Slot Machine Secrets, the Ultimate Jackpot
So here I am, surrounded by lights and music and every now and then...bells. But the bells dont happen often enough for most people - you can see it in their faces: frustration; annoyance; and even sadness. Not that there are many people here at the moment - it is after midnight, and all of the sane people are home in bed, tucked up in their warm eiderdown quilts that grandma made, dreaming happy dreams of tomorrow.
So how on earth did I get here, a gambling house in the middle of the nowhere? I am not really sure. I remember being in the Diner out on the highway, cleaning up after a couple of truckers had finished a late night meal. The road had been quiet - it was past midnight after all, and very little traffic came by on Monday nights. The dew had started to fall, putting a chill in the air, as I waved the truckers goodbye and turned to begin cleaning away the dishes. Cooled apple pie slopped over the side of the plate when I lifted it, making my fingers sticky.
I avoided the congealed whipped cream that was still present on the pie crust and dropped the scraps into the bin. As I turned to load the dishwasher I thought I saw a flash of light out of the corner of my eye, but then, it could have been a truck heading down the other side of the interstate. Funny that I couldn't hear it though. I jumped back and groaned as I dropped the plate of apple pie and it broke into a number of pieces of cheap, white ceramic, mixed with melted cream and yellowed pastry crust. I sighed and bent down to start clearing away the mess from the black and white lino tiles.
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All was quiet in the Diner, the radio playing softly in the background, no motor noises that would warn me of approaching customers. I started to whistle as my favorite song came on the radio. I wondered if someone was going to come take me away from this drudgery and I saw imagined a white horse charging up the carpark, making me laugh out loud. The small pieces of ceramic plate were proving difficult to pick up, so I headed out back to get the mop from the cleaner's closet. That was when I heard the front door slam shut and footsteps nearing the counter. It had happened without warning, no approaching noises, so it had scared me and I jumped. "Someone must have broken down and needed help" I thought to myself as I rushed back out front to greet them.
As I entered the servery area I plastered my customer-greeting smile on my face and started my usual opening welcome. "A big warm welcome to the best coffee and pie..." I stopped and looked around. A prickle started to rise up my spine... there was no-one there. My heart started to race as I looked over the counter top at the empty booths and tables. The place was deserted, no-one was there. I could see under every table, in every corner, and NOBODY WAS THERE. Heart still thumping loudly I walked out to the door and looked into the carpark, but there were no cars and no people to be seen. The door however, was slightly ajar, not how I had left it after the truckers had gone. And the dew on the outside decking showed a set of footprints.
Behind the counter a crunching sound occurred - like someone had stood on the pieces of broken plate. I gasped in terror. My heart was thumping so loud I could not think above it. My stomach was doing flip flops and I was shivering uncontrollably. Was there someone behind me? Dare I turn around and look? I didn't want to turn around - some irrational logic was telling me that if I didn't look I would be safe. I could see the reflection on the glass window from the door in front of me, and I saw movement behind the counter. I didn't want to look any more, so I shut my eyes.....
How did someone get behind me? It wasn't possible. I began to wish I had never watched "the Blair Witch Project". It had really spooked me. I really did not want to turn around - I kept thinking that if I don't see anything, then nothing can get me. I was starting to calm down when I heard a creak in the floorboards behind the counter.
My heart was beating so wildly now that I was sure I was about to die of fright. I tried to call out "Who is there" but it came out as an unintelligible croak from my dry throat. I knew I had to turn around, but I just could not make my legs do it. They would not move! Another crunching sound came from behind the counter, and then a rasping breath occurred just behind my ear. I couldn't stand it any longer, I just ran. I shoved open the glass door and I ran straight through the carpark and onto the highway.
I ran straight into the path of a big semi trailer truck on his way across country. His truck was filled with heavy goods, making it difficult to stop. I heard his brakes and saw the headlights as they bore down on me, and then, strangely, it all went quiet. Everything went black. The cold disappeared, and my fear dissolved. So now I am here, in this strange little room, with noise and music and bells. And every time a bell chimes, someone becomes so happy, as they receive their jackpot and go to cash it in.
What happened to the truck? What happened to me. I pull the lever on the machine again and then.... suddenly....I hear bells. A young lady comes up to me and smiles so beautifully. "Congratulations" she says, "you won the jackpot". I look back at her, confused "huh?" I say. "Don't worry" she says, "everything is fine now. You can leave the waiting room. Heaven is ready for you."