“Welcome my friends, to my little abode. I hope to clear all your woes, and so, I am here to partition you foes.”
The room was dark and small. It contained a round table and two chairs; and it was illuminated by a stark industrial bulb dangling from the ceiling. Pipes, wires, and boxy machines snaked across the walls, which were caked completely brown with rust and possibly blood. There were three men, one sat behind the table; wielding a lyre and plucking it gently. It was an entirely pale thing, which had no face but a single eye directly in the center of its head. And it was a tall thing, so tall that even when it sat it rivaled the height of the other two lads. And it had wings, strange protuberances that looked like arms — with translucent white flaps draping down like a curtain.
The two men were also peculiarities indeed, covered in overlapping scales like those of a great pangolin. Their faces were teuthoideal, and dotted upon their sides were big and expressive eyes; which oozed with rage like blood from a baby on a spike.
“Worry not, you have come to the right place to settle this dispute. I know well that you both are volatile, and well willing to shoot up one another’s domiciles, and so I propose a game of luck. I like to call it buck.. shot roulette.”
“You speak like an idiot,” one man had green flesh beneath his scales, and that was the one that spoke.
“Then it is perfect that we have found a mediator to speak your language,” the other had flesh of blue hue.
“Quiet!” the Rhyming Man struck his lyre to create a loud boom, and it shut them up good,”I am your Dealer, mediator and delineater! Such are my ways as mitigator. So silence now my fumigators as I explain a very great game; which I like to call the evolution of Pisyanax’s Duel.”
The Blue creature sighed, “And what do you propose?”
“Well,” the Dealer struck a tune on his lyre, “You’re in quite a struggle, after you were caught in a cuddle, with your Green Friend’s wife!”
The Green Man growled, “Do not mock me!”
“You have entered my hut for exactly one purpose, to see the your enemy’s open gut,” the Dealer pulled a shotgun from under the table, “All I require of thee, is a waiver for me!”
The Dealer handed the two creatures metal tablets, and the machines required to punch their signatures into the black iron.
“Once your ink hits the paper, your wagers become Law.”
The two men glared at each other.
“You are a bastard, for stealing my love. Even if I die I am going to crawl back from Hell to blow you to bits.”
“Let’s make this quick, My Love is lustful.”
They both punched their names into the keyboards, and their names appeared on the line in a gilded font — and an ammobox arose from a compartment in the table.
“Well my friends, this is a game of luck, strategy, skill. This is a game of Buckshot Roulette,” the Dealer plucked its lyre furiously in a maddening rhythm, “Behold, the ammunition of our game!”
The Dealer removed a chalice from the box and poured the shells onto the table: 5 duds, 2 live shells.
“I insert the shells into the chamber in a random sequence,” And with a series of clicks the Gun was loaded, ready to leave only two living creatures in that room.
There was a long silence before the blue creature reached for the gun.
“No, no no! Lest we be heretical, how about we go alphabetical?” The Dealer pointed at the other creature, “You go first.”
The Green Man pointed the gun at his adversary, the Bastard. It clicked. Nothing came of that shot.
“I forgot to mention: If you shoot yourself with a blank, you get another turn, to perhaps make your enemy’s insides churn!”
The Dealer’s cackling was malign.
It was the Bastard’s turn now, and he pointed the gun at himself. It did not go off.
“This is going to end in only one way, splendid carnal pleasure for me. And death for you,” the creature pointed the Gun at the Blue Man; it did not go off.
“Three blanks down, two to go, how many more until the disappearance of your woes? Its fifty-fifty now, equal lives and equal deads, who will die in your Wife’s stead?”
The Green creature thought of his wife, his would-be mate for life. He thought of himself and her, when they were in their prime — setting together, the cool grass moisturizing their scales. What could he have done differently? The Green Creature channeled that rage into something greater; Hope.
He pointed the Gun at himself. It did not go off.
“Now the tables have turned, isn’t that right? And I am certain now that You will be the one Life spurns,” the Dealer turned to the Bastard and did an approximation of a wink.
The Green Creature pointed the Gun at the Bastard, all that strength, all that rage; all of it projected into that trigger. For what that foul cur did to him, stealing his life, his love, his future.
“Bummer, my friend, but now I suppose, it is the End.”
The Dealer stole the Gun from the Green One’s hands, which were limp and pale. Death was soon, his hopes were in vain. He thought of what he could’ve done, he could’ve ran to find a new life, he could’ve killed the Bastard in cold blood. But instead, he took the card of the Honorable. And now, he would die like a soldier.
The Bastard snickered, “I will make sure our children never know of you, and that your children are dead on the streets.”
“Where am I?” There was a flash of white from the muzzle of the Gun, and then the Green Man awoke atop a cylindrical squamous platform. The Dealer appeared before him, gently playing his lyre.
“You needed to read the fine print my friend. Welcome to your new home.”