Written In The Cards
Red lights cast a menacing glow down the narrow street; reflections bounced back at him. Alien hieroglyphics swamped his vision; offered unspeakable oriental delights. The opaque smell of marijuana filled his lungs. He glanced behind; they hadn’t turned the corner yet. Took refuge in the nearest doorway illuminated by a fluorescent sign. Without a knock the door opened, he stumbled in as it snapped shut behind him. Illuminated by a single light bulb, in the far corner of the room four shabby middle-aged men huddled round a small table; a group of young girls loitered between the shadows. Through the haze he noted their minimal attire and stilettos. The tallest approached; a teenage waif, her face caked with heavy make up, black hair and eyes. She beckoned him to the table. The ringleader, dark shades, small trilby and a sinister beard spewed an indecipherable command. Out of the darkness she produced a flimsy chair; indicated him to join in. Four pairs of eyes pierced his skin.
He nodded. She placed a deck of well-worn cards on the table. Trilby guy picked them up, shuffled them and dealt five cards to each player. No rules, no words, no indication. The guy on his left led with a strangely patterned card. Each player placed a card on top in turn. Trilby guy declared him the winner.
‘Your prize’, he pointed towards the waif-like girl.
She took his hand, pulled him up and led him through an open doorway. Within seconds the outer door burst open. Two machine gun wielding men in full camouflage gear surged through. The players at the table folded like a pack of cards, the girls cowered in the corner screaming. The cards slid off the upturned table, stained in red.
About the author: Malcolm started out writing about cycling for magazine articles. Later he progressed to writing fiction; with numerous short stories in his bottom drawer, he is now approaching completion of a novel first draft. Last year he discovered flash fiction. Since then he has won one flash competition, been runner up on a couple of occasions and had three flashes published in charity anthologies.
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