A Wager of BloodISBN: 9781452439686
COPYRIGHT: October 24, 2011
AUTHOR: J. W. Coffey
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It was in the year 1760, when it all began with an innocent game of dice. And before the night was over, four people were dead and a man was driven insane by greed. And in the present day, four friends will learn the secrets and face the demons of that night. And one of them will learn the most important lesson of all. When you dice with the devil, you make A Wager of Blood.
Zach stubbornly shook his head. “No, a trade.”
The voice from his side came again, quiet and self assured. “Do you trust me, my lad?”
Zach’s eyes never left the demon as he nodded.
“Good,” Matthew answered, sotto voce. “Trust that I know what I’m doing.” In a louder voice, Uncle Matthew addressed the imp. “I have a better idea. Since you seem to love wagers, then a game of dice. A single game, two passes of the dice.”
Demonic eyes widened in amusement. “A wager? What have you to wager with me?”
“Our freedom,” Matthew answered. “Our freedom and you’re to leave us in peace. All of us. No more portal to our side, no more death in my Inn. You will go, never to return.”
“Uncle,” Zach whispered.
“Trust me, Zachary,” Matthew answered, the first time he’d ever addressed Zach by his name. Addressing the demon once more, Matthew repeated, “You will leave us all be, for eternity. You will go! We will keep the proof where it is and none shall see it, ever. But you will be gone.”
“And if you lose?”
“If I lose, you will have me,” his uncle replied, a determined look on Matthew’s face. “I shall stay here and accept whatever fate you have for me.”
The demon turned, watching the damned souls as if it were soliciting opinions from them. It was a tense moment, and Zach wasn’t sure what his uncle had in mind. But he would trust Matthew. I always did, didn’t I?
In a sweeping motion, Thorny-demon was facing them again and had a smile on its face. “Not good enough, my dear,” it answered. “I want more.”
“What else do you want?” Zach blurted out, immediately feeling Matthew’s hand on his arm. It was too late. He had asked.
“Allow me to express my terms,” the demon purred. “And believe me when I tell you that they are nonnegotiable and you have no choice!” The smiling face quickly turned to the dark sinister one, and the harsh voice continued. “Very well, should you win the wager, you will walk free. You may keep that little packet of meaningless scribbling, the trivial meandering writings that you call proof. The gateway will be sealed and you all shall walk free back to your little inane, do-gooder lives. I will come no more. It matters not; the many gateways are open to me. Losing one will mean nothing. All of you put together mean nothing! But . . . .”
The demonic being stepped very close and, for one moment, Zach was very intimidated by the looming figure.
“But if you lose,” it said, the foul breath choking Zach, “you are all mine—every one of you simple, idiotic jackasses. All of you!. I own your souls to the last one of you. I will have the gateway and that journal, those papers—you will give them to me. But I will have my bride, and my sacrifices. And I shall see all of you burning in my fires for all eternity!”
“I can’t promise their souls,” Zach started and Matthew’s hand on his arm cut off the rest of what he was going to say.
“We accept your terms,” Matthew answered.
Matthew raised his hand and Zach shut up fast. To the demon, he said, “We accept.”
“Good, then. You choose dicing?”
“Thorny” smiled, its lip curling in that same sarcastic sneer. “Excellent. Then, I get to choose the roller!”
Zach barely blinked his eyes; they were no longer in the pool room at the mental hospital—they were in an arena. He could see the table, just like the crap table at the casino. He felt the old, familiar nausea working its way up from the pit of his bowels. His palms began to sweat. The migraine crept back up from the base of his skull into his forehead and the beads of perspiration broke out on his forehead. It was like being back at that casino, again, only they weren’t going to see George Carlin this time. Zach was very close to throwing up now; the low hum of the room and the screeching of the souls were making his head worse. He felt his Uncle Matthew’s hand steady him, keep him from wavering in his steps.
“Thorny” stretched out his arms, and Zach watched him walk around the perimeter of the floor. The voices of the damned called out for blood and the shouts howled for the game. It worked the room, eliciting the screams and mad shouts. With just a wave of his arms, they hooted and yelled. It got louder and louder, the hum droning into his headache. It got hotter and everything seemed closer. The demon came around the table in a slow, deliberate circle until he was in front of Zach and Matthew.
Then, everything stopped. The room was silent—no movement, no air. “Thorny” pointed one long bony finger at Zach, and he felt his soul roll over in his chest.
“You! I choose you!”