Tiny Stories: The Million Dollar Choice

Popular belief has it that the universe is comprised of atoms. In reality, the universe is actually made up of…

The cloth bag placed over her head not only prevented her from seeing where she was being taken but also blocked out all sound. Erica had no idea technology like that even existed. When the bag was removed, she found herself seated in a small nondescript room with a high-end tripod-mounted camera trained on her.

On the table before her sat an open attache case filled with twelve stacks of $100 dollar bills, eighty-three used and non-sequential notes to a stack. Beside the case were two glasses of red wine, one untampered with and the other laced with a deadly toxin.

Erica heard about things like this, private rooms on the dark web where people with money, people to whom a million dollars wasn’t life-changing like it was for her, but merely pocket change, wagered on the lives of the desperate and destitute. There were Russian roulette rooms, perverse puzzle rooms, and deadly escape rooms. She had gotten off lucky, she supposed. Hers was a simple fifty-fifty choice.

If she chose correctly, Erica stood to walk away with enough tax-free money to pay off her debts and do things the right way this time around. The smart choice would have been to ignore the invitation in the first place and find some other way to repair her damaged life, but she was inflicted with a serious gambling disease, something she inherited from her mother, and the opportunity was simply too good to pass up.

The catch? She was a lousy gambler, notorious for making bad choices even when she second-guessed herself, and her fatal flaw was that she could never pass up a dare or a bet.

Erica wasn’t allowed to touch the glasses before making her choice, so her eyes darted left to right, from one to the other, looking for the slightest discoloration between the two, and she even sniffed the air above each glass, which was pointless. These people were professionals and whatever lethal venom they used was no doubt undetectable by sight or smell.

She had a feeling in her waters that the one on the left was the dead cert unpoisoned wine glass, but was it strategically placed just a half-inch closer to her to make her select it subconsciously? Then she opted for the one on the right but suspected she was outfoxing herself. Then there was the possibility that both glasses had been tampered with. No, she couldn’t allow herself to think that way. Morty, the guy who set up this bet, had always been a straight shooter. He looked out for her whenever he could. Even when you made a habit of dealing with less than reputable people, you had to place your trust in someone. So Erica girded her loins and went with her initial instinct.

Was it her overactive imagination playing tricks on her or did she feel a static shock of electricity as she lifted the glass on the left by the stem? She tilted the snifter slowly, praying to the gods of luck and good fortune, and the moment the chilled wine touched her trembling lips, she knew…

7 responses to “Tiny Stories: The Million Dollar Choice

  1. Och what???? I DEMAND to know what happened to Erica!!! ANyone who doubts that the world of stories is real should read something like this and consider its power to make you epically on edge lol 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, that’s where you come in. I had trouble ending this one and I said to myself, “Diogenes would have a sure-fire way to wrap this up.” So, the floor’s all yours. In your own time, of course (I wouldn’t want to rush perfection).

      Cheers for the read and comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • She tilted the snifter slowly, praying to the gods of luck and good fortune, and the moment the chilled wine touched her trembling lips, she knew…that she had lost all ways. If she chose the wrong glass, she would lose. If she chose the right one, she had survived only to chance her arm again in another bind, another two-way choice, and lose. Even if both glasses were untainted, she had to face the fact that she was the sort of person who got herself into situations like this.

        This was Fortune’s nasty trick: by praying to the gods of Chance, you had already undone yourself.

        As it was, she took a glass, swallowed, and survived. She took the money and left, feeling the creeping poison of self-knowledge crawl around her system. Morty waited for her at the corner, a fond look on his face. “I guess you chose right,” he said, eyeing the case. He wondered if she was feeling generous.

        “I guess,” she said, feeling wretched.

        Morty slipped his arm through Erica’s. “Let’s have an untainted, normal, safe coffee,” he said. “You’re buying.”

        They walked to the nearest coffee shop and sat down with two cups of burning, bitter coffee. She was about to take a sip of hers when she put the cup down and reached for his. “You don’t mind, do you?” she said, switching their cups.

        Morty smiled. “Of course not,” he said. He didn’t mind. Neither wine nor coffee had anything to do with the challenge. You never play the game that’s in front of you.

        He had poisoned her lipstick that morning.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Which illustrates the point that money is never the solution to a gambler’s problems, and in any game, especially a game of chance, never play the game, play the gambler.

        Nicely done, Diogenes. Take a bow.

        Liked by 2 people

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