The Game #9

“You’re insane!” Bill growled at Darius, taking care not to move toward the man.  “You expect us to sit here and play poker while you drown them.”  Bill motioned in the direction of the captives.

“I assure you, Mr. Weldon, I have no control over what happens to them, outside of my ability to play against you.” Darius responded.

“How do we know you won’t cheat?” Edward asked, his mind looking for any advantage.  “You could have cameras, a crooked dealer, marked cards; what guarantee do we have that we are playing an honest game?”

Darius eyes fixed on Edward as he spoke.  “Only my word, I’m afraid.  The cards will be a new deck which you will see unwrapped here at the table.  As for the dealer, let’s just say that he has certain incentives to keep things on the up and up.”  Darius moved toward the table.  “Ladies and gentlemen, I would ask that you take your seats so we can get started.”

Slowly, the group began to gravitate towards the table.  A TV screen on the wall above the windows came to life.  A timer was counting backwards and currently showed 1:05.  As it reached 0:45, Darius announced, “Forty five seconds, please take your seats. Your names are posted and have been assigned in random order.”

All of the players moved into the chairs around the table except Bill Weldon.

“I think you’re bluffing”, Bill said.  “You’re not going to kill nine innocent people for your own amusement.”

“At the moment, the only one at risk is your wife, Rebecca.  Please, join us.”  Darius’ voice almost sounded concerned.

“Bite me.”

The rest of the players had all taken their seats and their eyes moved between the timer and the room housing Rebecca Weldon.  The numbers reached 0:00, and then reset to 20:00 with the words “Next Blinds 75/150” printed below them.  The floor began to vibrate and water flooded into Rebecca’s room.

“Bill!” She screamed.  Bill turned and looked at the water slowly covering the floor of the room.  It was almost two inches deep before he sat down in his assigned seat.

“Very well, let us introduce our dealer.”

The panel through which Darius’ had entered opened and a tall man with a mop of curly black hair walked into the room.  He was dressed in the customary attire of a poker dealer and his name tag read “Kenny”.

“Kenny Sargent, dealer at the final table in last year’s Main Event.  I’m sure most of you recognize him.  Let us have chips and cards and we can begin.”

A square section of the table opened in front of each player and a silver platform rose up to fill the gap.  On the platforms were stacks of poker chips.  Another opening appeared in the center of the table and a boxed deck of cards materialized on another platform.  Kenny picked up the box and unwrapped the cellophane, opened the box and removed the cards.  The box and the wrapper disappeared some where behind the table.  He fanned the cards out to show that the deck was complete, then flipped them over and began swirling them around the table to shuffle them.  After a few minutes, he spread the cards out and placed his hands on the rail in front of him.

“To be fair, we will draw for the dealer’s button”, Darius instructed the group.  “Ladies first.”

Nelly slowly reached out and flipped over a card.  Three of diamonds.  Angela did the same; seven of clubs.  Ginger slipped a card from the bottom of the pile and revealed the jack of spades.

“Well done.  Now  then, gentlemen, if you please.”

Bill flipped over the ten of diamonds; Tommy; queen of hearts, George; queen of spades, Tim; six of clubs, Craig; deuce of diamonds.  That left Edward and Darius.

“After you”, Edward said.

“As you wish”, Darius said.  He pulled a card from the center of the pile and flipped it over: King of hearts.

Edward could feel the eyes of the others on him as he reached for a card.  He hesitated over the one closest to him for a split second, then moved deeper into the pile.  His finger came down on the smooth surface of the card.  This one.  Edward pressed down and pulled the card from the deck.  His fingers instinctively slipped under the edge and flipped the card over.  A collective sigh of relief seemed to come from the other players at the appearance of the ace of diamonds.

“Well done, Mr. Teraneau.  It would seem lady luck has favored you with a small kiss.” Darius said.  “Let us see if you can remain in the lady’s good graces.  Mr. Leeson and Ms. Halstead, the blinds if you please.”

Craig dropped two twenty five dollar chips onto the felt; Ginger flipped a hundred dollar chip out for the big blind.  Both of the players looked quickly at the rooms in which their loved ones were locked. 

“Don’t worry about them” Darius said.  “No adjustments will be made until the end of the hand.”

Kenny gathered up the cards, did several quick shuffles and laid the deck on the table in front of Darius.  He cut the stack in half, placing the top half closer to the dealer.  Kenny reassembled the deck, slipped a red plastic blank on the bottom and dealt the first card to Craig.  He continued around the table, finishing with Edward.

“Let the game begin”, said Darius.  The timer on the wall began to count down; 19:59, 19:58……..

Edward placed his left hand in front of the rail before he looked at his hole cards.  Darius comments notwithstanding, if there was a camera in the rail, its view would  be blocked.  Slowly, he pulled up the corner of each card.


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