Bluff for the win

Sweat trickled down Marshall's back as he sat at his kitchen table, gripping his cards as they got wet with sweat. He didn't have a very good hand, and the bet had raised up to $15,000. Marshall started seeing stars and he felt different parts of his body going numb. His lips were dry and his back was pooled.

His opponent, Ron, a wealthy, professional gambler was getting ready to win, and he had two thugs on either side of him in case Marshall tried anything smart. He noticed that Marshall was nervous, and smiled a little. Ron was known to be a cruel gambler, and he had his terms on not paying your debt. $1000 not paid meant an arm broken off, $2000 dollars meant an arm and a leg, $3000 meant all your limbs. Who could imagine what fifteen grand would bring?

The end of the session neared and both men flipped their cards over onto Marshall’s table. "Well, we seem to have a clear winner, that's fifteen grand you owe me," said Ron, plainly; he didn't seem surprised. The problem was, Marshall didn't have the money. He only had a small job of being a store clerk, and was paid $9 an hour. "Just give me-" "You have one hour!" Marshall couldn't keep himself standing; he stumbled and sat back down into his chair, feeling dizzy and light headed. He started walking for the door, but...

"Ah, ah, ah, no leaving the building, but let me tell you what. You can call someone to bring the money for you, just no leaving." Ron said.

Marshall started to take out his cell phone; he didn't have many friends. The thought of losing his limbs brought tears to his eyes. He would never be able to escape Ron’s helpers; they would hunt him down, and probably kill him, but that wasn't part of their agreement. Ron would torture, and then leave you for the rats.

He went through his contacts, and stumbled across his ex, Claire, and called her number.

"Hello, Seaver residence, who is this?" It was Claire’s father, "It's um, me Marshall, can I talk to Claire?"

"What's wrong with you Marshall, I had high hopes, but then you made bad decisions and Claire left you. Fine, you can talk to her, but make it quick."

"What do you want Marshall?" It was Claire's voice. "Claire, I need some help... I need you to help me pay a gambling debt."

"What the hell is wrong with you, this is the exact reason I left you, and now you want me to help you with this?"

"Claire, please, I need the help, please!"

"You hopeless pig, I'm not going to help you, you’re on your own, and don't ever call us here again."

Marshall was starting to cry, "Claire! No! Don't hang up, please!" But she was gone, and so was a part of Marshall’s life.

Marshall was looking through his contacts again, tears dripping onto the floor. He saw his parent’s number, and dialed it as slow as he could, and they answered on the second ring.

"Marshall! So nice to hear from you again, what's the matter?" His mother was cheery on the other end and Marshall felt horrible for having to end that.

"Mom, I need some help... I need you to pay a gambling debt for me."

His mother was silent, but eventually she spoke.

"Marshall, I'm amazed, and we thought you would change, we thought you had changed. I guess we were wrong. We thought you would go places when you were a kid, but you ended up being a lowlife gambler."

"Mom, please!"

"Look Marshall, I’m sorry, but we can't help you anymore, you need to learn how to change. We've already helped you twice in the past, and we aren't in any shape to do it again. We are both disappointed; we just wish we could have a better son..."

"Mom, please! They’re going to hurt me! Please! Mom! No!"

But she had already hung up, and Marshall was close to sobbing, some tears already dried onto his face.

"Parents, they're tough, which is why I killed mine, but you still have half an hour." Ron was making Marshall worry.

His next thought was to call 911. They wouldn't allow torture and would come in about twenty minutes. The idea brought a spark of hope into Marshall, but he would have to act fast.

He dialed 911, and then faked four other numbers so it would look like a real number. "911, what is your emergency?"

"Please bring $15,000 to Apartment Holloway, on Roseberry Road, Room number 14."

"Sir, we do not accept prank calls on the emergency line, and you can be fined $1000 and be placed in prison for up to nine days."

"This isn't a prank call, I need to pay a gambling debt, or else they're going to hurt me!"

"Who is going to hurt you?"


"I'm sorry, but like I said, prank calls are not allowed on the emergency line."

Marshall was hopeless, "Won't happen again", Marshall said, close to tears.

One of Ron’s thugs grabbed Marshall's cell phone and threw it on the ground.

"Time's up, I see you don't have the money," Ron said with a hint of sarcasm. While talking, he sent his men to get Marshall, but he dodged them from the side, and proceeded to Ron.

"Look, I’ll do anything, I swear!" Marshall was sobbing by then, and he couldn't hold it back. "It's funny", said Ron. "There was another lad who also said he's do anything. Remember him boys?" His men both nodded and chuckled. "I told him to put his hand on his stove burner for a whole ten seconds, and he only lasted seven, so we had to finish him off, you think you can do that?"

Marshall responded my putting his hands on his knees and vomiting onto the ground. Still clutching his stomach, he made his way to the burner, it was electric, and he turned it to the lowest setting."Turn it higher," said Ron, but it was already red hot, and he seemed satisfied. Marshal put his hand toward the burner, and immediately it started sweating.

"Hurry up!" Ron was impatient.

Marshall lowered his hand onto his stove, and the pain caught him by surprise. He couldn't breathe or scream, but it slowly came back to him. He could hear a repetitive popping sound coming from his hand, and he knew it was his hand, pure muscle and fat, sizzling and popping away, as Marshall screamed and screamed. He started to feel his hand move lower, and it was melting away, and Marshall blacked out from the pain.

He awoke to Ron's voice. "Too bad son, you only made seven seconds." Marshall looked at his hand and there was a rough burned symbol of a coil, but it wasn't bleeding. It was blackened, and horrifying.

"But tell you what, I’ll give you another chance. The burner is still on, at the lowest setting. Try again, but it's the last chance I’m giving."

Marshall went back up to the stove, but could only stare at his hand, which was nothing like he'd imagined it to ever feel like or look like.

He slammed his hand onto the burner, using his other hand, the normal one to keep the burning one from coming off. The familiar popping sound came back, and so did the screaming. His hand was melting away, he could feel it, and he could see it, liquid mass and fat was coming out of the coils in the burner, and sizzling to nothing beside it.

His hand stopped moving and melting, and he realized that it had reached his bone, and a rat -at- at sound started up.

Marshall heard Ron say ten, and tried to pull his hand away, but it was stuck, and he couldn't move it. His knees started buckling, his screams getting quieter, and he blacked out again.

Someone splashed water onto his face, and he awoke to Ron staring at him.

"We thought you were dead," said Ron.

Marshall looked at his hand. He could make out a charred bone mass, and he could feel himself about to vomit again. "As a form of compliment, we called the police for you." Ron smiled, "But it's funny Marshall. Looking back at our agreement, it said nothing about turning the burner on..."

With that, Ron left Marshall's apartment to the sound of Marshall screaming and screaming until he could no longer.