-xXx- Computronium


I’m walking across a wide open Casino, feeling like this is a Very Bad Idea(™).  And, there is a man right there – right there! – looking at me like he recognizes me.

I hold myself steady. Tell myself: Don’t look away. Don’t act suspicious. Act like you belong.

None of us really belong here.  But, here we are, and I gotta say, I’m kind of excited.

My life had become Capital B, boring.   Every day, the same thing.  Every day, the same thing. Every day the – it, uh, became repetitive.  

But I see the light, I’m looking at the exciting light.  I am walking toward the motherfucking light!

And I look to my right where someone struck midnight.  Craps tables there. To my left, it’s poker,  slot machines, roulette.  Everywhere, blackjack.

— haha! Yeah!

I’ve always loved casinos. Always some action! I just felt like, it’s kind of odd we were just parading around the casino without any concern just hours after fleeing the beach house in the middle of the night.

I was just about to say something to SeventyNine when Joanna yelped and said, “ooo, Baccarat!”

Joanna had been like this since we arrived across the border in the early morning.  We had taken SeventyNine’s special route. That’s what he called it. His Special Route. He said, “Obviously, we can’t cross at a normal border crossing.”  

So, we drive down a dark highway, take a left onto a plain old two lane road, then a right onto a narrow straight-as-an-arrow asphalt road, a road I can best describe as a pothole with potholes.  Somehow, that got us into Canada? Next thing I know we’re onto a freeway with road signs marked in kilometers.  

I had asked why we obviously couldn’t cross the border normally.  Joanna answered. She said, “Well, we don’t have passports.  And, there is a pandemic.” But, SeventyNine brushed off those concerns. He said, “Oh, we could deal with that. But, remember Sean is wanted for murdering one of the Arcana thugs. His photo is all over the news.” 

See what I’m saying?  Exciting! I am wanted for murder.  I am innocent, of course. But, I’m famous!  And It’s about time!

It was like, who do I got to murder to become famous?!? Oh, that guy. Done. Okay, not really. I didn’t actually kill anybody, it’s a big misunderstanding. I’m giddy, that’s all. I’m in a casino.

Who else is giddy? Joanna. In the casino, she grabs my arm and says, “Ooo – a baccarat table!” I say, “A backa-what table?” Joanna says, “The game James Bond always plays. I still have a bunch of cash leftover from hitting the ATM yesterday. Come on, let’s go!”  She pulls on my arm.

I look at SeventyNine.  Surely this is a stupid thing to do. Gambling in public when we should be hiding from the Arcana. To my surprise, SeventyNine smiles, takes out his wallet and hands us both a freakin’ fistful of fifties. Canadian money, but still.  

Joanna grabs all of the money, waves it excitedly and heads for the cage. 

And then, the next thing I know, it’s like five minutes later. I’m still in the casino, but I’m sitting at a slot machine, surrounded by the Anti Arcana Fab Four. I’m like, “what happened?”  And TwoZeroEight says, “He’s back.”

I’m like, “What happened?”

TwoZeroEight says, “You blanked out again. That Computronium you had was extra-radioactive, I guess.”

I say, “Wait, what? Radioactive? Holy shit!”

TwoZeroEight says, “You need to get around some Computronium soon. You have serious withdrawal. Whadcha do, keep the thing in your pocket all week?”

I say, “Yeah. Whenever I touched it, everything went right. It was like a good luck charm.”

TwoZeroEight says, “Good luck? Good God. You’re fucked. Even the Stacy sisters didn’t do that.”  

I say, “Because they probably knew it was radioactive – I didn’t! Also: How is it radioactive??”

They don’t answer, but SeventyNine says, “Okay, look. There is a temporary fix for this. I’ve been avoiding it, but it’s getting dire if you had so much contact with it.  Give me until morning.  In the meantime, stay with Joanna. We’re going to need her.  Keep her happy for now.”

I say, “Shouldn’t we be hiding somewhere?”

He says, “No, the Arcana can’t touch the Canadians. Never could. Stay here. Casinos are the safest place to hide, with security, and all the cameras.  And, we’ll leave NineNineNine with you.”

SeventyNine takes out a room key access card and hands it to NineNineNine. He says. “We’re all in the Royal Suite. There’s room enough for all of us.  Have fun. Don’t leave the casino property.”

NineNineNine nods and SeventyNine spins and walks away, along with TwoZeroEight and EightHundredThree.

I’m alone with NineNineNine and I say “Radioactive?”  NineNineNine says, “Sounds like you got greedy. Most people just use it for big decisions.  Even Natasia and Stacia didn’t get this bad this fast.

I repeat, “Well, they probably knew it was radioactive. Some asshole just dropped it in my pocket.”

I start to repeat my question, “How did it get to be radioactive?” but NineNineNine says, “look” and she points.

Across the room, I see Joanna making a Huge Scene.  She’s yelling and laughing and leaning over a table and raking in a pile of chips.  NineNineNine says, “Come on” and we walk toward her.

I look at NineNineNine and say, “So, what’s your real name?”  She says, “NineNineNine.” I say, “No, I mean, before you, like, signed on to be the Anti-Arcana or whatever.”  She says, “It’s best if I’m anonymous.”  I say, “Good luck with that in this day and age.” And she says, “Oh yeah, you would not believe the lengths we go to.  I’ve had plastic surgery twice since I joined.” 

I was like, “Plastic surgery? Twice?” but I didn’t have the chance to ask anything more because just then we arrived at Joanna.  Joanna is smack talking with this guy who looks like a Nigerian prince. She has a mound of poker chips on the table in front of her. 

She looks at us, eyes wide and says, “I’m up ten grand!   Here, take some. Let’s play!”