So anyway. It's a Tuesday afternoon, and I've been sent home from work. Quiet day, like, nothing else to do. Boss figured he'd save himself some money. I reckon I'll give Susan some peace, so I go off down the bookies. I'm £30 down after an hour but it's early yet so I'm not leaving. Reckon I'll win it back, you know? Anyway. I've just put a tenner on Buford's Chase and he's running well. Like an idiot, I start shouting, "I bet he wins!"
Damn thing loses so I start shouting that I bet the race was fixed, always "I bet this" and "I bet that". One of the girls behind the counter brings me a cuppa and asks me to pipe down, so I do. For a while. Eventually I start mumbling to myself, I bet I could win back my £40. I reckon it'll be easy, if only I pick the right horse. For a second I think about the one armed bandits but I know they're fixed.
So anyway. I'm looking through the listings for the next race. I don't have a system, not really, and by this point I'm just picking names I like. This guy comes up to me, so quiet I don't hear him until he clears his throat. He's dressed a bit funny, in a three piece suit and carrying a cane, but you get all sorts down the bookies, so I think nothing of it. He leans over and says we should make things interesting. I tell him I'm just trying to win back my £40, and hope he'll go away. He gives this big smile, all white teeth like those insurance people on the telly. Says that if I bet on Faust's Hubris and it wins, he'll give me £10,000. If it loses, this geezer gets my soul. I reckon he's a nutjob but I look up the horse, and the odds are good so I fling in a bet. Only a tenner, mind. Susan'll kill me if I lose any more than £50. That'd be worse than losing my soul - my missus has a right mouth on her when she gets riled up.
Anyway, the horse runs well, and I reckon I might be close to winning. I don't think the crazy will pay out £10,000 but the odds are 4 to 1, so I'll at least win £50. I can go home and Susan'll never know. Faust's Hubris is out in front, but the stupid thing falls in the last furlong. I'm halfway through shouting "I bet the race is fixed" when the guy puts a hand on my arm. His fingers feel red hot but I can't pull away. He's got me firm. Next thing I know, the bookies has gone and we're standing in a huge cave. A lake of lava takes up the middle, and I almost faint when I see people swimming in it. They leave trails of fire in their wake and they're screaming in agony but they just keep going. I try to run away but no matter how far or fast I run, I never get anyway. Just keep running on the spot like those joggers at the traffic lights.
I don't know how long I've been here but I watch the swimmers all day long. Every hour, and I know it's an hour because I counted the seconds once, this horned thing comes by and forces me to bet on one. No matter which one I bet on, it loses. Nothing happens to me, I don't lose any money 'cause there's none to bet with, but the frustration is killing me. I've tried everything - systems, patterns, all sorts, but I always lose.
I've never seen the man in the suit again, but I think about him from time to time. I sometimes think back to that day in the bookies, and the more I think about it, the more I could swear I saw him flick his wrist just before Faust's Hubris fell down.