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I work at a crooked casino. You don't gamble with money here.
Hi, everybody. My name is Sid, and I’m an addict. It took me a long time to accept that. But when you take a job in a casino just so that you can be there all the time and try to gain an edge, you’re an addict. It’s obvious even to me. More so to my family and friends, who I barely see anymore. It’s not pills or coke, booze or heroin that I’m hooked on. I’m addicted to gambling. The casino that made me so obsessed is not an ordinary one, though. It’s far from ordinary. You don’t play for money at Fantasy Casino. You play for your dreams. I hear you laughing. But have you ever had a really, really great dream? One that got so good you snapped awake the second it started to get really excellent? Well, imagine that times a thousand. Times a million. A dream so real and so perfect that all of your fantasies become reality. Time stretches out. You feel like you are there forever. A lifetime passes before your return. Infinite wealth, the ability to fly like superman, you’re surrounded by sex and beautiful people all day as you relax in a palace built to your mind’s most exacting specifications of perfection. But then you wake up, and in an instant it is gone. The power, the wealth, the endless sex and supernatural powers. Everything is suddenly NORMAL again. And so you go back to the casino. I went back to the casino. But the problem with gambling is that you don’t always win. And when you lose, suddenly the winnings are gone as well, vanished without a trace. All I knew was that I had to have that feeling again. So I went inside the giant building and then followed the secret signs which led to a door that led to a staircase going downwards. I went down the stairs and knocked on the door marked “Private” and waited for an answer. “Password.” The voice on the other side of the black door waited for my response. “Seramth Gin.” I said the unnatural words carefully and deliberately, still not knowing their meaning. A friend had told me the password, a fellow gambler who I would later find dead in his apartment. His corpse white, bloated, and maggot-infested. His eyes were black and filled with blood which streamed from his eye sockets like tears. He had bit his tongue clean off and his fingernails were found lodged in various surfaces throughout his apartment. Like he had been trying to claw his way out of a steel box that only he could see. But I’m getting ahead of myself. That was later. At this point I was still hopeful for another wonderful dream. Still thankful for his advice to seek out the place. The door opened and I walked inside. It was the same as it had been the day before, only less busy at this time – still early afternoon. I approached the table I had been sitting at the night before. Poker – Texas Hold ‘em: Ten dream limit – the sign read. The rules were simple. You got a stack of chips. If you doubled them, you received a dream. If you lost them, you lost a dream. I wasn’t concerned about losing dreams yet, I still didn’t understand exactly what that meant. When I lost my first stack of chips, I quickly bought in again. And again. And again. Pretty soon I realized I had lost eight dreams with no winnings whatsoever. I was in a slump. A losing streak. I decided to go home and count my losses. Literally, since I had no idea what that even meant. As I got up to leave the table, the dealer looked at me. His eyes were remorseless and cold. “See the cashier on your way out,” he said, handing me eight black chips. I gulped and walked over to the glass window where the cashier sat waiting. Handing him the eight chips, he raised his eyebrows and clicked his tongue. “That’s a shame. Hold out your hand please.” Two men in black suits came up behind me suddenly and stood on either side of me, intimidating in their stature and demeanour. I did as he asked and held out my hand with the palm facing up. The cashier pulled out a strange-looking device from beneath the counter. It had a vial of vermillion-coloured liquid at the top that was attached to the rest of it which resembled a gun with a hypodermic needle at the end. I screamed and tried to pull away, but the two men grabbed me and held my arm through the window. Thrashing and elbowing them, I tried to get away but it was useless. The cashier injected the stuff into my veins quickly and it felt cold and slimy going through my system. I could feel it suddenly in my heart, turning it cold and then up into my mind and my lungs and all extremities causing me to shake and violently seize. I writhed on the floor, blood pouring from my ears and my eyes. Finally the feeling settled down into a numbness that prickled the insides of my blood vessels. It wasn’t until later, once I realized what the casino really was, that I found out what they had done. I went home with the certainty that they had injected me with something. If winning had resulted in the greatest dream I had ever had – essentially an almost never-ending fantasy – what would happen after a loss? Nightmares. That was what it would be. I was sure of it. I settled into bed that night and closed my eyes, drifting off to sleep quickly after such an emotionally exhausting afternoon. As soon as my eyes closed, they opened again and it was morning. It felt as if I had not slept at all. My mind was fuzzy and it was difficult to focus. My eyes wanted to close again but my alarm was telling me that it was time to get up for work, so I hit the “dismiss” button and hopped in the shower. I threw on my clothes and went out the door. At work I noticed a few people looking at me strangely, but I didn’t realize until someone pointed it out to me that my shirt was on inside-out. At this point I was still working in an office doing commodities trading and such lapses were frowned upon. If you couldn’t focus enough to put your shirt on properly in the morning, how could you focus enough to get the work done in such a demanding environment? Millions of dollars changing hands with each transaction meant that such trivial things were put under a magnifying glass and coupled with other subsequent mistakes each following day after that, I found myself in the boss’s office by the end of the week being handed my walking papers. Desperate for rest after days of not feeling any benefit from sleep, I went back to the casino. They knew just by looking at me how to dig their claws in further. After a couple hours I had managed to win myself a dream. They handed me the complimentary cocktail as they had the time before. I hadn’t realized the significance of it and still didn’t, despite the unusual vermillion colour of the drink. I swallowed it in one gulp and went out the door practically dancing and clicking my heels, ready to go home and feel rested again. My dream that night was wonderful. Everything I had hoped for in many ways. But not as good as the first time. I wanted that feeling back again. Knowing that it was a dream the whole time and realizing that it was going to end seemed to shorten the fantasy, made it seem hollow and manufactured. If I could win again maybe it would be like that first time, I thought. The casino drew me in again and again. I found myself a zombie most days, exhausted, at my wit’s end. Ready to call it quits for good and say goodbye. But then I would win again and it would all seem to be alright for a while. My debt kept growing and growing with nearly every trip. The hypodermic needle would be plunged into my skin and every time they had to hold me down. Every time I would feel a little more empty. A little more hollow. Waking up every day began to feel the same. Nothing had definition or purpose. “You’re here all the time,” one of the goons whispered to me as they shot the needle into my vein the time after that. “Haven’t you figured it out yet? You should just get a job here and then at least you’ll be in on the secret.” I applied the next day and got an interview with the boss. I would find out later that if you got someone to apply there you got a one dream bonus. In his office, the well-dressed man was sitting behind a massive polished ebony desk. The room was adorned with paintings, sculptures, and other high-priced artwork. He had photos everywhere of himself shaking hands with world leaders, new and old, for hundreds of years. His face never changed. Never aged. “So, you want to work with us? Tired of dreamless nights without end? You want to have some relief, is that it?” “Yes. Please. Anything. I’ve been coming here for so long and it’s an endless cycle. I want back what I’ve lost but I keep finding myself more and more in debt with each visit.” “Ah, so do you understand it now, then? What the ‘injections’ are?” It finally dawned on me, sitting there. Not injections at all. They weren’t putting something in us. They were taking something out. The vermillion-coloured liquid in the vials – our dreams. “If I take a job with you, will the same rules apply? Will they still take my sleep, my rest, every time I lose?” “Yes. We can’t have the employees living by different rules than everyone else. But we will give you an alternative injection, so that you feel well-rested when you come in for your shift.” “I’ll do it. I need to rest. I need to get some meaningful sleep. My life has been miserable ever since coming here.” “Well, I can’t promise that this will help,” he said, getting up from his desk with a hypodermic gun in his hand. The vial of fluid sitting atop this one was jet-black and looked evil and poisonous. He rolled up his sleeves as he primed it and I watched a few beads of it drip oil-like out of the tip of the needle. “What the hell is that!? I don’t want that stuff in me!” “But you need to sleep, my dear worker. I can’t have you passing out at the blackjack table like a narcoleptic! You agreed to this, after all. You wanted to rest, and the only way for that to happen is for you to have SOME sort of dream. Not everyone is as lucky as you, you know. To have that wonderful vermillion fluid in your veins. Some people come to us begging to take it from them. Some of our employees for example, the ones who do the recruitment for us, are full of this black stuff.” “What?” I had gotten up from the chair and was backing away from him towards the door. But I found it was locked as he approached. “First you have to tell me the password, Sid.” “Seramth Gin.” I said the words that I had said every time to gain access to the casino, only this time I pictured the letters and rearranged them in my mind. “Nightmares.” He smiled as he injected me with the vial of black hate, and it went into my veins feeling hot and unpleasant. I began to sweat and the beads of it turned cold on my skin as I shivered. I’ll sleep tonight. I might even wake up feeling rested. But as long as I live and work at that casino, I’ll be afraid to dream again. Because now my unconscious hours are occupied by the most terrifying experiences imaginable. Nightmares beyond imagining in their awfulness. That is my fate. Unless… Just maybe, I can win one more time. JG TCC
I live in a small mining town in the mountains of Colorado. Someone is building a massive casino nearby, Pictures Included
I grew up in a small mountain town named Eureka. It was founded in the late 1800s during the gold rush, but after the mines dried up the town began its slow descent into decay. Half the houses are empty or abandoned now. You can see a picture of the kind of houses here in Eureka: First house Second house When a massive construction project began nearby, it was the talk of the town for weeks. Why would they build something in a sleepy dying town like Eureka? It wasn’t until my sister Selene talked to a few construction workers that we discovered they were building a casino. A casino up in the mountains, over two hours away from Denver. None of us could understand why they’d chosen here of all places. After a few months of work, the casino was done. I took a picture of the town with the completed casino in the background to the right. The ten-story-structure sticks out like a sore thumb off in the distance. Town+Casino After the casino opened, they hired a few dozen members of the town, offering high paying jobs to work as dealers or cleaning staff. I was already employed as a firefighter, but my sister Selene got a job as a blackjack dealer. She’s a widow with two young kids, so the paycheck was a real lifesaver. Still, something about the situation seemed too good to be true. The jobs over there paid far too well, and the management was far too accommodating. The fire station where I work is located high on a hill overlooking the town, so I began watching the casino from a distance each day. I had initially thought that the casino was located in a terrible location, but I was apparently wrong. True, Eureka was hours from any major city, but despite that, a bus full of people arrived every morning and left every evening. One night I was over at my parent’s house and had dinner with Selene and her kids. I asked her about her experience as a dealer. “It’s Ok,” she said. “Just a little boring I guess.” “Boring?” I asked. “I’m surprised you don’t have your hands full.” “Why’s that?” she asked. “It’s like you said, Eureka’s too small. I never have people playing cards. The casino is almost always completely empty.” I wasn’t sure what to make of that. If the place was always empty, what happened to the people who I’d seen arriving on buses? “I’ve been keeping an eye on the building,” I said. “A bus full of people typically arrives around 9 AM every day.” “Really?” she asked, looking confused. “If that’s true, I’ve never seen them. “I can see it from the fire station,” I said. “If you head out for a smoke break at 9 AM, you’ll probably see them arriving.” “Interesting,” she said. “I’ll do that. If they’re being processed for their organs or something, I’ll let you know.” She laughed. “Har har,” I said sarcastically. The next night she sent me a text calling me over. When I arrived, she was nearly breathless with excitement. “Orin, You were right,” she said. “A big group of people did arrive, but they didn’t walk into my part of the casino. Instead, they all walked into an elevator at the back of the building. I’m not sure where that goes.” She looked thoughtful. “It was weird. They looked… How can I say it? Desperate? Something about the whole situation was very off. I’m gonna check out the elevator tomorrow.” I told her to be careful, though, to be honest, I was excited to hear about what she discovered. When I visited my parent’s house the next night, I found her two kids there alone. They told me that Selene had never returned from work. I called all her friends, then all our neighbors, but no one had seen her since she left for work that morning. Our conversations regarding the casino flooded my mind, then a plan began to form. Early the next morning I walked across town in my nicest pair of jeans and a button-up shirt. I pushed through the door to the casino and saw that Selene wasn’t lying. The place was all but deserted. Three dozen slot machines crowded the walls surrounding a few tables interspersed throughout the floor of the casino. The only players in the whole building were Bob and Donald, two locals. I walked up to a nearby table where Bridget, a girl I’d gone to high school with, was shuffling cards. She broke into a grin when she saw me. “Hey Orin, you here for a few rounds of blackjack?” “I wish,” I said. “No, I’m here to ask about Selene. She never made it home last night.” Bridget’s expression darkened. “Really? Have you asked around?” “I already called around. Have you seen her?” She shook her head. “No, our schedules rarely line up. I’ll be sure to let you know if I--” Her eyes focused on something behind me, and she cut herself off. I turned around to see the casino’s pit boss watching us both. He was a tall thin man in an impeccably clean black suit. When I turned back towards Bridget, she was looking down at the table and shuffling cards absent-mindedly. “Well, if you hear anything, let me know,” I said. She nodded, so I turned around and headed for the pit boss. I stuck out my hand. The temperature of his hand was so hot that I had to pull my hand away after a few seconds. “Have… have you seen my sister Selene?” I asked. “She hasn’t been seen since her shift here yesterday.” He smiled. “Sir, this floor is for players. You’re more than welcome to head to the tellers for chips, but barring that I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave.” I stared at him for a long second before stalking towards the door. When I looked back, he was talking with Bridget. I checked my watch. 8:55 AM, just as I’d planned. I walked around the back of the building and waited as the morning bus pulled around the building. I waited for the telltale hiss of the opening doors and the sound of people descending before I rounded the corner and joined the crowd. None of them paid any particular attention to me as I walked with them into the casino. The crowd walked through a side door down a hallway to an elevator. Small groups of people entered the elevator as the rest of us waited for our turn. I shot a glance at the casino patrons, surprised at their diversity. There seemed to be people from all different countries and ethnicities. I heard one speaking Japanese and another speaking what sounded like an African language. My turn came along with a few other patrons in the elevator. A sickly woman hobbled into the elevator beside me carrying an IV that was still connected to one of her veins. We piled in and rode up to the top. The elevator rose for a few long seconds. I wasn’t sure what I would find, but I steeled myself for something horrible. The elevator’s speaker let out a TING, then the doors opened. We all walked out onto what looked like a standard casino. Another few dozen slot machines ringed the walls, but on this floor, they were almost all occupied by customers. I took in the scene, confused at why they’d have a ground floor that was almost completely empty when this place was almost-- Selene was dealing cards at a nearby table. I jogged over and sat down at an open seat. None of the players around me paid me much attention. “Selene!” I said. “Are you OK? Did you spend the night here last night?” Her eyes were glassy and confused. She looked up at me with a dumb expression and didn’t respond to my question. “Selene?” I asked. “What’s your bet?” she asked me. “This table is for blackjack players only.” “I…” I trailed off, looking at the players around me. None of them were betting with chips of any kind. “What’s the minimum bet?” I asked. “Three years,” she responded. “Three years then,” I said, not knowing what that referred to. Selene nodded, then began dealing cards. I shot a look down at my hand. King and a 9. Selene dealt out cards for herself, showing a 9. I stood, then leaned forward again. “Should I call the police? Are you--” “Congratulations,” she said tonelessly. An almost impossibly warm hand grabbed my shoulder. I spun to see the pit boss I’d spoken to earlier. He gave an impressed smile. “Orin, was it? I’m impressed, truly. Would you mind if I had a word with you?” I shot a look back at Selene who was dealing the next round of cards. Then I got to my feet, balling my hands into fists. “What did you do to her?” The pit boss clasped his hands behind his back. “Nothing more, and nothing less than what I’m going to do to you. That is, offer you the chance to play.” “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” The pit boss nodded his head towards a nearby slot machine. A woman in a wheelchair pulled a lever and watched the flashing numbers spin. They exploded in a cacophony of sirens and flashing lights. “WINNER WINNER WINNER!” The machine screeched. The woman in the wheelchair put her feet on the ground and stood up on a pair of wobbly legs that had clearly never been used before. “As in any other casino,” the pit boss said, “you must wager for the chance to win.” “She... won the use of her legs?” I asked, feeling light-headed. “Wait,” I said. “I played blackjack just now. ‘Three years,’ Selene told me. What does ‘three years’ mean?” I asked. “Three years of life, of course. Did you win?” My mouth felt dry. “I-- Yes, I won.” He smiled warmly. “Congratulations. I hope you enjoy them. I can tell you from personal experience that watching the decades pass is a bore. Give it some time and you’ll be back to spend them.” I watched the pit boss’s face. He couldn’t have been more than a few years older than me, and I was in my early thirties. I looked around at the casino. No one was playing with chips of any kind. “So what?” I asked. “I won years of life. That woman won the use of her legs. What else can a person win here?” “Oh, almost anything. They can win almost anything you can imagine.” A cold feeling settled in my stomach. “And what do they wager?” His eyes flashed with greed. “Almost anything. They can wager almost anything you can possibly imagine. Anything equal in value to the item they want in return.” He nodded towards a nearby roulette table. A man stood by the table, cradling his hands. “Another finger,” he called out. He only had three fingers remaining on his left hand. As I watched, the ball came to a stop, and another finger disappeared from his left hand. The pit boss extended his hands. “Feel free to try any of our games. Bet and win whatever you’d like.” He reached out and snatched my hand. A feeling of intense warmth passed up my arm to my chest. “There,” he said. “I’ve even given you some house money to get you started. An extra decade of life, on me.” I ripped my hand away, staring at him in horror. Then I looked back at Selene. Something clicked in my mind. “You offered her the chance to play. What did she want?” I asked. “Her husband,” the pit boss said. “Quite the sad story. He died two years ago. She wanted him brought back to her.” “What did she wager?” I asked. “She wanted the chance to win a soul, the most valuable object in existence. I’m sure you can imagine what she needed to wager for the chance to win it. What she wagered is unimportant. The important question is: What do you want, Orin?” I stared at Selene with a flat expression. “I’m sure you can imagine.” His eyes flashed with greed again. “How wonderful. The casino could always make use of another dealer. Feel free to make your wager at any one of our games; I’ll be eagerly awaiting the results of your night. Oh, and do take advantage of our waitresses. We always supply food and drink for ‘high rollers’.” He walked away. I spent the next few hours trying to decide which game to play. I was going to be wagering my soul, so I wanted the highest chance possible. Slots and roulette were out. I’d done some reading online about counting cards, so I figured that blackjack gave me the best odds. I walked up to Selene’s table and sat down. “Bet?” she asked with that same toneless voice. “Three years,” I said. I spent the next hour or so doing my best to remember how to count cards. I knew that low cards added one to my count and high cards decreased it by one, but the casino used three decks. I had read something about how that was supposed to change my calculation, but I couldn’t quite remember how. Every time I won a hand, I cursed myself for not putting everything on the line. Every time I lost, I breathed a prayer of thanks that I’d waited. And all the while, I kept track of the count. I had lost fifteen years of life when the count finally reached +5. “Bet?” Selene asked. “I wager my soul so you can be free,” I said. The table around me fell silent. Selene’s eyes flickered, but she showed no other emotion as she dealt the cards. I watched my first card, punching the air in excitement when I saw a Jack. My excitement turned to ash when my second card was a four. Fourteen. I looked at her hand. One card was facedown, but the faceup card was a King. I swore loudly, staring down at my hands. “Hit?” she asked. The entire table was silently watching me. “Hit,” I said, not looking down. The table erupted in cheers. I looked down to see a 7 atop my two other cards. 21. Blackjack. I looked at Selene who flipped over her facedown card to reveal a 9. 19. I won. The glassy look left her eyes immediately. She looked around in surprise, then her eyes locked on mine. “Orin?” she asked, then almost immediately began to cry. The entire casino broke out in cheers. I grabbed her hand and headed for the elevator. The doors had begun to close when the pit boss reached out with a hand to stop them. “Congratulations,” he said, beaming. He seemed to be honestly excited. “Shouldn’t you be upset?” I asked. “Not at all. Casinos love it when we have big winners. It inspires the other players to make larger bets. I imagine I’ll gain two or three dealers before the night is through from your performance.” “Great,” I said flatly. “Now let us go.” “Not yet,” he said. “You didn’t just win, Orin. You got a blackjack. And blackjack pays out 1.5 times your bet. You won your sister’s soul and more.” I stared, not sure what to say. “What are you saying? I won half a soul extra?” The pit boss grinned wildly. “Just remember what I said. You’ll find living for decades and decades to be a boring experience. After a few centuries, you’ll be back to gamble that half a soul away. Congratulations!” He removed his hand, and the elevator doors slammed shut. I helped Selene back to her house. Her children were relieved. I watched them cry, then moved into the kitchen to start making dinner. It’s been a few days since that experience. The casino is still out there, and buses full of people still arrive. I… I cut my hand pretty bad a few days later. When I checked it an hour later, it had already healed, no scar or anything. I’m not sure exactly what I won at that casino, but there’s no way I’m ever going back. X
I was asked to make a post about some stories within the Casino grounds so I thought I'd share. I have many so I'll do my best to pick the better ones. Some back information: I've been a Casino Dealer for 11 years, I've been a supervisor for five years, and I've been a Surveillance Operator for one year. I've worked at three properties, none of which are connected or owned by the same company. I've worked on : Government/Private/Native American owned casinos.
From Hero to Zero.
At my first Casino, I was one of the first group of people who were trained to deal Roulette . After 4 weeks of working 6PM-3AM then doing roulette training from 3AM-8AM (Not paid) , I actually really enjoyed the game and after about six months I became extremely quick at the number game and the pace of the action was steady with very low margin of errors. Young man walks in, cashes in for $500. He buys in for $2 chips and just loads the board. After a few spins and pretty decent hits, he then changes his chips from $2 to 5$ then to $10 and racks his winnings up to $10,000. It was then, five spins in a row, he loaded the board with some pretty gross bets, and every spin I would hit the ONE number with either NO CHIPS on it, or maybe 1 chip , He lost all $10,000 in a matter of minutes. He leaves , and I go on break. After my break I was going back to the same table and wouldn't you know it, the same young man walks in and cashes in another $500. He tells me he just sold his car outside and this is all that he had left. So we do the same deal, buys in for $2 chips, then slowly starts betting $5 chips, $10, $25...and he makes $10,000 AGAIN. Within the next 25 minutes it was straight agony. Every spin, same thing, he would bet $2500 in chips, and win only $250, $400, and after about a half hour he lost it all . Never saw the guy again. 2) Man down At this property, we are 24 hours for table games. It's currently 5AM , and I'm dealing some $25 Blackjack to this guy. He's probably early thirties , heavy guy. He's sober as can be, but right away I can tell he's been losing. We know how much you've bought in for, how much your down, or up, and I could see he was down $2000+. After about twenty minutes of pure losing, his temper starts to flare.At this point I now have two other guests at my table. Drinking coffee, not saying a word, just losing their money. After losing hand, after hand, this guy looks me straight in the eye, seized up, starts shaking, he can't move. He tries to punch towards me and smashes his stack of chips all over the place and falls backwards to the floor. I call for security, we cannot touch him due to liability . I can't move from my table because, well, liability / casino cash property, all I can do is try to talk to him. As I'm doing so, these other two woman who are sitting at my table just look at me and one says "OK, dealer, cmon lets go " as she taps the table telling me to start dealing and forget about the guy having a stroke on the floor. As security takes him to the ambulance out front, I had to stay behind for a couple minutes and give a statement. I go on break. I come back, and 45 minutes later, he comes right back in with a oxygen tank and keeps gambling for the remainder of the morning. 3) You get a dildo, and YOU get a dildo! On a late summer Saturday night, we had a large event for these massive muscle guys/strongman competition type thing. After their show, I'm at the roulette table , and five of these boys come over to play. They were absolutely hilarious. They were feeling pretty good, cashed in somewhat large amounts and I could tell this was going to be a fun time. After about a hour of dealing to these guys, it's almost midnight, everybody is pretty hammered , I spin the ball, and all five of these guys take out these god damn (what I can only tell was) two feet purple dildos from inside their pants, and wiping them around in the air. The ladies were just loving it, one of the dildos landed in the roulette wheel and we had to shut the table down to re-calibrate the wheel to make sure nothing had been changed. I just remember that night was so much damn fun, I couldn't believe what I was seeing and I would never forget it. 4) Full Moon On this day, I was actually training dealers / supervising them on small games like Three Card poker. We opened the table at 10AM, and this older man came and sat down . He played all day. The jackpot was $21,000 and that was pretty high for this table. He played, and played and played. He's one of the players where you know he's wearing a diaper because he's been drinking coffee/pop all day and hasn't moved in eight hours. As the day went on, this man never moved from his chair. Getting closer to midnight, he was aggravated and said "I need to go have a smoke, I'm getting killed in here". He left, and the very next hand, the lady beside him was dealt the jackpot . He didn't say much, but you could just tell he just hated life at that very moment because had he not gotten up, it would of been his hand. The man calmly took his cane , his hat, jacket, coffee, and left. The next morning I found out when he did leave he drove his car straight through his bank and was arrested. 5) Slick Robber I actually give props to people who can actually pull this off. This story may confuse you so I'll try and explain things as best as possible. A lot of casinos have machines as soon as you walk through the front doors. A man walks up to one of these machines and sticks in HIS $100 bill. He doesn't gamble it, instead he hits the cash out button and gets a $100 TITO ticket where he then takes the ticket to the ATM machine to get his $100. Now remember, his Original $100 is in the slot machine. He then takes the $100 from the ATM and goes back to the same machine, and repeats this process over a hundred times. Essentially he's taking money from the ATM, and loading up the Slot Machine . Now he knows he can't do it too much because if the slot machine gets full of money, the machine will shut down and the slow attendant will have to take all the cash out. So he deposits over $10,000 , then has a small crowbar, he cracks the machine open and makes a run out the front door. To my knowledge he was never caught . But damn, that was pretty smart . EDIT: 6) Mental Health is a thing. 10PM man walks in to play some high limit BlackJack. This guy knows the game and played well. Dressed nice, drank juice/tea , a little bit of a attitude, cashed in over $10,000. When this man was half way down his buy in, he said something a long the lines of "If I don't win here tonight, I'm going to go set myself on fire." I wasn't sure if he was serious because when people are down, they tend to say a lot of nonsense. I actually left early that night, and from a third party was told he did exactly that in the parking lot. The next day it was clear something terrible had gone wrong in the parking lot . EDIT: 7) Nothing good happens after midnight After a busy Saturday night, I was dealing a mix of games, and during this story I was in the middle of Blackjack. I had one young kid (probably 19) sitting in the middle, one older male probably in his later 40's sitting beside him on his right, and I had a really nice couple in their 20's sitting together at the other side. This young kid wasn't playing just sort of watching, and ever time the old man won he would give this young guy some of his winnings. The older man, was a wine drinker, and he had black between all of his teeth, I'll never forget. He's a little drunk but nothing terrible. As the night goes on, the older man goes and uses the washroom, at which point the couple asked the young guy "Oh was that your dad?" and the young guy says "Hah, no I wish!". The couple and I just looked at each other. This old guy, was in complete control over this kid. Absolutely disgusting. The night ends, and I find out the couple called a few of their friends, and they all waited outside by this old mans truck and beat the living hell out of him. 40 years old, sleeping with a 19 year old, completely brain washed . Very weird. 8) That one co-worker where you just wish they would quit. One of our co-workers, nice guy but had a very big ego and we as employees just sorta left him alone. One day he had enough of the atmosphere and quit. Now usually when you quit, you cannot come back until you paperwork is finalized. How ever, HR was in that day, and he was given the paperwork the very next day. He came in, cashed in $1000, and made $50,000 in about a hour at the Baccarat table. My manager, was extremely annoyed, because now this guy is just mocking the casino and having the time of his life (Thanks for the big tip by the way :) ) and so he decides to call it quits. He wants to ban himself and he wants $50,000 in cash. The casino says Nope, we are going to give you a cheque. Now here's the thing, most business people will take the cheque, how ever you CANT CASH the cheque until the following monday because it's on that day where the funds are available. The casino on the other hand will cash their own check in anytime , because they want you to play. So this guy pretty much said go to hell I want my cash, and he called the police. Police show up, and management promptly gave him the cash.I though it was absolutely hilarious . 9) No good deed goes un punished I was dealing Three Card Poker, and the jackpot was around $17,000. This old man (a regular) was sitting there all day grinding it out. Super nice guy, always a pleasure to deal to. Well, after hours of playing, he stands up and says "Hey john!, can you come here for a minute?" so his buddy John comes over. He says to John "I need to go take a piss real quick, can you play my card until I get back?" John agrees . John takes the chips and I stop him and explain he can't play his friends chips, he needs to cash in and play his own. And he does. Welp, second hand out and bam, doesn't he win it. The old man comes back and is so happy, he can't believe it. John, took his $17,000, didn't say a word to his "buddy" and walked away. I never felt so much hatred in all my life. Didn't give him a dollar, not a thank you, nothing. The old man sits back down again, the progressive resets to $2500, and he sat there grinding away again. 10) The Top Knot I had this player , young guy, who was born into a fortune. One of his relatives passed away and left him a pretty big sizable amount of money, so he played poker every single day for the rest of his days. I will add, he IS a good player. I did not enjoy his company just because of the "Know-it-All" attitude, but he was good. We'll call him John. John is 5'10, and well build, with muscle. John also decided today was the day to show off his Top Knot. (google top knot if you're not sure what I mean) So he sits down, and he's absolutely KILLING the table. Every hand, after hand, after hand. And because he's in such a good mood, he's playing any two cards, calling any $500 bet, and he's just dominating. This one guy at the table decided he had enough. He got up, without saying a word and left. A moment later, he comes back in, walks behind John, and takes a pair of scissors , and cuts off his Top Knot. I for one couldn't believe it, dying laughing inside, and it just turned into one big brawl. That was a good day. 11) That one bad seed One of my best friends who I haven't seen in YEARS ended up being part of the crew. Was kind of nice to catch up. We never really got along as we grew up because he has a very high picture of himself . He wanted that 10/10 woman. A mansion, and a new Corvette. So every month or so we would all go up to the other casino to play. I myself would bring no more than $500, but I couldn't understand how this guy (we'll call him Kyle) was spending THOUSANDS of dollars at the tables. So this wen on for a few months. Well, one day, as we're closing the casino, he and I are in the High Limit room and we're getting ready to close the tables. We are told to take the chips out, count them, put them back, sign this piece of paper and that's it. Well as the supervisor was locking the tray, the piece of paper fell to the floor, so she asked Kyle to grab the piece of paper. As he bends over, a great big $500 chip falls right out of his sock. Kyle was fired immediately , but it all made sense. They offered Kyle a deal where if he replaced all the stolen chips they would not make it public. Not sure how that turned out. 12) If I ever decide to write a book, this will be the last chapter: <3 After working at my first Casino for five years, I met a Indian woman who was visiting from another part of the country. During this time I was explaining a game to her, which honestly I don't think she even cared. She explained she was visiting and sight seeing , and that was that.Well, two years later I ended up moving to the other side of the country and transferred casinos, and low and behold she worked there as a Dealer. We got married , and it's been 5 years. 13) The Tip One of our tables that we've had for a couple years had a progressive jackpot that had reached $100,000. The dealer at the table was sitting pretty lonely. Nobody really played the game because people knew it was extremely difficult to win the jackpot. My memory is a tad foggy, but you somehow needed to flop the royal flush. This young guy sits down and says to the dealer, we'll call him John. "John, if you pay me that jackpot, I will tip you $10,000" Well John started dealing, and about a half hour into his shift, he F*cking did it. He dealt him the royal. And you know something?This young lad, kept his word, and he made sure there was a audience, and he tipped exactly $10,000. That was a moment right there. That pay cheque was real nice. I think we all got about $500 more than usual. The moment that jackpot was awarded they got rid of the table because the money it was making was not near what the casino wanted. I'm sure there have been bigger tips at other casinos, but that was something special . 14) The Lawsuit Now this story I'm going to have to beat around the bush a bit due to the nature of what happened. I can't won't answer any questions that you may have on this topic other than what I have to say because it had a lot of publicity . The waitresses at this casino had to wear very thin sexy clothes. Not borderline legal, but it was noticed. One day they called all the waitresses to come in and explained they were changing their outfit to something even more sexier. Now these new dresses were very very borderline legal . The staff said No way. We're not wearing that.So , friday night comes, and the staff work their whole shift, then at the end of their shift were called into a meeting and were all fired. Welp, one of those ladies father was a pretty big time lawyer. Brough the casino to court and won. They won big. Good for them. We had no waitresses for a couple days haha. Thanks for reading along, I have many more I can add as the day goes on, those were just some off the top of my head. Feel free to ask any questions of the Casino industry. I don't really have many stories about the surveillance department because that's the one area where I can't really say a whole lot due to its privacy and contracts I was and still am under.
This chapter was a labour of love, heists are hard. Big thanks to u/eruwenn for helping tidy up this bag of snakes. First / Prev / Next
“Ranjaz K’Lua, you thieving scumbag!” the Kah’Ree in the purple suit exclaimed loudly as he spotted them across the busy room. “As I live and skral, I never thought you would have the Jolos show your face here again!” Two J’Rami in suits detached themselves from the lobby wall, walking towards the Kittran and his friends. “Alfor, my old friend!” Ranjaz smiled broadly. “No need for the welcoming party, I’ve got your credits” —he gestured to Cygna— “and a sweetener, for all the trouble I caused last time.” Alfor paused, lecherous eyes assessing the Fae’Dan. “You know I have a thing for purple.” He chuckled at his own joke and waved the guards back to their posts. “How about we have a drink, and discuss your forgiveness.” He pointed to Thor and Eruwenn. “Brought your own security, or are these Gal. Fed. goons? Everyone knows about your probation.” The Kittran gave a broad grin. “I got a Tulseria-damned pardon, a new ship and a very lucrative opportunity.” The Kah’Ree smiled. “How’d a thieving cat like you get a pardon?” He gave Ranjaz an appraising look up and down. “Oh? Now, let me guess, you need something from me and my brother?” Ranjaz fired his finger guns. “You were always the smart one Alfor, that’s why you run the casino floor.” The Kittran stepped in close. “The item, do you still have it?” Alfor tilted his head back and away from Ranjaz. “Your little guarantee?” He looked back down at Ranjaz. “We have it somewhere safe. Had some unusual people come by after you got caught. Asked a lot of questions. Made a lot of threats.” His face contorted in anger. “We got audited thanks to you.” The Kittran smiled. “If only they knew you better, they could have simply paid you for the information.” “We give nothing for free.” The Kah’Ree gave a sinister smile. “House rule.” Ranjaz walked forward to put his his arm on Alfor’s back. “Let’s go see your brother. Have a few drinks, maybe gamble a little, and discuss our future riches.”
Ripley stood in the shadows of the staff shuttle bay, watching as the numerous employees of assorted races came and went. Loud laughter caught her attention, and a very strangely dressed Niham broke away from a small group and walked towards her. Ripley tried to maintain her low profile as the scantily clad female strutted towards her in long black boots with pointed heels that clacked loudly with every step. Deliberately avoiding eye contact the Awakened tried to will herself into the wall but it was too late and a voice called out to her. “Hey Darling! You must be the one I’m looking for.” Ripley shook her head. The Kittran had said the contact was an Ashi pirate captain, a master gambler and expert in procuring the unusual. “I don’t-” “Listen cutie,” she interrupted, “you’re the one lurking in dark corners drawing attention to yourself. I’ve got your security card. You tell that fluffy little stud he owes me. And more than a bottle of Fae’Dan wine and a good time, if you know what I mean.” She held up the card between her fingers, just a little out of Ripley’s reach. The Awakened considered the phrase ‘fluffy little stud’ and decided that, despite her hopes, this was probably her contact. “You’re Captain Whiplash?” The Ashi laughed genuinely, the jiggling of tightly squeezed breasts bursting at shiny black restraints making Ripley nervous. “Oh, Darling! Only my little pets call me that! You may call me Sho’Na.” Ripley was momentarily confused. “So, you aren’t a pirate captain?” “I’m anything they pay me to be.” She smiled at the silver-haired woman's naivety. “You really are new to this.” Ripley, caught off guard, simply nodded, then replied, “I’m a quick learner.” “Good for you, Darling.” Sho’Na handed over the card. “Just make sure you get paid up front, and don’t use your real name with clients. Ruins the mystique.” Ripley was unsure of what was being said. Turning the card over in her hands she saw that the holo-image on the front was of a male Arkellian. “This isn’t me?” “Honey, I was given half a cycle to get you a level three security card. Just be glad it’s a biped.” Sho’Na looked Ripley up and down. “Our mutual acquaintance told me you were some sort of master of disguise who could even trick Selva Blaster.” Ripley paused, then smiled. Her appearance had become such an integral part of her identity she had forgotten that it was entirely optional. “It won’t be a problem.” She looked at the card again. “Unless the owner comes looking for it.” Sho’Na gave another bosom-trembling laugh that threatened to spill out at any moment. “Oh, don’t worry, he’s tied up at the moment.” The Awakened considered the risk. “Hmmm, but for how long?” The few strips of shiny black material that comprised Sho’Na’s revealing outfit strained under her amusement. “Don’t you worry, Darling. He paid for the whole night.”
Eruwenn had reassessed her opinion of Ranjaz many times since meeting him. The criminal. The loyal friend. The lazy trouble-maker. All were true, but now she was seeing something new. He sat opposite Toran, the brother of Alfor, in a game of dalcho she wished she could have taken part in, but was equally glad she did not. At first she had thought the Kittran was outmatched, a few reckless mistakes costing him dearly as the Kah’Ree deftly selected his tiles. Toran was clearly a seasoned gambler, using a blend of the Remee Le’Bow Gambit and the Kowals’Kee Analysis she hadn’t seen before. It seemed to be dismantling Ranjaz’s tiles before he could even prepare his cards. A few fortunate dice rolls and he had taken a strong lead from the outset. The Kittran appeared desperate, playing any tile available to try and slow the defeat. It had all been a ruse, she saw it; Ranjaz had saved his best tiles and carefully thrown hands to manipulate the cards. In just a few rounds he would be able to dominate the board and raise the stakes, recouping his losses and changing the course of the game entirely. She had encountered few players who could manipulate the game so deftly, using memory and layers of strategy to corner their opponent. It was magnificent. Eruwenn couldn’t tear her eyes from the board as she stood beside Thor. The Awakened had shown no interest in the game, studiously watching the opposite door as Toran’s staff came in and out. When a waiter entered and began preparing drinks at the small private bar in the executive gambling room, Thor coughed. It was a strange thing for an Awakened to do, and Eruwenn finally looked up from the table. “Are you ok?” Thor nodded. By the time he had looked towards her, she had returned her attention completely to the game. “You don’t seem concerned about your friend?” he asked. The Anatidae watched as Ranjaz used a blind double feint, and the sheer audacity of such a move made her swallow hard. She didn’t look back to Thor, but mumbled a response. “I’m very confident in her abilities.” The waiter was methodically placing drinks by each of the players, but when they stood behind Ranjaz the Kittran surged to his feet, shouting, “Hey! No cheating Toran! Getting your waiter to look over my shoulder? That’s a dirty move I’d expect from your brother!” Thor had reacted faster than Eruwenn, pinning the arms of the Arkellian waiter in a vice-like bear hug. Toran slowly stood. He was big, heavily muscled, and the veins on his neck bulged as his anger rose. “Don’t accuse me in my own place.” He cracked his knuckles and glowered down at Ranjaz. “I run a straight game.” Fearlessly the Kittran walked right up to the Kah’Ree and stared up into his face from waist height. “Don’t try and intimidate me, you son of a Vogel.” Ranjaz puffed out his chest and began pushing the burly casino owner. “Nobody cheats me!” The blow caught Ranjaz across the cheek and sent him sprawling across the room. Eruwenn winced at the impact, but maintained her composure. Toran laughed. “Watch your tongue or I’ll add it to my collection.” He walked round the table and kicked Ranjaz in the stomach, glaring at Thor and Eruwenn, daring them to act. “Know your place trash. You’re at this table because you put credits up front. You are a dishonest thief, begging for scraps, and cosying up to me any my brother to get your little trinket back.” He returned to his seat. “Why would I need to cheat against the likes of you?” Ranjaz stood, brushing himself off. “Fine, fine.” He waved a hand and Thor dropped the Arkellian. Ranjaz tapped him on the chest. “My mistake.” He sat down and picked up his cards once more. “You’re right Toran, you run a clean game. I’m just a sore loser.” He shuffled the order of the tiles that were still face down on the table. “To show my sincerity, how about we double the buy for the rest of the game?” Toran snorted. “Double?” He looked at the Kittran, scrutinising his opponent. The game was already over; he had control of the board and his tiles occupied the three prime positions. Was the thief trying to buy his favour, he wondered? How much was the trinket he wanted truly worth? He decided it was worth testing. “Triple, and I’ll forget you dared touch me.” The Kittran swallowed hard, his ears flat to his head. Toran momentarily worried he’d pushed for too much but a decision seemed to be reached. “Fine. Triple.” The look of defeat was delicious to the Kah’Ree.
Cygna had done her part and lured Alfor to a private room away from his security. She had danced, skipped and side-stepped his groping hands so far, maintaining a playfulness that ensured he complied. This sort of thing was not new to her; she had spent time undercover in the past. Fortunately, there had been little call for it since she had joined forces with Eruwenn. Alfor’s eyes scanned her body once more. “The Kittran has very good taste.” He licked his lips, a small amount of drool escaping and running down his chin. He wiped it on his sleeve. “Now, I brought you somewhere quiet. How about you show me how sweet you can be?” The Fae’Dan smiled coyly and continued her dancing just out of reach, glancing to the doorway where Alfor’s two guards stood watching her. “With an audience?” She raised her eyebrows expectantly. With a sly grin he waved the guards out of the room. “Now come here and let me satisfy you like only a Kah’Ree can.” His eyes wandered over her body once more. Cygna smiled, her own eyes moving from the Kah’Ree’s hands to his shoulders, then up towards his neck. An interesting fact about the Kah’Ree was the thick blood vessels on the side of their neck. They often bulged when a Kah’Ree was angry or excited, like Alfor’s were as he leered at her. She danced closer. Another interesting fact was that their brains were not as efficient as those of other species, hence the requirement for additional blood flow; more oxygen per limited thought. He leaned forward, his eyes locked to her swaying hips. Cygna turned slowly, and his head tilted to appreciate her assets. The third, lesser known, fact about the Kah’Ree was that an interruption to the blood flow while they were in this excited state caused them to lose consciousness rapidly as their brain burned through the available oxygen. “My eyes are up here.” She smiled as he looked up at her with his head still tilted. He sneered. “Who ca-” The Fae’Dan struck the side of his neck with the edge of her hand, targeting the throbbing blood vessel with a powerful blow. The interruption to his brain's oxygen supply worked perfectly and he fell face forward onto the ground at her feet. She let out a sigh of relief and looked down at his unconscious body. “Thank you, that was particularly satisfying.” She walked over to the door and peeked out, finding the guards standing either side. “He said to order us some drinks.” One of the guards nodded and immediately put his hand to his lapel communicator. Back inside the room, Cygna used her foot to roll Alfor to his back and began searching his pockets. She came up empty. Her eyes caught a glimmer from his collar and she found a heavy gold chain, at the end of which was his security key. She removed it just as a knock came at the door. A deep voice from the other side called out. “Your drinks, boss.” The Fae’Dan quickly messed up her hair. Using the back of her hand she smeared her lipstick sideways, and then pulled the strap of her dress down off her shoulder. She opened the door and, to her surprise, was faced with an Arkellian waiter. The bodyguards noted her dishevelled appearance and shared a smirk, and she said, “Oh, I wasn’t expec-” The waiter pushed the trolley into the room. “Don’t keep the boss waiting, lady.” Before Cygna could reply they were inside and the door closed. “Relax, it’s me.” Ripley’s voice sounded bizarre coming from the male Arkellian form, and Cygna’s eyes went wide in shock. Her sharp mind quickly adjusted to this new information. Of course the Awakened could change their physical appearance; she had just never seen it. They all seemed quite attached to their chosen human forms. “Neat trick.” She held out Alfor’s key. “Did you get the other one?” Ripley nodded. “The Kittran played his part well. I didn’t see him take it, and didn’t feel it when he placed it in my pocket. Now that was a neat trick.” The Fae’Dan smiled. “I think I’ll pass on that dalcho game.” The Arkellian Ripley smiled. “Probably wise.” Turning, she slipped the key into her pocket and headed back out of the door.
Ripley entered the elevator to the owner's private offices on the top floor. Thanks to the distractions downstairs, the two large desks in the centre of the room were empty. She walked straight past them to the large leokas painting on the wall and swung it forward. Behind it was a Fae’Dan safe; she took out the two keys and a small homemade device the Kittran had given her. Attaching the device to the bio-lock and standing before the safe, she elongated her arms to reach both key positions at once. There was more than one reason she was the one chosen for this task. The device beeped twice and small lights above each lock lit up. She simultaneously turned both keys, and there was a satisfying clunk. She raised an eyebrow. The device had worked. The heavy safe door swung open and she began her search. Ranjaz had been very specific: while there was one item she had to get, she was to grab as much as possible to obscure their true target. Quickly grabbing as much as she could she retrieved the keys and ran back across the room towards the elevator.
Cygna hauled Alfor back onto the seat, putting him in a more natural position and messing up his hair. She looked away as she began unbuttoning his clothes, pulling his trousers around his ankles and opening his shirt up to bare his chest. From a secret pocket inside her dress she pulled out a lace thong, setting it on his head like a bandana. She also had a small box which she opened, inside of which was a replica mouth with lipstick that matched her own. Cygna carefully applied kiss marks all over his exposed skin before popping the fake lips back into the secret pocket. She took the Fae’Dan wine and partially filled two glasses, making sure to take a long drink from one and leave more lipstick marks. The rest of the wine was poured into the ice bucket. She heard the sound of voices outside the door. The guards were arguing with someone, refusing them entry, but when the name Toran was mentioned it was Ripley who entered, still in uniform but now looking much like her usual self. She smirked at the Kah’Ree in his derobed state. “I can see you had fun.” The Fae’Dan chuckled. “That’s the idea.” She looked at the Awakened in her true form. “You look… better.” Ripley cocked her head. “It would be strange if the waiter came back to deliver a message.” She tossed the necklace key to Cygna, who replaced it on Alfor’s neck. Reclining on the sofa and picking up her glass, Cygna took another long drink. “Get the other one back to Ranjaz quickly. This one won’t be napping much longer.” The Awakened gave an almost Ranjaz-like grin. “You could always hit him again.” Before the Fae’Dan could reply she had ducked back out of the door. She caught the eye of one of the bodyguards and gave a head tilt back towards the room. “The boss is really enjoying himself!” As the suited pair chuckled, the larger of the two got a message in his ear piece. “Hey, silver hair.” He grunted. “Boss has an important guest. Meet them in the foyer and bring them to the dalcho room.” Ripley was relieved – she needed a reason to get into that room. “On my way.”
Toran was seething as he watched as the Kittran flipped his final tile. Why would he have waited so long to play the Wings of Tulseria tile? His stomach sank, and he couldn’t hold back his anger any longer. “Damn you!” Ranjaz gave a full-fanged grin. “Looks like my luck turned at just the right moment.” “Luck!” Toran’s tile snapped between his fingers. Why had he let the damned cat goad him into constantly increasing their bet? The cycle had started with him owing the brothers a million credits plus interest, and now the infuritating Kittran had won nearly forty times that. “Nobody is that lucky.” “Woah!” Ranjaz held up his hands. “I would never cheat, well... certainly not a second time. After you caught me, I’d be a fool to try.” “Hmm.” Toran looked at the two behind the Kittran. The big one would be a problem, but the Anatidae looked to be nothing special. “How about I give you back your little trinket and we call it even?” “My trinket?” Ranjaz shook his head. “I had to convince you it was worth the million I owed. Why would you think I’d trade it for thirty eight million credits? I’ll pay what I owe, take my trinket and my winnings and leave.” Toran folded his arms and looked across the dalcho board at Ranjaz. “And why would I let you do that?” The atmosphere in the room changed as the two security guards changed their stance. “Transfer the credits back to the house.” Ranjaz dropped the grin, replacing it with a defiant glare. “What happened to you running a straight game?” “The game was straight. You won, didn’t you?” He leaned forward, his eyes cold and hard. “You’re just in no position to collect.” The Kittran was about to argue when the door behind Toran opened. He looked up as Ripley entered, and his eyes widened in shock. She wasn’t alone. “Toran, you bastard! You sold me out!” “For ten million credits.” Toran stared hard at Ranjaz. “Care to make a better offer?” Eruwenn’s eyes blazed with anger as the grey-suited Niham pulled up a seat and sat down beside Toran. “Now, now, you lied to me about having the item before. Don’t double cross me.” Sentinel Krast placed his hands together on the table, interlacing his fingers. “I’m not somebody who forgives easily.” He looked directly at Eruwenn. “Isn’t that right, former Councillor? A little far from your new Ambassador position, aren’t you?” Ripley stood back against the wall. She had no idea who the newcomer was, but this most definitely was not the plan. The golden green Anatidae walked forward to stand behind Ranjaz. “Oh, I had a little vacation time saved up, and decided to spend it with my good friend here.” She placed a hand on the Kittrans shoulder. “And what brings a Sentinel here?” Krast’s lips curled in what might approximate a smile. “I’m also acquainted with Mr K’Lua. In fact, we go back a very long way.” He turned to look directly at Ranjaz. “Now, return what is mine.” Toran looked from Ranjaz to Krast. “Yours? You don’t look like the tiara wearing type.” The Sentinel didn’t turn his head. “Ah, so you hid the data chip inside some shiny bauble. As inventive as ever, Mr K’Lua.” The Niham finally acknowledged Toran by looking at him. “Bring. It. Here.” The Kah’Ree sucked air through his teeth. “Well, seems like we have something mighty important, and two very interested parties.” He stood and walked to his two security officers, who drew their weapons in unison. “Now then, I believe you” —he nodded to Krast— “offered ten million. How about it Ranjaz, old friend? What’s your counter offer?” The Kittran had been sitting, silently seething at his double cross being double crossed. He looked at Krast. “Were you the one?” Toran was surprised at being ignored, but before he could reply Krast answered, “The one?” Ranjaz’s eyes narrowed, his ears alert, his tail swishing aggressively. “The one who took my friend!” he snarled as he felt Eruwenn’s hand holding him back gently. Krast’s eyes glittered as he saw the impotent rage in his opponent’s eyes. “Ah, the poor deceased human?” He smiled his mannequin-esque smile. “And if I was?” Toran snatched a pistol from one of his men and fired a blast at the ceiling. “Your quarrel can wait. Let’s settle our business first and you can kill each other after I’m paid.” He paused, then added, “but, not in my casino. Body disposal costs extra.” Eruwenn’s hand gripped Ranjaz’s shoulder harder, and he braced himself. In one smooth move she both threw him backwards and to the right, and kicked the dalcho table up and forward into Krast's face. The Sentinel fell backwards as a blast from Toran struck the table, but Eruwenn was already on the move, sidestepping left and ducking forward into a cartwheel. Toran's gun had been following Ranjaz, but as her leg swept down it knocked the weapon from his grip. Once she stabilized, her fist, already primed with momentum from the cartwheel, struck Toran below the ribs and knocked the wind from him. The guard, whose gun the Kah'Ree had been holding, lunged forward to grab Eruwenn but she simply deflected his hand, pairing his forward momentum with her rising elbow to swiftly render him unconscious. The second guard had just begun to raise his weapon when a huge fist struck him in his chest, sending him careening backwards into the wall. Thor loomed over him, shaking his head as he retrieved the energy pistol. “Too slow.” Ripley helped Ranjaz to his feet as Krast pushed the table off his chest. Toran was coughing and struggling to breathe as Ranjaz pressed the retrieved energy pistol to his forehead. “Double cross me?” He dragged the Kah’Ree forward. “I want to see the item, then I’ll pay what I owe.” The two of them awkwardly made their way back towards Krast, so Ranjaz could point the gun in his face. “Then we can talk about your body disposal fee.” Krast stood, and his phony smile was gone. “You can’t kill me. The Sentinels will tear this place apart, hunt you down and kill you. You think I came alone? My ship is in orbit and waiting for my orders!” Ranjaz grabbed him by the jacket, pulling him down to his level, and struck him in the face with the butt of the pistol. Thor cooly kept his stolen pistol pointed at Toran and the one conscious guard. By the third blow Krast’s face was bloody, his nose broken and he began to struggle against Ranjaz’s assault. A muted boom caused everyone present to stop in their tracks. Alarms began to sound and Toran swore loudly. He pulled out his communicator, ignoring Thor’s pistol. “What the hell was that!” He held the device close as he listened. “My office?” He patted his pocket. Finding his key in place, he looked to Ranjaz and then Krast. “Seal the casino! And where is my brother?” Ripley suddenly understood why the Kittran had told her to leave his device on the safe door. After a brief further moment of shock, which she kept from showing on her face, she realized that she had been carrying an explosive without being told. If they survived, Ranjaz was going to need to explain himself. Thoroughly. Eruwenn, Thor and Ranjaz had backed away to the opposite side of the room, standing by the door. Krast stood alone, holding his profusely bleeding nose. The opposite door soon opened to reveal scrambling casino security, with Toran and his guard standing nearby. The unconscious guard was carried out without comment, and the Kah’Ree turned to Ripley. “Why are you still here?” She nodded and slipped out of the door, leaving one less concern for the remaining three. “Alright, which one of your skrolg-licking bastards broke into my private safe?” Krast spat blood onto the floor, pointing at Ranjaz. “He’s the thief. You and I had a deal.” The Kittran smirked. “I’m a better thief than blowing up a Tulseria-damned safe. If I wanted to steal it, I would have done just that. I would not have announced my arrival and sat down to a game of dalcho.” Toran looked between the two of them. “He’s got a point.” One of his men handed him a pistol, and he continued to talk a little distractedly into his communicator. “Well, check everywhere!” Ranjaz stirred the pot. “He’s the bastard who double crossed me, why would he honour your deal?” Eruwenn nodded. “A government agent can’t be seen working with criminals.” Krast's face contorted in rage. “Don’t be a damned fool, Toran!” He pointed at Ranjaz. “This is clearly some convoluted distraction.” Toran shook his head. “They had the upper hand. You were the one getting your face ruined.”
Cygna watched nervously as Alfor began to stir. Things were taking a lot longer than expected. Finally, her signal came; it was not as subtle as she had been led to believe. As soon as the explosion went off the two bodyguards quickly came into the room, glancing from Alfor’s sleeping body to her. She staggered forward, wine bottle in hand. “We need more drinkshh!” The guard ignored her as he saw the condition of his boss. “Not again,” he groaned. “Toran will kill us for letting him get like this.” The second guard stepped out into the corridor. “I’m not dressing him! Last time he tried to kiss me!” Cygna paused, not having expected it to go this way. The first bodyguard walked out as well. “He pissed on my new shoes the time before that. I’m not moving him.” Their communicators went off and their faces became more serious. Bodyguard two spoke first. “Damn it. Toran wants him.” The first turned to look at the increasingly bewildered Cygna. “You!” He smiled. “You got him undressed. You can dress him.” Cygna spotted Ripley running down the corridor towards them, causing her confusion to grow further. The Awakened shouted one word. “Sentinels!” The Fae’Dan’s mind raced. The plan was clearly blown, and they had to get out. Fast. As the guards were now facing Ripley, she took the opportunity to kick one in the back of the knee. He fell forward, and as the second turned he was met with the upward swing of a wine bottle. The first guard discovered first-hand the shocking truth of how hard the knee of an Awakened could be, and both were unconscious by the time they hit the ground. Cygna smiled at Ripley. "Thanks." The Awakened gave a swift nod of acknowledgement. “A Sentinel turned up, so Ranjaz set off the diversion he promised. The other brother is busy trying to figure out whether it’s us or the Sentinels robbing him.” Cygna took on board the new information quickly, knowing she needed to help the others. “I have an idea. Lie over there and look dead.” She ran back into the room, where Alfor was groaning and starting to move. She slipped the chain from his neck and dropped it into the ice bucket, where it sank out of sight below the dark Fae’Dan wine. She began to slowly shake him. “Huh,” he grumbled, and slowly opened his eyes. “Wha.. what happened?” Cygna clung to him tightly. “Oh thank goodness! I thought they killed you!” “Killed?” Alfor’s head was pounding, his memory blurry. “Who-” He caught sight of his downed guards in the open doorway. “What the hell happened?” He began pulling at his clothes, and swiftly checked that his trousers were dry. “While we were.. You know…” He nodded; he was buttoning up his clothes. He didn’t remember, but he knew. “Some scary men burst into the room and shot you! I was so scared.” She hugged him tight, pressing herself against him. He put his arm around her. “What men? Be brave, and tell me what happened.” She looked up at him, trying to make her eyes as big as possible, adding a lip tremble to really sell it. “I don’t know! They wore grey suits. And one of them took your necklace!” “My necklace.” He clutched at his chest where it should have been. “Damn Sentinels! I told Toran we couldn't trust them!” He stepped into the corridor, where Ripley lay on the ground with a terrible energy weapon burn on the side of her face. He pulled out his communicator. “Toran.” He instantly got hold of his brother. “I didn’t answer because I was knocked out. Damn Sentinels took my key, killed some of our guys.” He looked around. “Nobody important, just some waiter.” He finally pulled the underwear from his head. “I’ll go to the security room and look at the video.” He ended the call and turned back to Cygna. “You stay here.” She smiled. “Sorry, we can’t let you check the security footage.” “Wha-” Ripley struck him from behind and he crumpled to the ground, her fake burn melting from her face. The Awakened looked around, rechecking that all was clear. “I think that’s all we can do; we should get out of here. Come with me, my shuttle is in the staff bay.”
Toran closed his communicator and motioned to a guard. “Search him.” Eruwenn wished she had some way to capture the look on Krast’s face when the remote detonator was pulled from his pocket. She'd have to hug the light-fingered Kittran later. The Sentinel grit his teeth. “That’s not mine.” “Sure, sure,” Toran agreed, while simultaneously shaking his head at the Sentinel. “Looks like you really didn’t come alone.” Krast was furious, yelling, “I’m telling you-” He broke off when Ranjaz shot him in the leg, falling to the floor. The Kah’Ree pointed his pistol at the Kittran. “Can’t let you kill a Sentinel in my casino, even if they did just rob me.” Ranjaz was surprised the Kah’Ree had believed them so easily. “What about us?” Toran sighed, lowering his weapon. “Take your winnings and get out. If you stole the thing once, I’m sure you can steal it again.” Eruwenn and Thor both made to leave. Ranjaz paused, knowing he might not get another chance. “And him?” The Kah’Ree looked at the Sentinel holding his wounded leg. “We’ll send him back to his ship. As much as I hate it, the Sentinels are untouchable.” Ranjaz raised his pistol. “He took my friend.” “And we’ll get him back,” Eruwenn said softly. “Then we’ll all deal with him, and the rest of the Sentinels.” Krast sneered and spat blood once more. “Your human is dead.” Ranjaz fired. Krast screamed and grabbed his other leg. “You bastard!” Toran and his men raised their weapons as the Kah’Ree yelled, “Get the hell out of here!” Ranjaz turned and followed the others out of the door, but just as it was about to close he poked his head back in. “Oh, one last thing.” Toran could be seen looking up just as the Kittran fired again, but he ducked out of sight before the true outcome of his shot could be seen. The shrieks of agony, however, followed the trio down the corridor as they broke into a run. Eruwenn spared a glance down at Ranjaz during their retreat. “What did you do?” The full-fanged grin had never been larger. “Made sure we’ll see him again.” On the floor of the dalcho room Krast was screaming in agony. He turned over to stare at the closed door. “I’ll kill you! I will hunt you down and kill every last one of you!” Toran spoke into his communicator. “Tell the Sentinel ship to come get their man. And, bring a doctor. A really good doctor.” He nudged one of his guards and finally let out a chuckle. After all, the Sentinels had just robbed him. “You double-crossing scum always get what you deserve.” The J’Rami guard raised an eyebrow. “Not sure anyone deserves getting shot in the balls.”
Covid-19 Update for November 24: 1,115 new cases, 916 recoveries, 16 deaths + Announced Restrictions to Limit Covid-19 Spread
Data is taken from the Covid-19 portal and today's media availability by Premier Jason Kenney, Minister of Health Tyler Shandro, and Dr Deena Hinshaw. Minister of Eduation Adriana LaGrange, Deputy Minister of Eduation Andrew Courbold, and AHS CEO Verna Yiu were also present, but did not speak. Dr Hinshaw will be available every day this week. There are currently enhanced measures in effect for multiple regions of Alberta. This link provides a quick summary of which ones are in effect for different regions of Alberta. Top line numbers:
For values where "Current" and "Total" are the same, I have left results under Total
Cases with "Unknown source"
7,538 (88.0%) in last 7 days
+13,617 (~8.19% positive)
+20/+15 based on yesterday's post/portal data
+4/+1 based on yesterday's post/portal data
+16 (3x 60-69, 70-79, 10x 80+)
Spatial distribution of people tested, cases, and deaths (since yesterday):
All other values are compared with respect to yesterday
New People Tested
Spatial distribution of cases for select cities and regions (change since yesterday) (cities proper for Calgary and Edmonton):
High River county
I.D. No 9 (Banff)
Wood Buffalo municipality
Rest of Alberta
Municipalities with 10+ active cases is given at this link Schools with outbreaks are listed online. Quick numbers (since yesterday):
65 schools are on Watch (+1)
117 schools have 2-4 cases (+3)
Spatial distribution of hospital usage (change based on yesterday's post):
Hospitalization zone are where the patient is receiving care, not zone of residence
Statements by Premier Kenney Opening Statements
Pandemic is "once in a century" event that has affected everyone
Has received lots of heartbreaking/heartfelt letters and read some out of them in the meeting last night
Letters include concerns about family impacts and economic impacts, as well as the loss of life
Has phoned front line healthcare workers over weekend and sought out their advice
Has noted the hesitation of further restrictions before and focus on targeted measures. The vast majority of Albertans have worked to the guidelines
Spread is speeding up and is significant at long term care. We need to do "everything we can" to protect them. That requires dedicated work from the community
Must also protect healthcare system. Healthcare system is at risk, and Edmonton Zone is an example of the trade offs that now must be made. Other services will have to be put on hold if the trend continues, even with the spending in it
Measures below were not taken lightly. These are the "minimum restrictions needed" right now to protect healthcare system and avoiding widespread damage to livelihoods
Declaring a State of Public Health Emergency in the province of Alberta
Series of mandatory measures also approved:
For social gatherings: No indoor social gatherings will be permitted in any setting and outdoor social gatherings will have a limit of 10 people
For funerals and weddings: 10 in-person limit and no receptions will be permitted
Social events have been one of the biggest driver of cases. Weddings and funerals are one of the biggest widespread drivers of transmission ("This is just a reality")
These social gathering restrictions are province-wide and can be subjected to fines
An emergency alert will be sent to all Alberta phones this week to make Albertans aware
Gatherings of worship services will be capped of 1/3 of Fire Code with mandatory masking if region is under enhanced status. This is now mandatory. This will be evaluated mid-December
Effective Friday, for regions under enhanced status, three temporary restrictions will be added at businesses and services:
(1) The following will be closed: banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, concert venues, community centres. All levels of sport too, but must apply and have an approved exemption
(2) Retail businesses and services will be limited to 25% of occupancy limit
(3) Hair salons, personal wellness services, hotels, and professional services will be limited by-appointment
In-person dining and bars can continue, but must abide by guideline. Each dining tables will be limited to 1 household
Asking all workers that can work from home to do so. Government of Alberta will do so
These will be reviewed in mid-December
On November 30th, Grades 7-12 will end in-person schooling for 2020 and Winter break will begin December 18. In-person learning will be delayed until January 11, 2021
Effective immediately, masks are mandatory in Edmonton and Calgary Zone
The measures are tough, but necessary to protect Albertans from a "crushing lockdown"
Knows this will be hard and encourages people to shop local
Will give a chance to review before Christmas
If the measures do not have meaningful impact, further restrictions will be made in December
Q&A - Announced Restrictions
Alberta has had some of the least stringent measures and highest cases rates. Is today's announcement that it failed? Why are we doing the "minimum"?: Thinks the response has been effective for a long stretch of time. Obviously an issue has cropped up in the past few weeks. Also notes a "chase after 0 [cases]" shutdown won't be the goal and that restrictions and interventions, in accordance with Charter of Rights, should be limited to minimizing infringement of rights to achieve a goal
How will you enforce gathering restrictions?: No "snitch line", but will be expanding enforcement officers (Level 1 and 2 peace officers) to enforce orders and writing the tickets (up to $1,000/person). Anticipates officers will see if obvious "large gathering signs" will be noticed
How is in-person dining not "indoor gatherings"? How do you feel about doctors recommending closing in-person dining?: Notes dining is one household and limited spread in dining centres and asks those with a secure paycheck ("particularly a government paycheck") to think about those who sink life savings in dining services
Why are stores being restricted if they are not a significant cause of spread?: Compares well to other provinces who have fully closed retail. Thinks it was a grave mistake to allow big box stores to remain open because they had grocery/pharmaceutical sections while small businesses must close. That said, restrictions must be made to limit social spread
Due to challenges with Albertan spread information, what data is being used to make the decisions?: Points to data from previous 8 months
Are you confident that these measures will control cases by December 15?: Yes. Notes the challenging balance between infringement of rights and controlling cases. Also hopes this will be a "wake up call" to those not following the guidelines
(Interjection - I felt this was important and it needs to be separated from the above question). Kenney recognizes he will get quite a few people "on [his] Facebook page" angry at the restrictions. Wants to emphasize this is not a lockdown. Nor is this an abstraction. If you know someone waiting for surgery, this is to protect them. It's not about politics, but for them. It's not something he wants to do and is upset about the situation. But it's not enough to complain. Challenges people to explain how to grapple with timely healthcare access if Covid continues to spread and more need care
Q&A - Future Restrictions
How bad will it have to be to announce a lockdown?: Would like to avoid it if possible. Key metric will be hospitalization (in particular, ICU), measured against capacity. (Interjection - The wording of the rest of the response was focused on more targeted measures if these restrictions do not limit spread within 3 weeks)
Are there specific thresholds for lift measures/add more measures?: On 15th of December, reproductive value (R) must be <1 to lift measures. Ideal target is 0.80. We are currently at 1.3 in Edmonton, 1.1 in Calgary
Q&A - Other
Where is Alberta when it comes to vaccine and rapid testing?: Alberta depends on the federal government. Notes disappointment in the slow roll out of rapid testing (though 577,000 tests have been delivered). Hopes to announce more roll out details in the week. For vaccine, Oxford trial has also headed to mass production (giving Canada 3 incoming vaccines). When it arrives, will likely begin with healthcare workers and vulnerable populations
Statements by Minister Shandro Further details on the above guideline
Indoor social contact should be limited to you household. If you live alone, you may have two non-household social contacts
Indoor social gathering gatherings doesn't apply to home based services
Funeral/wedding gathering limits can result in $1,000 fine, up to $100,000 through courts
Additional details for restaurants/bars/pubs/lounges: Must follow 4 points: (1) 6 person/table limit, all from one household, (2) same note as above for single person household (and limited to the same two people), (3) only seated eating/drinking allowed, (4) no other services are allowed (e.g. billiards/darts)
Encourages takeout/delivery/curbside pick up when possible
Enhanced screening of measures will begin
Retail services extends to bingo halls, fitness, pools, etc. No group fitness is allowed, nor team practice or games
Casinos can be open for slots only and follow the liquor laws of bars and casinos
Long post In my perceived chronological order Heartless - The Weeknd glorifies fame, he’s wearing expensive clothes in a luxury casino. He indulges in a life of fame, lots of partying, drinking, and gambling. He seems happy yet he’s always looking for the next high. Until he licks the back of a toad, this is probably a metaphor for the psychedelics that’s he has gotten into. More specifically, frog venom is actually a real life psychedelic that’s known to be 4-6x stronger than DMT and it is often taken by licking the back of a Bufo Alvarius toad. The real life side effects line up with the rest of the in video content, “intense emotional reactions, euphoria, convulsions, and vomiting” Blinding Lights - The Weeknd continues into the highest high of his life off frog venom psychedelic. This is probably a metaphor for his introduction to fame as he enjoys the lights, the party life, the drugs, and alcohol. These things make him feel on top of the world, invencible as he speeds in his car without worry before eventually crashing into a casino. (Could be a tribute to his real life car accident) He then gets beat up outside a casino showing how these things start to take a toll on him. Yet he’s still happy after getting beat up and continues to dance off into the street, still mentally indestructible on his fame high, yet the drugs are hurting his body. The ending scene shows him alone trying to get a ride yet he’s still vibing enjoying his high. Until I Bleed Out - The death of Abel, the come down of his high. The LA life finally takes over and he realizes that the drugs alcohol and party life have killed the real Abel. Although he remains alive as The Weekend, the performer, the artist. The video ends with him lying in the desert. Snowchild - The video begins with him lying down in the desert. As he rises, he finds himself reliving the events of heartless or possible another version of himself watching himself go through the events of heartless. This plays with the idea of purgatory, the idea that he’s doomed to relive these events forever and that he will never truly escape. This is the only animated video and I believe it’s kinda a side story to the whole main explanation Im creating here, but ya basically it’s like a purgatory as the real Abel has died and he’s forced to rewatch himself turn into The Weeknd, the performer, the drug abuser, the showman, etc. After Hours (Short Film) - I believe this is hinting at the greater meaning behind the entire project and how he’s feeling in life rn. The video begins with the crowd cheering him on as Jimmy Kimmel congratulates his performance. He’s very “happy” or at least keeps a smile until he walks away from the crowd, hence continuing on into the After Hours where his nightmare begins. This either tells us The Weeknd uses performing and making music as a getaway to his miserable life or more likely that he is never truly happy but also never willing to snow the audience his true emotion. This sends him over the edge, crazy, turning him into a murderer. This is probably a metaphor for how he has hurt people in his life and he is somewhat blaming it as a result of the toll the industry has had on him. In Your Eyes - The Weeknd begins to chase down a girl to complete his second murder. She tries to runaway yet he always finds her. When he finally catches her, she grabs an axe and cuts off his head before he can kill her. I believe the meaning behind this is that he’s been in a toxic relationship. He blames it on himself though as he is the one stalking her. She is forced to hurt him, probably how he felt about his real life past relationship. Yet once she no longer has to fear him she quite enjoys dancing around with his decapitated head. This is probably exemplifying that she loves him for his fame and fortune but she can’t handle the negative aspects of him. Too Late - By far the most creepy part of this saga. These girls find his decapitated head in the middle of the road. (Same road The Weeknd actually crashed on in The Hills music video supposedly) The girls that find his head are classic LA girls, wealthy, drive a g wagon, sound spoiled etc. At first the are annoyed having to stop in the middle of the road but once they realize the head is that of The Weeknd’s fame and fortune, they immediately comment “it’s so hot”. They take it back to there place to play with it. However it’s not enough for them, they want a nice body to go with it so they order a male stripper. Once he arrives they decapitate him and replace his head with that of The Weeknd’s. This exemplifies how ruthless and fake LA girls are, they only care about looks (the strippers body) and clout (The Weeknd’s head) yet they continue to make love with this limp corpse which has no real soul. The whole video the girls go out of there way too show their bodies but their faces are wrapped up. Probably another example of how they use looks to deceive and hide there true personality. I think The Weeknd’s big thing with this one is ultimately that he has died in LA and can’t find true love bc all the girls are fake and ruthless. Save Your Tears - Finally we have save your tears which is the embodiment of The Weeknd, the performer, the person who gave into LA. His face is greatly distorted with plastic surgery, to the point where he is unable to make a sad face yet he is so ugly. I think this is another diss at LA girls and there intense desire to alternate appearances, often making themselves uglier. And like when the girl comes on stage to dance with him she’s like super into it although his face is so ugly it’s again showing how girls in LA see you for your riches and accomplishments but not for who you truly are. The rest of this video in my opinion is one big F U to the Grammies. The Weeknd didn’t even get nominated this year and that pissed a lot of people off since he basically had the best numbers of anyone the entire year. This caused a bunch of people to say the Grammys were stupid and Kanye famously peed on his Grammy trophy. The video makes it seem as it seem as if he is performing at an award show. They all have masks in the audience bc he’s calling them fake, hes also lip singing with his plastic surgery trying to be the ideal artist they’d want. As he walks around to everyone in the room they stay silent kinda hinting at there silence of not commenting on his Grammy situation. All the people of the audience have fancy masks and rich attire yet The Weeknd does not care for them or there “meaningless” awards as he pisses on them (possibly a hint to Kanye’s incident), throws the “Grammy” trophy, knocks over the fancy decorations dancing on the tables. Yet he still gives them the performance they want and they applaud him. He ends off by shooting the fake gun at his head showing his true unhappiness yet his fake plastic LA face doesn’t allow him to show this. Long Story Short Told through many horror themed music videos, the true Abel has died too become The Weeknd. The fake performer, yet the wildly popular LA star.
I live in a small mining town in the mountains of Colorado. Someone is building a massive casino nearby, Pictures Included
I grew up in a small mountain town named Eureka. It was founded in the late 1800s during the gold rush, but after the mines dried up the town began its slow descent into decay. Half the houses are empty or abandoned now. You can see a picture of the kind of houses here in Eureka: Abandoned House Non-abandoned House When a massive construction project began nearby, it was the talk of the town for weeks. Why would they build something in a sleepy dying town like Eureka? It wasn’t until my sister Selene talked to a few construction workers that we discovered they were building a casino. A casino up in the mountains, over two hours away from Denver. None of us could understand why they’d chosen here of all places. After a few months of work, the casino was done. I took a picture of the town with the completed casino in the background to the right. The ten-story-structure sticks out like a sore thumb off in the distance. Town+Casino After the casino opened, they hired a few dozen members of the town, offering high paying jobs to work as dealers or cleaning staff. I was already employed as a firefighter, but my sister Selene got a job as a blackjack dealer. She’s a widow with two young kids, so the paycheck was a real lifesaver. Still, something about the situation seemed too good to be true. The jobs over there paid far too well, and the management was far too accommodating. The fire station where I work is located high on a hill overlooking the town, so I began watching the casino from a distance each day. I had initially thought that the casino was located in a terrible location, but I was apparently wrong. True, Eureka was hours from any major city, but despite that, a bus full of people arrived every morning and left every evening. One night I was over at my parent’s house and had dinner with Selene and her kids. I asked her about her experience as a dealer. “It’s Ok,” she said. “Just a little boring I guess.” “Boring?” I asked. “I’m surprised you don’t have your hands full.” “Why’s that?” she asked. “It’s like you said, Eureka’s too small. I never have people playing cards. The casino is almost always completely empty.” I wasn’t sure what to make of that. If the place was always empty, what happened to the people who I’d seen arriving on buses? “I’ve been keeping an eye on the building,” I said. “A bus full of people typically arrives around 9 AM every day.” “Really?” she asked, looking confused. “If that’s true, I’ve never seen them. “I can see it from the fire station,” I said. “If you head out for a smoke break at 9 AM, you’ll probably see them arriving.” “Interesting,” she said. “I’ll do that. If they’re being processed for their organs or something, I’ll let you know.” She laughed. “Har har,” I said sarcastically. The next night she sent me a text calling me over. When I arrived, she was nearly breathless with excitement. “Orin, You were right,” she said. “A big group of people did arrive, but they didn’t walk into my part of the casino. Instead, they all walked into an elevator at the back of the building. I’m not sure where that goes.” She looked thoughtful. “It was weird. They looked… How can I say it? Desperate? Something about the whole situation was very off. I’m gonna check out the elevator tomorrow.” I told her to be careful, though, to be honest, I was excited to hear about what she discovered. When I visited my parent’s house the next night, I found her two kids there alone. They told me that Selene had never returned from work. I called all her friends, then all our neighbors, but no one had seen her since she left for work that morning. Our conversations regarding the casino flooded my mind, then a plan began to form. Early the next morning I walked across town in my nicest pair of jeans and a button-up shirt. I pushed through the door to the casino and saw that Selene wasn’t lying. The place was all but deserted. Three dozen slot machines crowded the walls surrounding a few tables interspersed throughout the floor of the casino. The only players in the whole building were Bob and Donald, two locals. I walked up to a nearby table where Bridget, a girl I’d gone to high school with, was shuffling cards. She broke into a grin when she saw me. “Hey Orin, you here for a few rounds of blackjack?” “I wish,” I said. “No, I’m here to ask about Selene. She never made it home last night.” Bridget’s expression darkened. “Really? Have you asked around?” “I already called around. Have you seen her?” She shook her head. “No, our schedules rarely line up. I’ll be sure to let you know if I--” Her eyes focused on something behind me, and she cut herself off. I turned around to see the casino’s pit boss watching us both. He was a tall thin man in an impeccably clean black suit. When I turned back towards Bridget, she was looking down at the table and shuffling cards absent-mindedly. “Well, if you hear anything, let me know,” I said. She nodded, so I turned around and headed for the pit boss. I stuck out my hand. The temperature of his hand was so hot that I had to pull my hand away after a few seconds. “Have… have you seen my sister Selene?” I asked. “She hasn’t been seen since her shift here yesterday.” He smiled. “Sir, this floor is for players. You’re more than welcome to head to the tellers for chips, but barring that I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave.” I stared at him for a long second before stalking towards the door. When I looked back, he was talking with Bridget. I checked my watch. 8:55 AM, just as I’d planned. I walked around the back of the building and waited as the morning bus pulled around the building. I waited for the telltale hiss of the opening doors and the sound of people descending before I rounded the corner and joined the crowd. None of them paid any particular attention to me as I walked with them into the casino. The crowd walked through a side door down a hallway to an elevator. Small groups of people entered the elevator as the rest of us waited for our turn. I shot a glance at the casino patrons, surprised at their diversity. There seemed to be people from all different countries and ethnicities. I heard one speaking Japanese and another speaking what sounded like an African language. My turn came along with a few other patrons in the elevator. A sickly woman hobbled into the elevator beside me carrying an IV that was still connected to one of her veins. We piled in and rode up to the top. The elevator rose for a few long seconds. I wasn’t sure what I would find, but I steeled myself for something horrible. The elevator’s speaker let out a TING, then the doors opened. We all walked out onto what looked like a standard casino. Another few dozen slot machines ringed the walls, but on this floor, they were almost all occupied by customers. I took in the scene, confused at why they’d have a ground floor that was almost completely empty when this place was almost-- Selene was dealing cards at a nearby table. I jogged over and sat down at an open seat. None of the players around me paid me much attention. “Selene!” I said. “Are you OK? Did you spend the night here last night?” Her eyes were glassy and confused. She looked up at me with a dumb expression and didn’t respond to my question. “Selene?” I asked. “What’s your bet?” she asked me. “This table is for blackjack players only.” “I…” I trailed off, looking at the players around me. None of them were betting with chips of any kind. “What’s the minimum bet?” I asked. “Three years,” she responded. “Three years then,” I said, not knowing what that referred to. Selene nodded, then began dealing cards. I shot a look down at my hand. King and a 9. Selene dealt out cards for herself, showing a 9. I stood, then leaned forward again. “Should I call the police? Are you--” “Congratulations,” she said tonelessly. An almost impossibly warm hand grabbed my shoulder. I spun to see the pit boss I’d spoken to earlier. He gave an impressed smile. “Orin, was it? I’m impressed, truly. Would you mind if I had a word with you?” I shot a look back at Selene who was dealing the next round of cards. Then I got to my feet, balling my hands into fists. “What did you do to her?” The pit boss clasped his hands behind his back. “Nothing more, and nothing less than what I’m going to do to you. That is, offer you the chance to play.” “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” The pit boss nodded his head towards a nearby slot machine. A woman in a wheelchair pulled a lever and watched the flashing numbers spin. They exploded in a cacophony of sirens and flashing lights. “WINNER WINNER WINNER!” The machine screeched. The woman in the wheelchair put her feet on the ground and stood up on a pair of wobbly legs that had clearly never been used before. “As in any other casino,” the pit boss said, “you must wager for the chance to win.” “She... won the use of her legs?” I asked, feeling light-headed. “Wait,” I said. “I played blackjack just now. ‘Three years,’ Selene told me. What does ‘three years’ mean?” I asked. “Three years of life, of course. Did you win?” My mouth felt dry. “I-- Yes, I won.” He smiled warmly. “Congratulations. I hope you enjoy them. I can tell you from personal experience that watching the decades pass is a bore. Give it some time and you’ll be back to spend them.” I watched the pit boss’s face. He couldn’t have been more than a few years older than me, and I was in my early thirties. I looked around at the casino. No one was playing with chips of any kind. “So what?” I asked. “I won years of life. That woman won the use of her legs. What else can a person win here?” “Oh, almost anything. They can win almost anything you can imagine.” A cold feeling settled in my stomach. “And what do they wager?” His eyes flashed with greed. “Almost anything. They can wager almost anything you can possibly imagine. Anything equal in value to the item they want in return.” He nodded towards a nearby roulette table. A man stood by the table, cradling his hands. “Another finger,” he called out. He only had three fingers remaining on his left hand. As I watched, the ball came to a stop, and another finger disappeared from his left hand. The pit boss extended his hands. “Feel free to try any of our games. Bet and win whatever you’d like.” He reached out and snatched my hand. A feeling of intense warmth passed up my arm to my chest. “There,” he said. “I’ve even given you some house money to get you started. An extra decade of life, on me.” I ripped my hand away, staring at him in horror. Then I looked back at Selene. Something clicked in my mind. “You offered her the chance to play. What did she want?” I asked. “Her husband,” the pit boss said. “Quite the sad story. He died two years ago. She wanted him brought back to her.” “What did she wager?” I asked. “She wanted the chance to win a soul, the most valuable object in existence. I’m sure you can imagine what she needed to wager for the chance to win it. What she wagered is unimportant. The important question is: What do you want, Orin?” I stared at Selene with a flat expression. “I’m sure you can imagine.” His eyes flashed with greed again. “How wonderful. The casino could always make use of another dealer. Feel free to make your wager at any one of our games; I’ll be eagerly awaiting the results of your night. Oh, and do take advantage of our waitresses. We always supply food and drink for ‘high rollers’.” He walked away. I spent the next few hours trying to decide which game to play. I was going to be wagering my soul, so I wanted the highest chance possible. Slots and roulette were out. I’d done some reading online about counting cards, so I figured that blackjack gave me the best odds. I walked up to Selene’s table and sat down. “Bet?” she asked with that same toneless voice. “Three years,” I said. I spent the next hour or so doing my best to remember how to count cards. I knew that low cards added one to my count and high cards decreased it by one, but the casino used three decks. I had read something about how that was supposed to change my calculation, but I couldn’t quite remember how. Every time I won a hand, I cursed myself for not putting everything on the line. Every time I lost, I breathed a prayer of thanks that I’d waited. And all the while, I kept track of the count. I had lost fifteen years of life when the count finally reached +5. “Bet?” Selene asked. “I wager my soul so you can be free,” I said. The table around me fell silent. Selene’s eyes flickered, but she showed no other emotion as she dealt the cards. I watched my first card, punching the air in excitement when I saw a Jack. My excitement turned to ash when my second card was a four. Fourteen. I looked at her hand. One card was facedown, but the faceup card was a King. I swore loudly, staring down at my hands. “Hit?” she asked. The entire table was silently watching me. “Hit,” I said, not looking down. The table erupted in cheers. I looked down to see a 7 atop my two other cards. 21. Blackjack. I looked at Selene who flipped over her facedown card to reveal a 9. 19. I won. The glassy look left her eyes immediately. She looked around in surprise, then her eyes locked on mine. “Orin?” she asked, then almost immediately began to cry. The entire casino broke out in cheers. I grabbed her hand and headed for the elevator. The doors had begun to close when the pit boss reached out with a hand to stop them. “Congratulations,” he said, beaming. He seemed to be honestly excited. “Shouldn’t you be upset?” I asked. “Not at all. Casinos love it when we have big winners. It inspires the other players to make larger bets. I imagine I’ll gain two or three dealers before the night is through from your performance.” “Great,” I said flatly. “Now let us go.” “Not yet,” he said. “You didn’t just win, Orin. You got a blackjack. And blackjack pays out 1.5 times your bet. You won your sister’s soul and more.” I stared, not sure what to say. “What are you saying? I won half a soul extra?” The pit boss grinned wildly. “Just remember what I said. You’ll find living for decades and decades to be a boring experience. After a few centuries, you’ll be back to gamble that half a soul away. Congratulations!” He removed his hand, and the elevator doors slammed shut. I helped Selene back to her house. Her children were relieved. I watched them cry, then moved into the kitchen to start making dinner. It’s been a few days since that experience. The casino is still out there, and buses full of people still arrive. I… I cut my hand pretty bad a few days later. When I checked it an hour later, it had already healed, no scar or anything. I’m not sure exactly what I won at that casino, but there’s no way I’m ever going back. Interested in more? Support me on Patreon at any level! My Patreon backers will get early access to my horror stories, free copies of my horror novels, and an exclusive story each month. Become a Patreon supporter here: https://www.patreon.com/WorchesterStreet Thank you to my lovely Patreon Backers: Brooke Tang Private Castle Lilith Scyther Peter Jamison MADman611 Lily Bain Vivienne Hoai Claire Shabbeer Hassan Maranda Mae Madeline Budd Lauren Ashley Luna Vaughan Stephanie Jennings, Krystin Molina and my new Patreon backers, Carter B, Yazz Ledgister, and an especial thanks to newest backer Christina! Your support is invaluable!
High all! I really recently fell in love with the Fallout Universe, with all its complexities and unique stories. In particular, I very much enjoy the subjectivity of interpretations of the games and their outcomes, and I wanted to create my own personal contribution by writing a story specifically set after the Second Battle of Hoover Dam. The Courier is referenced once in passing and there's no mention of a next of kin for the Courier. The story is completely original with entirely unique characters that I've made and it takes place after a non-specific timeline in which Mr House wins the fight for the Mojave Desert. I wanted to share some of my work with my fellow Fallout fans and see what you think. I sincerely hope you enjoy it. Beginning: After the guns fell silent during the Second Battle of Hoover Dam, the world was forever changed. Mr House’s City State of New Vegas gained full sovereignty and control over the Mojave Desert, and his Securitron Army pushed the exhausted NCR and broken Legion out. In the following years, Mr House rapidly expanded the city of New Vegas, and reignited the production of old Pre-War Technology automobiles, bus lines, and a high speed train line appeared. The Strip itself expanded beyond the Three Families; Strip clubs, pubs, casinos, all you can eat buffets filling the area, with some residential apartments and houses now beginning to be sold to the highest bidder, just as it was in the old world. The expanded city of Vegas outside the Strip itself however is a slum, crime, inequality, and denigration is all but abundant, and unrest is growing. Following the removal of President Kimball, his Vice President Donald Watson took over and inherited a State in crisis. Faith in the government had rapidly deteriorated, and the economy of the NCR began to suffer as many relocated to the Strip to live a life of luxury and excess. The NCR is now a shadow of its former self, with Military Police now required to keep order on the streets of its towns and cities. The poverty level is rising. In the East, Caesar’s Legion too is changing, and not for the better. With the Western Campaign a failure by all accounts, resources dwindling, questions about the strength of their Leader Caesar are cropping up in the minds of those closest to him. By 2295, the pieces had fallen into place. The fate of these States and the people who uphold them is uncertain. One thing is for sure. Whatever happens, the Wasteland will be changed unlike it has ever been before. ‘I appreciate your respectful and restrained response to my contact. It is a pleasure to interact with the less agitated members of your State.’ Aminta barely heard Mr House, and instead stared out the windows of the Lucky 38. The skyline of the Strip extended seemingly forever, pushing away the surrounding darkness with neon light. Just beyond the city outskirts, the silhouette of Mr House’s newly created Launch Pad. It was one of five, and she could just see the other four, each slightly further away from the city than the last. She scrutinised them, and was struck by the boundless possibilities of such technology; the opportunities provided. How exciting it would be! Mr House’s voice then cracked her thoughts and brought back to the present. She listened, without comment. ‘Roughly 18 hours ago, a team of five extraordinarily skilled individuals ascended Hoover Dam from the base of the structure,’ The ostentatiously large screen in which Mr House’s face sat suddenly changed to show grainy footage. ‘This was captured by one of our cameras on the perimeter of the dam. I apologise for the bad quality, it has been surprisingly difficult obtaining improved camera lenses, and As you can see, they used some kind of Grapnel Launcher and ascended via the rope.’ On the screen, it was possible to just make out five distinct figures at the base of the dam. They were clearly dressed in dark clothing, though the quality was too poor and the camera was too far away to make out any of the fine details of the material. Aminta scrutinised the footage, watching intently as the five figures used an oblong object, reminiscent of a hunting rifle to fire a rope, or cord up the side of the dam; high enough to catch the top. The operator of the device then disconnected it from the gun, and pressed it into the ground. It appeared to stick. They then ascended the rope. The camera feed then cut to show three of the attackers subdue and restrain two security guards. Due to the light, it was clear that the clothing the criminals were wearing was Recon Armor, though there were no insignia or identifiable characteristics. The two men were then held down by two and clubbed across the face by the third member with the butt of a 10mm pistol. He then turned to the computer and retrieved something from his pocket. Then the screen went black. ‘At this point, at roughly 1:27 am a Trojan was fitted onto the system. It temporarily disabled all the security cameras in the sector. It was one of the strongest Trojans I’ve ever come across, but I was able to get the system back up and running within 15 minutes. Unfortunately we cannot recover any footage from the corrupted data files that detail how the robbers escaped. I hope you can understand why I decided to contact you.’ Aminta pondered to herself. Why would Mr House, a man who controlled Rockets and owned and governed an entire city and it’s enterprises, would need to contact the New California Republic for assistance in a robbery? From where they were standing, he appeared to be in a position any high ranking NCR official would kill for. She didn’t say anything. There had to be more to this meeting than what Mr House was implying. She looked to her left, trying to be casual. Sitting next to her with an overexaggerated grave look on his face was Political Officer Neville Dawson, and next to him was Dennis Crocker, former Ambassador to the Strip. They too were quiet, their faces frustratingly hiding what they were thinking. Not sure where to look, Aminta turned back to the screen Mr House’s caricature face was on. She had to say something. ‘Mr House, why exactly do you think these people targeted Hoover Dam? There are many casinos and places full of money on the New Vegas Strip. Is there anything of massive value at Hoover Dam?’ ‘Well Chief Aminta Marr, no, ostensibly speaking, there is nothing there of real value to anyone, unless they have the ability to take and control the Dam and source it’s hydraulic generated electricity,’ ‘Then why would someone do this?’ Aminta said curtly. She tensed up, not meaning to sound dismissive. ‘Well Aminta, they did take one thing from what we've deduced,’ Mr House said, appearing to ignore her tone. ‘And what was that Mr House?’ Neville cut in. He was leaning forward, hands clasped tightly together. He was trying - and failing - to ease the tension in the room. ‘Well, before I contacted you Neville, and to answer your question Aminta, I ran through my storage records from 2285 to the present. I had Mr Harvey Shwarze, my ‘Representative in Government’ review them in paper form in our archives. Three things - completely inconsequential things mind you, were missing. Three Platinum Chips.’ ‘Three Platinum Chips?’ Neville said concertedly, as if he knew exactly what Mr House was talking about. ‘That’s right. It’s a data storage device, well it was a data storage device. Designed by me before the Great War of 2077. Perhaps once upon a time this would’ve been valuable to somebody, but after the Second Battle of Hoover Dam I had access to all kinds of ruined facilities all over the Mojave to reform to working order. I began reprinting hundreds of Platinum Chips which were variations of the original Platinum Chip. They continuously upgrade and encrypt my software to prevent any outside programmers from accessing my highly sensitive data. I have no idea what a group of hooligans would want with three. I can easily replace them, and since they’re only usable on my systems, well they would simply be useless.’ ‘Perhaps they wanted to sell them,’ Aminta proposed. It wasn’t impossible, she thought. People pay top dollar for things with perceived value, isn’t that the cardinal rule of the Strip? ‘To whom?’ Mr House replied. ‘The point still stands. Nobody has any use for them but me.’ ‘Well, perhaps they thought they were valuable.’ Dennis remarked. ‘In any case, they will soon learn they are not valuable.’ ‘If you have no problems with this Mr House,’ Aminta cut in. ‘Why do you need us here? The NCR has its own problems, big problems, and from where we’re standing, you seem to have everything under control.’ ‘That’s precisely the issue!’ Mr House exclaimed. ‘The very fact they managed to steal anything from me at all is deeply disconcerting! I spent days and nights running statistical simulations for all possible scenarios in and formulated the best plans for countering every scenario I came across!’ ‘I guess my point is, I do not understand, in any capacity, why you, YOU of all people would need to call us for assistance in a matter that you - whether intentional or not - have spent the last fives minutes telling us it isn’t an issue.’ The room fell quiet. Aminta pulled her hands back from the table and into her lap, and looked down at them, pretending to be occupied analysing them. She had exposed the true, unspoken meaning of this meeting, and they all knew it. She bit her lip. Dennis wiped the sweat off his face. Neville breathed in deeply, as though he was going to speak. But Mr House did first. ‘As I understand it, the NCR has fallen on hard times since the Second Battle of Hoover Dam. My Lieutenant after the battle was admittedly curt in regards to handling our relations, and since then it seems your economy is really struggling with extremely poor unemployment and satisfaction levels,’ Mr House paused. Neville looked at Aminta with a look of understanding, and regret but he didn’t say anything. Mr House was right. Of course he was right. ‘It just so happens that while it may look from the outset I’m doing well, with the occasional launch of one of my experimental rockets, crime in Greater New Vegas is extraordinarily high. To be clear, the Strip is not, but the extended city state with the newly constructed buildings - those areas are. I want to make a proposition for the mutual benefit of the NCR, and New Vegas. Neville, think carefully about what I’m about to say.’ Neville spoke up. ‘Alright, I’m all ears.’ ‘Dennis Crocker here can once again become the Ambassador to the Strip, and the NCR can once again have an Embassy. I will also give the NCR access to some of my technologies to help your state re-stabilize after everything that’s happened. In return however, I would like Aminta here, who is your Chief and Commander of both your military and normal police forces, to assist my Securitrons in patrolling Outer Vegas. Securitrons don’t make the best police, and security guards are in short supply and are not equipped, in any sense, to be police. I also would like your help in tracking down the culprits of this robbery; that being an extension of the aforementioned policing stipulation. Such a breach of security cannot happen again. Neville Dawson, I’m willing to sign a treaty pertaining to these terms, or any terms the NCR may propose, unless of course it does mutually benefit both states.’ Aminta felt her twang strike her deep in her heart. For years, the NCR Police Force had been absorbed into the Military Police Unit, and they could barely contain black market dealings of Chems and military grade weaponry on the streets of NCR’s cities. They did not have the resources or power Mr House seemed to think they did. For nearly 3 years straight she had been bombarded with evidence of killings by her own subordinates, illegal incarcerations, and illicit behavior between colleagues within her own chain of command, with no power to rehabilitate or prosecute those involved. Meanwhile, those that had the money to escape fled to New Vegas, desperate to find a life of comfort. It was possible that through re-establishing trade and mutual respect with Mr House, they could rebuild the NCR’s respectability on the international and internal level. She found herself hoping the treaty would be signed. ‘This... is a huge proposition. I hope you can understand the overwhelming nature of what you’re telling us, it’ll take a bit for us to come to a conclusion.’ Neville exhaled, as though he had been holding it for the last minute. ‘I understand.’ Mr House responded. ‘Maybe I ask,’ Donnie piped up. ‘What specific kinds of technology will you provide to the NCR?’ Mr House ran down a checklist. ‘Vehicles. Remade pre-war cars. Excavation machines. Cement mixers. Would provide jobs and improve your infrastructure in the process, whilst also giving me business and improving the situation here. Mutually beneficial for both sides.’ ‘I see.’ Aminta struggled to contain her happiness. She had become a police officer to enforce safety and protect those who abide by the law. This was a way back to such operations, in which she could help those in need, rather than sit idly while their situation worsened. ‘I’ll also be willing to give 10% of the electricity produced by Hoover Dam to the NCR. It produces more than I need.’ Mr House offered. Dennis shifted his weight, and opened his mouth. It was a second before anything came out. ‘15% would be great, if possible.’ ‘Done.’ Mr House concluded. ‘Well, we’ll definitely have to confer this back to President Watson. As previously said by Mr Dawson, this is a huge offer.’ ‘I understand. Aminta, I can only hope you also support this.’ Aminta smiled. ‘I am willing to establish a NCR Police Force here in New Vegas, and assist in establishing prosperity and stability, for the benefit of both states.’ ‘Excellent. I’ll arrange for a Taxi to take you back to the border.’ ***** Nobody said a word in the ride in the elevator down to the entrance of the Lucky 38. There was a perpetual sense of being watched, and listened to, and Aminta supposed they probably were. She sensed from the stiffness of Donnie and Neville’s postures they felt the same way. As the three left through the ground level of the building, the desolate casino indicated a time long past, preserved in pristine condition yet uncannily lifeless; inhabited only by robots. Aminta felt a shiver flow throughout her body, prompting her to hurry outside. Upon exiting, Aminta was greeted by the fantastic lighting she had seen from the Lucky 38. Buildings stretched high into the now night sky, perpetually lit up and calling for you to spend a few short hours in their luxurious suites and lose all the money you have without knowing it. She had visited the Strip a couple of times before the Second Battle of Hoover Dam. Back then, whilst still grand, its exterior walls felt cobbled-together, layered pieces of steel to preserve what glory the pre-war days had. Now, the Strip felt open, almost a complete return to complete pre-war glory, though there was no way of her knowing what such a time looked like. Polished, beetle like cars with extravagant interwoven pieces of silver and gold making up their hubcaps cluttered the road, filled with nicely dressed young women chattering incessantly. Boys, ranging from teenagers to old men stumbled around, drunk and happy, their legs falling beneath them as though they were wet noodles. To the left, the Ultra Luxe Casino hotel stood at the far end of the street, intoxicatingly ostentatious and alluring for any hoping to climb the social ladder, despite the many rumors of cannibalism attempting to tarnish the brand. The fountain outside the front sprayed sparkling water into the night air which caught the light of the strip and reflected it like the jewels the building it was in front of was embroidered in. However, Aminta was not taken by the hotel, and watched two NCR troopers, still in their military uniforms be forced to dance in front of a crowd of onlookers. They were pushed and shoved as they struggled to dance, their arms and legs barely keeping to any rhythm as they fell to the ground, vomiting a putrid yellow substance onto the asphalt. She looked away in disgust and embarrassment for the two men. A man in an expensive looking suit and bowtie greeted the three. Behind him stood a long polished black car. ‘Shall I take you to the crossing point?’ ‘Yes.’ Donnie answered. Aminta and Neville followed his lead. He had more experience on the Strip than the majority of the tourists around them. She started the car once they were all inside, the engine barely kicking as it began to drive. Aminta marvelled at its power, it’s sleekness, at the strength and confidence of its movement and the luxury of it’s exotic wood plated interior. The chauffeur drove to the large South Gate of the Strip, passing multitudinous buildings of similar grandeur and spectacle, all the same though uniquely different, until they all blurred into one mix of different colours and moving forms. The chauffeur leaned out of the side window, showed an identification pass to a Securitron, and the gate opened. Aminta’s car was the only car that left. As the gate closed, the car picked up speed and tore through the rest of Vegas. Immediately outside the Strip, the buildings were noticeably more dilapidated. Aminta watched as the varied prosperity of the Strip curtailed rapidly into a mess of buildings, barely recognisable as residential or industrial, though they were unmistakably new creations. She almost didn’t notice it at first, but they were all the same. Row after row of buildings with the same geometric exterior, though placed at odd angles to each other, as if a child had been playing with them and haphazardly threw them into where they now stood. As the car moved further and further away from the Strip, lights in these buildings became scarce, and the brickwork became exposed to reveal pipelines and shreds of electrical appliances, some still spitting sparks. When the light of the Strip was nothing more than a flicker of light on the night horizon, the copied buildings were replaced with houses, roofs sagging, walls crumbling. As the car zipped passed, Aminta caught wisps of figures; people moving about the ruins and the darkness like ghosts, until they passed the last house, and all that could be seen was the night sky and desert shrubbery.
With 42 crisp hundreds lining my pocket and child-like wonder pulsating, Vegas was summoning me from the bowels of hell. But first, I had to take a little detour by Morongo Casino for no particular reason other than recently reading up about Jackson's Seminole Wars and Cherokee policy; felt like the right thing to do. I smoke a few bowls from my apple piece and do some Tai Chi in the parking structure to immerse into the zone. Within the zone, I am as objective as a poker player as I can comprehend; once the zone crumbles to ego, I am a PLO donk from the pit of eternal suffering and going all in on long shot stock options. It's a perplexing duality to rationalize and live with, though I wouldn't have it any other way. I lost a wee bit under 10k two weeks before with said degeneracy; regardless, there I was harnessing my Chi in the parking structure to redeem myself - maybe I should have been volunteering at a soup kitchen or raising malnourished kittens instead of this self centered quest, but the journey had already commenced.. The only game with an open seat is a 5/10 and I sit down with $666 for my own amusement. The villain of this hand had accidentally revealed his cards to my peaking eyes a few hands before where he floated 2x and bombed a paired board with nothing against a nit. Having known this, I flatted his 3b to 105 with my QQ's because his range is too wide to rip it and checked to him when the board came T95 rainbow, surprisingly he checks back. Turn is a 4 (bringing in clubs) and I lead for 60 to hopefully induce - he flats. River is an offsuit Ace and I check it, he insta rips all in for 550 effective. I ruminate on quantum theory and my mother's abuse, then make the crying call only due to the fact that I saw his donkalicous play before. Sure enough, he flops over 57h and the trip is off to a BANG. After playing tight for another hour and as the table slowly began to break, I walk out with nearly a grand more to my name. I sat in my Volvo wagon with an American spirit fading to my finger tips and Bach's E Major Partita emitting from mere mm's of my phone's speakers, I realized I had completed the most objective objective of this trip.. The only reason I set off was because my cello "broke" the day before and the degen tingles were too convincing without a bow in hand, now I had more than enough in profit to get my baby tuned up. But who the fuck has the time to act upon their conscience, I'm tryin to GAMBOL! "Vegas, here I come darlin." I stopped in Barstow to force myself to vomit and then gently placed a tab of LSD under my tongue in ode to Dr. Gonzo. I tried deciphering some meaning in the vast array of stars as I wandered the barren Mojave and after coming up short, I was back to flooring it on the 15. My optics were melting a tad and the road did permeate with my breath, but not an ounce of fear radiated within. I sang my favorite songs from "O Brother Where Art Thou" and didn't think about my ex at all with "You Are My Sunshine," baby steps. With the dusk hue fading as rays of light mustered over the horizon, our beloved capitalist wasteland was within eye shot. Before I could render the inclination of a responsible thought, I was in the Bellagio parking lot smoking weed with some drunk broad beggin for a few bucks to throw on slots - "Ganja is the only charity I provide hon." After a few orbits at 5/10 with a far too many regs that I recognized and getting a walk with Aces, I stand up right there n then and get the hell out of that nit fest. My soul was aching for 4 cards and there's no forsaking such a ravenous urge, Aria was my destiny. Due to the fact that live 1/2/5 PLO is actually abbreviated for BINGO, most of my play was incredibly standard and not worth typing out. There was only one hand for which wasn't a cognitive snap decision against a 10/20 pro for whom I had top set and let 3 potential straight combos get there from foolish slow play; after a minute of deciphering the hand and his perception of my image, I called his $400 river bet and got the good news. Aside from that single hand, any domesticated chimp could have been in my seat and it wouldn't have made a difference; the hands played themselves out. After 72 hours of continuous grinding and gettin lucky at 5/5/10, I reached the sacred $4,200 in profit and doubled my trip's first stop loss amount (which I had no intention of adhering to). With 84 mildly crumpled hundreds in my pocket and that same child-like wonder pulsating; here I am wandering the strip looking for the stories in all these confused faces. But conceptualizing the seemingly infinite dimensionality within even the simplest of folk is futile when I am just as confused; I hope the find what they are looking for or find that the looking is the fun part, who the fuck knows. I appears as though the next leg of my journey is to visit my childhood home in southern Utah and commit Felony arson in spite of my mother - or I might just keep degening away. Only time will tell. Safe travels comrades.
I held up my boarding pass and walked through the gate. My wife, Harper, was right ahead of me, and we both were so loaded with bags and suitcases that we could barely fit between the doorways. Our 10th anniversary was in a couple of days. We both had come into agreement that there was no better way to celebrate than to go on an all-expense-paid cruise to Hawaii. As we made it up to the deck, we marveled at all the entertainment. There was a band playing to greet us. Pools, water slides, mini-golf, a drive-in sized screen that was displaying boarding information, bars, and restaurants, and that was just what we could see while walking in! This was definitely the right choice for our anniversary vacation. I couldn’t wait to get these bags unloaded and start to enjoy ourselves. We went into the doors that led to the cabins. There was another beautiful bar down below us. There was a sports bar to the left showing the games on different screens and a small library to our right. Before we made it to the cabins, there was a coffee bar that served specialty coffees and desserts. If religion has it right, I hope that heaven is something like this. You couldn’t walk through a door anywhere without finding something exciting. Once we made it to our cabin, we dropped all our bags and looked at each other with stars in our eyes. I pulled my wife close for a kiss and then kept my arms around her. I asked eagerly about how we should begin. “Well, what should we do first? The casino? The arcade?” She smirked before replying. “Such a man, don’t forget about the fine dining at 6, followed by the show at the Theatre.” I drew back and acted faux offended. “Are you insinuating that I have no culture? I made our reservations before we even boarded, don’t worry. Dinner isn’t for a long time though, how about we go get some of those tacos and a coffee to get ourselves going.” “Now you’re speaking my language.” She replied with a grin. “Let’s unpack later. I am starving, and I think that coffee bar right there makes caramel macchiatos.” Her eyes lit up yet again as I grabbed her hand, and we rushed towards the door. The coffee bar did have macchiatos, which I got with an extra shot of espresso. She ordered a frozen drink that was more sweetness than coffee, and we made our way back onto the deck where the tacos awaited. The weather was beautiful. It was Fall time, and the sun was just warm enough to be inviting, accompanied by the blissful breeze that blew along the top of the deck. As we drew near to Tito’s Taco Shop, we heard the captain coming through the loudspeakers announcing takeoff. He reminded us about the mandatory safety meeting in a couple of hours and then wished us to have a great time aboard the ship. It was still strange to be in large groups of people without wearing a mask. The pandemic was finally eradicated once the vaccines were distributed. The cruise and tourism industries were hit hard, as were many others. It seemed that people were at last willing to come back out again, and there was no shortage of cruise-goers ready for a trip to the islands. I had my phone out and was looking up things to do in Honolulu for the days that we were in port. Scuba diving was a must. I had heard that sometimes you could see sharks or even hold an octopus on your hand if you got lucky enough. I wanted to do some hiking near the volcanoes if we had time. All the spam was going to be strange, but as much as they cook with it, I bet they were able to make it taste like a delicacy. They were in the process of building a new aquarium. It looked like it was going to be a huge one. Sadly, it did not look like it would be done in time for us to check it out. The black sands beach looked incredible, though. Instead of sand, it said that the whole beach was covered in smooth black lava rocks. We would definitely have to make a stop there. “Ethan! Do you want salsa on your tacos? Chicken or steak?” I put my phone away and looked at the meats before responding and did so to the guy who was making them as he finished up my wife’s two glorious looking tacos. “I’ll take one of both with some of that green salsa. Thank you!” All the free tacos that you could eat, why couldn’t life always be like that? “Let’s sit over there by the side, so we can watch the takeoff,” Harper said, before taking a big sip of her frozen coffee. We took a seat and took in the last sight of land that we would see for about 4 days. Once we arrived, we would tour the different islands, stopping at each port and having a day to explore. There were some people on land waving towards the ship. We joined many others who were near the side waving back. I couldn’t help but feel bad for all of those poor people stuck on the land. “Bon Voyage to us, I guess.” I held up my coffee for a cheers, and Harper returned the gesture. Her face was glowing. I couldn’t remember seeing her so happy since the day of our wedding. “This is really going to be a nice break from reality.” She said as she picked up her taco to take her first bite. “Yeah, it will. Nothing like this in the world.” We took our time, enjoying each bite as our view of the coastline became a thing of the past. When we were finished, we looked into each other’s eyes. I reached across the table to hold her hand. She sounded a bit anxious as she spoke. “It is a lot to take in, isn’t it? There is so much to do that I’m afraid of missing out on something. Where should we go first?” I squeezed her hand and spoke in a reassuring tone. “We have plenty of time to take it all in. Let’s just make sure to relax and do whatever makes us happy. It will all work itself out.” Once we had our fill of gazing into the ocean, we decided that we would head back to the room and get unpacked, while we waited for the safety orientation. The time flew by, and before we knew it, they were calling our section over the loudspeaker. We arrived with all the other passengers and waited for a moment until the crew member made it so we could begin. They gave us the spiel about the life jackets. They explained how the evacuation process works in case of a problem and let us hear a sample of the siren that would be played if there was an emergency. I was zoning out and staring out of the window. We were near the bottom of the ship, and you could see the water moving beside us. It put me in a bit of a trance, and I kind of lost myself in it for a moment. I was snapped out of it when I saw something I couldn’t quite comprehend. It happened pretty fast, and most of the people were looking at the crew member as he spoke. I could have been mistaking, but It looked like a giant tentacle had moved by the window and curled out of sight. I looked around to see if anyone else had seen what I thought I just saw. There was a teenaged boy who looked excited and shocked. He was tugging at his father’s sleeve and explaining something to him. He seemed to brush him off and looked frustrated at the interruption. Everyone else was paying attention to the speech and had apparently not seen a thing. Harper noticed how shaken I was and asked me quietly if everything was alright. I shook it off and said I would tell her about it later. We sat through the rest of the orientation. Nothing else went by the window, other than the waves being made by the ship. As we arrived back on the deck, we were grabbing a drink from the tiki-themed bar. Harper chose one of those blue drinks with the little umbrella on top. After what I had seen, I opted for a straight glass of their best scotch. I had explained my story to her, and she was busy trying to figure out what it could have been that I saw. “So, you’re sure it was all the way up by the window? Even at that lower level, that must be pretty high up from the water. Maybe it was something that crawled up the side, and it just seemed like it was larger because of forced-perspective?” I took a big sip of my scotch and shook my head in confusion. “Yeah, I mean, maybe. I really don’t know.” She looked as if a light bulb went off in her head, and she shot back a smart remark. “You’ve been reading a bunch of that H. P. Lovecraft stuff again, haven’t you? I’m sure it wasn’t Cthulhu if that’s what you are thinking.” I laughed and felt my tension release. “No, it’s not that. I just thought it was weird, that’s all. Enough about that, let’s figure out what we’re going to do until the formal dinner and play tonight.” She responded with a grin. “I seem to remember someone mentioning the arcade and the casino.” I must have looked like a kid on Christmas morning because she burst out laughing. We finished our drinks and made our way past the large screen that was now cycling through reminders of all the different events that you could attend. Night club, comedy club, it seemed like there was no end to the number of things you could do on this ship. We walked through the casino that was already bustling with cruise-goers. It looked like a good time. They even had versions of those toy cranes that were set up to pick up huge wads of cash. That might be the next stop, but I had my eyes set on the zombie shooter game with two green guns. The arcade was right past the casino and was full of all kinds of games to keep us entertained. Not as many people were eager to jump straight for the arcade apparently. Harper and I had the whole place to ourselves. I went to the coin machine to get out some tokens. There was a door that read “Staff Only” right by the machine. I heard a loud slamming noise that caught my attention, even over the music that was playing in the arcade. I leaned in a little and heard a heated conversation on the other side. “This is so fucked up. I can’t believe that they got loose. They need to tell all of the people!” “Can you imagine the chaos that would cause? I get where you are coming from, trust me. It’s better this way, though.” “Yeah, I guess you’re right… People would be going crazy.” The door opened, and I jumped as I was still leaning in to eavesdrop. This must have been apparent to the two kids who walked out because they looked a bit frightened and then hurried right past me. I grabbed the tokens out of the machine and walked over to the machine where my wife was waiting. “You look like you just saw a ghost or something. Don’t tell me some fish people are walking around on board now.” I couldn’t even fake a laugh or smile. I explained what I had just heard as I put the coins into the machine and started up the game. She did not seem concerned about the new development. “They could have been talking about a mechanical issue or something. Try not to worry too much. We deserve to have the time of our lives on this trip. I don’t want you to start to obsess on this and lose sight of why we are here.” I shrugged at this and answered in a resigned tone. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Worrying isn’t going to fix anything anyway. Could you please start taking out some of these zombies, though? I’m carrying the whole game over here. You have a power-up to use, hit the red button.” She smacked me with the gun for talking trash, but the mood felt much lighter after that. Before long, we grew tired of the arcade and decided to play a few games at the casino. I have never been the best card player, and she was no better than me. This being the case, we opted for the giant money claw machine. I swear that both of us grabbed a stack a handful of times each. The claw would never hold its grip, though. Feeling more than a little bit scammed, we decided to blow a bit of time at the slots until we had to go get ready for dinner. As soon as we sat down, the person who went on the money claw right behind us exclaimed loudly as the machine lit up and started to make a loud ringing noise. I looked over to Harper and gestured towards him. “That seems about right, huh? We pump fifty dollars into that thing, and he walks away with a jackpot after one.” “Such is life.” She responded as she pumped some tokens into the slot machine. I couldn’t help but hear two guys on some machines behind us, as they were beginning to get a bit rowdy with each other. “You tryin’ to say I don’t know what I saw man?” His friend responded quickly. “No, no, no, man. I’m not trying to say you’re seeing things or whatever else. I’m just saying that it’s crazy. There is no way it can be right!” After this, the first man shot up out of his seat, knocking over his stool as he did. This caused quite the scene, and many people were starting to gaze in the direction now. “Yeah, that’s alright. You think whatever the hell you want. I’m gonna go find someone to talk to about it right now!” He stormed off, leaving his friend looking a bit shell-shocked and embarrassed. Harper looked toward me, and as if reading her mind, I pushed my seat back away from the machine. “Yeah, let’s get out of here. We need to get ready for dinner.” She raised her eyebrows in surprise at what we had just witnessed and responded. “Sounds good to me. I haven’t won anything anyway. Let’s go.” I looked back towards the guy’s friend, who he left standing there. After considering it for a moment, I leaned in towards my wife. “You go ahead, I’ll catch up with you in just a second.” She looked a bit frustrated but did not fight it. “Hurry up, I want to make sure we get a good seat. It’s going to take us a while to get ready.” She kissed me on the cheek and took off towards the deck, which led over towards the cabins. I walked up towards the man who was about to walk off before I caught his attention. “Excuse me, sir? I overheard you and your friend. What was it that he thinks he saw?” He looked at me warily. It was clear that he really didn’t want to discuss the matter. “Look, he’s usually not like that, you know? I don’t know what’s gotten into him, honestly.” I shook my head. He obviously didn’t understand why I was asking. “No, I saw something strange as well. I’m not trying to say your friend is going crazy at all. I was just wondering what it is that he was saying he saw.” This seemed to unnerve him more than help calm his nerves. He looked around to make sure nobody was listening in. “Man, he was saying that he saw a giant fucking octopus, bro. Like, 30 feet long or so is how he was describing it. It’s ridiculous, there is no way they would allow something like that on one of these ships.” My heart dropped all the way to my feet. I covered my mouth, and I think he could tell by my reaction that what he said had rocked me to the core. I stammered and managed a weak reply as horror rushed through my body. “I..I… On the boat??” He nodded and looked at me with the same type of concern he had been showing to his friend. My face must have been as white as a sheet at this point. “Thanks.” I took off out of the door, in a huge rush to catch up with Harper. I was looking around in a panic, my heart racing and ready to beat right out of my chest. I was about to just take off to the room when I heard Harper’s voice. “Ethan! Over here, I grabbed some hot tea.” I saw her over by the edge of the deck, waving me over. I ran up to her and could hardly focus. “I thought you needed something to help you relax, and it looks like I was right. What are you freaking out about right now?” I tried to collect my thoughts and was going to respond when she pointed behind me and cut me off. “Hey, isn’t that the guy that was just going nuts in the casino?” I turned around, and the man was being dragged towards a door that was marked “Employees Only”. Two larger deckhands were pulling him that way, each with a tight grip on one of his arms. He was fighting hard to try and break their hold and calling out for help. As they made it through the door with the man, I grabbed Harper by the shoulders and looked into her eyes. “We have to go. Let’s get to the room, I don’t want to explain out here.” She nodded, and we made our way towards the cabins. Once we were in our own cabin, she put down the hot teas on our dresser and walked right up to me with an exasperated look on her face. “Babe, what in the heck is going on right now? This isn’t about the freaking tentacle that you saw out the window, is it?” I looked shiftily around the room and towards our view of the ocean. “Yes… I mean, no… Well, not really, anyway.” “You have got to calm down. Just take a deep breath and explain.” I did as she suggested and took a long deep breath to collect my thoughts. I told her about what the guy’s friend had said back at the casino. She made the connection between this and the man being dragged off the deck against his will. I also explained what I heard from the crew members when we were at the arcade. I could tell she was beginning to take what I was saying seriously. I looked off into a corner as I made a connection. It seemed like a bit of a stretch to me, but it was the only thing I could think of. I know that she wouldn’t judge me at this point if it sounded a bit outlandish. After thinking it over for a moment, I decided to tell her what I was thinking. “When I was looking for things to do in Honolulu earlier, there was an advertisement for a new aquarium that was coming soon. One of the main attractions was that they were going to have a bunch of Giant Pacific Octopi. I didn’t think about it until now, but what if that is what is on this ship? Let me google it really quick, I had never heard of that type of octopus, so I didn’t think much of it.” I got the search pulled up and nodded in a cold understanding before continuing. “This is exactly what that guy was describing. I don’t know why they would use a cruise ship to deliver something like that. It’s the only thing that makes any sense right now, though.” Harper was looking at the google search thoughtfully and responded. “I mean, I guess that these were two of the hardest-hit economies during the pandemic, tourism, and cruise ships. It makes some kind of twisted sense that they would come together to try and help each other out. Octopi are known to be very mischievous, even when they aren’t the size of a freaking semi-trailer.” She made a good point. Nothing had really made sense for a few years now with how crazy the world had been. This made as much sense as anything else when it was put into perspective. I just shook my head in amazement and looked towards her. “Well, what do we do from here?” “I know this is crazy, but I’m sure they will have a handle on those things. They would not have arranged to have them on board and not prepared for the possibility that they could escape. I say we get ready and go to dinner as we had planned. We don’t want to spend our whole 10th-anniversary cruise holed-up in the cabin. Even if all this crazy guesswork is correct, and that is what the guy from the casino saw, I’m sure that they have everything under control.” I pressed my fingers against my eyes and tried to wrap my mind around everything. I may have been scared out of my mind, but she was right. Our best bet was to hope that it was all under control and at least try to enjoy our time on the ship. This was not going to happen again anytime soon, if ever. “Yeah. Let’s do that, I agree. Let’s just get dressed and try to have a good time. I’m sure if it was too bad, everyone would be on lockdown or something.” She brightened up a bit with my saying this. We both went into our luggage and began to start the process of getting changed into our formal dining attire. Before long, I was tying the knot in my tie, and she was putting the final touches on her hair. I walked up behind her in the mirror and held her by the shoulders. “You look incredible. Let’s go and have the time of our lives.” She gave me a big smile, and I pulled her in for a kiss. I backed up and held out my arm towards her. As she grabbed onto it, we made our way for the door. The formal dining room was the most luxurious area on the ship by far. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling. There were large wine racks along many of the walls, and the entire dining room was walled in by the most beautiful windows that I had ever seen. There was an ornate window on the ceiling as well. It was just beginning to get dark, and I was sure that soon we would be able to see the stars all across the sky. The waiter walked up and asked what we would like to drink. He was dressed in a black vest with a bow tie and a white shirt. I told him that we would take a bottle of wine that he recommended. I also asked him to give me a recommendation for my meal. Once Harper heard his suggestion of parmesan encrusted lamb with asparagus, she decided that she would follow suit. He brought out some bread with olive oil as a complimentary appetizer to go with our wine. As he poured our first glasses and set the bottle down, I grabbed my glass of wine and held it up toward my beautiful wife. She looked every bit as lovely as the day of our wedding, and I was flooded with a flurry of emotions as I said my toast. “Here is to 10 amazing years. Every one of them has been an adventure, and I look forward to every year that I’ll be lucky enough to spend with you as we continue that adventure.” She smiled and blushed ever so slightly as she reached her glass to clink off of mine. We both took a sip, and she responded in a relieved manner. “That’s the spirit, it is starting to actually feel like a relaxing vacation.” “Hey, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? It’s so nice to have a break from work, housework, and all the monotony of the day-to-day. We make a pretty good team through all of that drudgery, though. Don’t you think?” Suddenly, I saw the smile get wiped from her face. The look that crept onto her face was one of sheer terror. Her glass of wine had been in her hand. When her face went from delight to horror, she tossed it on the ground with a crash. A scream came from deep within her, which was blood-curdling and intimated that absolute ruin was imminent. I turned toward the spot that she was staring at. I understood all at once the doom that awaited all of us in the dining room. A giant octopus came crashing through the windows near the entrance where we all had arrived, knocking over the many racks of wine as it came and turning the floor as red as blood. Seemingly at the same time, another came from the side closest to the ocean and blocked the only other way out of the dining room into the kitchen. I grabbed Harper’s arm, and we ran toward the corner as far from the beasts as we could manage. It was pandemonium as the whole dining room erupted into turmoil. I flipped a circle table up against the corner so that Harper and I could try to hide behind it for protection. I saw one man who ran as fast as he could towards a small opening next to the octopus, who was blocking the main entrance. The creature reached a giant tentacle out for him and pulled him into his beak. There were shrieking howls of pain, unlike anything I have ever heard as blood sprayed out from underneath. A couple of people were able to dart around as the octopus was distracted. Another unfortunate lady was grabbed by one of the spare tentacles, though. He squeezed her around the throat, and we had to watch as her face turned purple. Eventually, the life was squeezed right from her body. I held Harper tight as she was sobbing like mad and unable to stop her body from shaking. We saw an opening. The one by the front entrance went toward a group of people on the opposite side of the room. As soon as it did, we bolted for the door. As we drew near, another octopus came crashing through the window on the ceiling, crushing a few unfortunate souls as it joined in the massacre. We kept running until we were well onto the deck. The chaos did not stop in the dining room. People were running like mad all over the deck. I didn’t know where we would be safe, but I thought that maybe we could lock ourselves in our cabin until we could be rescued from this madness. It was a nice thought, but as we went for the doors, another one of those damn things came down to block our way. We ran for the area in front of the drive-in style screen where Re-Animator was playing. A man was gibbering to himself in a wild manner and hiding behind a chair. As we drew near, I noticed a tear in the screen as another one came through and snatched the man up as he yelled out for help. Our options for safety were becoming extremely limited. We ran for the bar where we jumped over the top and hid with a large group of people, peaking over to watch it all unfold. That was when we saw what I knew would be the end of us all. There was an army of them descending upon us. I held Harper tight as we waited on the inevitable. I watched as a family of three were huddling together in the middle of the deck. They were almost surrounded, but the father pushed the mother and child toward an opening so that they could make it to safety with the rest of us. He let out a guttural cry as they ripped him to shreds. His little girl cried in a high-pitched squeal reaching for him until the mother grabbed her and ran towards us. The mother was getting close when one of the monstrous creatures came hurtling behind her. As she noticed, she reached out with her daughter. I leaned out over the bar and grabbed onto her as the octopus reached the mother and held her tightly. I was pulling my hardest as the mother was holding on tight, and I hoped that they both might be saved. I was punching and pulling at the tentacles and doing my best to cause him to let the mother go. She released her daughter, and the others brought her down behind the bar. I wouldn’t let go of her mother’s arms as she cried out in distress. That was when I heard it. It was the deepest and most powerful sound that I have ever heard. It shook the ship violently. The bottles of liquor and glasses were falling all around us. It was hard to describe the immense strength and power that the sound exhibited all around us. When the sound came, though, something strange began to happen. The octopus that held the child’s mother released her, and we pulled her behind the bar with us quickly. She fell to her daughter and clutched her tightly as they wept in each other’s arms. All of the creatures began to release the people that they were attacking. They were moving in unison towards the edges of the ship. They crawled over the side, and one by one, they made their way into the ocean. Once all the monsters had left the ship, the people made their way slowly to the side to see what was happening. For some reason, they were all leaving. As quickly as they had descended upon us, they left us. It appeared to be almost in a synchronized manner. They all were swimming in the same direction, and we watched in disbelief. Nobody aboard this ship would ever be the same if they made it out alive, but many of us were saved by what could only be described as a call. A call that came from something massive, much larger than the creatures that had plagued us. It was a call that came from deep within the ocean and was more monstrous than anything that we could have ever imagined.
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