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Fermius Firefly

A Dream Log, whenever I remember the dreams I've had.

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Location: San Marcos, United States

Fermius is a pen name drawn from a series of short fiction I wrote when I published the small press magazine Stellanova (on paper.) I play RPG games to escape from my daily grind as a technology wage slave for the state of California. I eat out a lot in order to do my part in supporting our increasingly service level economy. I am butler to 2 feline masters. If you ask them they will tell you I'm not very good at it, late with dinner, don't have enough hands with brushes in them, and sometimes I even lock them out of their office.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Other-world Casino and Cardboard Boat

              I dreamed I came into possession of a large number of gambling chips for an off-world casino. I managed to trade some of them for a round-trip jump ticket and bundled myself into my star boat and let myself be flung a quarter of the way across the galaxy.
              I had intended to just cash out the chips, but there was some issue with the time that they had been out of the casino, so I had to play them into games and take out the current version before I could cash them out. I spent most of my time on the video poker sort of machines, as they advertised a ninety eight percent payout. Soon I had turned about half of the chips into twice as much money, so cashed them out.
              I decided to just blow the rest of the chips on something high-stakes and exotic. I joined up with a game that seemed to combine Blackjack (well, a Blackjack like game) and Chess in some way, ignoring the first rule of gambling, “Never play a game that you don't understand.” This, of course, led to trouble.
              I was playing very conservative, I thought, watching the other players, watching the dealer, a position that you had to buy into, it seems. I didn't understand enough to be the dealer, so passed on that opportunity. The game progressed and each play with the dealer involved betting for or against the dealers current contest with the other players. Robot croupiers kept the chips flying and my stack rapidly grew smaller and larger in fits and spurts. Violence broke out between two of the players, both of whom had gone broke betting on a third to lose to the dealer. It appears there was some sort of collusion and the dealer had, unexpectedly, gone bust on a half dozen hands of Blackjack. There was the smell of ozone and both players collapsed. Croupiers turned security dragged all three of the players away from the game pit.
              It took a couple of moments to get the fine covered chairs filled with new players and then the dealer turned to me. I chose the chess challenge, which seemed to be a set number of moves and then the croupiers would tote up what they felt was the advantages and disadvantages of each side and pay out wins and take losses. Again, I set out about a quarter of my “tainted” chips and reserved my good winnings to cash in later. I was about ten percent in the hole at that point. I figured I should lose quickly and get the heck out, it wasn't as much fun as I'd hoped. We started to play. It wasn't exactly earth chess, so I had to keep checking the rule sheet. Bets rapidly piled up against me, the dealer choosing to cover them double and most of the player accepting the raise. I covered the ones who bet against me, too, figuring I could unload the rest of the “tainted” chips and return home with a tidy nest egg.
              The game took a bad twist and several of my opponent's powerful pieces jumped over my shoddy defenses. Five moves had been played and the stakes at the table doubled. The dealer could tell I was a neophyte, and only raised his stakes a little, fully expecting me to bow out, I believe. I put all but about 5K of my “tainted” chips in to cover. We resumed play, and I promoted a piece that had been ignored because of my impending check.
              The pit erupted, no one had seen the move, as it involved invoking a somewhat obscure rule, one that had been in the rules I had just read. Security came over to verify that the rules were just print and nothing that analyzed the game. I noticed the red dots of security rifles trained at my chest. The move stood, and the targeting lasers vanished. The dealer looked nervous and several players started to argue and try to cover side bets on my winning to mitigate their possible losses, but since most had bet against me with the house, there were not really any takers. A crowd had gathered, and that made me nervous. I didn't like the extra scrutiny, as I wasn't sure I had come into possession of the chips in a completely up and up way. I really wanted to lose them and get out of here.
              I studied the board. Instead of putting up a defense, the dealer chose to press his advantage, after all, there were only three moves left in the session. I moved one of my few defenders out to place his tower in check (not kings in this version.) The crowd craned to see the board, so the casino brought it up on a holographic display above the pit. I glanced up to see the board, and both of us, five times larger than life. I gave my attention back to the board, certain that my next and probably last move could not be prevented. I wasn't positive, but I felt that using another obscure rule, one involving the swapping of a pair of pieces, that I would actually be in a position where I had as much threat on my opponent as he had on me. I figured it would come down to the calculations of the croupiers to determine the actual standing at the end of the round.
              My opponent made a move that seemed random to me.
              I blinked, shook my head. The crowd grew silent. I reached for a piece that seemed locked in place, and swapped it for a much less powerful piece, but one that directly threatened his tower.
              The dealer looked at the board in shock. Red analysis line were projected onto the board and the threatened tower was shown to have been actually mated, the random seeming move had discarded his only blocking move. Low expressions of awe flowed into the pit from the gathered crowd. I comforted the dealer, “New players sometimes play so oddly that random chance comes into the game. Thank you for the game.”
              The croupiers indicated that I had the option of buying into the dealer's seat, but I really didn't want it. I took my winnings, and tipped the dealer the standard percentage, and then tossed in the last few K of my “tainted” chips as a thank you. The player immediately bought his way back into the dealer's seat with the extra chips, his translation device telling me that he would forward a percentage of his winnings, or pay me back in full.
              “Thank you, that won't be necessary, I've learned a valuable lesson from you.” I grabbed a waiter and bought everyone in the pit a round. I climbed out of the jungle smelling pit, using a vine to haul myself up to the casino floor.
              I found that I suddenly had lots of new “friends” on my way to the cashier. All told I had quadrupled my stake.
              I grabbed one of the “escorts” for a dinner date, choosing one of the less high class looking ones so we wouldn't stand out too much and used her presence as an excuse to slip quietly out of the casino. She did accompany me to dinner, where I paid her full night rate, but explained that I just needed her company until I could get back to my boat. She had the grace to appear disappointed and was such an accomplished actress that I almost had to believe it.

              Later, I was back on earth, money safely invested and home and vehicles paid off. I was out on the ocean swimming when I heard a shout for help. I swam out to where SV was paddling around his overturned boat. He wanted help righting it, but even when we managed to get the thing righted, I pulled myself aboard and tried to bale out enough water to allow SV to get aboard. The back flaps kept opening up and letting water in. Even with the flaps closed, I realized there would never be room enough for two of us, the displacement was barely enough to float me. We righted it again and this time I did it without getting in. We still couldn't keep the back flaps closed and the cardboard boat was becoming water logged to the point that I was concerned that it wouldn't hold its shape. For some reason only the outside of the cardboard boat had a waterproof coating.
              “Look, I swam all the way out here, we can just swim back.”
              “I can't abandon the boat. I can't swim that far. There are probably sharks...” SV carried on while swimming along behind me. I had all ready slowly headed back to my beach, disguising my motion as righting the cardboard boat one more time. I tipped it up so the open end was out of the water.
              “Just hold on to the front here, the extra floatation should help us make it to shore, especially with both of us pulling.” I grabbed the bow line and began to swim in earnest for the shore, towing the boat with SV swimming right along side the boat, keeping the open end out of the water.

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