Warren Murphy: The End of the Game

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  • Название:
    The End of the Game
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    Детективная фантастика / на английском языке
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    Английский
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Peril Points With voluptuous Pamela Thrushwell at his side, Remo punched out 242 on the machine, and saw the numbers replaced by letters "PLEASE TELL ME HOW WELL YOU DID." "We killed the man and the woman," said Remo. "YOU LIE. I CAN SEE YOU. YOU AND THE BIG-BREASTED BRIT TROUBLEMAKER," said the machine. "Take a hike," Remo said. Suddenly the machine's cash drawer opened. A stack of hundred dollar bills appeared. "What's this for?" "FOR YOU. WHO ARE YOU? WHAT DO YOU WANT?" "To destroy you," Remo said. " I am coming to kill you." The machine blinked as if in some sort of insane joy. Then it flashed out: "CONGRATULATIONS, WHOEVER YOU ARE. YOU ARE WORTH 50,000 POINTS." The game was on-until death turned it off... THE END OF THE GAME.

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The End of the Game

The Destroyer #60

by Richard Sapir & Warren Murphy

ISBN 0-7408-0853-2

First Peanut Press Edition

This edition published by

arrangement with

DOOMGAME

Abner Buell was world video game champion. He could annihilate anyone at any electronic contest ever devised-- including all the ones he had invented to reap billions in profit while reveling in bright bursts of perverse pleasure. Now there was only one game left for Abner to create and then conquer all opposition: a game that turned men into killer pawns, women into wantons, and the great powers of the world into dead-certain nuclear suicides.

Remo Williams, the Destroyer, and his Oriental mentor Chiun, had to pull Buell's plug before Buell punched the ultimate key to catastrophe. But how could they win out over this fiendish wizard when Buell crossed enough circuits to program Chiun to destroy the Destroyer--?

BChapter One

Waldo Hammersmith believed that none of the good things in life was free. Everything in the world cost. You paid for what you got and sometimes you paid double and sometimes you didn't get anything to begin with and still paid double.

That was what he always said. But if Waldo Hammersmith had really believed his good advice instead of using it just to cry about his misfortunes, he might one day not be looking very closely at a 38 Police Special. It would be held by a detective.

The detective would be telling him to do something illegal. Waldo Hammersmith would not believe him.

"Aw, c'mon. This has got to be a game," Waldo would say.

He would see a bright flash coming out of the barrel. He would have no time to disbelieve that he was being shot because that portion of the human anatomy that was in charge of disbelieving was covering the wall behind his blown-open head.

It was too late for Waldo. Everything was too late for Waldo because he had been played to perfection, as if someone somewhere had a schematic diagram of his soul and had pressed all the right buttons to make him do what he was supposed to do.

It had all started one wintry morning, when Waldo Hammersmith had begun to believe that he was getting something for nothing.

It came in the mail. Ordinarily, Waldo opened the bills last. But this day, he opened those envelopes first. The credit card for gas had hit almost a hundred dollars that month. He had driven his wife, Millicent, to her mother's twice. Her mother lived far out on Long Island and the Hammersmiths lived in the Bronx. Waldo grumbled over the bill, then decided there might be a small benefit in it. When he showed it to his wife, they might decide not to visit her mother that often.

There were other bills. There was heating that was too high. A general charge bill that he had thought he had held down but which had come booming back with an old charge he had forgotten. There was the rent and the partial payment on the medical insurance and the totals came to roughly twenty-five dollars more that month than he brought home in legal salary.

Waldo Hammersmith lived in terror of the Internal Revenue Service computers somehow putting those two things together. He drove a cab and while he reported most of his normal tips, he did not report what kept his nostrils barely above sea level-- those five- and ten-dollar bills he got when he would drive a passenger to any sexual delight he might want.

That was the real reason he worked the International Terminal at Kennedy. He would get both a tip from the passenger and a small cut from the brothel, and thus he did, by daily crime, barely make it. If Millicent didn't lose her job.

Waldo went through his bills like someone suspecting a cancer in his personal economy, something that eventually must be fatal but had so far been kept miraculously under control by the sudden strange lusts of Pakistanis or Nigerians waving hundred-dollar bills and looking for a good time.

He saved his Insta-Charge bill for last. It allowed him what he called his no bounce security. He could write a check for more than he had in his account and the bank treated the overdraft as a loan.

When he took it out, he was assured by the bank that it was a security blanket. But the security blanket lasted only two months before Waldo Hammersmith was at his credit limit, and he went back to bouncing checks again every so often.

In the long run, it had just been a loan, just another one that Waldo Hammersmith, forty-two, kept servicing. It seemed that out of his little cab he was servicing the entire financial world. And not quite making it.

Then he opened the Insta-Charge statement to see how much that security blanket which was no longer there was costing him to service. The number was right. More than fourteen hundred dollars. But they had the symbol wrong. They had a plus where a minus should be.

"They'll catch it," he told himself. Mistakes this good just did not happen to Waldo Hammersmith. He wondered if he should report it or let them catch it themselves.

He would ignore it. He would pretend it just did not happen, because you always paid for what you got.

But the next day he was driving his cab past the bank branch and he thought that perhaps the bank had made an error that no one would ever catch. It happened sometimes, so he parked and went into the bank.

Nervously, he presented his Insta-Charge card to the teller and asked her for his balance. And he was told that he had $1,485 in his account. Adding in his security margin, he could write a check for almost three thousand dollars.

He was sweating when he left the bank. He immediately drove to another branch of the same bank and a different teller gave him the same good news. He had almost three thousand dollars of available cash.

The bank had made a mistake. Maybe they would catch it, but it certainly wasn't his fault and he wasn't going to go to jail over it. So he paid his bills. He took Millicent out to dinner. With the three thousand dollars of available cash, he got through the month whistling.

Then came the new bank statement. Waldo Hammersmith couldn't believe the computer numbers. He had almost three thousand dollars cash in his account and a total of forty-five hundred available, counting the security blanket.

He wrote a check for four thousand dollars. He stood at the teller's window as she checked his identity, went up to the branch manager, and then returned. She had that cold face behind the window, the kind of face that had said "no" to him all his life.

"How do you want it, sir?" she asked.

"Any way you want to give it."

"Tens, twenties, fifties, hundreds?" she asked.

"Hundreds," said Waldo. The words almost choked him. He tried to look calm. He tried to look like a man who ordinarily took four thousand dollars from his bank account.

He bought himself three new suits, cleaned up every last bill, got a new television and tape deck and one of those video games that kids were supposed to enjoy.

"Waldo, where are you getting the money from?" asked Millicent. She was a dumpy fireplug of a woman who wore print dresses and hats with fruit on them. Millicent had what Waldo felt was an insatiable sexual appetite. Once a month, without fail.

Waldo performed for Millicent because she would become unbearable when denied access to manly services. He had hoped she would consider cheating on him but decided that the only man who might want her was a drunk seventeen-year-old laced with aphrodisiacs. Blind wouldn't help all that much because even hands could feel the multitude of cellulite lumps on Millicent's body.

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