This is a deadly game I play, a game were the stakes are life and death. However, even though I know the risks involved. I still play. I'm a veteran at this game. It's actually quite funny I call myself that. I've only played this game eight times, but I still feel like a veteran at this. Rumor has it; no one's gone past nine tries. However, with my luck, I'll go on past nine and make a new record. Hell, I'll probably never lose. Each opponent I've seen approach the table with determination and a cocky attitude has suffered the same fate as the last. They sit down, only to be taken away by the crowd of people surrounding us moments later.
Tonight is no different: a young twenty-something sitting across from me with a crooked smile as thou he has already won. The kid must have taken his moms car and told the poor woman he was going to a friend's house or some other lie she would believe. The kid was a skinny little bugger. Hell, if he turned sideways he'd up and disappear. His blond hair was in a rats nest like he'd just rolled out of bed. The AC/DC T-shirt he wore was wrinkled all to hell and had a few holes in it and his baby puke sweat pants made me wonder if this kid was color blind or just didn't care about his appearance in public. I, on the other hand, fixed my tie and unwrinkled the cuff of my suit. I'd usually wear a suit for these games because if I was going out, I'm going out in style. Also, it helps the funeral director's job. A dead guy already in a suit. Hell, just cover the damn hole in his head and you're golden. Those were my thoughts in the beginning, but as I continued winning. I felt the suit was more of a lucky charm.
Tonight was like any other night: me, my opponent, and the game. However, tonight felt different, like a dark cloud hung over the table. The six-shooter in the middle of the table glistened in the light that hung just above the table. The spectators were nothing more than shadows; their outlines made them feel like ghosts watching us. I was a spectator for the first three times I came here. The club was very black and white with the people coming in. You were either a spectator or a player. Many of these people watching us now must get off when one of the players bits it. Hell, we all have to get off on this kind of stuff since we're here. However, those watching might just be interested in the prize money.
I know that's why I'm here and not with the shadows watching us. Hell, many of these people are too chicken shit to even utter the word player. It was the prize money that got me to call myself a player. The money I won all eight times paid for my house, truck (that I only drive during the winter), my 1969 SS El Camino (which I drive the rest of the year), and a bunch of other odds and ends. It also gave me the option to never work again. it usually lasts three months before I need more to live my carefree life. I'm not lazy mind you. I work out at least an hour every morning. Hell, last month I took a trip to Maine to see the sights. So I'm not some kid who sits on his ass and plays video games 24/7.
Now I sit here in this club, fixated on the gun in the middle of the table. Each game, they gave you a different six-shooter to use. This one seemed a lot bigger than the ones I used before. It looked like it had come from the old west or the set of a Clint Eastwood western. Engraved on the side were the initials GR. They could be the initials of the person who owned it or a relative that passed it down to them.
The game started as it always did: a referee, usually the balding, fat club owner flipped a coin. I never understood how he kept people from ratting on him. Turning him in for all the deaths that happened in this might have something to do with the fact that no one wants to admit they watched some pour soul die and they did nothing to skip it. It could also be something like fight club were no one talks about. Who knows, all I care about is the prize money.
When the owner flipped the coin, we both called it. The kid called it wrong and went first. There was a click after he placed the barrel of the gun to the side of his head. He placed the gun down on the table. I took it in my left hand; I take a deep breath and pull the trigger. It clicks. I place the gun down and wait. I know I'll win, hell; I've won eight games already. Besides, I've gotten good at predicting how things will pan out. The kid will pick up the gun, pull the trigger and BOOM! Win number nine. It usually happens on the third pull of the trigger. Hell, one time it ended on the first pull of the trigger.
The kid picks up the gun. It shakes in his hand. He puts it to the side of his head. Sweat rolls down the side of his face. I keep my excitement inside as I wait. The kid knows it. He's going to bit it. My luck overpowers him. He'll just be another missing person case in tomorrow's paper. He takes another deep breath, closes his eyes and! Click. That click suspended over the room for seconds, but it felt like an eternity. He took a breath of relief and placed the gun on the table. Even though he didn't bit it, my excitement continued to escalate. A game never went this long. Even though I had a one and three shot of biting it. I wasn't afraid. I grabbed the gun and placed it to the right side of my head. I knew my luck would overpower him. I know I'd win after this. There was no way I was going. BOOM! When I pull the trigger, the bullet races from the chamber, the gun powder burns my skin, and the bullet enters my skull. Races through my brain and leaves through the other end. My head jerks and my body falls to the floor.
I stare at the shadows around me. They don't move, in fact. Nothing moves. It's almost like the world had come to a halt. Then, the kid who bested me stands up. His flesh starts to peel off and fall to the ground. a shadow moves and forms around him until it seems it is covering him like a cloak. The hooded figure shuffles towards me and once it's on top of me it outstretches its bony skeleton hand. I'm surprised that I can move and even more surprised I'm alive. I reach up and take its hand. It gently lets me up and when I'm standing tall it shuffles way. Before it could leave, it turns to gestures for me to follow. I do, I don't know why I do, but I do.
We walk together for what seems like miles. I can't seem to come up with any words to say to the figure. After what seems like an eternity I finally ask the question that's been floating in my mind, "How? How am I still alive?" The figure chuckles at my question after that it slightly turns towards me and I see its bony skeleton jaw.
"My boy, you've been dead for at least a month. Everything you've experienced thus far has been all in purgatory. Now, however, you can ascend to heaven where your family that's waiting there," the figure explained. I stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn't believe what the figure was saying to me. When, how, why? It seemed the figure knew my nest questions.
"It happened after you left for work. You suffered a fatal heart attack on your way home," the figure explained to me.
"A heart attack?" I crocked before I continued, "How? I was fit as a whistle?" the figure simply shrugged.
"I'm not sure. I'm just in charge of taking people from purgatory to their final resting place," the figure said as it stood in front of a glowing white door. It finally clicked with me what the initials on the gun had meant. They stood for Grim Reaper.