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Angela was the coolest supervisor I’ve ever had. At the time, we were working at a little advertising startup called Digital Marketing Technologies, or just DMT. She was a graphic designer and I was hired out of College to manage Google ad accounts. But to Brad, none of that mattered. Brad was the owner and only salesman of our little startup. A balding, late thirties wannabe celebrity, he envisioned himself as the next Gary Vee. So much so that he regarded his LinkedIn self promotional videos as more important than his clients. He was a good salesman, but he had nothing even remotely approaching anything resembling knowledge on how to effectively run a business. Case in point, almost all of the staff who wasn’t strictly video, were designated as ‘graphic designers’ whether or not they actually were one. That was the bucket I currently fell in. Brad had tossed me into that position after jerking me around his company as an intern for the better part of a year, and treating me like absolute garbage. At first, I took it with a smile, figuring that’s just how it was. While I was working under Angela though, she made it abundantly clear just how fucked up Brad actually was. Being a young white man, with little experience, I didn’t see the rampant sexism, barely subdued racism and ethically dubious business practices that defined Brad. He hid it well for the most part under his fantastical razzle dazzle of technobabble and pompous self importance. He paraded around like a rock star, hosting $10,000 seminars in Toronto that no one came to, and uploading what he considered to be nuggets of marketing genius, most which were barely more than drunken ramblings. He was a sham and Angela saw right through him, and she made sure he didn’t try and fuck over his own employees. Brad’s startup was already circling the drain. His VP, Craig had quit in a rage about a month ago, followed by his assistant Janice. With the structure of his upper management compromised, he’d made the crucial mistake of bringing in Jake. Jake was Brad’s biggest fan. A mechanic by trade, who sold juice for a multi level marketing scheme on the side, his ‘job application’ had been an overlong fan letter that Janice had shared with us just before she left. While Brad didn’t openly call him Craig’s replacement, that was basically what he was.I would have felt bad for him. An inexperienced Yes Man getting put into a role he couldn’t possibly fill. Maybe I could have even related, but Jake had one fundamental flaw. He was every bit the asshole that Brad was, and something of a creep to boot. He stared at people too long, smiled too wide and acted so condescendingly friendly. He’d ask the stupidest questions in a tone that implied that YOU were the idiot who didn’t know what was going on, not the other way around. Like Brad, he fancied himself a Marketing guru. He even had his own website that was essentially a blank screen with a link to his merch store. Yes, he had a merch store. No, no one ever bought anything off of it. His one redeeming quality was that he was about as dumb as a box of rocks, and it was almost pathetically easy to slip stealth insults into casual conversation with him. So, to put a lid on it all, DMT was already a rapidly sinking dumpster fire of a company, with more problems than I have time to list. Being the ‘genius’ that he was however, Brad had a fix. Since the holidays were coming around, and I’m pretty sure it was impossible not to notice that his modest staff all hated him, Brad elected to throw the Christmas party early, and he wanted to pull out all the stops. He booked everyone individual hotel rooms in Niagara Falls for a Thursday-Friday night of partying. To Brad, that meant enough alcohol to kill most living things and gambling away that years profits. The idea was not a popular one… But, most of us stuck it out, hoping that maybe, just maybe it wouldn’t suck. It did. Angela and I had driven down together, and suffered through the disappointment together. I wouldn’t call that Thursday night much of a Christmas party, as much as a disorganized bender. We all watched Brad knock back drink after drink, getting louder and more obnoxious. Given that it was a Thursday in November, very little was open late, and the evening barely lasted until around 10 before Brad decided it was time to hit the casinos! I bowed out at that point. Gambling never interested me, and I had absolutely zero interest in watching Brad get hammered and waste more money that he probably didn’t have. He didn’t take that so well. “Come on, Greg!” he slurred, just outside the Fallsview Casino. “Okay, I’ll tell you what. I’ll stake you. If you win, it’s yours man!” “No thanks, it wouldn’t feel right to gamble with your money.” I said. “Okay well… Okay… What about a years payroll, right?” He looked around at the others with us. I saw Angela’s brow crinkle in disgust. “Let’s just pool it, and see where we get?!” No one took him up on that offer, and he waved it off, enthusiastically going to feed another of his many addictions. According to Angela when I talked to her the next morning, it had gone about as well as expected. Brad hadn’t gone broke, but he had needed Jake to carry him back to his hotel room. Angela herself had left shortly after I did and only got that information from one of the other ‘Graphic Designers’ Leanne. As soon as we had the chance to leave, Angela and I were in my car and headed back to Hamilton. “You know, you’d think he would’ve taken the hint that none of us wanted to go, but he did it, and then he wonders why no one had a good time. It’s Niagara Falls at midnight on a Thursday. Of course nothing was open!” Angela said as we drove. “Well, least we got free food.” I said, it was just about the biggest and only positive aspect of the event. Angela scoffed. “Yeah… Funny how he ran out on the bill and made Jake pay.” I hadn’t noticed that, but I still believed it. She looked down at her phone, checking a game she was playing on it, before pausing. “Oh shoot, hey, do you mind if we make a quick stop?” “Not at all, why what’s up?” “I figure we’re in wine country, right? I wanted to pick up some ice wine for my Mom, I didn’t really get the chance while we were in town.” “I don’t really see why not.” I said, “Google it, lemme know if there’s a place nearby.” She did, and sure enough there was a place a few exits ahead. “Looks like the only one open today…” She murmured, “Greystone Winerys.” She scrolled through their website for a bit, as the GPS told me where to go in a soothing British accent. The exit led me to a narrow backroad. On either side of us, all I could see was empty farmland and sparsely populated trees. No sign of anything resembling a winery. “How much further?” I asked, and she checked her phone. “Says about fifteen minutes… I dunno, it’s acting up.” I scanned the horizon for any indication of a driveway or something. But the road was just a straight unbroken line through empty lifeless land. The only sign of civilization was the phone lines on the side of the road. “Up ahead!” Angela said, just when I thought I saw something past a patch of trees. The turn she indicated led us to a worn out, empty parking lot. A skeletal gazebo sat in the middle of it, amongst patches of snow. The building in front of that gazebo was old and looked almost Victorian. Behind it, I could see what a vineyard that looked strangely empty. “This is the place.” Angela said, as I parked my car. I couldn’t help but admire that creepy parking lot. I snapped a photo of it, before following her to the building where she was trying the door. “Locked.” She said, and frowned, “Maybe they aren’t open then.” She checked her phone again, since there were no listed hours. “Google probably just lists their summer hours.” I said, “This place has to be abandoned right now.” “Yeah… Maybe I’ll stop off at a liquor store or something then. They might have some there.” Angela seemed to shrug it off, and we headed back to the car after our very brief little adventure. We were barely halfway there when I saw a familiar bright orange Corvette round the corner into the parking lot. I actually felt disappointment upon seeing it. The Corvette sped into a parking spot right beside my SUV, and Brad got out wearing the biggest grin on his face. “Hey! What are you guys doing here!” Jake got out of the passenger seat, as Brad approached us. Angela looked like she had to fight to keep from rolling her eyes and groaning in disappointment. “Keeping the party going, huh, Champ?” Brad asked playfully, and punched me on the shoulder a little too hard. “No… We were just stopping to-” “Hey, we were gonna do a wine tasting! C’mon! Join us, it’ll be fun!” That was the worst idea I had ever heard in my life, and I hated Brad even more for saying it. “I really don’t feel like it.” I said, and Jake helpfully chimed in with; “A bit of wine won’t kill you y’know, have some fun! It’ll be good for morale!” He wore the sort of smile I imagine must have physically hurt to maintain. I also felt my eyes drawn to his shirt, which naturally came from his merch store, the one that no one on the planet knew existed except for him. Shiitake Happens Real original. Brad was already pounding on the door of the winery as if the people who weren’t inside owed him money. “HEY! COME ON! WE’RE HERE FOR A WINE TASTING!” He yelled. Amazingly, no one answered! Who’d have guessed? “They’re closed.” Angela said, “We already tried.” “But Google says they’re open!” Jake chirped. “And no one’s here, so they’re closed.” Angela replied. Jake didn’t take the hint. “But Google says-” He started to repeat, but he was thankfully cut off by a gruff voice behind us. “We’re closed.” A man had come around the side of the building. He looked gruff and wore wading overalls. “Finally…” Brad murmured under his breath, “We’re here for a wine tasting!” “Those are in the summer.” The man replied, “We’re closed for the season.” “But you have wine, right?” Brad asked. The man frowned. “We do… But we’re closed.” “Well, obviously not entirely or you wouldn’t be here.” Brad said, and took out his wallet, “Look. We’re here for a wine tasting. For four…” I started to protest, but Jake had to cut me off, to avenge the stupid sentence he didn’t get to finish earlier. Angela sighed in exasperation. “Yes sir, four please!” Brad took a handful of bills I didn’t think he actually had, and offered them to the man. “Come on, it’s fine!” He assured the man. The Man just stared at him. He looked at Brad, then at Jake, then finally at Angela and I. He took the money and jammed it into one of his pockets. “Come on then… I suppose I can arrange something since you came all this way. Lemme just call Mr. Greystone.” He marched off towards the back of the building, fumbling with his cell phone and Brad followed him. “I told you it was open!” Jake said smugly, as if Brad hadn’t just begged and bribed the man to give us a wine tasting. Angela and I stayed put for a moment. “Fuck it, let’s just go.” She said. Me, misconstruing that, took a weary step forward to follow. She hesitated for a moment, before going after me. She didn’t bother correcting herself. The man led us to a long barn out behind the vineyard. Going through the empty grapevines felt a little unsettling, and as we headed out towards the barn, I heard the man and Brad talking. “So, where abouts are you folks from?” He asked. “Well, I’m from Texas originally, but I settled down here. Jake, you’re from… What, Oshawa? Hey Greg! What’s that town you live in again? Brantford? Our office is in Vaughan and this guy commutes from Brantford, can you believe that?” I didn’t answer, even though he got it right. Angela trailed behind us, being ignored by Brad, but I could tell she was furious to be caught up in this. “He’s supposed to be meeting with a client.” She said, once Jake and Brad were far enough ahead of us, “That’s where he said he was going this morning. Did you smell the booze on him?” I hadn’t, but it wasn’t hard to guess that Brad was drunk. “This is why he keeps losing business.” She said. We’d had conversations like this countless times before. I knew Angela had even brought it up with Brad, and he’d laughed it off. The Man opened the barn door, letting us inside. “I assume you’d like the tour first.” He said coolly. “Hell yes we want the tour!” Brad said and immediately stepped inside, followed by the rest of us. The Man followed us in, and closed the door behind us. As soon as he did, we heard another man speak. “So, you’re the ones Archie found out front?”The speaker was a younger man in similar wading overalls. He had a full beard and sparkling blue eyes. His handshake was firm. “I’m Isaac Greystone, I own the place. Archie tells me you were looking for a tour?” “That and a tasting!” Brad said, and hastily introduced myself and Jake. He didn’t even bother introducing Angela. “Well then, it’s a pleasure to meet you all. You just came at a really exciting time. We’re not open to the public right now, but I figure since you’re offering to pay for it, I might as well show you around, right?” “Damn right.” Brad said, “A man after my own heart.” Isaac tipped a thousand watt smile that almost rivaled Jakes. “Well, let’s get started… I suppose you know how ice wine is made, right? How we freeze the grapes, and press them to make sure our wine is concentrated. It takes a little longer to ferment, but the final product is so, so worth it.” He led us deeper into the barn. Massive machinery worked on the frozen grapes around us, and it was almost too loud to hear him speak clearly as he walked Brad and Jake through the process. I barely paid any attention, hoping we could just get this over with as soon as possible and looking for the earliest opportunity to make an excuse to leave. “We just finished our harvest this year!” Isaac said, “So the wine we’re making now is going to keep us stocked for the next year or so. It’s not going to be ready quite yet, but we’ve still got some samples!” “Well bring them out then!” Brad said, “Let’s taste these bad boys!” Isaacs grin never faded, and he led us to a side room. “I think you’re gonna love this.” He said, “We have a bit of a special fermenting technique, I can’t say too much about it right now. Trade secret and all, but it gives our wine just the right amount of body and personality. It’s why Greystone is one of the top selling ice wines in the world. We even have some exclusive labels, that we make special for some of our particularly discriminating clients…” Isaac went behind a small bar, and fetched a couple of bottles of the ice wines from a fridge beneath it. He set out four glasses. “So you do special blends?” Brad asked, and traded an approving look with Jake.“See that, that is branding. That’s what having a brand is all about!” Jake nodded enthusiastically in approval. “It’s amazing branding.” I was pretty sure that had very little to do with branding. “I’ve got some samples of those right here.” Isaac said, as if he hadn’t heard a word they were saying. He held up a bottle with the Greystone logo, and a stylized wolfs head on the label. “This we manufacture for one of our best private companies. You ever heard of the Tallinn Corporation?” “No, I don’t think I have, who are they?” Brad asked. “Our best customers, that’s who. They’re Estonian, but they love us. Here. Try a glass…” He filled all four glasses, and Brad immediately snatched one up. I saw Isaac set a bucket on the counter for us to spit the wine into after tasting it. I’d never been to a wine tasting before in my life, but even I knew you weren’t supposed to actually drink it. Brad drank it. He drank it all in one big embarassing gulp. Isaac looked at him with a bit of surprise, as if he hadn’t quite expected that. “Oh Jesus, that’s brisk!” Brad said, “Here, lemme have some more of that…” Jake, for all his flaws, had the decency to drink the wine slowly. Angela didn’t drink at all. He did not however, have the decency to not make weirdly sexual moans as he enjoyed the drink. I hated it when he did that. “Greg, try that!” Brad said, as Isaac filled up another glass for him. I took a sip. Never in my life had I ever had ice wine before, but it was delicious. Easily one of the sweetest things I’d ever tasted! I spit it into the bucket. “What? You don’t like it?” Brad asked. “No, it’s delicious!” I said, “I just thought…” “Well, here’s a toast then!” Brad raised his second glass, “Hey, Angela! Come on! Don’t be a spoilsport.” Angela just glared at him, as if to ask ‘Do you know what the fuck you’re even doing right now?’ She set her glass down. “No thanks.” “Alright… Fine, whatever.” Brad said, shrugging it off. He tossed back the glass, and Jake attempted to do the same. I just took another sip and swallowed it. I guessed it would’ve been a shame to let it go to waste. “That’s got kick…” Brad murmured. I watched as Angela headed towards the door. “I think I’m just gonna wait by the car.” She said, and I understood that she wanted to get out of there. I did too. “Greg, have some more!” Brad urged me. Angela was waiting by the door, before sighing and stepping out. I didn’t, and set my glass down. “I think I’m good, actually. Angela’s got an appointment and we should get going.” “Oh boo!” Brad said, “You can be a bit late, come on!” “We’re already late.” Angela said, “Thanks for everything, Brad. Really. See you on Monday.” She left abruptly and I followed. “Who the hell does he even think he is?” She growled as she stormed towards the exit to the barn. “Seriously, blowing off his meetings to go and get drunk? What an idiot!” I tried to keep up with her, but was starting to feel a little woozy. “Yeah, he’s a prick.” I murmured. Angela stopped in her tracks and looked back at me. “Hey, you alright?” “I think so.” I said. I could see the door to the barn, and the man who’d led us in, Archie, still standing out front of it. “How strong was that wine?” I asked. “It’s wine. There’s no way you’re drunk!” I took another few steps forwards before my legs gave out from under me and I hit the ground. Angela was on top of my immediately. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Greg, Greg, are you alright?” My vision was going hazy, and the last thing I remember was seeing Archie coming up behind Angela and raising something over his head. I woke up to someone shaking me. “Greg! Wake up, Goddamn you!” I recognized the voice was Angela’s, and slowly as I came to, I could see her standing over me. “Finally… I was beginning to think you weren’t waking up.” “I’m awake…” I murmured, “What happened?” “You passed out and someone hit me.” Angela replied, “We’re in deep shit, Greg… Look!” My vision was groggy at first, but as I slowly pieced together my surroundings, I began to feel a creeping fear seep into my gut. We were in a cell, and outside of those bars, was a sight I wish I’d never seen. The machinery around us looked similar to what I’d seen before, but this was a completely different part of the factory. This looked more like a butcher shop. I could see bodies, human bodies suspended from the ceiling. Their throats had all been cut, and I watched the blood dripping into one of six swimming pool sized mixing vats full of ice wine beneath them, and I suddenly felt sick. That was what I’d been drinking with Brad and Jake… Just above the surface of the wine in each vat, a large propeller spun slowly, making sure that horrible concoction of blood and wine was evenly mixed. I patted my pockets. No sign of my wallet, keys or cell phone. Of course they’d taken those. “Angela? Greg?”Jake sounded like he was in the next cell over, and I’d never heard him so terrified in my life. “What the hell happened!” I asked. “I don’t know! We were drinking the wine, and then Brad was on the floor and… Jesus Christ, did they drug us?” That was the most logical explanation, wasn’t it? “Let’s just shut up, and figure a way out of here!” Angela said, “Jake, Brad’s in there with you, right?” “No! They took him! I don’t know where! Jesus Christ, we need to get out of here! D-do you see the vat?” Angela didn’t reply, but we’d all seen it, and we all knew that. She reached up towards her hair, taking out a hairpin. Something that whoever had emptied our pockets had missed. “I might be able to get this lock…” She murmured, and immediately set to work on it. “Are you picking it? Come on, come on, come on…” Jake groaned, “Hurryyyyy.” Angela worked diligently, before pausing suddenly, and putting her tools into her pockets. I heard the voices down the hall too. “We’ll get them processed today and have this whole thing taken care of. Later on I’ll call our usual guy to get the cars... ” I recognized the voice as Isaacs, and heard his footsteps getting closer. “Ah, you’re awake!” He said. It sounded like he’d stopped in front of Jake’s cell. “What the hell do you want from us?!” I heard Jake say, “You can’t just keep us here! Where’s Brad!?” “Well, like I said you’ve come at an interesting time…” Isaac replied. His tone was even and calm. “Usually, we buy our secret ingredient from the Tallinn Corporation. They deal in that sort of thing mostly. People go missing in the old Soviet Union all the time and no one cares. So we don’t really hurt anyone and we get a better tasting product! But, we do care a lot about quality and we’d like to keep all our ingredients locally sourced, if you catch my meaning.” “W-what the hell…?” It sounded like Jake was crying and Isaac chuckled. “You’ll see soon enough… Shock him, let’s get him processed.” I heard Jake scream as he was tased, and the sound of the cell door opening. Archie and another worker carried Jake past our cell. As they passed, Isaac stepped into our view. “Hey there.” He said smoothly, “I understand if you’re not excited to be in this position… I got the feeling you two didn’t really want to get dragged into this.” “No shit!” Angela snapped, “Where are you taking him?” “To become part of the Greystone legacy.” Isaac teased, and looked up towards the bodies hanging above the mixing vats. “It’s a slow process, but quality takes time… Anyways, I wanted to say, before you get angry, that I am sorry you got dragged into this.” He smiled, and walked away from us, following the others. Angela was silent for a bit, listening to his footsteps fade. When she was sure he was gone, she got the hair clip out of her pocket, and worked on the lock with renewed vigor. It didn’t take long until we heard the click of the lock, but Angela didn’t open it. It didn’t take me long to see why. Archie, his associate and Jake came into view again, this time on a catwalk above the nearest mixing vat. Jake was still unconscious, which made it easy to bind his ankles and place a hanging hook through the rope. “W-what…” Jake’s voice was faint and echoed from the distance, but he was starting to come to. He let out a startled yelp as the hook yanked him up just like the other bodies. “Wait, WAIT, WAITWAITWA-” He didn’t get to finish his pleasing. Archie pulled a knife from his overalls, and opened his throat. Jake squirmed and choked out his death rattle, blood pouring over his face and dripping into the vat below. Shiitake happens. The other worker took a long pole, and used it to push Jake out towards the other bodies, right over the center of the mixing vat. We watched as they prodded the others, before choosing a few to pull towards them and take down. As soon as they were gone, she opened the door to our cell. “We’re leaving.” She said curtly. I didn’t argue. For a moment, I thought about Brad, but Jake had said they’d already taken him. He was probably dead, and I could have cared less! Neither of us knew which way to go, but we opted for the way that Archie and the other worker hadn’t taken Jake. That way led to a hall that seemed impossibly long, and on either side were massive chilled vats of Ice Wine. I tried not to think about just how many people had died to fill these… But the thought still came.How many people around the world were unknowingly drinking human blood in their wine? How many people did it knowingly? Down the hall, I heard a voice, and paused.I ducked into the narrow space between one of the vats, and I saw Angela doing the same across from me. “50% in under three months, now that is unprecedented growth, but it’s doable! I’ve done it. Not everyone can, but if you’ve got the product, you’ve got the brand, and you’ve got the know how, it’s already done!” That was Brad’s voice! I had to peek out from behind my vat, and I saw him and Isaac passing through the hall in front of us, side by side like old friends. “It’s a bold claim.” Isaac said. I wasn’t sure if he was impressed or not, “But you sound like you can back it up.” “Dude, if you just let me show you my numbers, gimme a phone, something. I won’t try anything! But I’m telling you, you’re making the right call. Those other guys? Fuck ‘em. They’re disposable, I mean, hell. I was honestly looking for a chance to get rid of Angela anyways. But me, I’m the one you wanna keep. I get it, this whole operation here, it’s about adding value to your brand. What you’re doing gives the wine it's signature flavor, and it’s honestly kinda hardcore! I dig that! But you and I both know, that I can give you more value right here, like this, then I would in a bottle of wine.” Isaac and his workers were going to slaughter us for wine, and Brad was trying to fucking sell them on his service? I sincerely hoped someone would show up to drag Brad off to the same fate Jake had met, but I didn’t get that wish. “Well, if you’re half of what you claim… Maybe you’d be worth it.” Isaac said thoughtfully. He idly played with his beard. “Let’s say I kept you around, huh? I’m gonna need to make sure you don’t try anything. I’ll give you what you need to work. Just work. Nothing else. You let me down, and you’re going in with the next batch.” “Hey, that’s A-okay with me! I just want the chance!” Brad said, grinning from ear to ear, “Trust me. You and me are gonna do some amazing shit.” Isaac nodded slowly, and from my vantage point, I could see the rage on Angela’s face, but she stayed still. “HEY! CELL’S EMPTY!” Archie’s voice cut through the hall, and both Brad and Isaac looked up suddenly. “They’re out. Find them.” He said, “They can’t be far!” Isaac was coming towards us again, with Brad trailing behind him. I heard Archie coming up from the opposite direction, and I realized that sooner or later, one of them was going to see us. I think Angela knew it too. She moved suddenly, running for her life, and I did the same, but I wasn’t as fast. She slipped past Brad easily enough, but I didn’t get past Isaac. He grabbed me, and I felt Archie grabbing me too. Both of them wrestled me to the ground, and the last thing I remember was a terrible jolt of electricity before everything went black. I woke up in the hall. I don’t know how long later. Archie and another worker had me draped over their shoulders, and dragged me slowly. Ahead of me, I saw Isaac. “Shock him again.” Isaac said. I hadn’t even given any indicator that I was awake, but Archie didn’t waste any time. I didn’t pass out this time, but I wasn’t in any condition to fight. “I know you probably think this is barbaric.” Isaac said, still not looking at me, “It’s… well, an old family tradition. One gets desensitized to it. But as heinous as this all must seem, I need you to understand that this really does make it a superior product! The blood sweetens the wine, and the corpses do wonders for the vineyard. Every year, we have a bountiful harvest. It’s because of this that we’re the best, and if your friend Brad delivers on his promise, we might even be the biggest.” Up ahead, I saw the hanging bodies… But now they were much closer to eye level. “I wouldn’t take it personally.” Isaac said, and stopped, letting us pass him. “Make it quick for this one!” He ordered, “Suffering taints the wine.” With that, I heard him walking away. We were at one of the vats, and Archie shocked me one last time. I felt his associate starting to tie my legs together. Archie pulled the knife from his overalls. “It’s never personal, kid.” He said gruffly. I looked at the knife, my heart racing as I waited for what was coming. Then I heard the worker behind me scream, along with a dull thud. Archie looked up, and I caught a glimpse of Angela behind us. She was holding a shovel, and swung it ruthlessly at Archie’s head. It bounced off his shoulder and he grunted in pain. I didn’t have much time to react, but by God I made the most of it! I grabbed him by the wrist, and jerked his arm towards me, then I sank my teeth into the skin. His grip on the knife loosened, and I tore it out of his hands. Archie kicked out blindly at Angela when she tried to hit him with the shovel again. He uselessly slapped at me to try and keep me away from him, but I had the knife now, and I put it in his throat. It was very personal. Archie twitched, eyes looking up at me in surprise, but as the blood trickled out of his throat, his body went limp. I was panting heavily, and looked over at Angela. The worker she’d hit lay on the ground, unconscious or dead. I didn’t care which. “Are you alright?” She asked, and I absentmindedly nodded, before backing away from Archie’s body. “I just killed this guy…” “Yeah. I guess you did…” Angela replied, “Take the knife, we need to go and…” She swallowed, “We might need it.” I didn’t want to touch that knife. I didn’t even want to look at Archie. I wanted to scream and cry and lose my shit, but I did what she said. It came out easier than I expected. Angela started down the hall again, and I followed, still a little shell shocked from committing a murder! “After I split off from you, I found what I’m pretty sure was Isaacs office.” Angela said, “Here, we needed these.” I saw her reaching into her pocket for my car keys and wallet. “Our phones were missing. Probably broken.” “Shit… We can’t call for help then?” “Which is why we need to focus on getting the hell out of here.” Angela replied, We moved silently. For the time being, there was no sign of any other employees, but we didn’t want to risk it. We both knew there was more than Archie and his associate lurking around. In a few moments, we’d made it back to the lower level of the mixer room. “I think the door to the main factory is down that way.” Angela said, “We just need to find it, and-” A gunshot cut her off. She ducked, and looked around for the source. I saw it before she did, and pulled her towards one of the vats. We ducked beneath it to avoid another shot. “Found you!” Brad cried, “Ah shit… I guess you picked up Greg too, huh?” He held the gun professionally as he crept towards the vat we cowered behind. “Well, I’ve got enough ammo to do you both. I hope you know it’s nothing personal! But it’s honestly just me or you, and even with the… well, unusual recipe, this is still a big client! Do you have any idea what this is gonna do for DMT? Isaac gets me, man!” He was drawing nearer, but even when he had us cornered, Brad was still an idiot. The second he got close to our hiding spot, I was ready. He came into view slowly, and I lunged at him when he did, catching him off guard. The knife went into his shoulder, and I caught the gun across my face. Angela was on him next, tearing at the knife and trying to rip it out of him. Brad struggled against her, and frantically brought the butt of his gun down on her head, over and over again. He shoved Angela off of him, and she hit the ground holding the handle of the knife. The blade poked out of Brads shoulder.He grinned through gritted teeth as we took aim at her, but he wasn’t watching me. I was on my feet again and I grabbed his arm, forcing it upwards. He fired off a stray bullet, but it went harmlessly into the ceiling. Brad may have had a gun, but I was bigger than him. Angela recovered and went with the age old trick of going straight for the groin. I went for the stomach. Brads grip on his gun loosened. I watched as Angela tried to rip it from his hand. But Brad saw that coming. With a jerk of his arm, he sent the gun flying across the factory floor. I didn’t see where it landed. His elbow caught me in the face, and I barely had time to see him drive his fist into Angela’s jaw. He grabbed her by the throat, and got ready to punch again. I grabbed him from behind and tried to drag him off of her. Brad flailed helplessly, and I almost got him there, before his head slammed into my face. The first time just stunned me. The third time, I had to let go. Brad glared hatefully at us once he was free. “I shouldn’t be surprised you two are the ones I have to deal with right now. You’ve always been a poison to MY company, Angela. Since I hired you you’ve been trying to cripple MY success!” His eyes shifted to me. “And you? You’re just dead weight! I am DONE with you people! I am DONE with your disrespect!” He probably had more to say, but Angela didn’t give him the chance. She’d noticed something that Brad hadn’t. He was standing right in front of a vat. As he opened his mouth to speak again, she lunged for him, pushing him back towards it. I caught on quickly and went to help her. Between the two of us, we were able to press him right up against the vat. Angela and I traded a brief look, before I ducked down, grabbing Brad by the legs. She pushed him by the shoulders. Brad struggled, but he went into that vat of blood and wine. The mixers arm was coming around again. I know Brad saw it in the moment before it struck him over the head. I don’t know if it killed him, but the force of it pulled him into the vat entirely. Given how little of a struggle there was, I’d have guessed it just knocked him unconscious. The arm dragged him around the vat slowly, his head submerged in that disgusting mixture of blood and wine he’d been willing to murder us over. We didn’t stick around to see if he was ever going to wake up, and as far as I’m concerned, he drowned in that vat. I wish I'd said 'Cheers'. The next room was more familiar territory. This was part of what Isaac had shown us, and we sprinted for the door, and through the empty vineyard. It was starting to get dark. Halfway through it, I let myself look back. I could see people coming out of that long barn, and I didn’t wait for them to start running after me.The gazebo was up ahead, along with my car and Brad’s ugly orange coupe. I didn’t waste any time getting inside my car, and as soon as Angela and I had our doors closed, we were speeding off down our driveway, as fast as we could go. We drove until the next town over, and made it to the police station looking like hell. I’m pretty sure my statement came out as a rambling incoherent mess, but I didn’t care. I told them just about everything… except the part where I murdered Archie and helped drown Brad. If the Police believed my statement… I never found out. I heard talk of an investigation, but from what I understood, they found nothing. Not even Brad’s ugly orange coupe. DMT dissolved quickly without him. He and Jake were just considered to have disappeared. Brads so called ‘fans’ barely seemed to notice his absence.Our story never got out. I still talk with Angela on occasion, but we don’t talk about Niagara. The unspoken agreement is that we did what we had to do, to survive. We both know that, and we don’t need to remember. I almost wish we could talk about it though… I wish I could talk to her about the nightmares I’ve had of drowning in a vat of freezing cold wine. I wish I could talk to her about the anxiety I have whenever I’m alone. I wish I could tell her that I received a bottle of ice wine from Greystones Winery in the mail the other day. Because I don’t know who else to tell. I wish I knew if Isaac is congratulating me on my escape, mocking me for my inability to stop him… or warning me...
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Inspired by a recent post about Ontario casinos, here is a report on my recent trip to Caesars Windsor (Nov 1-3). First thing to note is Caesars Windsor has a legitimate, real-deal craps pit. 2 crapless craps tables and 4 craps tables. Friday night the 4 craps tables were open ($15 minimum, 1 table fluctuated between $15-25) and one crapless craps tables were open. Basically, if you wanted to play you could find a spot for a game with a decent pace of play. (This has not been my experience at Fallsview in Niagara Falls, for example, which only has 2 craps tables on the main casino floor -with only 1 table open during the day). $10 minimum tables were available Thursday night and Friday afternoon. Generally at least 2 craps tables open from 10 AM on. The crapless table opened at noon, from what I saw. Sometimes a table would be reserved for a high-roller ... the upside being when he left a fully staffed table opened up for other players. Second point is that Caesars has full 5X odds. "Full" odds allows $15 pass/come bets to take $125 odds on 6/8 and $100 odds on 5/9. So this provides a good opportunity to press up your odds on a hot roll and/or start with high odds bets. Additional odds (beyond a simple 5 X multiplier) are available on flat bets of $30, $75 (multiples of $3, generally speaking). When full 5X odds are applicable, payouts for all the numbers are the same (e.g., with $15 flat bets and max "full 5X odds" the payout for all the numbers is $165). [An old Alan Krigman column online explained "full odds" this way ... Imagine a casino with a $3 minimum, single odds and no chips with denominations under $1... On points of 6/8, $3 odds would not result in a proper payout ... therefore, single odds on points of 6/8 are $5. Similarly, $3 odds does not lead to a proper payout on points of 5/9, therefore single odds on points of 5/9 are $4. If the same casino goes to "full 5X" odds, a $3 minimum bet can now take $25 odds on the 6/8 (5 times $5 single odds) and a $3 minimum bet can now take $20 odds on the 5/9 (5 times $4 single odds) ... Scaling up from $3 results in a $15 flat bet being allowed to take $125 on the 6/8 and $100 on the 5/9]. Third point is that Caesars has the Fire bet. Fourth point. Caesars Windsor dealers are friendly and good. They do get a fair bit of craps play (from what I saw). The more experienced dealers worked the afternoon shift, with greener dealers working at night. I play an aggressive style of line bets + odds, placing the 6/8 and continuous come bets. If my 6/8 hits I (basically) full press my wager by putting odds (e.g., $10 come bet, place 6/8 $30 each, 6 hits, comes to 6, down with $50 odds, $10 come bet, $5 in the rack). My bad habits are 1) $15 hardway on the point if the point can be rolled hard (i.e., 4/10 or 6/8- open to suggestions on what hardways to bet on points of 5/9) and 2) $75 YO-ELEVEN if 2 YOs have hit consecutively (going for the trio ... 0-2 on this bet this trip). AT $10 minimum my come bets will take $50 odds (although I did scale down to double odds, with $25 odds for 6/8 at times). AT $15 minimum I'd generally take $30 odds on 4/10, $40 odds on 5/9 and $50 odds on 6/8. Sometimes just go straight to $50 odds. With $15, I'd press up my odds to the "full 5X odds" maximum on a hot streak. Lots of volatility with some bad sessions and some good sessions and escaped with a modest profit. Alas, the dealers didn't do well on my bets for them. My general tipping method (to give some tips while I'm playing) flows through my hardway bets. If one of my $15 hardway bets hits, I a press it up $5 for 4/10 (to $20) and press up $10 for 6/8 (to $25) and then throw $5 on that hardway for the dealers (and hand-in a $5 tip). I think they hit exactly 1 of these hardway bets over the whole trip. Also - when I was going for my fifth point to the Fire Bet - I needed a 4 - I had the dealers $22 inside, $3 hard 4 and place the 4 for $5 .... and .... and .... and .... 7-out immediately followed. All-in-all a good trip.
Niagara Package at Embassy Suites for June 20-27. Cost is $145-$325 depending on day
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