Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

Clairvoyance By Nicholas Barton

‘We will not back down against North Korea,’ a UN spokesman said on the radio. ‘No matter what.’

Claire turned it off, and listened to the groaning house. The windows were screaming with rain. It didn’t allay her anxiety. Mum was watching her, with the crystal ball standing between them, waiting for her to try again.

‘You can do this,’ she said.

‘No,’ Claire was massaging her cheek. It was like trying to talk through a mouthful of barbed-wire. ‘I don’t want to do it. It’s horrible.’

The sound of muffled thunder echoed like distant artillery.

Mum inhaled through her nose. A sound of impatience. ‘You’re clairvoyant. You must.’

‘No. I can’t—’ Claire shut her eyes, and then looked at Mum. ‘I just don’t get why.’

The rafters shook from another thunder blast. ‘You’re not just my stubborn daughter. It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves. You can see the future. There. Now you know.’

Claire glanced at the misty globe like it was a rotting head. Mum snapped her fingers.


Claire refused.

Mum stepped behind her, and shoved her chair – with Claire on it – into the table. The ball rocked on its stand.


‘Fight all you want. You’re doing this.’

Claire cried, but Mum didn’t care. She stared like a cruel teacher until Claire did as she was told.

With a hateful reluctance, Claire regarded the ball with a horrified grimace, and closed her eyes.

All was quiet in the room, until Mum asked what she could see.

‘I’m not sure.’

‘Speak properly.’

‘I… I don’t know. It hurts.’


‘It hurts!’

‘No.’ Mum grabbed Claire’s shoulders, clamping her still. ‘Keep trying.’

A peal of thunder banged – its greatest blast yet – and Claire shoved Mum into a bookcase. Her scream sounded like a windowpane shattering under a fall of hail.

‘Claire?’ Mum grabbed her arm, her face pale with fear. ‘What… what did you see?’

Claire couldn’t repeat it. The image made her skin creep and crawl, and she was certain she’d wet herself.

‘Tell me!’

‘The radio.’ She said.

Mum snapped her eyes at the radio. She turned the dials, getting manic static before smacking the base with the flat of her hand. The signal caught.

The news.

‘Yes. I… I can confirm a nuclear… warhead has detonated in… my god.’

They stared in silence.

‘London… oh good god.’

Claire looked at Mum like a prisoner waiting for the blade to fall. ‘I told you I didn’t want to look.’

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