Five men sat at a card table aboard a luxury yacht playing Texas Hold 'Em. Periodically the cabin would roll with the surf and the hum of the fuel cells would drift into the mostly silent game. Nothing broke the concentration of the players throughout the six hours of the game so far, until the first man died. Six started the game.
The first man, Baudin knew, was a human-trafficker named Loew Morton. He would not be missed. He bought into the game with money built on the sales of women and children. Had Baudin not already had a job he was engrossed in, he would have likely murdered Morton himself.
Baudin was here because his Finder had some connections to the underworld of Los Angeles City and had heard about the game. Ricardo Luna was a gambler and set up games like these frequently to shore up his own capital with the illicit earnings of others. Assassins, hackers, arms-dealers. Anyone could buy in.
Baudin did not care about that; in most ways, he was a gun for hire and had done bad things himself. It was how he made his living and he had done well in his five-year run. He was at this game because he needed to get close to Luna because the man had a computer drive. As for what was on the drive, it didn't matter to Baudin. The contract paid well, five-hundred thousand dollars for some hardware... and two hundred and fifty thousand bonus if Mr. Luna didn't survive the procurement of the drive.
"Your move, Mr. Clowes."
Baudin didn't give out his real name to buy in. He'd amassed some false identities for situations like this. He checked his hand. He folded. Mr. Clowes was a timid player. Just buying time.
The play turned to Mr. Beech who was beginning to sweat profusely. Within minutes he'd be dead, along with the other bad men... with the singular exception of Baudin himself, which would come as a surprise to Mr. Luna, a notorious poisoner.
The cards were likely laced with a neurotoxin that Luna had developed an immunity to. His plan was probably to poison the game and simply steal the pot.
Little did he expect the layers of untreated Dermagraft that coated Baudin's hands.
Luna dealt new cards to the remaining players. He was smiling and confident.
Baudin smiled back.
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Weird FrictionShort Story
An ever-updating anthology of the little bits of writing of David A. Davis. This collection features original short fiction of just about anything that comes to the author's mind. Primarily focuses on scifi, slipstream, horror, and just all around w...