This is a story I read on a Tarot email list I'm on and thought it was wonderful. It gave me shivers.
I think even people who aren't into Tarot might find it interesting, although you'll be more likely to get the character references if you know something about Tarot.
I'd hoped to be able to link to the author, but this story is several years old and I can't find a current email address or web site for her. If she ever runs across this posting, I hope she won't mind.
Life In A Box
A Tarot Tale by Tea Prentice
Once upon a time, three major Arcana walked into a dark and crowded bar --- the Hierophant, the Magician and the Fool.
They sat down at a table and Temperance served them a pitcher of Mai Tais while a tipsy Empress greeted each one with a big hug and kiss. The Fool couldn't help but notice a robed woman seated in the corner. In front of her was a large, dark brown box surrounded by a glowing sphere of light that was hovering above the table.
"What's that!?" asked the Fool in wonder.
"That," declared the Devil at the end of the bar as he lit another cigarette, "That is addictive."
The three Majors decided to go and get a closer look. The mysterious woman introduced herself simply as the High Priestess. The Magician was the first to notice that the box had a door on top and mentioned it to his friends.
"What's inside?" asked the Hierophant.
"LIFE," replied the High Priestess.
"What is LIFE?" the Magician queried.
"Oh," sighed the Star wistfully as she wandered over to the group, "It's anything you want it to be."
"I like that," said the Fool.
The Magician looked at the surface of the table in front of the High Priestess and saw 78 cards spread out. Before he could open his mouth, the Priestess said, "KEYS."
"Ahhhh," deduced the Magician, "these keys open the way to Life. I wonder how it works!"
"Be careful," warned the Moon, "Things aren't always how they appear."
"I'll unlock the box!" declared the Hierophant. The Hierophant moved the Magician out of the way and sat down at the table across from the Priestess. "These keys," began the Hierophant "are tools and instruments of my faith. If I arrange them according to my beliefs, I will certainly unlock it."
"Yes!" cried Strength, "Belief will surely do it!!"
"I like that." said the Fool.
So, the Hierophant began arranging the cards according to his beliefs and slowly began to build a tower around the sphere of light, positive in the feeling that it would act as a conductor, focusing the energies of his faith, and that power would unlock the box. It took him some time to pick and arrange just the right cards and after 3 hours he finally placed the last card. Boom!! There was a loud, thunderous crash and a flash of light. The card tower exploded and all the cards fell to the ground.
The Magician laughed and moved the Hierophant out of the way to take his place. "These keys," began the Magician, "are tools and instruments of my thoughts. If I arrange them according to the systems I have worked out in my head, I will certainly unlock it."
"Yes!" cried the Emperor, "A systematic order will surely do it!"
"I like that," said the Fool.
So, the Magician began arranging the cards according to his ideas in three little piles, positive in his reasoning that if he juggled the correct combination around the sphere it would focus the energies of his thoughts and that would unlock the box. It took him some time to pick and arrange just the right cards and after 3 hours he finally placed the last card and began to juggle them in figure-eights. Boom!! There was a loud thunderous crash and flash of light. The card configuration exploded and all the cards fell to the ground. The Magician shook his head and stood up, leaving a space for someone else to try.
The Fool stepped forward and picked up all the cards. "I like these," said the Fool, and he put them in his backpack. The Fool then leaned forward, reached out, opened the lid to the box and fell in.
The Magician and the Hierophant stared at each other in astonishment and then looked back at the High Priestess.
She smiled serenely and said, "I never said it was locked."