My eyes are closed. I think I might've gotten knocked out or something. Or maybe being stuck in the Dealer's home was just a terrible dream.

"Chase! Wake up!" says a concerned voice.

"Five more minutes, mom," I complained.

"I'm not your mom, lamebrain!" she shouts. "It's Tara!" (No! The nightmare's back!)

I try thinking of that stupid alarm clock that goes off every morning, falling down screaming, and I even consider gagging after smelling my aunt's 'normal' amount of 'floral' perfume again! Then I wonder why she also uses Eau de toilette. Isn't Eau de toilette French for toilet water?...Why would she buy such a thing?! Why would anyone else buy it too? Why doesn't the world make sense?!

I manage to say four words before turning to my side, "Shut up. I'm tired…"

I am then pushed onto my back and get slapped. "You can't tell me what to do." she says almost commandingly.

I force my eyes open and swiftly get up. Before Tara could hit me again, I grab her wrist. Her eyes widen when I accidentally get too close to her face. Tara immediately crawls backwards as if she had the reflexes of a spider.

"What do you want?!" I shout.

"We're here," she mutters, after purposely looking away from me.

I look around to see we are in a wine case…but we're still tiny.

The giant bottles of who-knows-what type of drinks are right above us; few empty, most are full, and some are corkless (I wonder why?). There are about three dozen random drunk guys, our size thankfully, sitting around corks as tables (Okay, now I know what happened to the corks). Jason's in that crowd too, playing some type of card game with four others around a cork on the other side of the room.

I walk over there with Tara, to only be welcomed by a group of hysterically laughing strangers.

"Marty, you lose," Jason says, as he throws down two matching cards.

Directly across from us and Jason is that sort-of-mad-man I met earlier. He starts to laugh along with everyone else who are playing.

"People lose," Marty says, with a huge smile. "What're ya gonna do?"

Tara and I flinch when the cards blow up into a mushroom cloud. Jason, who doesn't realize we're behind him, just takes a sip of a shot glass nearest to his hands. After the smoke clears up, we stare at Marty. He somehow got changed into a maid costume, and a grey curly wig over his bald head.

"Ewww!" Tara exclaims, while looking away. "GROSS!"

Jason does a spit take. "I stand corrected." he says, after slightly choking on whatever he was drinking. "Marty is an uglier girl than Chase."

I raise one of my eye brows. "Did you say something, Daisy Kaiyan?"

The other guys start laughing when Jason starts to shiver. When they calm down, I learn that they were playing Old Maid. I admit, I'm actually pretty good at playing that, plus it's fun. But this a game of Old Maid I never want to play.

"Marty?" Jason says, as he starts to sway while pointing at who he's trying to talk to. "Do you mind changing back? My daughter and all things with eyesight doesn't like to see your…everything…"

"New game," Marty says, with a laugh.

Another mushroom cloud pops up randomly. Fortunately, when it's gone, Marty's appearance is back to normal; bald head and all. Then Tara catches her dad from face planting on the 'table', but leaves him as he drops the other way…on the floor.

"Hey princess," a burly man with a low voice says.

He's wearing a muscle shirt and a pair of jeans with holes on the bottom. He has cropped blonde hair, and makes me feel like I really shouldn't mess with him.

Tara looks up. "You're dad got most of us to join the Dealer's game. And he just passed out as you can see." the man says, pointing to the snoring guy on the floor. "He needs to play two more people to have everyone. Would you mind taking his place? After all, you are his daughter. You must be good."

She blinks twice before answering. "I don't know how to play cards. I do know the terms used and the rules of some games, but I don't exactly understand them." she admits. "I probably would know if my parents raised me, but I had foster parents who think cardboard and plastic are too hazardous to use…"

He sighs. "That's too bad. I guess we should make the most of things here."

My nose scrunches up, just like the time when I had smelled the room where Tara and I had first fallen in. "By drinking and doing absolutely nothing at all?" I ask. "No offence, but that's stupid."

Everybody glares at me; except Tara, Marty, a sober looking-man beside him, and the maybe dead Jason (Wait…nope. I think he's…drooling? Gross, but he's alive…that's a good thing, I guess).

Before the guys in the room get up to pummel me, Tara acts quickly. "What he means is, why does my dad need to play cards with you guys?" she asks. "Couldn't you just come anyway?"

"We could, but we don't wanna." the burly man says.

"Why not?" I ask.

The skinnier, more sober man barges into the conversation. He has long dark hair, sunglasses over his eyes, a colourful headband, jeans, and a t-shirt that says, Peace to all! Even for the lost souls.

I don't mean to assume, but I think he might be a hippie.

"Kid, what's your name?" the hippie asks me.

"Chase Gordon Adams." I answer.

"And I'm Wesley Hoyand." he says. Wesley takes a deep breath before answering my question. "We have tried. However, too many souls were taken."

"If there isn't a person with a soul left, no one, will ever be able to leave." the burly man adds.

This all starts processing into a cartoon (This is how some people think. It's normal…I think) and so far I'm not liking the ending.

"The Dealer said only a great player can lead us out." he continues.

"So my dad needs to beat you all at card games to prove to you he can help you all leave?" Tara asks.

"Exactly," Wesley says, then turns to me. "Since Tara can't play in her dad's place, maybe you can. Are you a shark or a donkey?"

"What?" I ask. "I'm pretty sure I'm 100% human."

Tara rolls her eyes. "He means are you a professional player, or are you a weak one?" she says. "Obviously you aren't a shark."

"I bet you're not one either," I counter.

"What did you say, Chase Gorilla Adams?" she counters back (Not bad for on the spot).

"You know what I said, Tarantula!" I shout as my intelligent come back.

"Oh, I wish the Dealer could kill you!" she yells.

We both hear all the men in the room say, "Whoa." as if what Tara said was very offensive.

"Girl, that's harsh." the burly man says.

An awkward silence goes by and I decide to break it. "I'll play." I confirm.


I sit in Jason's…err…piece of cork/seat. Across from me is a pale guy named Jim, with white stuff coming out of his mouth. Under these circumstances, I am right now thinking: Please, just be from tooth paste…

"Uhh…" I say, pointing to the falling foam. "Why's-"

"I came into the Dealer's house like this," he says right away, as if expecting that question.

I'll just assume he was brushing his teeth on the way here, or he may have rabies. I find out, Jim's the dealer (Not the Dealer though) for the game I'm about to play. At my left is Wesley and my right is the burly man, known as Brock. They are probably my opponents.

"So what are we playing?" I ask.

"Poker!" Jim yells, while spiting some foam on the cork table.

I get stared at by everyone a little later. "What?" I ask. "Is there something on my face?"

Wesley nods his head to the huge pile of poker chips beside me. "Nah. You need to choose how much you want to bet from Jason's stack," he says. "If you don't have any more chips, you lose. If you so happen to beat any of us, those will go, but the people who you lose to will stay. Got it?"

"Got it," I say, as I push in a quarter of Jason's pile.

"Come on," Brock says, while adding more of his chips into the middle. "You can bet more than that."

After hearing a lot of agreeing comments, I think about putting in more.

"Don't," someone says. I look at the floor to see Jason's eyes slightly open. "They are just being bullies."

"Like the 'Gimme your lunch money' type? Or the Shakespeare one for 'friend'?" I ask.

"They need to play seriously if they want to win," Jason says. "Why would you think they would want to be friends with you when they're trying to make you lose?"

"I dunno," I say.

"Bullies in card games are players that try to draw out the cautious/new players with a lot more to offer," Tara answers for me. "In other words, they're trying to make you put in a bunch of chips, so if you lose the game, you'll lose everything quickly."

"Smart girl you got there," Brock says. "Jason, you need to teach her everything you know. I'll be looking forward to playing you both sometime."

We start our game.


During the first round, I win.

"Great, you did your duty with a royal flush." Tara says with a laugh. (She is seriously not funny…)

I faked a laugh along with everyone else just to make it less awkward.


At the second round, I lost miserably…with only one pair. I had to give up quarter of 'my' pile and Jason wasn't so happy. He probably would've strangled me if he didn't fall asleep a little after.


After a few games, Wesley had won a lot. Brock already lost, and I was down to an eighth of what used to be Jason's pile.


Jim deals another game. Wesley and I are betting all in for this game, which caused the tension to practically go through the ceiling of this wine case.

I try hard not to smile at what cards I got.

Tara looks at me weirdly. "What are you doing?" she asks.

I get up to whisper in her ear. "Putting on my best poker face." I say, then sit back down.

She arches an eyebrow and stares at me. "Well, stop it. You look like you're trying to give birth." she says.

I frown.


When that last game was over, I win Wesley's pile.

"I admit you're good, kid." Wesley says. "And maybe if you played a lot more you could beat Jason."

I start this victory dance that gives me odd looks from others, but I don't care! I won and I'm proud!

"Chase, you might be good at card games, but you still can't dance." Tara says with a smile obviously tugging on her face.

Jason sits up. "Wait, wait, wait. Chase…won?" he asks.

Before anyone could answer him, the ground shakes. A voice echoes through the room and everyone recognizes who it belonged to.

"So these are the lives being bet on?" the Dealer asks. "Impressive number. But a bet is a bet, nothing more. No matter how many chips you put in, there is no escape."

A few of the men step back and grab each others' shoulders, while chattering their teeth. I step out to show at least some of us has confidence of winning this game. Jason does the same. I guess the Dealer's presence somehow made him wide awake and less shaky.

I shout out as loud as I can, "What's the point of playing then?"

Laughter fills the air. "It was a figure of speech. Of course there is an exit…" the Dealer answers. "I am just telling you that this is a game of cards…and being the Dealer, I never lose."

The Dealer's voice doesn't seem present after a few seconds of silence.

"We'll see about that," Jason and I mutter at the same time.


Note by Aoide Mythos (a.k.a. ME! The author!):

The reason I didn't update in sooo long is because I thought I should learn the game poker before writing this. But after a couple of months, I realized I could have just had little conversations between characters and such instead (It's more fun for me to write that way!). ;-)