Having as good a hospital as Honeybrache County meant that people felt a little more at ease about taking risks. That’s why the gaming season was so popular in Honeybrache. People would come from practically across the state to compete in death-defying games of skill and luck, or at least to watch those folks that did.
Some games were certainly more good-natured than others. Dunk tanks for charity were very popular, although to give it that Honeybrache touch, oftentimes the tanks would be filled with fish that bit or an electric eel. One year there was actually a good-sized octopus, but they had to retire that almost immediately, because the wild creature drowned poor Kenneth Janson.
But dunk tanks were somewhat contrary to the purpose of the gaming season. Most of the games that were really a hit, the ones that gave Honeybrache its reputation, were the ones in which people were in direct competition with each other, putting something pretty serious on the line.
Standard games were made dangerous. Hot potato was played with a real firecracker or miniature explosive. Games that are dangerous under the tamest of circumstances were escalated exponentially. Mumblety-peg, a game of knife throwing, was made more frightening as the number of blades increased, some of which would inevitably be lit on fire.
A different crowd altogether was attracted to games that existed for the sole purpose of personal injury. Unsanctioned poker rooms could be found in certain backrooms and basements, where the players would wager body parts. The idea of losing a hand took on a much more literal meaning.
Dr. Allan Ambrose, chief physician overseeing the emergency room at Honeybrache County, just shook his head when he saw most of the cases come through his doors. He almost wished that the hospital had not somehow become so adept at reattaching limbs and extremities. Perhaps if real, lasting consequences were introduced to these yokels, they would finally take more precaution with their bodies. But then another teenager with a missing ear would be wheeled in on a stretcher, and Dr. Ambrose would sigh and go to work, instructing his staff on the ideal anesthetics to use.