There are 53,644,747,765,488,792,839,237,440,000 possible deals of bridge from a 52-card deck to four players, at thirteen cards each hand. The probability of getting a Yarborough is 1827 to 1, and the probability of both members of a partnership getting a Yarborough is 546,000,000 to 1. The odds of receiving a perfect hand are 169,066,442 to 1 and the odds of every player receiving one are 2,235,197,406,895,366,368,301,559,999 to 1.

Bridge goes big.

Once every year, on January first, I receive a letter. The letter informs me how much time I have left in my sentence, which isn't a completely rigid number. Nowadays I manage to reduce it by about one and one quarter decades every year. The worst letter I ever got was my tenth. It told me that I had only lost thirty-two minutes from my time here. But my best? My best letter was from the year 2002. It said that I had erased one hundred years exactly from the time I must spend chained to this Library.

I don't know who sends them. I knew at first, but it's changed now, a thousand times or more. The ones who send the letters are not ageless as I or my companions are. The only thing that is ever the same is the signature, which only consists of those five horrible, horrible words.

This is where tragedy begins.

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