Cover image: pixabay.com.

The Bargain

Dennis Bradley put his head in his hands. He’d lost it. Everything! And he’d been so sure that the last hand would bring it all back... How wrong could a person be?

Oh dear,” said a voice beside him. “That went wrong, didn’t it! Now you’ve got to go home; face the wife and kids. What are you going to tell them?”

Without lifting his head up, Dennis said: “I don’t know.” There was no hiding the break in his voice.

Do you want to fix things? I could help you. All you have to do is follow me.”

Dennis felt the woman leave his side. He shouldn’t go. Every logical thought in his head told him that. But what choice did he have? What more could he lose when he had already lost... everything.

The woman moved swiftly, out of the casino and along the streets. Strange that he had not noticed her, but then all his attention had been focused on the cards in his hand.

Barely noticing the direction they were taking, Dennis struggled to keep up. She knew where she was going, she’d give him directions back. They entered a dark alley but her step did not falter. A brave or foolish woman, Dennis thought, for there was no way he would normally enter such a place. Only desperation made him follow.

The woman stopped in front of a solid door. It was featureless, quite plain apart from the knocker. Big heavy brass, in the shape of some kind of beast; it was a miracle that someone had not stolen it. There was no keyhole, but when she placed her palm against the door it gave a sigh, swung open.

Take care,” she said, and it took Dennis no time to see why.

The door opened onto winding stone steps that descended as far as he could see. The only illumination was from the occasional burning torch fixed to the wall. The stairs went down and down, and the atmosphere became hot, sweaty, sulphurous.

Dennis coughed. “I don’t know...”

Silence!” she spat back, all pretense at pleasantness abandoned. “You will not speak unless you are invited to.”

He could run, but the stone was crumbly, not suited for haste. Besides, he needed her help. The walls dripped with moisture seeped into Dennis’ body. At last they came to a halt in a small round chamber. There was a pool in the middle that bubbled and popped, simmering like lava paused on the top of a volcano.

Choose your succubus.”

He looked around and saw bodies writhing within the stonework. Hideous creatures; warped and wailing as they reached out. Feeling faint, Dennis lifted a hand, felt a jolt go through his body, then opened his eyes to find himself back inside the casino. He held the winning hand.

As he cashed in his chips, Dennis heard a chuckle inside his mind. For now he did not care, but he knew payment would be demanded... eventually.

 

 


Submitted: June 28, 2020

© Copyright 2023 hullabaloo22. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Mike S.

Spooky goodness, Hull!

Sun, June 28th, 2020 5:37pm

Author
Reply

Thanks so much for giving it a read!

Mon, June 29th, 2020 10:17am

Sue Harris

Not the ending I expected, Hully. I've a feeling he'll live to regret it! Excellent writing.

Sun, June 28th, 2020 6:12pm

Author
Reply

I think you are probably right. Thanks, Sue!

Mon, June 29th, 2020 10:22am

Vance Currie

Ha-ha. Excellent, Hully. I had to look up the meaning of 'succubus'. A fate worse that death?

Sun, June 28th, 2020 8:53pm

Author
Reply

Haha! Could be. But at least I didn't kill him off!
Thanks, Joe!

Mon, June 29th, 2020 10:23am

Rob73

A short, well written, scary story, Hull.
The ending is great.

Mon, June 29th, 2020 3:07am

Author
Reply

Thanks so much, Rob. To be honest, I didn't know how I was going to end it until I got there.

Mon, June 29th, 2020 10:29am

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