- Jeremy Yang & Newton Andersson
A flash of metal. A sliver of black. Armon Turan folded like a chair and flew backwards, crashing into a wall of the alleyway. He had lived his life to the fullest. But of course, that was a long time later. Because now, we need to go back. Far back.
21 January 037
A cold winter's night in Las Vegas, freezing, just like any other. Homeless, Abandoned. I’m just a child. I used to live with my Grandma but she died. She taught me how to live, “Live through any methods, lying, stealing, anything,” she would tell me.
Wait what’s that? A limo just passed by me. Some rich person who doesn’t know what a fight in the alleys is like. The limo suddenly stops and a mysterious hooded figure disembarks. He’s staring at me, in pity probably.
Then instead of spitting on me like all those other swells do, he asks me in a nice voice, “Hey young man looks like you need a home.”
“None of your business.” I reply.
“Don’t be like that. I can change your life! How about you play a game with me? If you win, I’ll give you $1,000,000! Of course, you don’t have to bet anything.” The hooded man says.
My mind boggles, “$1,000,000?! That’s ludicrous!!! But well, I have nothing to lose whether it's a scam or not.”
I enter his limo and it is luxurious and shiny. The seats are covered in fine leather and there are drinks for us and TVs. This car is worth more than a few million dollars.
We zoom incredibly fast and we stop. I’m told to disembark and we see a big building. I look at the sign and it’s a casino. My grandma told me that a casino is a place where you gamble or something.
We enter the casino, I have a spring in my step. The hooded man books a special room just for us and reveals a deck of cards. “This game is called Blackjack. Do you know how to play?”
I stand in submission and softly say, “I do know how to play.” I thought back to the good times where everything was peaceful in my life. Sitting down by the fireplace with grandma playing a nice game of Blackjack with nothing to bet, it was so fun.
“Good.” The hooded man says, “I’ll be the dealer if you don’t mind.” I stood still in silence.
The hooded man takes off his hood and says his name is Edward. He’s a young man, probably in his thirties and he is wearing a lemon colored suit and pants with a white and red tie. His face is smiling and he has blond hair. Edward draws a card and passes it to me. It is the jack of clubs, my favourite card.
He draws another card for himself and it is a seven. He draws my second card for me and it is an ace of hearts! I can’t believe it, a 21, a Blackjack!!!
I have just won $1,000,000! My hands are sweating, my throat is dry and my heart is racing faster than ever before. Edward takes out a cheque pad, asks me my name,
and writes down $1,000,000, to James from Edward, at the Bank of Amerigo.
May, 5, 2045
That kid...The kid that never ever loses, I think his name is James. He’s beaten professionals blindfolded. I handed him his last card. The jack of clubs. A seven and a jack he has. that’s 17 in total. Will he hit or stand?
“I Hit!” The kid confidently shouts. Terror in my hands, $50 million on the line, I handed him his last card. The three of hearts! 20 in total for the “Wonderboy”. My faceup card was four of diamonds. I revealed my facedown card. It was an ace of spades with my 4, 15 or 5 in total.
“Hit!” I draw a card. It’s a king of spades. 15 in total “I have to hit! Or I will lose to his 20!” I draw! I swiftly placed the card face up for the 100,000 people watching the match online. The card was a six. I couldn’t believe it, a 21!
The boy’s face fell, his smile turning into a forced grin of hatred. I was stunned into silence. I had beaten this kid. The kid slammed his money down with fury and stormed off, whispering who knows what into his phone. His temper rivalled that of the casino owner which was really saying something. The owner could get so angry that if he was having one of his fits, he would fire someone on the spot for some absurd reason like, “breathing more than your limit of air.” Because I had been employed there for four years, I was considered a lucky veteran of gambling.
I drove back to my apartment and crashed onto my bed. My heart was beating faster than a speeding jet. I was glad that I believed in the heart of the cards.
Suddenly, the door rang. I slowly got up and trudged to the door. As soon as I opened it, my heartbeat tripled. It was my boss. “I’m really going to get it now,” I thought.
21, January, 2037
After receiving $1,000,000, Edward, the rich guy, tells me an interesting story, “Hey, you’re good. Don’t tell anyone but I was actually a gambler since I was born. I would convince other toddlers to gamble legos at kindergarten. Also, I always believed in the heart of the cards, and the heart of the cards gave me wins after wins.
When I was in the 5th grade, I was already a millionaire through illegal online gambling. I was then found by a businessman who was the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. He offered to adopt me as heir to the company as I reminded him of himself. He was 87 years old. I eagerly accepted his offer and started learning the ways of the business. He told me that he was a gambler when he was young and the CEO before him offered to adopt him. I will now carry on the tradition of this company. Do you want to be the next CEO, James?”
I shouted like a kid who just ate too many jellybeans, ‘Yes!”
May, 5, 2045
The boss stood purposefully at the doorway, a frown on his face as I stood. From his coat pocket, he produced a wad of checks. “FIFTY million,” he said. I stood, my eyes fixed on the checks. “FIFTY million.” He said again with a shaper tone.
I snapped out of my confusion. “What for?”
“I want the kid to win,” the boss growled in a menacing voice. My senses told me not to, but I blurted out, “Why?!”
“It's good business,'' we muttered. “I want you to make that kid James win,” he said as he handed me a dozen or so checks. “Half here, half at tomorrow's match.” He whispered in a hushed tone, closing the door as he left.
I was very flustered as I went to bed.
“Something doesn't add up” I muttered as sleep consumed me.
May, 5, 2045
“Great wine, great cheese and reading the best comic in the history of the world. I truly am blessed among men. Hehe, I'm a teen but I like my speeches,” I say to my secretary. I am now the young head of the Fitzgerald Conglomerate otherwise known as the FC.
“FC is a multi billion dollar company, which is in almost all sectors of the economy. We destroyed Hasbro in the game market, we beat Netflix with our Hop ‘n’ Watch in terms of viewing rates, with ours being 74% in North America. Also, we have obliterated Amazon in terms of shipping things with our top of the line zeppelins. The zeppelins act as warehouses all across the world, with thousands upon thousands of drones moving high quality products between the zeppelins and the consumer for the quickest ever delivery system yet.” I continue to discuss with my secretary.
“Sir, James,” the secretary of FC says, “The Mafia did it’s job of assassinating you know who.”
“Excellent. My mafia does such a delightful job of doing the dirty work in this harsh, corrupt world. But those who are corrupt gain money and ego, and those who are not can believe in their justice, but they will fall. As long as I become even richer and my stocks go up, I don’t care one little bit.” I say. “Anyway, time to go to the Blackjack Gambling Championships. It should be fun.”
May, 5, 2045
I walked along the alley with a smile on my face. After all, who wouldn't be happy if their boss walked up to them, gave them fifty million dollars and promised 50 more in one day. The championship is today, and I'm being paid double to lose.
As happy as l am, some doubt still lingers in my head. At first, I thought the boss was lying and I didn't care much at all.
All went to plan, the game was lost. I began to head home, proud of my gameplay. Just then, the alley turned dark. I looked up and saw two burly men. Before I had time to respond, he punched me square in the gut, making me feel like I had burst my intestines. I flew back into the alley wall. The moment I made contact, an audible CRACK! echoed through the alley. Flares of pain shot up from my leg as I slumped unconscious.
I woke up with a start. The sky was already dimming. I pondered as to why I had been assaulted. I stood up. I fell right back down. I could tell that I had broken my ankle and probably fractured a rib. I limped off, cracking an ankle and all, to the nearest hospital. I was put into a ward and fell asleep. The next day I was up early, thinking about the attack as a wave of realization washed over me. “it was James,” I half muttered. I had a feeling in my destroyed gut that it was definitely James...
May, 5, 2045
Walking, there’s tension in the air. I, James, the head of the FC, walk down an alleyway of lights. My lemon colored suit given to me by my old pal, Edward, shines brilliantly in the lights.
I sit down and start to play Blackjack with a dealer called Armon. I am given two cards, as he is the dealer. My face up card is the jack of clubs. Armon’s face up card was the four of diamonds.
Armon’s second face down card is an ace of spades. My card is a 7 with that he’s got 17 in total.
“Will he hit or stand?” I hear echo.
“HIT!” I gain a three of hearts, 20 in total. Armon hits and gets a 6! Armon scooped the 50 million.
I storm off and lay down the money. I hop back into my limo and retreat to my mansion.
At my mansion I take out my phone and call the Mafia I employ. I scream at them for not cheating successfully. The response back is that the security was too heavy and the cards were in a safe with lasers all around it.
I sigh and ask my secretary to call the Moby Dick.
In three minutes, a gigantic whale-like airship comes to pick me up. I snap my fingers and a bridge emerges from the front of the airship. I climb up the bridge and walk to my office. I am greeted by five men in suits and they all sit down.
I ask, what manufacturer built the Moby Dick again?
One of the men replies, “Lancelot Arms sir.”
“Great”, I respond. Though I thought to myself, “ A loss is a loss but the thing that always hurt is ego. The millions of dollars that I lost is merely inconsequential to me. This airship is 200 times more expensive than the amount I lost. This great airship, named after a book that I read many times. Although I may have lost I must not forget the two tips for success, 1. Do the most important things yourself, 2. Although there are many types of power like Money, Status or Force, it helps to have all of them like I do. I have the Mafia, I am very rich and I’m in good light by the press.”
Anyway time to discuss our ‘Project’. “How are our Techno Cards going?” I ask.
All of the five men say simultaneously, “Yes! The Techno Cards are cards that are lightweight and can show a 3D hologram so you don’t have to look at your cards. As an example our Techno Poker cards, if you get a pair then once you have to show your cards it will make a hologram of your cards and tell what it is like if it’s a pair or a full house, etc. For our Techno Blackjack cards we have put in a cheat chip so your cards can be anything you wish it to be just by whispering if you use the tiny earpiece.”
May 6, 2045
Now I know that it is James who is trading in illegal work, taking part in corrupt gambling, I can get him back for almost killing me. I’ll expose him and his dirty play to the media and the cops. Aha! Then we will see who is the richest gambler in the game...
May 7, 2045
“HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!” I scream delightfully. “This is as easy as taking candy from a baby.” This online gambling is fantastic! The amount of revenue i’m getting is insane but I don’t care about the money, I care about my ego! The ego I lost is slowly rising. MORE SELF CONFIDENCE! With my online gambling and my mafia I have almost unlimited money!!! Even if they find out they can’t possibly sue me because they don’t have enough money and also I can bribe my way to victory. In fact I want a lawsuit so I’ll start one!
May, 7, 2045
Today I entered the casino that I work at. But the boss gives me a stern look and I’m a bit curious. But I don’t have to be curious because I hear him shout at me, “You little… Why are you causing so many problems you may be wondering what problems? The problem is we have been sued by James, the head of the FC! I’m not going to explain, just get your butt to the nearest courthouse please.”
“What’s going on?! I guess I’ll go there. I don’t have the time or luxury of asking questions.” I pushed off the ground and ran to the courthouse. I almost bumped into a garbage bin but I slightly dodged. I was getting a bit reckless. I opened the door to the courthouse and ran up the stairs. I pushed open the doors of the court and sat down. When I sat down I was being stared down by James. He had a certain look in his eyes. I had to be cautious and I’ll just play along I guess.
“So we will start this trial” said the judge. “Mr James you have been convicted for scamming people online with a gambling video game and crimes against humanity.”
“Scamming?” responded an annoyed James, “What a false accusation, I didn’t scam at all. Also what do you mean crimes against humanity? Are you talking about the deaths of all rival companies of the FC?” said James.
“Is that so?” I shouted, “According to this witness, the secretary of a CEO you killed. He said that he saw people in suits barge into the office and shoot the CEO. Also the CEOs all have three bullet holes in their chests. Is this not coincidence?”
“Hehehe hahahahahahahahaha!” screams James, “I did instigate the shootings of the CEO but no one will know that because my Mafia men have shut all exits so there’s no escape. I hope you all like three bullets to you chest too”
James pulls out two golden pistols and aims one at me and the other at the judge.
“I hope you all learn that money always wins!”
“Not quite” says a man dressed in a black suit and tie.
“You dirty backstabber I thought I could trust you as my secretary.” shouted James. The secretary pointed a pistol at the back of James's head and shouted, “Lower your gun and I will do the same.” James reluctantly agreed and lowered his guns. “Also I’ve been taping all of this” says the secretary. In about 5 seconds this will all go public and your stocks will take a massive nosedive all into my pocket!”
April 27, 2050
I used to be so powerful… now it’s all gone. My dreams of everything destroyed by that treacherous secretary and that wretched Armon. I should’ve told the casino owner to get rid of Armon. Now look at me, in prison. My dreams skyrocketed away from me. My ego has been destroyed and I don’t want to do anything now.
I’m just a defeated dog like I was when I was young. I was homeless, I saw a beacon of hope with Edward. I got rich but I guess money is a poison. When you get something there’s always something more that you need and you put yourself in a tricky position that is unsatisfying for yourself and everyone. You may be happy for now but it’s a poison in the long term. I wish I knew this earlier when I said yes to the beacon of hope, Edward and I started the descent into violence and money.