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Temptation’s Light

Nothing is as good as it seems.

By Mark GagnonPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - December 2023
Temptation’s Light
Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

This bizarre and complex series of events started innocently enough. At three in the morning, I begrudgingly dragged my body out of a cozy, warm bed to answer nature's call. I never put on a light for this journey, preferring to use whatever moonlight is available. On my way back to bed, I spotted it. A speck of light no larger than a pinhole appeared to be shining through my bedroom wall. The phenomenon held my attention for about two seconds, then I went back to sleep.

The next morning, while rushing to get ready for work, I remembered the weird light and walked over to the solid blank wall. Searching for cracks or any irregularities that might let in the light, I found nothing unusual. Thinking there must be a simple explanation, I dismissed the incident and rushed off to work. As expected, my workday started with snags followed by complications which developed into problems. Just another typical day at a job I hated.

Finally, with the last phone call answered, and the last email sent, I headed for home thinking, only four more days until the weekend. It was already dark outside when I opened the door to my apartment. Normally, being a small one-bedroom flat with few windows, my place is pitch black before I flick on the lights, but not tonight. Even though the lights were still off, I could see a faint glow coming from my bedroom. I moved my hand away from the light switch, leaving it off, and went to investigate.

The light was emanating from the same blank wall, but instead of a pinprick, it was the size of a quarter. I scanned the room for items that might be reflecting moonlight but came up empty. The light had to be coming directly from the wall itself. Being a naturally curious person, it tempted me to put my finger over the light source. I reached out to do just that when there was a knock at my front door.

Flicking on the lights as I went, I answered the door. Chuck, my neighbor from down the hall, told me he had organized a poker night and wanted me to come join him. It sounded like more fun than tracking the source of a weird light. I closed the door and went to play cards. We all had fun, but I had the most fun coming home with my pockets full of other people’s money. If I were being honest, I would love to quit my job and become a professional card player. Unfortunately, I’m too practical for that.

A few too many beers plus a successful night at cards had caused me to forget about the light until I reentered my apartment. My bedroom was now awash in light. It both terrified me and called to me. Throwing caution to the wind, I strode purposefully toward my room. What started as a pinhole of light now encompassed the entire wall. As I stared at this glowing phenomenon, a scene unfolded before me.

My pseudo-self was sitting at a high-stakes poker table with a mound of chips in front of me/him. I was playing Texas Hold’em against some of the best players in the world. In my hand was a pair of aces with an ace and a pair of tens on the table. The fourth card on the table was the eight of spades. With one card left to be turned, I already had a full house, which is normally a winning hand. The player across from me blurted out, “All In,” and pushed his equally enormous pile of chips to the center of the table. The only hands that could beat mine were four of a kind or a straight flush. If the last card was an ace, I was golden. If it wasn’t, the odds were still with me. I held my breath, waiting for the alternate me to decide.

That’s when it happened. The dealer looked past everyone at the table and directly at me.

“What’s it gonna be, bud? Are you in or out?”

Flustered by the unexpected question, I hesitated and then asked, “What do I win and what will I lose?”

“I thought you were a gambler, bud. If you win, you get it all: the money, the fame, and the life you’ve always dreamed of. If you lose, you lose everything: your job, your house, and of course your money.” The light pulsed with increased intensity, waiting for my answer.

“All in!”

The dealer flipped the last card. Another ten, which meant three on the table, plus the one ten in his hand, gave my opponent four of a kind.

Suddenly, I was shivering in the cold, with every muscle in my body stiff and sore. A sleeping bag in the middle of a homeless camp had replaced my apartment. I was hungry and broke with no prospect for a job. This is now my life.


About the Creator

Mark Gagnon

I have spent most of my life traveling the US and abroad. Now it's time to create what I hope are interesting fictional stories.

I have 2 books on Amazon, Mitigating Circumstances and Short Stories for Open Minds.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

Add your insights

Comments (18)

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  • Lamar Wiggins3 months ago

    I would be in the same position, lol. I'm a gambler and will always bet with a full house. Unfortunately, like the character thought, it's still a beatable hand. Ugh!!! Great story!!! Now I want to go to the casino but its 25 miles away.

  • Tina D'Angelo3 months ago

    YES!! Congratulations, Mark!

  • Naveed 3 months ago

    Great job! Keep up the fantastic work—congratulations!

  • Yayyyyy so happy this got a Top Story! Congratulations!

  • Donna Fox (HKB)3 months ago

    Mark this was so captivating, what a tragic end to an unexpected adventure!! Great work and congrats on Top Story!

  • Cathy holmes3 months ago

    Great story, Mark. Next time I see a beam of light in my room, I'm moving out. Congrats on the TS.

  • Donna Renee3 months ago

    Congrats on the Top Story!! This was unnerving in a good way!!

  • JBaz3 months ago

    Back to say a well done congratulations this is excellent

  • Dana Crandell3 months ago

    Now I'm going to be checking my bedroom wall at night. This was captivating from the start and ended with a description of my luck at the poker table - which is why I don't play. lol Great job, Mark!

  • Celia in Underland3 months ago

    Such a great metaphor for life's lottery. Brilliant and so glad it got Top story -congratulations 🤍

  • Harun rashid3 months ago

    You're doing amazing work—keep it up, congratulations!

  • Shirley Belk3 months ago

    Life is like a poker table, for sure. But addictions are always predictable. I hear Kenny Rogers in the background, now. Enjoyed your story!

  • Omggg, that's soooo scaryyyy! I don't know why but losing my home would be like the scariest shit ever! Thank goodness I don't gamble and never will. Loved your story!

  • Tina D'Angelo3 months ago

    You can always move up North with Bob and I! Loved it- as always

  • Mother Combs3 months ago

    That was awesome. I loved the twist, Mark.

  • Jay Kantor3 months ago

    Hi-M ~ Fun: My Twin actually 'Donates' playing in the world series of poker events ~ I count coupons...Hmm! I often wonder how you pick so many 'Special' Topics to write about? I've just written a 'Short' about that; stand in line for your royalties. j-bud

  • JBaz3 months ago

    Unexpected yet, such is Gambling. Your story drew me in teasing me with each growth of light, that was a great move on your part.

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