It doesn’t seem like you’re ready. Take the blindfold off? You can see better.

The room is quite dark. The only visible light is a small lamp on a desk that sits before me. My hands are tied behind my back. I am sitting in what feels like a wooden chair. The light is shining on a deck of cards. A voice calls out to me. “I will unleash you. Don’t play any games but my own.” I can’t tell if the voice is real, or if it is just in my mind.

Behind my back, I feel the rope suddenly come loose. The cards are now spread in a specific order. I’m playing Solitaire. “Play by my rules. You lose your game, you die.” I nod in unwilling agreement.

One. One, two. One, two, three. One, two, three, four. The cards are placed in their usual order.

The cards are random. Queen, four, eight, four, seven, two, nine. Red, red, red, black, black, red, black. I place the red eight on the black nine. A red six appears from where the eight was. I place the six on the seven. “Good. You’re playing well.” The voice says.

I have no playable cards. I flip the first card in the stock. It’s a ten. “First mistake has been made.” The voice says. I look back at the cards, and I see the black seven. I then look at the red eight. I place the seven on the eight.

I flip the next card in the stock. It’s a black seven. Not playable. I flip once again. Red five. Not playable. Again, I flip. Red two. “Are you having trouble? We can always try again.” The cards all form together into a single deck. They are then shuffled, and placed in the Solitaire formation.

Black queen, black seven, black seven, black Jack, black three, black six, and red six. “Have fun with your new deck.” I can feel the sinister smile in the voice.

I place the red six on the second black seven. A red six appears from where the previous card was. I place that six on the first black seven. A red ace appears. “Oh, boy. Have fun with that.” I place it above the spreaded deck.

A red queen appears. I place the black Jack on it. A red four appears from the spot. “You can always give up, Spider.” The voice calls.

I flip a card from the stock. Black king. I flip. Red two. Again, I flip. Black king. Another time, I flip. Red nine. “Close, but not close enough. Would you like to restart, or would you like to continue flipping the stock?” I roll my eyes, and I flip the next card. Red eight. “You could almost use that, but the cards aren’t in the right places. Poor you.” The voice gives a chuckle.

I flip the stock, hoping for the next card to be my lucky one. It isn’t. Black queen. I hope for the next. Once again, not my luck. Black nine. For one more time, I flip. Black three. I sigh with relief as I place it on the red four.

I remember a two being flipped previously in the stock, so I flip and search for it. I come across a red ace in my flipping, and I place it in its spot. I also come across a black two, and I place it above the red three. I continue flipping.

I find a red Jack, and I place it on the black queen. Right after, I find a black ten. I place it on the previous Jack. In my next flip, I find a red ten. I place it on my black Jack from early on. I find a red five, and I place it on my black six. I find a black four, which I place on the five. I look at the red three from before, and I place it on the four. A black five appears, and I place my red four on it. A black eight appears. I have no use for it. I continue scrolling through the stock.

In the stock, I find a red seven. I place it on my eight, then my black six. A red Jack appears.

I reach the end of my stock, so I go back to the beginning. I find a red two, which I place on my black three. “Tick… Tock… Tick… Tock…” The voice taunts me. A bead of sweat rolls down my forehead. I don’t know what will happen. I don’t know why I’m here.

I find a red nine, which I place on my black ten. I then place the long list of cards that begins with black ten on the nine. A black five appears. I continue looking through the stock.

“I am honestly surprised you haven’t noticed. Look at your five from before. Look at your sixes.” The five is black. The sixes are red. I place the on the six. A red ten appears. I continue searching. I find a red nine, which I place. I find a red king, which I place in the empty space. I place the long list of cards with the black queen on it. I find another red king, which I place in the new empty space. I restart the stock.

I find a red eight, which I place. I place my list with seven on the eight. A red eight appears. The other seven is placed on it. A black nine appears, which is soon covered. A black eight appears. Useless as of now. I place the nine and list on a ten.

I look back at a black king in the stock, which I place in the new empty spot. The red queen with a list is placed on the king. A black ace appears, which I place in its spot. A red four appears, placed on the five. Back to the stock. “You’re doing well, hatchling.” The voice says.

I place my red ten with a list of cards on a black Jack. A red three on a black four. Red seven on black eight. Black six on red seven. Red five on black six. Black ace in its spot. Back to the stock. “You’re nearly there.” The voice says.

I call out to the voice. “Why are you doing this? What are you going to do to me?”

“I shan’t answer foolish questions. Continue.” The voice responds. I look back at the set. A black queen is placed on a red king. A red Jack is places on the black queen. A red two appears from under it, which is placed on a three. I place the black ten from before on the red Jack. Good. A red nine appears. I place it on the ten.

A screen in the table appears. It says “auto-collect.” I tap the digital button. The cards begin moving into the ace pile in a specific pattern. “Congratulations. You have won.” I feel relief on my ankles. Chains have unlatched from me so I could move. I stand, and a door opened in the dark room. I walk through. “Not all winners truly win.” I see red.

The end.