the four grim men in dark suits and ties step smartly into the tiny back room, sliding into place around the green felt table with a deck of cards in its center, circled by the light of the lamp hanging low above it. a petit, dark haired lady gracefully walks in after them carrying a tray holding four neat colour-coded stacks, and sets one before each of the men before leaving the room, the door closing and only the grinding of a worn deadbolt piercing the silence.
the first man picks up the cards, and time slows to a crawl as he shuffles, the cards slowly arcing through the air, gliding into place as the deck is slowly rolled, gleaming in the dim light, and cut slowly before the process is repeated.
each card is flicked to one of the men, the room and the faces of the men spinning around it as it floats through the stale air until it lands with a gentle, fatal thump.
then time turns back to full pace, then faster, then faster as the game begins, the four figures stationary even as the table spins round and around behind them, cards landing and folding, chips rising and falling.
and then time turns back to its regular grace. the stacks are almost evenly low, except for the first man: he gathers his cards, and as he registers the two aces peaking up at him the light begins to flicker, and a low vibration begins to shake the table and chairs.
there is a moment in which nobody dares to breath, as the vibrations turn more and more violent and then the men are forced out of their chairs, the cards and chips leaping about as the light jangles on its parabolic arc, lighting the action in fits and starts. and just as suddenly as it began, it ends. the lamp slowly rocks itself still, the men right their chairs and take their seats without any regard to the chips and the cards strewn about the table and floor.
"whyyy have you sssummoned me?" hissed a whispered voice, seeming to come from the center of the table. "whaaat wasss my crime?" the voice said again, now sounding faintly louder as an unholy mist began to form in the lamp's light, rippling in circles and slowly forming patterns, faces, then one face that spoke in regular tones: "you have woken me, my lords, and i hear and obey".