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A Tale for Halloween
Peter had drank too much and was now feeling quite ill, he started to catch his breath, his head felt like it was spinning round and around, that old familiar feeling of drunkenness had once again occupied his body.
Why had he drunk so much? The Halloween Party wasn't until tomorrow so why had he gone overboard tonight?
The time was a quarter to twelve, he had been walking for about thirty minutes and to be honest wasn't really sure where he was. In this alcohol induced state he was not coherent anyway so even if he was to ask someone where he was it was likely he couldn't get the words out properly.
But even in this state, he had some faculties left, one of which was his eyesight and what he could see through the bleary vision of a moonlit street and the dark shadows of tall tenement buildings filled him with apprehension.
He would sit on the bench ahead of him collect his thoughts, and then try to look for a cab.
The bench was cold and as he sat the buildings surrounding him seemed to encroach upon him, he looked deep into the shadows but he couldn't see anything. But he heard noises, scuffling noises that scratched across the ground, short sharp raking noises, then he heard whispers soft at first but more audible as they grew closer to where he was sitting.
He heard the words "See him?"
"Yes…he looks like okay" the other voice though still in whisper seemed deeper than the first voice.
"I will take him." Peter heard these words and stood up; he looked around his sobriety quickly returning as something else poisoned his system, fear.
Peter had nothing to defend himself, he stood up and looked behind the bench, the mist that came from nowhere moved in his direction, he watched as it glided closer then enveloped him, he fell to the ground, the intoxicating smoke taking his consciousness from him.
Peter was aware of people's voices but he felt numb, he was sitting in a chair
A single light bulb was the only difference that kept the room from being pitch black.
The whispering voices began again.
"He's not like the others, look at his clothes"...
"I know perhaps we have taken the wrong one…no matter it is too late... he will have to do."
"But he will punish us."
"Perhaps …but at least we have found someone. It would have been worse if we had not"
"Yes. What do we do now?"
The door swung open and a tall hooded figure entered the room…swathed in black robes and carrying a sand timer.
Peter sat opposite the figure; in front of him was a backgammon board where the positions were set in place; a dice cup stood at the side of the board.
Pete was almost sober now his eyes fixed on the figure and the board in front of him.
The figure turned the sandglass upside down and the sand trickled down, the figure picked up the cup and rolled the dice, his fingers stretched out from under his robe, they seemed very thin and boney, they also seemed to be transparent, but perhaps that was a trick of the light.
Peter rolled his dice, 3/2: he moved his three off his back point (24/21) and brought the four down to his mid-point (13/11).
The figure rolled again and moved to safeguard his pieces with a blot; Peter countered him and played a safe position.
The sand in the glass flowed more rapidly with every move and as the players moved closer and closer to the bar and to the final racing stages, Peter began to sense he was winning, he also sensed something else that he was playing for something far more valuable than just winning the game.
As the sand drew to its last few grains – the figure reached across to Peter, he spoke two words – "Double Now"... the gravel edge voice scratched Peter's soul and he shook himself, the chills that ran through him, seem to rattle his body, his hand shaking, his mind alert and focused.
The figure opened his robe and took out a large red doubling cube, blood red with the numbers etched in black.
Peter picked up the cube and rolled it around in his hand, "What are we playing for?" Peter's confidence was bolder than ever before.
He repeated his question. "What are we playing for"?
The figure said nothing.
Peter became insistent… "What are we playing for"?
The figure still said nothing, instead he reached out his hand and opened it inside was a heart …Peter felt his body spasm and a tremendous pain surge through his chest... he grasped his chest and fought for breath…
The figure leaned forward and whispered to Peter… "And your soul"?….."Ready"?