The Game #48

That gut wrenching feeling hit Edward like a truck.  He looked at George, normally composed under any circumstances, but his dark brown skin had become almost as pale as Edward’s.  George had a pair of tens in his hand giving him three of a kind.  Darius had the seven-eight and the ten high strait.  Not only that, he had hit it on the turn and checked his bet.  Edward and George had grossly underestimated the man’s ability and now Martinique would pay for their mistake.

“Ten high straight”, Kenny said as he pushed the pot towards Darius.

The vibration began and George ran to the window of Martinique’s cell.

“Niqui, I’m so sorry… and I love you.”  George choked the words out and put his hands and face against the glass.  She did the same as the water began to rise in the cell.  Edward turned away.  He did not want to see another innocent victim die in front of him.  It was bad enough that he could hear George sobbing.  Eight people, eight people had died because he had not been able to stop Darius from killing them.  Now Mary was the only one left.

Edward listened as Darius’ men carried George out of the room.  The only thing keeping Edward from killing Darius on the spot was the knowledge that it would put Mary at risk.  That was the situation at the moment, but Edward began to look beyond the game, something he should have done a long time ago.  It wasn’t just about playing poker, Edward knew that.  Darius was on an ego trip, out to prove he could beat the best players in the world.  Never mind that he had a huge psychological advantage, a mind like Darius’ could justify any actions to satisfy its needs.  Edward knew that excessive ego was a huge disadvantage in poker.  It often put a player ‘on tilt’ and caused them to play poorly.  So far that had not happened to Darius, but Edward was going to start pushing in that direction.

“Congratulations, Darius.  You have made it to second place”, Edward said.  “Would you mind if I changed seats?  Now that we are heads up?”

“Pick any seat you like, Mr. Teraneau”, Darius said.  “We are due for a break at any rate.  Play will resume in five minutes.”

Darius had not responded to Edward’s jab about second place, but his voice seemed a little icy.  Edward pushed his chips to the seat that George had recently vacated.  Despite Darius assurances, Edward listened for the rumbling of the water.  The room remained quiet, the only sound was that of Kenny shuffling the cards.  Edward walked over to Mary’s cell and stood in front of the window.  Mary was sitting against the wall with the water just below her neck.  She was splashing like some deranged drummer, making the water shoot into the air.  It reminded Edward of the Blue Man Group show he and Mary had seen last year.  At first Mary had been frightened by the lights and the loud music, but after the shock wore off, she had laughed and clapped during the entire show.  For weeks afterwards, she would pound on every surface of in the house, chanting “Boom, boom, boom” as she went.  Edward allowed himself a small smile at the memory.  His success had allowed him to provide a very safe and comfortable lifestyle for him and Mary, up until now, anyway.  For the first time since he became a pro, Edward’s occupation had become a threat to both of them.

Edward turned away from the window.  Mary had not even acknowledged his presence.  Probably better that way.  She was off on another adventure in ‘Mary Land’, and it was always safe and fun there.  As Edward turned around to head for the bathroom, he paid closer attention to the room.  The ceiling was painted black and Edward was not sure how high up it went.  The walls were all lined with the same panels that covered the cell windows. 

Don’t you mean execution chambers, old boy?

Edward shook the voice out of his head.  If there was a single detail that could give him an edge, he needed to find it.  He walked slowly into the bathroom and closed the door.  The level of detail from his suite at the Bellagio was disturbing, even the second time.  Edward looked around as though admiring the work.  What he was looking for was cameras.  Surely Darius would want to keep an eye on his ‘guests’ when they were away from him?  There was no reason to hide them, but Edward did not see anything that looked remotely like a camera.  He ran the water in the sink, washed his hands and face and headed back to the table.  He looked around for more cameras in the card room, but could not find any there either.  That’s when an odd thought struck him.

“Where are the lights?”

As Edward looked around the room, he noticed that there was not a light fixture to be seen anywhere.  No windows or skylights either.  So what kept the room illuminated?  Edward decided not to ask Darius that particular question, but would see if he could discover the answer for himself.


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