly shuffling a deck of cards. Not just any old cards, like ones with clubs and hearts, but an especially beautiful and mystical kind known as Tarot cards.
Samantha fanned out the pack and invited Isis to pick a card, any card. Isis thought carefully and pulled out one to the side that looked like it was almost hiding from her. She turned it face up on the desk. Its picture showed a maiden dancing on top of a globe with a wand in each hand.
“Ooh, you lucky beggar !” exclaimed Samantha. “You picked “The World”. That card means you’re going to be so horribly rich and successful. “
Isis wasn’t entirely surprised by this result. She flicked her hair and said modestly,
“Oh well, we’ll just have to see about that… but if it does come true, I promise I won’t forget my friends, not ever, not even when I’m really, really rich and famous !”
You see, Tarot cards carry images like The World, the Fool, The Magician or The Hanging Man, and some people believe that they hold secret meanings that can predict your future.
Fortune telling was the latest craze to sweep through Katie’s school. Before that it had been kiss chase, and before that swapping Pokemon cards. There had even been a craze for collecting smiley frog pens.
It was only a matter of time before Mrs. Hepworth, the head teacher, would ban fortune telling, just as she had banned all the previous crazes. But for now, just about everyone kept a pack of Tarot cards, or mystic crystals, or even just a pair of lucky dice in his or her desk, or pocket, or school bag. Everyone – that is – except for Katie. Katie didn’t believe in fortune telling. Her mother had always warned her against it, and to underline the perils of glimpsing the future, she used to tell Katie the following story:
Long, long ago, a king called Croesus ruled the land of Sardis. He enjoyed great wealth, but instead of being satisfied with his comforts, he longed to conquer lands and found an empire. In those ancient times, there were mystic fortune tellers called Oracles. Croesus consulted the Oracle of Delphi about his future. She told him that if he declared war on Persia, a great kingdom would fall. Croesus was encouraged by this prediction. He returned home and led his armies against Persia. A great kingdom did indeed fall, but it wasn’t the Persians’, as he had understood the oracle to mean, but his own.
“You see Katie,” said her mother, “Sometimes you can correctly predict part of the future, but you can never see the whole picture, and that can be very misleading and dangerous.”
And so Katie felt a little bit left out when the fortune telling craze gripped the school.
It all began when Jennie came to school one Monday morning with a tiny slip of paper that had written on it “A great future lies ahead of you.” She had found this divination in a fortune cookie at the Magic Duck Chinese restaurant where her parents had taken her on Saturday to learn how to use chop sticks.
She was a bit disappointed when she learned that Max had discovered the same prediction in another cookie when he had visited the restaurant the week before.
Then somebody else brought a cardboard wheel of fortune that had come as a free toy with a comic. If you spun it, you could get predictions like “You will make a new friend” or “If you work hard, you will pass your exams”. They weren’t exactly thrilling fortunes, but they helped idle away some dull moments in the lunch break.
But when Samantha brought her mystic cousin’s Tarot cards to school, that was it: the fortune-telling craze spread like chicken pox.
On the day that Isis picked “The World” card, everybody was talking about it.
Katie said: “Don’t be silly. Only a mystic person can tell fortunes, otherwise the cards don’t mean a thing. They’re just pretty pictures.”
“Katie’s jealous,” whispered Isabelle .
“She thinks she’s the only one who knows anything about magic,” said Samantha, “But my cousin Maureen is mystic, so I think I can be too. It runs in my family.”
“Well you’re not,” declared Katie. “And if you carry on like this, no good will come of it. You’ll see soon enough. I’ll give you that prediction for free! ”
And although Katie suspected that Isabelle was pulling a face behind her back, she didn’t really care, because if being unpopular was the price of telling the truth, then it was a price worth paying.
As it turned out, Katie’s prediction was one that did come true. The very next day, Samantha fanned out the Tarot pack as usual, and Jennie picked the wrong card. When I say the “wrong card” I mean it was totally freaky: it showed a tomb-stone, with the letters “RIP” written on it.
“What does it mean?” she asked in almost a whisper. Her face was white. She knew what it meant.
“Rest In Peace,” replied Samantha solemnly. “You picked the Card of Death.”
Later that afternoon in class, when Miss Vile asked Jennie if she knew what was the biggest animal that ever lived on earth, Jennie didn’t reply. She didn’t even hear the question. Her mind was frozen with fear.
After school, people were trying to cheer her up. Ravi said, “Don’t fret Jennie, perhaps it’s only your cat that’s going to die.” And Jennie burst into tears.
“What’s all this nonsense about now?” butted in Katie.
In answer to her question, Ravi drew his finger across his throat and said “kikkkkkkkh”. And Isis whispered in her ear that Jennie had picked the Card of Death. When she heard this, Katie marched up to the culprit who was the cause of all this worry and confusion, and in a flurry of righteous fury she said:
“I told you, Samantha Jones, that no good would come of fortune-telling – and now look what’s happened. You’ve terrified the life out of poor Jennie. You’re a dangerous amateur and you don’t know what you’re doing. The Card of Death isn’t necessarily a bad one. It can mean positive things like, unexpected change, or a new beginning. “
“And how come you’re suddenly such a Miss Knowall about the cards?” demanded Samantha.
“Because I am,” stated Katie firmly. Of course, it’s an open secret that Katie is a witch, and that she knows a great deal about anything magical or mystical. And poor frightened Jennie, who was listening to all this, began to see a glimmer of hope that she might live to see her next birthday after all.
Katie went home with a certain satisfaction that she had been proven right. But the next morning Jennie came to school looking more sad than ever. You see, it was true, her cat had died.
After that, Samantha’s reputation as a mystic and fortune teller was firmly established. The word reached the ear of Mrs. Hepworth and she duly banned fortune telling at school. Nobody was particularly surprised. But even Mrs. Hepworth’s stern writ did not reach into her pupil’s time at home. The following Friday was Halloween, and while the other kids went out trick-or-treating, Samantha’s best friends gathered at her house for a seance, which is like, when you try and get in touch with people who have departed this world to the other side of life.
Isis, Jennie and Isabelle were there – and so was Samantha’s cousin, Mystic Maurine. They went down to the basement of Samantha’s house, which was used as a games room. The family kept things there like a ping-pong table, a bar-football set, a wendy house, a punch ball for her brother, and a wooden puppet theatre. It was a cool hang-out, but the light was low, and at night, especially on a date like Halloween, it could be rather creepy.
Mystic Maureen sat at the table. Before her was spread a board that depicted the Sun and the Moon encircled by letters and numbers.
“How do you play this game?” asked Jennie, a little timidly.
“This is no pretty game for little children, my dear,” said Maureen.
Although Maureen was only three years older than Samantha, she had an air of being very grown up, and seemed to model her look on a vampire. She had a pale face, straight black hair, and blood-red lipstick.
To play the Ouija board, the children had to place their hands in a pile on top of a heart-shaped float.
Maureen asked “Spirit are you with us?”
And the float started to skate across the board, as if propelled by a mystic power. Everyone’s hands followed, as it visited the letters Y-E-S.
“Spirit, do you have a message for us?”
For the next couple of minutes, the float spelt out the following message:
“Beware False Magic. Beware Black Friday. Beware Beware Beware ”
“Oh Pooh,” said Isis, “This is nonsense.”
Suddenly the float stopped moving.
“The spirit is gone,” said Maureen, “It is offended by what you said.”
Samantha was cross with Isis, but both Jennie and Isabelle were relieved that that the spirit had departed. The girls went upstairs to drink hot chocolate, and as they sat round the rather more friendly kitchen table, they discussed what the psychic message could mean.
“It’s obvious,” said Samantha, “Beware False Magic” – that can only mean Katie. She lets everyone think she’s a witch, but she isn’t, she’s just weird. “And Beware Black Friday” – That means Katie’s birthday, which is next Friday. Everyone should stay away from her party, because something really bad is bound to happen. The spirit world is angry with her for doing false magic. The board doesn’t lie, does it Maureen?.”
And Maureen agreed: “I wouldn’t got to that party next Friday for love or money.”
On Monday, the news soon spread that some terrible catastrophe would hit Katie’s party on Friday.
Katie was furious with Isis for taking part in Samantha’s seance.
And Isis was furious with Katie, because she didn’t know that the Ouija board was going to say bad things about Katie’s party, and besides she had pooh-poohed it.
“Well you didn’t pooh-pooh loud enough because everyone thinks my party’s jinxed.”
And Isis went off in a huff because her friend was being totally unfair to her. Some people started to make excuses about not being able to come to Katie’s party – like Isabelle who said she had to go to the doctor’s, and Ravi whose aunty was suddenly having her 60th birthday party that night.
Lots of people just didn’t say if they were coming or not, so Katie’s mother didn’t know how many chocolate toad-stools or candy-floss cobwebs to make for the party.
In fact, Katie wasn’t even sure if her best friend Isis was coming, because they weren’t talking to each other.
Even on Friday morning, Katie was still wondering if anybody at all would come to her party. She arrived at class feeling rather lonely and sad – but at least she wasn’t hopping mad like Samantha, because on the way to school Samantha had stepped in some dog poo.
Their teacher, Mrs. Vile, announced that there would be a surprise Geography test, and anybody who didn’t get 7 out of 10 or more would have to stay in at lunch break and learn the names of the longest rivers in the world. Katie didn’t mind this at all, because Geography was one of her best subjects – but Samantha hated Geography, and she knew she would fail the test, and she duly did.
After lunch, Samantha decided to put chewing gum on Katie’s chair. When Katie stood up at the end of the lesson, Samantha called out;
“Ooh Yuck. Katie’s got chewing gum stuck to her bottom” – and several people laughed. Mrs. Vile suspected that somebody had played a trick on poor Katie, and she came round to inspect everyone’s desks. She spotted Samanatha trying to sneak a packet of chewing gum out of her desk and into her pocket, and she gave her double detention for having illegal chewing gum and for playing a mean trick.
Katie ran out of school to get home quickly, get changed, and ready for her party. She was excited now, because even if none of her school friends came, at least her mum and dad and her cousins would be there.
Samantha was feeling more than just a bit gloomy when her mother asked her : “How was your day sweety?”
And she replied
Her mother said; “I’m sorry darling, but I’ve got a disappointment for you. Dad doesn’t want to get a puppy after all. He says that a pet would be a nuisance when we want to go away on holiday.”
“Oh Poo, Double Poo and Pants ! “ exclaimed Samantha, because that news just about rounded off the worst Friday ever for her.
Meanwhile the door bell rang at Katie’s house. She ran to open it, and was given a card, a present, and a kiss by Paul, who didn’t go to her school anymore, but whom she really, really liked a lot. Soon after, Jennie rang the bell. And then Judith. And then Rishi, and then Winston.
There were quite a few absences, but she knew that those that those who were there were her best and bravest friends.
But there was no Isis. Katie was too excited to worry about no-show Isis right now, but every now and then she had a feeling that she going to be sad later when she remembered how she had lost her best friend over a silly quarrel.
But at half past six, just as Katie was about to blow out her candles, the door bell rang again, and of course it was Isis, and had spent rather a long time deciding which party frock to wear. Hardly anybody was surprised because Isis was known for being late. In fact she seemed to make a point of it.
But Katie was all the more pleased to see her friend because she hadn’t expected her. And of course nothing went wrong at Katie’s party because it wasn’t her Black Friday, but Samantha’s.
And that was the story of Katie’s Black Friday.