The Mincer

The first call from Dispatch came in at around 8 PM. Stench levels reached a critical Phase.

Meyer and DeBock were on duty in the Control Room. The unwelcome call interrupted a marathon game of Banzai. Both men were notorious gamblers and not easy to distract when on a roll.

DeBock, in particular, was a well-known visitor of illegal events organized by the syndicates.

Despite the fact that he was a crafty player, he had a habit of overplaying even the best of hands. As a result, DeBock was up to his neck in financial problems. At regular intervals, merciless enforcers showed up on his doorstep demanding substantial collections. Recent threats involving severe bodily harm had forced him into hiding. His credit finally ran out.

Every time DeBock was about to win a hand at the tables, his powerful opponents doubled up the bet. DeBock reached the point where even the lowest stakes exceeded his modest resources.

Meyer, on the contrary, recently struck real gold. A distant relative passed away. To his surprise, he received a sizeable sum of money. That day Meyer had just visited the bank. Now, a duffel-bag with wads of sweet cash sat at the bottom of his locker. But Meyer being Meyer, simply had to share his secret with someone. When DeBock laid eyes on what was in the bag, his mind immediately went into overdrive. He was determined to syphon off some of the content. The fact that Meyer was unattentive to detail in games came as a bonus. He simply missed the ability to bluff his way through life. It made him like putty in the hands of his opponent.

That night the Wheel of Fortune turned clearly in Meyer’s favor. To DeBock’s chagrin, his colleague won hand after hand. But, as the night wore on that would change. By the time the second call came in, DeBock had already pulled back a couple of games.

In Zone B, a critical situation rapidly ensued. But it wasn’t until the third call that the men reluctantly broke off their game. Meyer went over to the control panel.

“No shit!” he cried. “Hey DeBock come over for a sec, what do you make of this?”

DeBock, Banzai straws still in hand, squinted at the row of indicators. Judged by the gauges on the panel a firm plan of action was required. “Bloody hell!” he cussed. “That’s a potential Phase Red.”

Meyer grunted. “Now we’re seriously screwed.”

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D.J. Vanderstadt

D.J. was born in the Netherlands, but has been living abroad most of his life, most notably in the UK and Asia. He holds a degree in Neuro-linguistics and Astro-physics. In daily life, he works as a professional instructor for both the Civilian and Military Aviation industry. His characters are often involuntary loners condemned to explore the far reaches of time and space. No matter how dark and harrowing the tale, it never loses a touch of realism and probability. He writes with a cinematic eye.

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