When we got to Level 362, Sharon's legs were beginning to heal. She still used a crutch we had made for her, though. We had made provisions, but hadn't come across any weapons store, so we still had no ammunitions, and only a few blades in case of trouble. Well, trouble came, but the guns would have changed nothing to the outcome.
At first, we didn't see a thing : this Level was dark as the deepest pits. But then, all of a sudden, lights were all over the place, and we saw it for what it was ; a giant Casino.
The word "casino", depending on the place where it is pronounced, can mean, to my knowledge (and don't ask where it comes from), one of three things : in italy, it means a brothel (or, by extension, a very messy, noisy place) ; in France, it is the name of a chain of supermarket stores ; and in countries all over the world, it means a place where you can gamble up to your last penny, or whatever the local currency is (I just thought of an english currency, does that mean I've been there ? But then, how do I know about france and Italy ?).
This is what it was : a miniature and enclosed Las Vegas.
Some cities, even some countries throughout the world, have been founded by whores and criminals. It is the case of Australia, but Americans often too easily forget that not all of their ancestors where puritans.
Las Vegas, on the other hand, was founded by maffiosi. Yes, thugs, criminals in their own right, who found a way to make legal money, or hide illegal one. YOu know it, I know it, the police and government know it, but when that amount of money is concerned, nobody is clean. What would you prefer to be ? Holier-than-thou and dead, or a little deaf and blind, alive and rich ?
So, here they were : the slot-machines, blinking in all their dollared glory, the golden-plated jackpots, the money-eaters with their colored faces and empty promises, faces painted like a whore's, and behaving like the worst of whores : the kind that doesn't give you a run for your money.
There were many, many machines. Hundreds, maybe thousands of them, put along corridors paved with red groundsheet, some on small platforms, some in dark corners, some in the halls. Money, money, everywhere, nor any cent to win. Or whatever.
And then, there were the gamblers. Or what was left of them. They looked like ghost. Transparent things they were, and intangible too - although we observed that when you passed through one you felt a chill that wasn't of this world, and this we avoided from then on.
- What did you say, Simon ?
- Nothing. Let's get the hell out of here."
This sentence, for Simon, was as good as a monosyllabic whisper from a normal person ; plus, it was nearly... vulgar, which wasn't like him at all. Guess he didn't like gambling that much.
As we went on, it soon appeared that all the machines converged towards a central area, where a much bigger game went on. The wheel was a huge one, with numbers all over, put vertically, balls waiting for it to go round and round and round again. Next to it was a gaming table And in the center, a name written in letters of fake (?) blood : THE SOUL GAME.
And the game had a croupier, too.
"Welcome to the Redemption Casino. Are you ready to place your bets ? "
The nametag on his smoking vest read : "My name is John Doe".
to be followed...
NEXT... NO EXIT.