Friday, April 24, 2009

The Doom of the Gods

Prompt: During her first trip to Las Vegas, a woman experiences the luckiest night of her life. (It’s not from gambling)..

The rain outside reflected the flashing lights within, glistening like tiny flower petals. Pushing her hands through her hair to scrape back her fringe and its ever threatening river down her face, Siggy hesitantly walked through the fake coconut palm grove and knocked back plastic vines as threadbare monkeys hung sadly at eye level.

At least here no-one stared at her, nor had she been met at the door by a neatly attired and sympathetic concierge who firmly informed her that the casino, all 700 rooms was currently full.

She tried not to stare as her eyes became accustomed to the constant flashing lights of the poker machines. Efficient waitresses, dressed in faux tiger or leopard skins picked up stained coffee cups and scrunched empty peanut bags on their cleaning rounds. She didn’t envy them their shifts or their tacky uniform; at least hers back at the truck stop was below the knee.

A wad of gum stuck to her shoe and its suction nearly toppled her backwards as she walked towards the cashier. After scraping it clear, Siggy then managed to trade her hard earned witnessing tips for gambling chips and grinned despite the unusual environment she now found herself in. Far from the ideas and stories she had been fed at the truck stop; but, as she reminded herself, she was a free woman and this was her night to shine and change her luck. Perhaps to win enough to get her out of that dead end job and into night school. Her shoulders slumped as the repetitive track of the monkeys screeching and a far off tinny elephant trumpeting, she absentmindedly pressed a button at the nearby machine. She doubted there was enough money in payouts at this place to buy a decent meal, let along a ticket out of her hell. The machines flickered for a moment and the faces rolled over to mismatcing plates. No winnings out of this one.

Why had they forsaken the romance of pulling the handles and of seeing the plates roll past ? All of the poker machines were electronic now ; offering no thrill. Though looking around, plenty of sallow skinned empty eyed desperate pensioners were still here for whatever electronic thrill these hulking masses gave.

Ragnarok, what sort of a name was that for a Casino? The fake jungle dusty leaves and thatched roofs looked tired amongst the floral flashing lights. A sad attempt of an iceburg and a mangy snow wolf lurked in the corner behind the bar. She shuddered alittle looking at the gleaming hungry yellow eyes of the wolf and reminded herself that it too was fake and could not possibly be watching her. A rubber crocodile lazily snapped at the feet of the gamblers as they ambled past. The noises of the forest drowned by the bells and ringing of the machines. What on earth had the theme designer been drinking when they pitched this idea to the owners 30 years ago.

Siggy counted her chips slowly and wandered over to the card tables. She’d played Pontoon before, and after watching the Blackjack table for a while, decided she’d try her luck. She visited each table, but was turned away with no prospect in securing a spot to play.

One of the croupiers shrugged and winked at her “Busy night Miss, sorry, You’ll just have to try and jump in somewhere.”

A group of players at a table on the other side of the hall stood and left, laughing and jostling one another. Waiting players, like circling sharks melted into the flowing crowd and took their seats.

“Damn it, how do I get a seat in this place?”

She spun to leave and in her frustration, nearly knocked over a very tall man balancing a drink and a bowl of pretzels.

“Oh I am so sorry, I didn’t see you. Let me buy you another drink.”
“My fault, I wasn’t looking where I was going either.”
He grinned an easy, welcoming smile; full of mischief and promise.

She cleared her throat and looked about, wondering where to take the conversation, suddenly desperate for company and a way out of this dreary scene.

“Loak there you are! I think I see an opening on our table…….oh, I see you have found another lost soul.?”

Farbauti assessed her falorn stature. “Escaping the rain as well? You don’t look the sort to be attracted by the up market décor we find here.”

“Yes, well, its my first time to Las Vagas I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I wasn’t quite expecting.. this.”

“Well – your luck has changed, let us she you the real Las Vagas. We are what you might call – locals. Come on over to our regular table, its hard to get a spot this evening. You nearly knocked over my son Loak and I’m Farbauti. Everyone just calls me Farb” He stuck his meaty hand out at her sideways. “Take a seat. I’ll get you a drink.”

Siggy sat uncomfortably on the stool and leant her arms on the green felt of the table, fiddling with her chips. She cautiously looked at her other companion who grinned at her again. Blushing, she held her hand out, “Its Siggy, thanks for inviting me to sit with you.”

Loak hunched his shoulders as if the attempt would diminish his size and gave a furtive look about the peripherals. As he languidly allowed his eyes to openly wander over to her, she was struck with the clarity and depth of its blue. She buried her gaze immediately into the cards she had and tried not to groan aloud with the low scoring hand she held.

Before the dealer could continue on the next round, the hairs on Siggys neck stood up as she sensed figures behind her. Farb stood and spread his hands in a peaceful gesture. “ Now Odi, we don’t want any trouble”

An impossibly muscle bound man in skin tight black tshirt loomed over Loak, glaring into the back of his head. He was flanked by three other men, their beards and hair flowing freely arms crossed aggressively. Loak responded to the situation by ignoring the figures behind him, flirting instead with the croupier.

“Both of you were thrown out last night after the trouble with Baldre.”

“And I can assure you and the management that it will not happen again. Please, we have just come to have a few drinks and enjoy ourselves quietly.”

Odin grunted as she ambled off. “Keep it that way.”

Siggy shivered. She might be better off alone , rather than get mixed up with whatever trouble these two were into. However,whatever misgiving she might have had at the start of the evening shortly disappeared as she discovered father and son were both charming and as entertaining as any comedy show she’d been to. Even if half of the outrageous escapades and practical jokes Loak had conjured were true, he seemed to be someone she could spend a lot more time with.

Their chips gambled away, the three pushed themselves away from the table.
“What now? The night is still young and we are in Las Vagas!”

Odin and his shadows appeared at their side. “Leaving so soon Loki?”

Loak appeared to stumble between stools, his gangly limbs entrapped between legs and supports as he crashed to the ground. A prosthetic snake hung over his head hissing mechanically.
He shielded his eyes and cried out in alarm.
Odins laughter rang in her ears as Siggy pushed the snake away and helped Loki to his feet.
“It’s a fake – like most things here.”
“You’re not though are you Sigyn?”
“Lucky guess or are you a weirdo stalker?”
He shrugged. “Flaxen blond hair and fair complexion, some of the stuff you were talking about tonight. I guessed you had Nordic roots.”
“You’ve got something on your shirt.”

She grabbed a napkin and brushed it away.
“Where would battery acid come from around here? Look its eaten a hole in your shirt.”
Loki glanced down and gingerly put a finger into the gap and looked at her intensely
“Will you help me leave Ragnarok?”
“Sure, lets get out of this dive. All this moudling fake jungle is starting to get a bit creepy. Especially that wolf on the iceberg. He’s been watching me all night.”
“I take that as a yes.”
She smiled. “Give me your bowl. You’ve lost your pretzels all over the floor anyway.”
As she took the vessel, a drip of sizzling acid landed squarely into it.
She looked up at the snake, its mechanical jaws opening and closing mismatched in time with a low unconvincing hiss and its fangs glistening with liquid.
“I think I’ll leave the bowl here under the snake. We’ll let management know they have a clean up over here.”
Farbauti grinned. “Management is going to need a lot more than a simple clean up once Loki has left the building.”

As the three figures pushed their way though the crowd and into the maelstrom outside, Odin signaled to Heimdall. “Its time.”

The wolf emitted a thin, but chilling howl and the temperature within Ragnarok began to drop.


Unknown said...

Hope I didn't completely loose everyone on this one..... Its underdeveloped and needs a heap of editing - but this is what FF is about.. just getting blood on the page!!

Unknown said...

Hope I didn't completely loose everyone on this one..... Its underdeveloped and needs a heap of editing - but this is what FF is about.. just getting blood on the page!!

Laetitia :-) said...

Well, I went looking up Loki on wikipedia. :-)

Aden said...

You got some serious blood on the page this go round! Very nice, I was grinning as the characters started to show up. I hope you get back to this because it has some fun potential.

M. D. Benoit said...

Nice development with the characters. I started perking up as soon as I read Ragnarok. Fun treatment of Norse mythology!

Here's my entry:

Unknown said...

Hi Annie. Liked your story - interesting what people make of a seemingly simple theme. Especially liked the acid from the mechanical snake!

Thanks for the comments on my story too!


Al McKillop (My alter ego on Blogger is Ali Bali Bee ;-) )