Sleetmagazine.com

Volume 14 • Number 1 • Spring-Summer 2022

Tadhg Wallace

Casinos with Clocks

It started with the clocks. One clock on the wall. Small, dark and glossy. High up on the pristine face of the water chestnut paneling. By the well-worn roulette table.

Then two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. People stopped keeping score at that point. Clocks in the hotel rooms. Mahogany grandfather clocks behind the bars. On the bars. Built into the tables.

Grand edifices built into the very centers of gambling halls, built as if to laugh down upon Makkah Royal and The Elizabeth. The seconds roared as waves. The loose string of intangible time itself, grabbed and strangled and carved deeply with the might of hours. Bellagio. Sands. Borgata. MGM. Rio. Venetian.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. The Casinos stopped keeping score at that point. The minds of myriad dead men awoke with pain. Like wounded soldiers they left. In columns.

Columns to hordes. Hordes to riots. To escape time, to escape money. Those who remained only sunk and melted in their boiling fever.

Great pits were dug for days into the linoleum and metal and dirt. Furniture and fence repurposed. There, the losers fought.

Men, trillions in debt with only their lives to lose. Spectators would bet, only to be in the pit themselves an hour later. Bets on who would lose their bets. And bets on whose bets of betters would be wrong.

To be beaten to death with a clock became the new greatest honor one could ask for. The grand tellers of time hailed as Gods, never to cease. Masters of existence. One hundred seconds. Sixty minutes. Twenty four hours. Seven days. Twelve months. Unending years catalogued by ticking Gods of wood and wire.

Their word absolute. Outside, the parking lots turned to jungle. The cities overrun with vines and wild dogs. A horrific outland incomprehensible in one's worst nightmares.

A land without time. Only the casinos were left standing as great temples. Bastions of truth and uniformity.

 

T. Wallace is a young writer from California, writing mostly in the genres of Fantasy, Science-Fiction, and Weird Fiction.