A journey through the bowels of Hell
with The Devil as your guide.


This is a preview to the chapter Seven from the book Hellbound by Tim Hawken.
Please note this text is copyright protected.

I sat unmoving on a stool in front of the twinkling machine, my hand perched on the 20-lines button. Every couple of seconds, I put a small amount of pressure on my finger so the machine could suck some more of my money away. If I was lucky enough, the right row of icons would line up and I’d get a flurry of noise and light to remind me that I was alive. I wished I wasn’t.

Looking slowly around at The Riviera Casino, I wondered how many of these other people were like me; whiling away the hours with as little stimulation as possible, not wanting to sleep or to go home to a pitiful existence. The walls oozed forty years of cigar smoke, stale and rank no matter how much air-freshener they sprayed in the place. Like me, the building was a shadow of its former self. A few fresh coats of paint couldn’t hide the fact that The Riviera was well past its prime. The bling had walked out and moved to the other end of The Strip. I don’t know why, but it gave me odd comfort being somewhere that was slowly sliding into ruin. I felt at home.

Since that fateful fight, I’d crawled back up into myself. I had walked out on Coach, who refused to believe I didn’t want to fight for a living any longer. “It’s all you know,” he’d say to me. “It’s what you were born to do, you’re a survivor. Don’t run away from your talents.” But that’s exactly what I did. Even though I knew the people I fought signed up for it, even craved it like I had, I didn’t want to destroy another life.

I delivered a rare smile. Three pyramids meant I’d just received the special feature. I could now sit back and do nothing while the wheels turned in front of me and rolled out my fate. Little victories took away the pain for a short while. It wasn’t for the money, like most people think. The slots for me were for the feeling you get when everything falls into place at the right time to reveal a result you want. Only a minor win this time. I was almost out of coins.

The electronic spinning-wheel finally drained away the last of my money for the week, that is until my next welfare check kicked in. I looked at my watch: 2am. I’d been there for sixteen hours straight, no wonder I was so hungry. I picked up my warm, flat beer and staggered toward the exit, stiff from sitting down for so long. My body felt like a dead weight. A fat, white gut wobbled beneath my clothes. My fighter’s body had been drained into a beer bottle. I sucked down the rest of my bitter drink and tossed the plastic cup in the bin. Alcohol just didn’t seem to affect me anymore. It used to mercifully dull my mind. Now it was just another habit.

I walked into the freezing night and breathed in a mixture of car fumes and plastic culture. A crisp breeze chilled my face as I ambled, slowly up The Strip towards The Stratosphere. I looked around at the neon lights of the city, not really wanting to go home. It was a fake mess of concrete and polish all around me, towering above my worthlessness. I sighed. So my life had come to this nothingness, anonymity in a city of nobodies.
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