Welcome to the Tabernacle: Henry and the Middle Man

Aug 19th, 2017
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  1. >Henry knows he’s made a mistake in coming here.
  2. >When he first arrived, everything seemed so promising.
  3. >The Tabernacle, an underground casino is nothing special, but there was something extra here.
  4. >A new member is given ten thousand dollars at the front with only one stipulation.
  5. >They must make five bets of at least a thousand dollars before leaving.
  6. >Which meant that even if he lost all five bets he could walk out with half that money for free.
  7. >On paper, that’s a steal.
  8. >In practice? Well…
  9. >Henry has lost twenty thousand dollars already.
  10. >Sure, the minimum bet he had to make was a thousand, but that didn’t help much once he sat down at the poker table.
  11. >His initial bet of a thousand quickly rose until he lost five grand on the first hand of poker.
  12. >And from there Henry’s luck did not increase.
  13. >He did manage to win one hand, but that win did not lead into a streak.
  14. >Which has brought Henry to where he is now.
  15. >Five games in and owing ten thousand dollars.
  16. >Now, in a normal casino, he’d have turned his money into chips and once he was out of chips, that was that.
  17. >This casino works like a bar tab.
  18. >One don’t have to pay right away, you don’t even need the money.
  19. >Which means despite you only having ten thousand in your account, Henry could lose far more.
  20. >A detail which Henry happened to overlook at the time.
  21. >But now, the moment he steps out of this place, he’s in debt.
  22. >And debt means interest, monthly payments, and all that fun stuff.
  23. >Henry can’t have that.
  25. >Now, Henry could try his hand at gambling some more to fix his debt.
  26. >The credit based system means he technically could gamble indefinitely.
  27. >But at the same time he could just simply dig his hole even deeper.
  28. >His worries growing, Henry walked around the casino floor.
  29. >Men in suits smoked on cigars lazily as people in more casual wear are playing the games.
  30. >It’s strange, one normally would think a place like this would be a place where the more wealthy business type would play.
  31. >What with the high prices and all.
  32. >Henry walks up to a man sitting over at the slot machines.
  33. >His eyes are bloodshot with bags under them.
  34. >His hair is a mess and he’s all around unkempt.
  35. “Hey, are you okay?”
  36. >The man starts the slots up again, not even looking at you.
  37. >”A-am I okay?” he asks weakly.
  38. >The three wheels stop on seven, cherries, seven.
  39. >”No, I’m not.”
  40. >His voice feels hollow and weak.
  41. >”I’ve… I’ve been here for… days… I can’t leave…”
  42. “Why not?”
  43. >He turns around to face Henry, his body shaking with either rage or fear.
  44. >”I can’t go home with this debt, I can’t! I need to get lucky… I… I…”
  45. >A man in a suit sits up, looking over at the two of them.
  46. >The haggard man instantly turns back around, mumbling.
  47. >”I… I just really want to keep playing…”
  48. >A deep, overwhelming despair begins to bubble up in Henry.
  49. >He’s not going to wind up like this, is he?
  50. >There has to be another way.
  52. >After some looking around, Henry’s desperation has reached a fever pitch.
  53. >Coming here was wrong, he should have just stuck to playing dime poker with his friends.
  54. >He’d give back all that money if he could.
  55. >But that’s not an option anymore, is it?
  56. >With his tail proverbially between his legs, he sulked up towards the receptionist who he talked who when he first arrived.
  57. >”How may I help you?” she asks with a sickeningly sweet smile.
  58. “I… I don’t think I can pay back what I owe…”
  59. >She nods, looking down at her little podium.
  60. >”You’re in luck sir, I believe our high stakes table has an opening!”
  61. “No, no, I don’t want to gamble anymore…”
  62. >She shakes her head, giggling.
  63. >”This isn’t normal gambling sir, this is one of our most popular attractions!”
  64. “S-so?”
  65. >”The spectators pay good money to watch this. So, to encourage players to join we wipe out their debts.”
  66. “Only to play more and owe more money, right?”
  67. >”No, no, the high stakes table doesn’t gamble with just money. In fact, many play without ever wagering a cent!”
  68. >Henry thinks back to the man slaving over those slots.
  69. “How come a lot of people aren’t taking this option?”
  70. >”Embarrassment. After all, who wants to admit to a casino they’re deep in the red? It takes guts, so only those who ask can be considered for the high risk table.”
  71. “And… I don’t have to bet any money?”
  72. >”Not a cent sir.”
  73. “Sure, let’s try it…”
  74. >”Excellent, now just follow me!”
  76. >He follows her into a back room.
  77. >Most on the casino floor hardly even notice him disappearing.
  78. >Save for the few suited men who trail behind.
  79. >After walking down a long hallway, Henry finds himself looking down on a large blackjack table.
  80. >There are studio lights set up, illuminating the whole thing as if it were on television.
  81. >But that’s not the strangest part.
  82. >The dealer sitting at the table is no human.
  83. >They’re a small… horse?
  84. >Saffron colored fur with a dark black coat, a horn protruding from their head.
  85. “Wh-what is that?”
  86. >The woman giggles slightly, stopping to let you gawk for a moment.
  87. >”That’s Lady Luck, she used to be a regular here, but turns out she’s quite the card shark. We just had to have her work this table.”
  88. “But… that’s a horse.”
  89. >”A pony actually, she prefers pony.” the woman corrects.
  90. “Right…”
  91. >Henry feels as if he’s stepped into a dream.
  92. >A horse dealing blackjack in the back of a casino?
  93. >This is insane.
  94. >Noticing his apprehension, the woman puts a hand on his shoulder.
  95. >”I know this is strange, but the high risk table is the best way to absolve your debt.”
  96. >Gulping, he nods.
  98. >In the time it took him to be lead to the table, a few others have been brought in.
  99. >In total there are four other players at the table.
  100. >Once seated, Henry can’t help but stare at the pony.
  101. >She’s levitating a deck of cards, bridge shuffling them in mid air with a grin on her face.
  102. >This has to be some kind of special effect.
  103. >Like a puppet or animatronic.
  104. >And the cards are… mirrors?
  105. >Magnets?
  106. >His conspiracy theories are quickly cut off though.
  107. >”Oh! Everyone is here? Great!” exclaims the pony as she sets down the deck.
  108. >There’s a mixed reaction from everybody at the table.
  109. >Some seem eager, others far more apprehensive.
  110. >”Well, I’m Lady Luck, and I’ll be your dealer this evening! Of all the special games we offer, I’m elated that you all chose to play at my table!”
  111. >Her ear twitches a bit as she stops talking.
  112. >There’s an earpiece clipped on to it.
  113. >”Oh, I mean, I’m glad you all decided to participate in our debt recovery program!”
  114. >She giggles softly as Henry is left to ponder what she meant by “special games.”
  115. >”Anywho, we’ve got to play a game and then everybody can go home happy with all their money~!”
  116. >A screen behind the pony lights up, revealing a list of sorts.
  117. >”Tonight we shall be playing a fan favorite game: Middle Man! I would appreciate it if you all took this moment to read over the rules!” says the horse, pointing her hoof at the screen.
  118. >Henry, still weirded out by everything going on, reads the screen’s list.
  120. >Middle Man: A Game of Being Insignificant!
  121. >The goal of Middle Man is simple, to have the least points by the end of the game.
  122. >One gains a point by having played either the lowest or highest face value card.
  123. >Each round consists of a player playing a card from their hand face down, then revealing their cards once all have decided.
  124. >The three players in the middle of the range of card values receive not points.
  125. >Each player has been given the cards two through ten, and only one copy of each.
  126. >If a player earns a point in a round, they may draw a card from the dealer’s deck.
  127. >Cards in the dealer’s deck can be any card, including a face card or Joker.
  128. >A Joker gives every other player a point the round it is played.
  129. >If there is a tie for highest or lowest, both players receive that point.
  130. >Best of luck!
  132. >Henry isn’t sure what to make of the game.
  133. >It feels overly simple to be played at a casino, there has to be some sort of catch.
  134. >There is some strategy, if one can keep track of high value cards already played or not played, they can play around it.
  135. >But then again, the dealer’s deck throws a wrench in that, doesn’t it?
  136. >Those cards can be anything and are impossible to count.
  137. >Not that Henry wholly minds that, he knows that he won’t be counting cards and having opponents be able to is worrisome.
  138. >The real question is, why would this be an attraction people pay good money to watch?
  139. >Looking around, Henry sees no seating, let alone spectators.
  140. >He thinks back, remembering how the hallway above had a window…
  141. >Sure enough, there’s several suited men watching from above.
  142. >Shuddering, he faces forward once again.
  143. >”Everybody ready to begin?” asks Lady Luck.
  144. >All the players slowly agree.
  145. >Clapping her hooves together, the horse’s horn begins to glow as cards fly around, landing in front of all the players.
  146. >That’s probably the weirdest dealing Henry’s seen.
  147. >But everything about tonight is his weirdest gambling experience, so he’s not even fazed anymore.
  148. >”Everybody got their hand? Great! Let’s start round one! You have thirty seconds to choose your card!”
  149. >Henry thinks for a moment.
  150. >Nobody wants to get a point, and with so many cards in hand, there’s not a lot of wiggle room.
  151. >So, instead of getting rid of his middle cards this round, he can drop a higher or lower one.
  152. >Feeling confident, Henry slams down his ten, just to get rid of it.
  154. >The cards played this round are: two fives, a four, a two, and your ten.
  155. >”Henry and George you both get a point! Sorry!” exclaims Lady Luck.
  156. >A scoreboard appears on the screen, a big “1” next to Henry’s name.
  157. >As that happens, his ears suddenly feel odd, as if they’re being pushed on by some unknown force.
  158. >Wincing, Henry instinctively grabs them.
  159. >They’re softer than before, covered in hairs.
  160. >Within moments he feels them slowly shift upward finding themselves atop his head.
  161. >Looking over at another man at the table, he sees equine ears twitching on his head.
  162. >Henry tries to convince himself that his ears are different, but he certainly doesn’t feel like it.
  163. “Wh-what the hell is this?!”
  164. >Lady Luck giggles, leaning in.
  165. >”Did I forget to mention? Every point will turn you more and more into a pony like me! So, if you aren’t into that, I’d play carefully from now on!”
  166. >”Wh-what the fuck? Fix my damn ears!” shouts the man you assume Is George.
  167. >”The person with the lowest point total will have his changes reversed if he so chooses, everybody else however is stuck with what they’ve been given!” Luck retorts.
  168. >Henry looks around, still touching his fuzzy ears.
  169. >Is this why people are watching?
  170. >And… if this is only one of their “special games…”
  171. >He shudders, not even wanting to know what else may be here.
  172. >Right now, he just needs to focus on winning.
  174. >Lady Luck tosses Henry and George another card, a part of the rules to this no longer simple game.
  175. >Still shaken, Henry slowly picks up the card and adds it to his hand.
  176. >Joker.
  177. >Thinking back to the rules, he feels a slight bit of relief.
  178. >This card basically negates a turn and gives everyone else a point.
  179. >A part of him wants to save it, but the more he thinks about it, the more he wants to use it now.
  180. >Right now everybody is going to be using their good cards to avoid points, especially knowing the stakes.
  181. >So, instead of burning one his fives or fours now, he can use this.
  182. >It’ll bring him into a four way tie for second and push George to two points.
  183. >He might feel bad if he actually knew anybody here, but right now all he knows is that he needs to fix his ears.
  184. >”And now for round two!” exclaims Lady Luck.
  185. >The timer once again starts back up, quickly ticking down.
  186. >Henry wastes no time placing his Joker down.
  187. >The cards revealed are Five, six, three, four, and Joker.
  188. >The others at the table wince as their ears become large and technicolor.
  189. >George swears loudly as a long tail rips from behind him, swishing back and forth slowly.
  190. >”You son of a bitch!” yells George, slamming on the table with his fist.
  191. >In this moment Henry is easily the least liked person amongst those playing.
  192. >But, lucky for him, directly attacking other players is not an option.
  193. >Lady Luck deals cards out to the other four players, a smile still plastered on her face.
  194. >”Round three, here we go!”
  196. >Henry plays a four, not sure what else to go with at the moment.
  197. >Everybody is looking at each other warily, not trusting anybody for even a moment.
  198. >Two rounds in and everybody already is at each others throats.
  199. >After all, only one person gets to fix their body at the end of this.
  200. >After the timer is up, Lady Luck frowns for the first time.
  201. >”George, you forgot to play your card!”
  202. >He stares at the pony indignantly, his cards sitting on the edge of the table.
  203. >”Fuck you, I’m not playing your stupid game!” he bellows.
  204. >Lady Luck winces at being yelled at, but manages to hold her composure.
  205. >”Well, that’s just not an option George! You came to my table to absolve your debt, and this is how you do it!” she replies.
  206. >”Fuck off you horse!”
  207. >”Very well, I suppose I shall play for you by proxy.” she says, flatly, floating his cards over to her.
  208. >With a smirk, she plays a card in front of him, flipping it over.
  209. >A ten.
  210. >”Oh my George! An interesting play~!”
  211. >The cards on the table are George’s ten, Henry’s four, a three, a six, and another four.
  212. >George winces as a sharp ripping noise is heard.
  213. >Upon looking under the table, Henry notices George’s feet have become lavender color hooves.
  214. >The man on the far end of the table has grown a tail as well, according to the point totals, his name is Paul.
  215. >The look in George’s eyes is a mix of rage and terror.
  216. >”You bitch! You played my highest card!” he yells.
  217. >”Highest? I dunno, this ace you just drew seems pretty high!” she teases.
  218. >With that, he jumps forward, lunging at Lady Luck.
  219. >”Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”
  221. >His attack however does not go nearly as well as he had hoped.
  222. >Lady Luck’s horn glows instantly, sending him flying.
  223. >He crashes into the wall with a loud crack, leaving him crumpled on the ground.
  224. >”I am so sorry about that!” Lady Luck insists, talking more to the other players and viewers than the man she just threw.
  225. >Henry is awe struck, staring at George with wide eyes.
  226. >”As much as we wish George would play with us, his actions are grounds to eject him from the game, but don’t worry, you’ll still have scored rather high George!”
  227. >With a sickening amount of glee, Lady Luck gestures to the board, where the number next to George’s name has become a ten.
  228. >In that brief moment, George has been carted off, for when Henry turned back to look at him, he was gone.
  229. >”I hope you four aren’t too startled, I know that was a lot of commotion for your sensitive new ears!”
  230. >She quickly shuffles his cards into her deck, and stretches.
  231. >”Before we get back into the game, does anybody have any questions?” she asks.
  232. “Um… yeah…”
  233. >Looking over at Henry, she rests her head on a hoof.
  234. >”And that is~?”
  235. “H-how many rounds are there?”
  236. >She giggles a little.
  237. >”Oh, that’s the beauty of Middle Man! It only goes until only one person is below ten points!”
  238. >Henry gulps upon hearing that.
  239. >What she’s saying is that everybody who loses is going to lose totally.
  240. >If ten is the cap, that means ten points and you’re a pony.
  241. >He thinks back to George for a moment, feeling a little bad for the guy.
  242. >”No more questions? Great, on to the next round!”
  244. >The game carries on uneventfully for a bit.
  245. >Henry’s short lucky streak was quickly ended as he found himself growing a flowing tail.
  246. >Looking back, it was a soft, bubblegum pink.
  247. >Great, just great.
  248. >Thankfully the game seemed awfully balanced for the most part, Henry never pulled ahead in points for too long.
  249. >He was the last player to feel his feet mush and reform into solid hooves, but he was the first one to notice fur growing all over his body.
  250. >Pink fur.
  251. >Needless to say Henry’s motivation to win grew tenfold.
  252. >The tingling sensation of hairs growing at such an intense rate rattled him, but he knew that he’d have to keep going.
  253. >If he could just win, all of this would go away.
  254. >Not only his debt, but all of these strange horse parts.
  255. >Lady Luck sure isn’t helping his nerves.
  256. >”You know, based on your colors, you’d swear we included some gender changing aspect to the game!” she sneers as she slid you a card.
  257. “Whatever…”
  258. >”Don’t worry though, you’ll still be a male! We can’t have just mares running around.”
  259. >That statement made Henry wonder.
  260. >Just how often is this game played?
  261. >It’s scary to think about.
  262. >A part of him wants to talk with the others about it, but he knows that would be futile.
  263. >This is no game, it’s a battle.
  264. >And there’s no room for friendliness in battle.
  266. >Paul is the first among the players to really start slipping.
  267. >While the game favors a more balanced spread of point increase, Paul seemingly began to lose every round.
  268. >It doesn’t take long for his points to rise up, more and more of his body changing.
  269. >His button up shirt looks loose on his body, his left hand is a useless hoof, and his hair is a long, chestnut mane.
  270. >Not to mention the fur covering his body.
  271. >While everybody has only just begun to noticeably grow fur and mane, Paul’s other hand too falls to the game.
  272. >Lady Luck however has an easy solution for this.
  273. >Paul’s cards are put in a little stand, and he can push them out with a hoof.
  274. >Lady Luck can use her magic to help do it neatly.
  275. >This however does nothing to improve his loosing streak.
  276. >Which is good for everybody else, Paul almost always has the high card.
  277. >It seems that in the early game he played through most of his small cards, which even then didn’t always help.
  278. >Because for the past couple turns he has not played a card lower than a six.
  279. >Henry is not too far behind him, his left hand being the second to become cloven.
  280. >But by then, Paul is already at nine points.
  281. >When everybody else usually gets one point every two to three turns, and Paul gets one every turn, it’s a recipe for disaster.
  282. >Yet Paul never once complains, he sits there silently, his face the last remarkably human thing left to him.
  283. >But, as he reveals his first low card in rounds, a four, that too is lost.
  284. >The cards are a four, six, eight, and king.
  285. >Meaning he has finally hit ten points.
  286. >With a sharp gasp, his face pushes out into an equine muzzle.
  287. >He teeters around in his seat, confused and dizzy.
  288. >In that moment, a few people come up, carrying him out of the room.
  290. >Henry looks up at the scoreboard nervously, rubbing his hoof.
  291. >The totals are seven, six, and seven now.
  292. >Three more points and he’s just like that.
  293. >Thinking back to Paul’s changes, next he’ll lose his right hand.
  294. >Then he’ll shrink down to the size of a pony in full, along with his coat finishing growing in.
  295. >Then the head.
  296. >The past several rounds have consisted of slow but subtle changes, more fur, legs bending differently, stuff like that.
  297. >But now the next ones are all drastic.
  298. >Lady Luck starts the round and Henry shakily chooses a six he drew recently.
  299. >Only one person escapes a round without a point now.
  300. >And this round, that honor goes to Henry.
  301. >His remaining opponents grimace as their changes run their course, the stand once being used for Paul now being slid over to Martin.
  302. >Seven, seven, and eight.
  303. >The next round sees Henry play the lowest card.
  304. >His eyes shoot open wide as he watches his fingers lose any form, melding together into a hard hoof.
  305. >A little stand is brought over to him as well, his cards put into it by some unknown assistant.
  306. >Eight, eight, and eight.
  307. >Henry loses the next round as well.
  308. >His spine cracks as his now small body realigns itself.
  309. >A thought occurs to Henry as this happens.
  310. >He may never walk on two legs again.
  311. >Nine, eight, nine.
  312. >One more loss and it’s over.
  313. >The game will only last two more rounds at most.
  315. >Martin and Henry are both on the brink.
  316. >Both know that one of them will lose next turn.
  317. >Martin leans in, looking at Henry.
  318. >”Hey, this is all kinds of fucked, isn’t it?”
  319. >Henry nods, gulping.
  320. ”The odds are pretty shitty for us.”
  321. >”Ain’t that the truth… say, how good are your cards right now?”
  322. >Henry looks his over, shaking a little.
  323. >He has a two, a three, and a seven.
  324. “Alright, I guess, how about yours?”
  325. >”Awful. I managed mine like shit. I’ve only got high end stuff right now.”
  326. >Henry’s ears twitch slightly upon hearing this.
  327. >Did he really spill that information?
  328. >Or is he trying to throw Henry off?
  329. >This is the first small talk all night and Henry wishes it never happened.
  330. >It’s only confusing him more now.
  331. >The player between the two of them doesn’t say a word however.
  332. >He just stares forward at the board.
  333. >He is the only player who can survive this round, he’s got the best position out of anybody.
  334. >Next round, even if he’s at nine points, he goes against…
  335. >Someone else with nine points.
  336. “This is rigged!”
  337. >Lady Luck looks over, concerned.
  338. >”What now?”
  339. “Th-The game! There’s no way anybody can win! If highest and lowest both get a point, then…”
  340. >Martin catches on too, his eyes going wide.
  341. >”Oh, don’t be silly. This game is quite fair! It’s just that our friend George skewed the game by leaving so early. It is a shame!” Lady Luck says, still cheery.
  342. >Henry feels like he’s going to be sick to his stomach, there’s nothing he can do.
  343. >There is no way out.
  344. >That damn George fucked up this game!
  345. >Everybody is going to lose!
  347. >”Alright everybody, this looks like it may very well be the final round, so play your hearts out!” Lady Luck cheers.
  348. >Martin is sobbing softly, his head hung in defeat.
  349. >Henry is shaking, trying to figure out some way out of this.
  350. >David, the player in the middle, however is calm, confidently sliding a card out of the stand.
  351. >Seeing no other option, Henry plays his seven.
  352. >Martin refuses to play anything, leading to Lady Luck taking his turn by proxy.
  353. >She flips his over first, an eight.
  354. >Henry’s heart skips a beat for a moment, he may have a turn left!
  355. >Then he can petition for the game’s rules to change in the final round so there’s a winner.
  356. >That is, until she flips over David’s card.
  357. >Joker.
  358. >That’s when it hits him.
  359. >The game isn’t unbeatable.
  360. >The Joker card.
  361. >If he had just saved that damn Joker!
  362. >Tears begin welling up in Henry’s eyes as both his and Martin’s scores hit ten.
  363. >”Wow! David! What a clutch victory!” Lady Luck compliments, clapping her hooves together.
  364. >”Fix me.” he demands, speaking for the first time.
  365. >As promised, he is quickly returned to his human form, breathing a sharp sigh of relief.
  366. >Meanwhile Henry and David’s faces stretch outward, becoming muzzles.
  367. >Muzzles that will be there forever.
  368. >Shaken, Henry hardly even registers being picked up by a burly man and carted off.
  369. >Just as he hardly registers his slow fade into unconsciousness.
  371. >When Henry comes to, he’s lying naked on the ground.
  372. >Despite the fur covering his body, he can’t help but feel strange.
  373. >Sitting up, he wobbles on his quadrupedal body.
  374. >He’s in a cage, in some dark room.
  375. >After a while, he’s approached by someone.
  376. >It’s the receptionist lady.
  377. >”Are you awake? Oh, excellent!”
  378. “What… do you want…?”
  379. >Henry’s voice is slurred slightly, the sensation of talking with a horse snout all new to him.
  380. >”Well, as you can tell, you lost, and that means you’re a pony now.”
  381. “Yeah, I got that part…”
  382. >”Well, your debt is cleared, but now you are technically an asset of the Tabernacle.”
  383. “Are you saying I’m… property?”
  384. >”In a way yes, but don’t let that discourage you, there are many options for you in-”
  385. “Fuck you! Fuck you and your goddamn casino! I wish I never walked in here!”
  386. >Henry explodes, too angry to think straight.
  387. >”Henry, I must advise you to calm down. Those that misbehave do not get a preferential role…” she says, trying to hush him.
  388. >But he’s having none of that, he keeping screaming at her at the top of his lungs.
  389. >He doesn’t want to be a pink horse, he doesn’t want to be at this casino, he wants to go home!
  390. >Sighing, the woman makes a call on her phone.
  391. >”Yes, I’m afraid he is being belligerent. Oh, you got Martin to calm down? That’s good…”
  392. >She pauses every so often as the other person on the line talks.
  393. >”I know we can’t waste time but… I know… Lewis, have a heart, you know what these poor-”
  394. >She winces, moving the phone away from her ear slightly.
  395. >”I understand, I’ll prep him for the auction immediately. Just… please let me handle the others. Having two be auctioned off tonight is more than enough.”
  396. >Another pause.
  397. >”Thank you Lewis, I’ll see you there.”
  399. >She hangs up with a sigh, wiping tears from her eyes.
  400. >”This is your fault you know, I tried to help you.”
  401. “Help me?! You call this helping me?!”
  402. >”Well, it’s certainly a better option than what you have in store for you now.”
  403. “And that is?”
  404. >”We sometimes auction off the rowdy ponies to the audience. Or ponies who volunteer for the auction. You will be sold to the highest bidder.”
  405. >Her voice is soft and distant, the care she was treating him with earlier now gone.
  406. >Regret starts to build up in Henry.
  407. >Perhaps he should have listened.
  408. >He most definitely doesn’t want to get auctioned off.
  409. “H-hey, you should have lead with that! I’ll be good now, I promise!”
  410. >”I wish I could accept that, but Lewis… he doesn’t like taking chances.”
  411. >The woman walks a short bit away, returning with what looks like a pistol.
  412. “Are you g-going to fucking shoot me?!”
  413. >”It’s just a tranquilizer Henry, you’ll be unconscious for three hours, disoriented for another three. Please hold still.”
  414. >His tail goes behind his legs as he whimpers, edging backwards in the cage.
  415. >”Th-thank you for choosing the Tabernacle this fine evening.” she says, her voice catching slightly.
  416. >Closing her eyes, she pulls the trigger.
  417. >Despite Henry moving abruptly at the last moment, the dart still catches his neck.
  418. >Within in moments, he’s fast feeling drowsy.
  419. >He lies down, his eyes feeling oh so heavy.
  420. >Just a little sleep won’t hurt.
  421. >When he wakes up, this nightmare will all be over.
  422. >He’ll be back at home… back in bed…
  423. >”Yes, you can come pick him up. Starting bid will be-”
  424. >Everything will be back to normal…
  425. >And Henry slept.
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