Justin pointed to a small caravan parked at the edge of the village green. “Hey, a fortuneteller.” He elbowed Adam. “Remember the one in Egypt? Boy, she was weird.”
“Cool,” said Kim. “I’d love to hear my fortune. Maybe she can tell me if I’ll pass math this year.”
Adam felt uncomfortable. He didn’t want another experience like in Egypt when the old fortuneteller had told him his life was in danger. From then on, they had plunged headlong into a series of life-threatening events and Adam had nearly died. For him, even one near-death experience was too much.
“Naah,” he said, trying to sound casual. “Let’s give it a miss.”
Justin read the sign outside the fortuneteller’s caravan aloud. “Madame FiFi’s amazingly accurate and true predictions. Find out what the stars hold in store for you.” He winked at Adam. “No palms this time. Madame FiFi does tealeaves.”
Justin and Kim ignored Adam’s protests as they strolled over to the caravan. Madame FiFi was showing out a smiling visitor, who then trotted down the caravan steps.
“Look,” said Justin. “A satisfied customer.”
Madame FiFi was a buxom woman, dressed in a traditional gipsy style with a frilled white blouse and a long, multicolored skirt. Dark curls tumbled from the confines of the bright red turban on her head. She wore clinking gold bracelets and big, round gold earrings. Heavy black makeup ringed her eyes, giving her a mysterious look. When she spoke, however, she rolled her r sounds, just like Mrs. McLeod.
“Hullo, me darlings,” she cooed. “Want yer fortunes told then?” She looked them up and down before naming her price. “I’ll do a group discount. Five pounds.”
“Sure,” said Justin, feeling in his pockets.
“Come along then, kids,” said the fortuneteller. “Pay me after the reading.”
They squeezed into her cramped caravan and sat down on a rickety sofa. Her bracelets jangling with each gesture, Madame FiFi poured hot water from a kettle into three cups and then spooned tealeaves into each cup.
Adam watched the dark flakes of tea swirling in his cup.
“Now,” she instructed them. “Turn yer cup round nicely a few times before the first sip, drink the tea, and then turn the cup upside-down on the saucer.”
The tea tasted slightly bitter without milk or sugar, but wasn’t unpleasant.
Madame FiFi looked at Kim’s cup first. “Ooooh, dearie,” she trilled. “It says words and numbers will be your friends.”
Kim looked puzzled. “What does that mean?”
Madame FiFi made a small impatient noise. “I don’t know, dearie, it’s just the message I get. You must make of it what you please.”
She took Justin’s cup. “You next, luv.” She peered into the cup. “This one says the position you desire will be yours.”
“Yes!” Justin gave an air punch. “I know I’ll be a prefect next year.”
The fortuneteller giggled. “Maybe even head boy some day if you play yer cards right.”
She turned to Adam. “Now let’s see what’s in store fer this young man.”
Adam felt a sudden wooziness when he put his cup down. He closed his eyes as a fierce wind rushed past him. When he opened them again and looked down, he was standing on the top of an immense tower. A soft, brilliantly hued garment covered his arms. It was a cloak made of iridescent feathers, their colors sparkling in the sunlight. He lifted his hands to his head. He wore a strange headdress. It was heavy and, from what he could feel, elaborately decorated.
Where am I?
Miles and miles of forest spread out in front of him in a vast expanse of greenery. He heard faint cheering and then the whoomp-whoomp of mighty wings. A giant bird circled him, the beating of its enormous wings sending gusts that lifted his feathered cloak, causing it to float behind him like beautiful wings. Now the excited crowd was screaming, roaring, cheering. He turned his head to see a dark shadow falling across him.
Cold liquid splashed onto his face. As he looked up from where he was lying on the caravan floor, three anxious faces stared down at him. He blinked and rubbed his eyes. Madame FiFi was holding a jug.
“Are you all right, dearie? It’s just ordinary tea from the supermarket.” Madame FiFi picked up his cup and sniffed it. “This has never happened before. I always use Typhoo Tea.”
Kim and Justin helped Adam to his feet.
“I’m okay,” he told them. “I just felt dizzy.”
Madame FiFi nodded in sympathy. “It’s warm today and a bit crowded in here. Best get back home. Maybe have a little lie-down?” She ushered them out of the door and down the caravan steps.
Justin turned back. “But I haven’t paid you.”
However, just like the fortuneteller in Egypt, Madame FiFi didn’t seem to want payment. She shook her head and waved. “Toodle-oo.”
“Didn’t you see anything for Adam?” Kim called to her.
“Er … just a big bird,” said the woman. “Maybe his mum’s going to buy him a parrot.”
As they wandered back to the village square, Adam didn’t say anything about his fainting fit until finally Justin asked, “What happened back there?”
Adam shrugged. “It was nothing. Like I said, I felt dizzy.” He looked ahead. “Hey, there’s Aunt Isabel and James. Let’s catch up to them.”
In her caravan, Madame FiFi picked up the cup the boy had used. She stared at the pattern of tealeaves for a few minutes, then sat down heavily on the sofa, wondering if she should call them back. Then she shook her head. It was probably an anomaly, something that hadn’t happened for a long time. How could she explain to a young boy that in his future she had seen travel to a distant and dangerous land, a giant bird, and a blood sacrifice?
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