Roulette and Everything that Ever Was or Will Be

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Can we always trust history?

Submitted: May 22, 2012

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Submitted: May 22, 2012

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Roulette and Everything that Ever Was or Will Be

A Short Story by Jake Garner

At the centre of an endless, isolated and forbidding wasteland lay a large neglected barn. Its presence, situated upon the landscape like a scar, gave the impression that the composition of iron, glass and steel was indeed a living component amongst the bleak landscape. The foundations were executed upon an assortment of split soil and loose stones. High above the cloudless sapphire sky, the sun flickered vibrantly, and reflected its heat off the corrugated iron. A stint of several windowpanes came together in collaboration on one side of the aged frame, and resembled a sizeable set of shattered teeth. Shards of splintered glass lay at the base of the structure, lost between debris. A layer of auburn coloured rust coated each external wall, making the building seem as if were rotting. Octagonal bolts seemed to hold the structure together, many of which were half hanging out, or non-existent at all. The barn looked as if it might give way to the wearing of time, and collapse in on itself with the slightest push. Looking at the ripened frame, it somewhat portrayed a sense of mystery and obscurity. Its decomposing characteristics contributed to the surrounding landscape, for there was no vegetation, apart from a singular tree stump located near the barn’s entrance. Just an expanse of dirt and rubble was observable. This made the barn both fascinating and significant. In fact, any structure or building that houses a purpose becomes mystified within itself regardless of its outer manifestations. The onlooker will observe a piece of architecture and wonder what dwells behind its restricted walls, but the inside of the barn had only ever been seen by two men. Dogmaal and Truthala had always congregated there, beyond the boundary of the tarnished exterior, but this time their meeting was different. They were finally going to bring closure to an everlasting dispute over the barn’s innards.

On the other side of an undersized dense wooden door, the inside of the barn was entirely different to its exterior. Its inner walls projected a shine of solid obsidian black, and were just as reflective as polished glass. The corners of the building were hardly visible at all due to a hue of black that shadowed every angle. Windows that could be seen on the outside seemed to vanish altogether. There were no portals to the land outside the barn, apart from the small door, which would be hard to find again once it had been shut. Covering the floor was a vast expanse of emerald green marble that contrasted the obscure wall design, casting itself across the entire ground, corner to corner. It felt both smooth to the touch and cosy on the foot. The surface of the soft stone floor was interrupted by a silken purple rug that situated itself in the centre of the room, comparable to a stain upon a table cloth. Its existence was highlighted further by a gold trim that ran around its perimeter. Raised from the floor by a short series of steps that crawled away from each side, the rug enhanced the feeling of the barn’s importance. With this, a collection of thick faded white columns aided in supporting the roof, which was created in the same style as the walls. They sprouted up from the floor like a set of extended fingers. Each support was positioned correctly to provide a circular pattern that enclosed the rug like a cage. This left just enough space in-between the columns to pass through to the raised platform of silk.

On top of the glamorous rug were the only pieces of furniture, or evidence of physical function, within the whole building. A diminutive round table crafted from solid oak was assembled upon its purple surface, along with two chairs, placed at polar opposite points to each other. The table’s flat surface radiated itself with a glossy finish, along with each seat. Spilled across the horizontal shell of the table were three items. The only item that had collected dust was a book. It was labelled ‘History’, and didn’t seem to have an author’s name on it. Its tight leather binding just depicted the one word, ‘History’. This was the only known book in existence, and had written itself entirely. Nobody had ever browsed between its shabby covers. It was a dense script with an impenetrable spine. To one side of the book was a single bullet with a silver tip. The tip of the ammunition was reflected within the inner walls and roof of the building. The combination of the bullets infinite reflections and the room’s obsidian black interior made the space beyond the columns appear like the night sky. Standing to attention, the bullet appeared terrifying and mischievous, despite its size.

Placing the bullet in the middle of the three artefacts was a gun. To be precise it was a .44 Magnum, and had room for six cartridges within its rotating wheel. Crafted by both Truthala and Dogmaal, along with the single silver tipped projectile, it was the first weapon of destruction ever fashioned in complete existence. The hammer of the gun was deformed and arched in the most unordinary fashion. Its barrel was prolonged, and stretched out about two feet in front of the weapon’s grip. Despite there only being one round of ammo, the object itself still held enough room for a further five rounds. Its silver finish was dull and gloomy compared to that of the bullet. In some respects the gun seemed more at home with the barn’s exterior, frigid and worn.

Everything that ever was or will be was contained within the pages of ‘History’. The two men had come together to engage in a game of ‘Roulette’ to decide who would be the true owner of the script. Each man indeed knew that the piece of literature had been in existence since the beginning of time, and subsequently, forever pondered and argued with each other to try and claim ownership of the book. If the tome of ‘History’ was to leave the grandeur of the barn’s interior, life and all that ever was or will be would jump into action as soon as its contents were read aloud. Dogmaal had always believed that the book was probably written badly, and that the very essence of life would not be able to manage its unsympathetic pages. On the other hand, Truthala believed that he should take the book for himself, and open its contents to read word for word. He understood that if the volume fell into the wrong hands it would not be dictated with precision. Though the leather bound book’s problems might be difficult to comprehend, Truthala thought it more appropriate that everything that ever was or will be should be spoken with honesty, no matter how brutal its matters. Dogmaal wanted things accomplished in his own way, whereas Truthala was confident that the book had been executed perfectly, and neither of them should alter it in any way, shape or form. For as long as the two men could remember, they had always met here, to face each other in an endless debate, but on this day both Dogmaal and Truthala knew that someone would finally take possession of the timeworn book.

In one chair sat Dogmaal, his elbows resting on the rim of the oaken table. He leant forward on the counter in eagerness of the coming event and let out a long winded sigh. Truthala had never seen his face in person. Whenever they had encountered to squabble over the manuscript, Dogmaal sported a mask, concealing every expression. The guises features were rather scarce. Its pigment was similar to that of the faded white columns circulating the two men, identical to an unpainted Venetian mask. Truthala also took note of how Dogmaal concealed his body as well. He didn’t understand the concept of clothing, but Dogmaal had explained that it was there to conceal, along with his facial masquerade. He wore a tight fitting pinstriped suit that accentuated his bulky figure. Underneath the garment was a shirt, its colour pure white crystal. Dogmaal’s eyes should have been visible behind the gaps left in the mask. Instead the cutaways just portrayed an empty blackness which matched his tie.

Sat directly facing Dogmaal, Truthala contemplated the three items on the table, his facial miens radiating themselves with buoyancy. His eyes locked onto the book’s threadbare skin, moving gradually to convene with the empty sockets of Dogmaal’s mask. He shuffled his naked body around to find a more comfortable position to be sat in before the fixture commenced. His bones could be seen trying to break through his aged skin as he rummaged around. Truthala’s face was a gathering place for deep wrinkles and peeling skin. His lips appeared insipid, and underneath them a corpulent colourless beard hung from his chin, matching his warped grey eyebrows. Truthala looked both starved and tired. His skeletal frame found a position of ease, and he elevated his head from speculation of the three objects.

The rules of the game were simple enough. Dogmaal and Truthala had made a pact many times before the event, and had always stayed true to each other. It had been decided that this method was the best way to randomly choose the book’s owner. The two men had chosen a rock from the desolate landscape outside of the barn, and inscribed their name onto its surface, each man making a side his own. This rock was to be tossed in the air, and whichever side landed face up would subsequently mean that the chosen man would take hold of the gun first. The bullet was to be loaded into one of the six empty chambers of .44 Magnum. The revolving chamber would then be spun and cocked shut at random. Both Truthala and Dogmaal had agreed that they would rest the barrel of the gun on the temple of their head, pull the trigger once, then pass the gun over to the other man to pull the trigger again. The game was to be played in this fashion until the gun let off the round of ammunition, completely crushing the skull of the chosen participant. Whoever remained intact would be able to take the book labelled ‘History’, and exit the barn’s splendid insides. Numerous times Dogmaal and Truthala had met between the four walls of the building to discuss the book, endlessly squabbling as to whom should be the first man to read its contents. Now the keeper of ‘History’ would be completely chosen at random.

Dogmaal progressed to take the rock out of his jacket pocket, and held it flat in his palm. Without further hesitation he hurled the piece of stone into the air. Each man watched the chunk of rubble as it glided through the atmosphere, Truthala exhibiting signs of apprehension and anxiousness, while Dogmaal observed the rock with no sentiments at all. The rock hit the floor with a sudden crash. The competition for all that ever was or will be had begun.

The First Pull of the Trigger

‘Well me oh my dear sir, it seems you are to conduct a primary inspection of that… erm… what did we name it? Oh yes, that’s right, weapon.’ Dogmaal’s vocal lacked any sort of passion or tone; instead he spoke with a flat voice that sounded wispy. ‘Truthala, do what need be done, and be done with it. Talk is cheap.’

Truthala’s hand was shaking violently as he extended his arm to grasp the bullet. He wrestled to insert the component into the chamber of the gun as he had not yet become fully accustomed to its mechanisms. He thought it was a possibility that this ‘bullet’ might explode in his hand. The casing felt chilling and unfamiliar. Once he had successfully inserted the silver tipped projectile into one of the six chambers, he then proceeded to spin the middle section, and then slam it shut. Truthala hoped that Dogmaal would find the whole procedure just as challenging. The shuddering hand of the man raised the gun to his temple, and held at point blank range. ‘Talk may be cheap, but so are you Dogmaal.’ Truthal’s words were quick, and were announced through a pair of trembling lips. He wouldn’t even be able to witness how Dogmal was feeling due to the ghostly mask that covered his face, if he remained alive after this round that is. Truthala’s forefinger clenched the cold steel trigger and squeezed it with a hint of reserve. Click. No shot was fired.

The Second Pull of the Trigger

Truthala knew that it was only a one in six chance that the contraption would send metal flying through his cranium, and now understood Dogmaal faced a two in six chance of execution. He had previously closed his eyes, prior to himself pulling the trigger. Now the first round of the ruthless game was over, he opened his eyes to perceive the superb interior of the barn.

‘Well please take your time good sir.’ Dogmaal announced his words with sarcasm. ‘Come on. I haven’t got time for your silly little hesitations. It is indeed my turn Truthala, so hand me the ‘weapon’ so I can fire it. I will show you how this thing should be handled. There, did you see? Now, now you take a firm hold of the grip, and I mean a thoroughly tight hold. This stops the contraption firing off in the wrong direction, or gaining too much recoil. Then just do it like so. Press the end of the barrel against you head, and your away….’ Click. No shot was fired.

The Third Pull of the Trigger

‘Dogmaal no!!! That is forbidden!!!’ The masked man had finished taking his turn with the gun, but instead of passing Truthala the weapon back, he had raised his arm and pointed it directly at his opponents face. Dogmaal had never heard the sound of a screaming man before, it was in fact something alien to both the men. ‘Please do be calm my fellow man. For I have discovered something more valuable to me than your life. It is a con of the very existence in which you and I live. I have named the essence ‘control’, and believe it to be more destructive than the weapon we have both fashioned. Truthala, see you currently show symptoms of it. See, there is no room for wisdom and logic when you have control sir.’ The veiled man moved his other hand to take hold of the book. Dogmaal then tucked the book under his arm, looked Truthala square in the eyes, and pulled the trigger. Click. Bang.

Dogmaal proceeded to leave the centre stage of the luxurious barn and walked out of its miniature wooden door. He glanced at the endless horizon outside as he exited. An ocean of nothing but dust and broken stone stretched itself across the whole panorama. Turning with quite some force he looked up at the exterior of the barn, and concluded it was indeed inferior to its superb interior fittings. That’s when he truly realised what he craved. Not just ownership of the book, nor control, but superiority amongst the books contents. He wanted to rule. Dogmaal pulled the book from beneath his arm, and instead of reading it aloud, started to tear each and every page from its spine.


© Copyright 2019 JakeGarner. All rights reserved.

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