At the bottom of a red chasm, the three surviving astronauts played poker. The vessel’s oxygen leaked out of their crumpled craft, rising into the Martian sky, passing the window beside the bruised and silent face of their dead colleague Muncey, who hadn’t been as lucky as the rest of them and was now the designated dealer, although they had yet to move past the first round of betting.
“I raise you the cure for cancer.”
“Under-betting the pot, eh? I’ll match that with my kid’s coin collection, raise you a first edition of The Catcher in the Rye. Nota bene, it’s got a bent corner. Earl?”
“Don’t be stupid. You’re not afraid of Nelson’s pair of threes, are you? Bet something.”
“Okay, I raise you a repaired spacecraft and another forty years of suburban life.”
“Nice try, Earl, but really best stick to what you can cover.”
“Can we please just see the flop already?”
“You gotta pay to see the flop, you know that. Come on, what’s your bid?”
Earl held up a screwdriver. “Muncey’s magic screwdriver.”
“You can’t bet a dead man’s gear. What else you got?”
“Air. I bet a thimble full of air.”
“Earl, you don’t have a thimble, and you’re almost out of air.”
“Ok, then, Jesus. I guess I’m all in.”
“Ain’t we all, Earl? Ain’t we all. All right, Muncey, Earl’s called. Deal the flop.”
But Muncey stayed dead, and in the window beside his head, the stream of air started to thin. The astronauts exchanged looks.
“I think we’re gonna need a change of dealer, boys. Just not getting the cards I’m looking for from this one.”