The Charlatan
The Charlatan scary stories

jamesgboswellStories of existential dread
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A con artist receives a call from a client who's not what she appears to be...


The Charlatan

Natasha groaned as she awoke to the sound of her phone buzzing against her headboard. Her forehead throbbed with pain while nausea engulfed her stomach.

She smacked her dry lips and felt overpowered by thirst.

With her eyes shut, she fumbled her hand around until she found her phone and grabbed it. She tapped the spot where she thought the “answer” button might be on the touch screen.

Then, with a hacking cough, she held the receiver up to her mouth and said, “Hello?”

A woman’s voice said, “Hello, I’m calling for the owner of Natasha’s Crossing Over Encounters.”

“Whaddya want?”

“Uh… I understand you’re a psychic who can communicate with people who’ve passed on, is that correct?”

Natasha opened her bloodshot eyes and sat up.

“Ahem, yes that’s right. Sorry, I thought you were a salesperson. How can I help you?”

“My name is Serena Henderson. My husband passed away not long ago, but I still feel his presence in our condo. I’d like you to come see if you can communicate with him.”

“Absolutely, Mrs. Henderson.”

“Please, call me Serena.”

“Alright, Serena. Can you give me your address?”

“It’s 1011 Paulson Street, suite 1007.”

Natasha got out of bed and walked over to her flimsy desk in her small, ramshackle bedroom. The beer cans that covered the floor clanked against each other as she shuffled through them. A few pieces of acid blotter paper sat on the desk next to her old, outdated laptop. She considered taking one, but decided it would be best not to show up at the client’s home tripping.

She opened the lid of her outdated laptop that sat on the desk and typed Serena’s name and address into a search engine.

The first search result was a directory page for “Serena and Michael Henderson.” Beneath it was a link to a week-old article on the city newspaper’s website.

The headline said, “Banker’s Suicide Stuns Community.”

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