Mr. Rick stopped shuffling, only to sweep the cards out in a long line on the table in front of the four sitting sisters. On the far end Emily looked at the row of cards as though one of them might bite her. On the other end Zilpha looked at the cards on the table, glanced over at the items of death, and then looked back at the cards as though uncertain. Dorothy and Winifred simply looked at each other as though conflicted.
“What do you ladies think?” he asked with a smile. “$100 a card for a 52 card deck plus the joker. Any takers?”
“A couple hundred would pay for a couple of our meals, love,” Zilpha quietly told Dorothy. “Can’t we at least draw a card or two?”
Her oldest sister wasn’t so sure. “Zilpha, are you crazy? Do you know what happens if one of us draws the joker??”
“Emily, it’s only one card!” And with that she hesitantly reached forward.
Her sisters gasped in alarm as she picked the one on the very end on her side. Emily gasped, “Zilpha; NO!” as she slid it toward herself. Then she carefully turned it over. It was the eight of spades.
Mr. Rick smiled as he reached into his drawer. He took out a hundred dollar bill and calmly placed it right in front of her. Then he told her, “Congratulations. Well done.”
Zilpha beamed with pride over the way she’d taken the risk and had been rewarded. Hell, that hadn’t been so hard, had it? She’d earned herself a hundred dollars simply by drawing a single card!
The other sisters looked at her in astonishment. They didn’t know whether to be shocked she’d drawn one or the fact she’d just earned a hundred dollars on one card. Zilpha grinned at them as she happily snatched up the hundred before he could take it back.
She inspected it before gleefully putting it back down on the table. She looked incredibly happy. “That’s one hundred dollars,” Mr. Rick told her with a smile. Then he addressed the others.
“Anyone else wish to try their luck? Or is Zilpha here the only one leaving our fair Club one hundred dollars richer?”
“I th-think I’ll try,” the sister sitting next to her replied, seeing how well their youngest sibling had been rewarded simply by taking a chance and drawing a card.
Emboldened, she hesitantly reached out for a card. Emily couldn’t believe it. “Winnie?? Don’t you dare!”
She was horrified her sister was taking such a chance. But she couldn’t stop her from running a hand over the top of the cards as though feeling for a lucky one. She finally settled on the one at the very end, the next one in line from where Zilpha had taken hers.
Winifred slid it along the surface of the felt table right in front of her. Then she slowly turned it over. Two of diamonds.
Without saying a word Mr. Rick calmly took out another bill from his drawer. He smiled as he placed it right in front of her. Then he looked at the other two sisters as though seeing whether or not they were going to draw a card.
“Two hundred dollars??” Zilpha gasped excitedly while looking at Winifred’s hundred dollar bill. “Bloody hell! A couple more like that and it’ll reimburse us for the tourist attractions we saw today!”
Dorothy inhaled sharply before reaching out with a trembling hand for the last card on Emily’s end. Her horrified older sister cried out, “Dottie, are you nuts??” But she slid the card away from the line and then carefully turned it over right in front of her. It was the ten of hearts.
“Congratulations,” Mr. Rick told her with a smile as he placed a bill right in front of her.
“Bloody hell!” Winifred gasped in growing excitement. “That’s three hundred dollars! C’mon, Emily! Draw one!”
The oldest saw her siblings watching her expectantly. She couldn’t very well back out now, could she… not when they’d easily drawn three cards with no damage. And Zilpa was right. Another hundred would pretty much reimburse them for today, along with some of the previous day’s attractions.
She scanned the row of cards, wondering which one she should draw. She nervously asked, “Any card on the table, Mr. Rick?”
“Any card you want, Miss.” His warm smile seemed somewhat reassuring.
Thinking her odds were best if she drew from the end like her sisters had done, Emily reached out and slid the last card in the row toward her. She slowly turned it over, trembling like crazy. At first she started to panic at what she thought it looked like. Then she realized it was only a face card, the queen of clubs.
The other sisters gasped happily as Mr. Rick pulled out another bill and placed it on the table right in front of her. Emily picked it up and looked at it in amazement. It was really a hundred dollar bill!
“That’s four hundred dollars, ladies,” he told them with a smile. “Four hundred dollars… just like that.”
“Can we draw again?”
“Zilpha?? Are you sure that’s wise?”
“Emily, there’s only one joker in the whole deck, right? Can you imagine what we could do with five hundred dollars… or a thousand?” Then she scanned the row in front of her before picking one out near her side about twelve cards in.
She slid it right in front of her, hesitated for a moment… and then turned it over next to her eight of spades. It was the same suit, the six of spades. Mr. Rick calmly reached into his drawer, pulled out another hundred dollar bill, and set it on top of the one she already had.
The sisters gasped in relief at their youngest sibling’s good fortune. But it was relief mixed with a little jealousy. Zilpha was now one hundred dollars ahead of them all.
Winfred looked at her with eyes of envy before starting to reach forward. Emily gasped in alarm… “Winnie??”
“If Zilpha’s got two, then I want two as well.” Then she reached out toward the center of the row of cards.
She picked one out of the middle and slid it toward her. The others held their breath as she turned it over next to the card she already had. It was the jack of spades.
Out came another bill to join the one sitting right in front of her. Mr. Rick nodded encouragingly at her as she let out a squeal of joy. The oldest couldn’t believe another one of her crazy sisters had brazenly drawn another card and had gotten away with it.
Winfred happily gasped, “Bloody hell! That’s… that’s six hundred dollars… just like that!”
“Just like that,” their generous dealer nodded with a smile and a snap of his fingers.
Dorothy hesitantly reached out and picked one out from the section in front of her two sisters on the right. This time Emily didn’t raise her voice in protest. But she still stiffened as her sister slid it along the table right in front of her.
She turned it over and they all saw the three of clubs. Mr. Rick promptly put another bill on top of the one she already had. Dorothy smiled happily as she turned and told their oldest sibling, “There. Now we have seven hundred dollars.”
“That’s only seven cards out of 53, ladies,” Mr. Rick told them with a smile. “Seven hundred dollars is a tidy sum. Do you want to try for more? Or shall I put the deck away?”
He looked expectantly at Emily as though waiting for her decision. “Draw another one, love!” Winifred urged. “Look how many cards are left!”
Emily scanned the faces of her sisters, only to see them watching as though trying to egg her on to draw another card. She took a deep breath to steady her nerves. Then she reached out toward a section of cards in the row right in front of her.
Emily picked the card ninth from the end. She slid it right in front of her beside the other one she’d drawn before she hesitantly turned it over. It was the ace of diamonds.
“Congratulations,” Mr. Rick told her as he placed another bill right in front of her.
“That’s eight hundred dollars!” Zilpha blurted out excitedly. “Now we can take that boat ride out in the harbor tomorrow!” And with that she eagerly reached forward again.
Emily inhaled sharply in alarm. But the youngest eagerly slid the card she’d chosen right in front of her next to the other two. Then she turned it over.
Ten of diamonds. Mr. Rick responded by promptly putting another bill on top of the two he’d already given her.
“Bloody hell!” Winifred gasped eagerly. “I want another one too!” And with that she reached out toward the row of cards before their oldest could protest.
She picked out a card from somewhere near the middle of the row. She slid it right in front of her next to the others she’d drawn. Then she turned it over with a minimal amount of hesitation.
Queen of spades. Winifred squealed with glee. Out came another bill to add to the two she already had.
They now had a thousand dollars sitting right there in front of them. And there were still 43 cards left in the row. It almost felt like shooting fish in a barrel!
Dorothy wanted a third one too. Before anyone could stop her she reached out, slid another out of the middle toward her and then turned it over. It was the king of spades.
Emily was relieved as the other sisters clapped jubilantly. Mr. Rick put another bill right in front of Dorothy who felt giddy with excitement. This was turning out far better than she could have possibly anticipated.
Emily dubiously looked at the row of cards in front of her. “Cmon, love!” Zilpha eagerly urged. She couldn’t very well stop now, could she… not when the others had three hundred dollars while she only had two?
She hesitantly reached out and slid another one toward her before turning it over. Nine of hearts. The other sisters cheered excitedly as another bill was proudly added to her growing stack.
Mr. Rick smiled at them. “Well done, ladies. That’s $1,200 so far. That’s quite a reward just for wanting to come inside and have a look around. You didn’t even have to insert those nasty pregnancy sensors into your bellybuttons.”
“We should get more!” Zilpha excitedly told her sisters. “We can pay for most of our holiday in the States with what we get right here!” And with that she boldly reached into the middle of the row of cards.
She picked one out and slid it toward her. Then she turned it over next to her other three cards. There was a loud gasp from everyone as the face of the jester stared up at them.
Zilpha let out a yelp of dismay. She whimpered dejectedly as Mr. Rick reached out and took the bills away from her. Then he reached under the table.
“I can’t believe I drew the joker!” she wailed. The other sisters were stunned. Winifred was the first one to wonder what this actually meant as her eyes opened wide in horror.
Mr. Rick smiled sadly at them. “I honestly thought you were going to take another grand from me before you quit. What rotten luck. If it would have been me, I probably would have tried again just like you did.”
Zilpha gasped as she stared at him, shock beginning to set in. Emily couldn’t believe it. “Bloody hell, love! What were you thinking?? Did you have to draw another card??”
“But I thought we could get up to $1,500 easy! Look at all the cards that are left! I only lost my $300!”
For the moment she seemed to have forgotten – or didn’t want to consider – what had actually been at risk. Mr. Rick calmly reminded her with a smile. “That’s not all you’ve lost, Miss.” Then he motioned with his head toward the ominous objects waiting along the wall.
Zilpha turned to look at what he was referring to. Then she blanched as she remembered the rules. “Are you k-kidding?? Surely you don’t mean I… I… I just l-lost my life; d-do you, Mr. Rick??”
“I’m afraid that’s exactly what it means.”
“But you can’t DO that!” Emily blurted out in horror. “She’s our youngest sister!”
“I’m afraid I can, Miss,” he told her kindly. “You knew the rules when we started.”
At that moment the door opened to allow an attendant in sexy black domination attire to step into the room. Mr. Rick acknowledged her with a smile. “Ladies, this is Monique. She’s in charge of our Entertainment Stage. I summoned her here the moment the joker was drawn.” Then he addressed her by saying, “Monique? Would you be so kind as to assist the sister on the end there named Zilpha to kindly strip out of her clothes so she can be put into our guillotine?”
“Guillotine??” Emily gasped in horror. “You mean you’re going to… to BEHEAD HER??”
“Certainly, Mr. Rick,” Monique replied with a smile. Then she came over, grabbed Zilpha by the arm and pulled her to her feet. “Come along, Miss. Let’s get you out of your clothes and get you locked into the lunette.”
“Wait a minute!” Dorothy blurted out in alarm, her face ashen. “You’re going to put her into the guillotine and behead her just like that??”
“She did draw the joker, Miss. Those were the rules you agreed to when you started playing the game.”
“D-Dorothy, DO SOMETHING!” Zilpha was on the verge of hyperventilating as Monique started working her out of her clothes.
“What can I do??” Then she anxiously turned toward their dealer. “Sir, can’t you… can’t you DO something about this??”
“I gave you every opportunity, Miss. You ladies knew the rules. It was certainly fun acquiring my money while you were winning, was it not? After all, you still have $900 among the three of you.”
“Can’t we like… buy her back or something??” That was a frantic Emily clutching at straws.
“She drew the joker. That means her life must be forfeited. That was the risk you agreed to when you started drawing cards.”
Zilpha whimpered as she half struggled against the woman undressing her. When she was completely naked she blushed with shame as she was led over to the guillotine and made to kneel. Her head was locked into the lunette before her arms were securely fastened behind her back with some rope.
Emily blurted out, “Sir, you… you can’t just behead our sister like that!”
“Can’t I? You all willingly played the game and started drawing cards. You could have stopped anytime you wanted. But you wanted a little more. Did you really expect me to change the rules in the middle of the game once one of you drew the joker?”
“But what will our folks say when we go back to England without our sister??”
“Take some of her meat back and have a nice celebration dinner in honor of her life.”
“We can’t do that!”
“All ready,” the executrix declared as she stood next to the machine, her hand on the lever.
“No, wait!” Emily blurted out as she started to hyperventilate while staring at her sister locked helplessly in the guillotine. Dorothy was gasping anxiously for breath. Winifred looked like she was liable to faint.
“Very good, Monique.” Then Mr. Rick smiled kindly at Zilpha before asking, “Do you have any last words to say to your sisters before we commence with the beheading?”
Her throat was dry; it was hard to speak. “I… I don’t… I… bloody hell!” She was trembling like a leaf as she whimpered, kneeling there naked with her neck exposed to the blade.
Emily cried out, “Sir, you can’t just execute our sister like that! Surely there’s got to be a way for us to do something!”
“Can’t we like… win her back or something?” Winifred and Dorothy nodded hopefully, wondering if there was any possible way of sparing their youngest sibling from the blade and from ending up roasting over an open fire down in the kitchen.
He looked over at his attendant who looked back at him before shrugging her shoulders. “That would be highly irregular; wouldn’t it, Monique?”
“True, Mr. Rick. But Mistress Chastity did give you a great deal of leeway in exchange for serving as part owner of the Club.”
He looked down at the table and the remaining cards still lying in a row. He appeared to be deep in thought. The sisters all looked at him hopefully.
He carefully examined the cards having been turned over. Then he looked at the sisters. “Well… perhaps we could extend the game for one more draw.”
“One more draw?” Winifred repeated anxiously.
“Could we??” Emily asked, wondering if there was actually a ray of hope.
Dorothy looked at him with anxiety in her features as she asked, “What are you proposing? Can we… can we somehow win our sister back?”
“I suppose one of you could draw one more card for her life.”
“We could draw to win her life back?”
“I think I could allow that. Of course that means one of you will be risking your life in order to save hers.”
“Risking our life??” Dorothy gasped anxiously as her sisters stared at him in alarm. “What does that mean?”
“It means if you lose, your sister over there will not be the only one to be executed in this room. It’s a very risky gamble, to be sure. But I suppose in this case I could allow it.”
Over in the guillotine Zilpha whimpered before blurting out, “D-Dottie, do something! I don’t want to lose my head!” She was trembling and was wet as hell between her legs, her nipples erect from the predicament she now found herself in. Monique simply smiled at them all while standing there with her hand on the lever.
“One of us has to risk our life to win her back??” Emily repeated in dismay.
“This is a place of gambling and risks, ladies. I probably shouldn’t even allow this. But Monique is right. I suppose I can use my influence to grant an extension of the game just this once.”
Winifred blurted out, “But the joker’s already been drawn!”
“And so it has. According to what I see on the table it appears that five spades, two clubs, three diamonds and two hearts have been drawn. That is seven cards of the black color and five cards of the red color out of a deck of fifty-two. That leaves nineteen clubs and spades, and twenty-one hearts and diamonds.”
He paused for effect as they looked at the cards on the table. Then he continued. “How about I make this simple. One of you chooses which color to draw. If you choose right, your sister gets to live. If you choose wrong, you must die with her.”
“Die with her??” Dorothy repeated in alarm. It was bad enough Zilpha’s life hung by that blade above her neck. Did they actually have to risk the life of a second sister just to try winning her back??
“Can’t someone like… die in her place if we lose?” Emily nervously suggested. She was willing to at least consider the option, not that she wanted to be beheaded.
“Any draw of the cards is a risk to the life of the one who draws. I am simply sweetening the pot by returning the life of your sister to you should you win. I will even include her $300 earnings. What do you think, ladies? Does one of you want to take the ultimate risk to save your sister? Or shall I have her beheaded right now?”
It wasn’t the optimum of choices. The only positive was in having more hearts and diamonds left to choose from. But a loss meant a second sister would immediately be condemned to certain death.
“I don’t think we have a choice,” Winifred murmured unhappily. “I’ll be the one to…”
“Oh, no you won’t!” Emily interrupted her. “I’m the oldest; it’s my responsibility! I should take the risk.”
“Are you sure?” Dorothy asked anxiously.
“Bloody hell, love! Just get me out of here, ok? Let her draw the bloody card that will save me!” Zilpha had wet herself while kneeling with her head in the lunette. Seeing the wicker basket waiting below was unnerving as hell.
Mr. Rick asked, “I assume you’ll be trying to draw a heart or diamond since there are more of them left?” Emily gulped and nodded.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Dorothy anxiously queried her sister.
“Just draw the bloody card and get me out of here!” Zilpha was on the verge of hysterics.
Emily gulped and nodded as she hesitantly reached out toward the row of cards. Her hand was trembling; she was shaking like a leaf as beads of sweat broke out on her forehead. Dorothy and Winifred watched her move toward a card as Zilpha whimpered plaintively.
Emily reached out and touched one, only to pull her hand back as though the card was hot to the touch. Then she looked up at the dealer. “Mr. Rick, do I have to take that one?”
“The one you choose is the one you pull out and turn over.”
The oldest exhaled and nodded. Once more she tentatively reached out toward the row. She touched another card, appeared to hesitate… and then slid the one she’d just touched out of the line.
She slid it right in front of her as she panted like crazy. Then she closed her eyes and turned it over. Dorothy and Winifred cried out when they saw it.
Four of clubs.
Emily’s eyes flew open in horror. Then she turned toward Zilpha in shock as Mr. Rick nodded at Monique. Zilpha was just starting to ask, “What card did sh-?” Then the blade fell, severing her neck and causing her head to drop into the waiting wicker basket below.
Winifred fell off her chair and collapsed in a heap, fainting dead away. Dorothy let out a mournful wail as she wet herself. Emily went white as a sheet, realizing she’d lost not just her sister, but her own life as well.
Mr. Rick reached over and pulled out the card Emily had first touched. Then he turned it over. Seven of hearts. Emily should have gone with her first choice. To rub it in, he reached out and withdrew her winnings as well.
Monique politely reached down and pulled out Zilpha’s head for all to see. Blood dripped from her severed neck. Her eyes were wide in shock, her mouth gaping open from her last words.
Her eyelids fluttered, her lips twitching as though trying to speak. Then her naked body tumbled over onto its side as it went into spasms and convulsions. Blood pumped out of her severed neck until she settled down, only to jerk and twitch from the occasional muscle spasm.
Emily saw her sister’s head and her naked, spasming body. Then she looked at the card she should have stuck with. She closed her eyes as she collapsed forward onto the table, sobbing into her arms at her failure to protect her sister. Dorothy just kept staring as though it couldn’t be real.
Mr. Rick nodded at his executrix. “Well done, Monique. You handled that very well. Now would you be so kind as to help this sister on the end out of her clothes and into the chair. Perhaps we’ll allow her to feel some current before we send her down to the kitchen along with her sibling.”
2018 (written for Dorothy Jan 23 ’18 by riwa)