The Game #3

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen”, the man said.  “Welcome to my home”.  As the man stepped into the room, the panel slid closed behind him.

“You God damned son of a bitch!” Bill spewed as he rushed toward the man.  Instinctively, Edward and Tommy grabbed him and held him back. 

“Ah, yes, Bill Welton, the infamous Poker Punk.  I expected you might react rather strongly to this situation.”  The man emphasized his statement with a sweeping motion of his hand.  “I guess it will be helpful if I explain why you are all here and lay down the rules.  After all, life, as in poker, must be played by the rules.  If you will indulge me for a moment; each of you will notice that you are wearing a small bracelet.  Not as auspicious as the many you have won in your careers, but a marvel of technology.  Should one of you decide to behave in an unacceptable manner, you will find that those bracelets are capable of delivering a debilitating electrical shock.”

As the man finished speaking, Edward found himself doubled over in pain.  It felt as if a very large, angry man was reaching through his chest and squeezing his heart.  The sensation only lasted a few seconds.  Edward hauled himself upright using the back of a chair for support.  He looked around and found that everyone else was doing the same thing.  Edward pulled up his left sleeve and saw what looked to be a small digital watch.  The band was smooth and black but it was lacking any type of display.

“Now that you know that I am not bluffing, let’s discuss our game.” The man’s tone never varied and he might as well have been inviting them to dinner.  “First of all, my name is Darius Wellington.  This is my home, well, a part of it anyway.  We are currently standing nearly five hundred feet below the Nevada desert.  Between here and the surface is more than a mile of corridors, elevators and a hundred members of my personal security detail, in case you had any ideas about leaving unexpectedly.”

Edward studied the man as spoke.  Darius was confident, smooth and showed no signs of weakness.  His hands were folded comfortably in front of him unless he used them to make an occasional gesture.  The corners of his mouth would turn up ever so slightly as he spoke, flirting with a smile but not committing to it.  His eyes, though, were easily his most extrordinary feature.  The were a gray-blue color and when they focused on Edward, he felt as if Darius was reading his mind.  Edward was used to being stared at, it was a poker player’s greatest weapon.  Craig’s crazy cartoon eye glasses, George’s cold, penetrating look; Edward had endured them for years.  There was something about this man’s eyes that gave Edward a chill.

“First things first”, said Darius.  “As I’m sure you have deduced, you are here to play poker.”

“That ain’t gonna happen”, Bill said, “you can kiss my ass, bracelet or not.”

“Mr. Weldon, your resistance is understandable”, Darius said.  “But I’m quite sure you will change your mind after I have explained myself.”

“Doubt that, asshole”, Bill said.

Darius continued.  “Everyone has a different motivation for playing poker.  At this point, for most of you the money is secondary as you have all made your fortunes to one extent or another.  Money holds no interest for me either as I have considerably more than I will ever need.  All that remains, then, is prestige, to be recognized as the best in your field.  It is my desire to play against all of you when you are on your very best game.  The stakes, therefore, must be sufficient to inspire you.”

Darius’ expression remained unchanged, but his guests’ were beginning to exhibit looks of worry and agitation.

“Now, I could be dramatic and cliché and tell you that you are playing for your life.  I fear, however, that a few of you may be a bit too cavalier about your own well being, so I have come up with a stake that I have no doubt will be worthy of your best efforts.”


1 Response to “The Game #3”

  1. 1 Robert Chang
    June 3, 2010 at 3:49 am

    Enjoyable reading Ed. Kind of a Cube meets Enter the Dragon meets Rounders so far…

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