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THE CELL

Tom was sitting in his chair watching the security cameras, "Another boring uneventful night." He sighed and rested his head in his hand. He was working at an insane asylum, jail type of place. He didn't like sitting at a screen all day but he had no other choice.

Throughout the night, he had to listen to the inmates complain about how they had no food or the spaces were getting smaller, "Hey, let me out! It's getting smaller."

"No me! I haven't eaten in days."  

Some of them however, had a reason to act the way they do. Some of them were actually insane and deserve to be there, others faked insanity just to get better living quarters.  

More like cells, he thought to himself. He continued reading a book and ignoring the prisoners. After a few minutes, his eyes were getting very heavy. They felt like anvils as they slowly dropped over his eyes. 

Clank, clank, clank! Metal clattering against metal awoke the guard with a start.

Down the hall, he could hear a man, "Mind if I have a deck of cards sir?"

Tom yelled back, "Beg your pardon?"

The man from down the hall said, "Cards sir. Like playing cards." Tom obliged and brought the man a black checkered deck from a nearby locker.

The man got excited and immediately took the deck out of the package, shuffling, "Would you care to see a trick, sir?" Tom was surprised at the prisoner's kindness and gentleman-like attitude.

He pulled up a chair, "I'd love to, Mr...?" The prisoner didn't answer.

The man spread out the deck and said, "Pick a card, if you would." The guard took out a card from the deck, the eight of clubs.

The prisoner cut the deck in half and said, "Please put it back."

Tom did as he said and the prisoner shuffled the deck, "So tell me about your wife, and... son? You have a son don't you? David, isn't it?" The guard nodded.

How did he know I have a son? Tom couldn't put the puzzle pieces together as the man smiled and shuffled more. He didn't answer, but the prisoner asked him another question, making his heart sink, "Carmen, your wife, how is she?"

The guard didn't respond. Tom looked the man behind the bars up and down, trying to figure out who he really is.

Still smiling, the prisoner gave the deck to the guard through the bars, "Look through this deck and tell me if you can find your card, please." The guard did so and couldn't find it. He shrugged and gave it back.

"So what? Anyone can do that trick. Next time you show a trick. Don't do something a four year old can do." Tom got up from his seat and walked away. As he walked away, something grazed his cheek and cut it. The object pinned itself in the wall: a card.

"I'm not finished," the man behind the bars said. Tom sighed and sat back down.

The man set the deck down and said, "Oh really? It's been a while since you were last sick. Maybe you still are. Cough." He imitated a coughing sound. The guard did so and felt something in the back of his throat. He coughed more but to no avail, the object was stuck.

The guard started choking on it and screamed at the man, "You've poisoned me!"

The man stood up smiling, "No good sir, not poison." Falling to his knees, Tom felt his life slipping away as his throat swelled and his face turned blue. He fell to the ground and after a few more seconds, stopped moving.

The man reached for the officer's keys and unlocked the door, kneeling beside him, "I didn't say I was done." He reached into his throat and pulled a wrinkled piece of paper.

He unfolded it and showed it to the guard's lifeless face, "Is this your card?" The eight of clubs was staring back into Tom's fear-stricken eyes.

ESCAPE

Ah, the eight of clubs. Such a forgotten card. I was the eight of clubs. This time, it will be different. This time I will not be in such a forgiving mood. Gabriel took my life from me. Debunked my tricks, and ultimately ruined my business. I was not through with him just yet. I came at him with a knife, but that ended me up in prison. This time, I have my cards, and my deal still stands. Revenge will be so sweet.


I had forgotten what it felt like to hold this precious deck for so long. 52 pieces of paper in my hand. It has never felt so exhilarating to take a life before. I stared down at Tom's poor broken and still body for what seemed like a year. I smiled down at him and turned to my right, where the door to my freedom was. I sighed happily and bent to Tom's level, whispering in his ear.


"Tom, thank you for your undivided attention. You were one of my best audiences, and it's always nice to see magic go according to plan. You see, I made a li-..." I heard something. It was faint, but I heard it. Loud and clear. I turned back to the door, the emergency exit glaring at me. Then came footsteps, from behind. Cycling through the deck, my hand grazed across the ace of spades, the mark of death. Ecstasy filled my fingers and trailed up my arm as my finger traced it's pattern. It felt so electric.


"Inmate 4239, get back in your cell!" One of the guards shouted at me. An encore. Gladly, my friend. Gladly.


I stood and turned to the man dressed for battle, kevlar vest and all, "An encore? I knew I was famous, but this is too much. You're making me blush, officer." I twisted my hand around and pinched the ace between my index finger and my thumb, the corner pressing into my index's tip. I flicked the card across to the officer's gun, slashing his hand with it as the card passed. A faint grumble from him and a flinch was his reaction. His gun now unholstered and pointed at my head no doubt.


"I won't ask again," said the bleeding officer. I gave him a grin and shook my head.


"Sir, do you know the history of the ace of spades? It was used in story telling as a god of death figure. Spade meaning shovel, of course. As in, the grave digger." The officer shook his head, his eyes turning glossy, "It was the ace of spades I threw at you. A normal playing card, yes. But in my hands...." He fell to his knees, dropping his pistol to the ground, "Well, I am a magician." The officer fell to the ground, not moving anymore. I strolled over to the face down card and picked it up, cutting the deck and planting it like the seed it is, completing the cut.


I turned again and walked over to the door that lead to the outside. I turned the cold knob and pushed the door open. The sweet smell of autumn as my first sniff of air was breathtaking. The nice cool breeze blew my way as to beckon me to welcome it's sweet embrace. So peaceful. So free. The alarm sounded, but it was already too late. I was out, and free. Free to spread my wisdom and entertain those who only ask for it.


I breathed in, and out. Each breath only slipping me deeper into the dream like state of life. I still had a long way home. So I have to get started. No doubt the police are looking for me, after all. I have my entire life building to that final moment when Gabriel will be lying at my feet, staring up at me as his last breath is taken by yours truly. And I can't wait.