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Fiction Suspense Contemporary

The Lottery Office

           It was the first of the month again. Lucy woke up and dressed in the same old drab clothes she wore every other day of the month. How many times was she going to trudge down to the Lottery Office, praying that this time – for once – her name would get drawn? She had to lie and tell her friend Ben that she stopped going there. If he found out that she was still trying to go, he would make her feel even worse than she already did. Her father had been gone for five years. That’s long enough to get your doctorate. Hell, she could have gotten married and popped out two or three kids by now. Yet, here she was, in her jeans and gray hoodie, about to spend three hours driving to what Ben described as hell on Earth. If he only knew how right he was.

           Lucy wasn’t gonna go this month. She promised herself that she was done. How many times was she supposed to turn around, tail between her legs, and wait yet another thirty days to see if her number would be called? It seems like every time she is close, she ends up with the short end of the stick. Someone who was missing their great-aunt Gertrude would edge her out like they always did. Didn’t they realize how important this was to her? She had spent nearly $18,000 so far and was no closer than she was when she started.

           Just as Lucy was about to lock the door to her townhouse, her cell phone rang. It was Ben. Should she answer? If she did, he’d ask her where she was going. She didn’t want to lie to him. But she didn’t want to listen to him chastise her for going to the Lottery Office either.

           Lucy figured she may as well get this over with.

“Hello Ben.” It was quiet for a few seconds. Maybe he hung up? No such luck.

“Hey, Lucy. What’s up? I was calling to see if you wanted to go to lunch. I had to meet a client this morning and have most of the afternoon off.”

Crap. If she said yes, Ben would want to know how she got out of work long enough to meet him for lunch. If she said no, he would insist on coming by the office to bring her lunch. What to do. What to do.

“I wish I could, Ben. I’m up to my ears in depositions. My boss decided to wait until the last minute for me to transcribe them. Maybe another time.”

It was quiet. Did he buy it? Doubtful. He knew what today was. He wasn’t stupid.

“Great. I’ll just swing on by then. We can grab something at that little café next door to your building.”

Dammit. She walked right into that.

“Actually, that won’t work. I have to work through lunch. And he’s got me working in the conference room so I won’t even be able to get away for a few minutes. Maybe tomorrow?”

“Lucy, please don’t tell me you’re going there again. I knew it. When are you going to learn? How much time and money have you wasted…”

Lucy cut him off before he could get started.

“Ben, not for nothing, but it’s my time and my money. You know this is important to me. One of these days, it’s gonna be my turn. I can’t take that risk of not going.”

Lucy could envision Ben shaking his head on the other end of the phone. He just didn’t get it. But if he continued to give her a hard time, Lucy was prepared to give up on him. She didn’t need this, especially from him. He knows how much this means to her. He knows how badly she needs this. Why can’t he just support her?

“Lucy – I give up. If you’re going to continue to put yourself through this hell month in, month out, there’s nothing more I can say. Call me when you finish whatever this crazy quest of yours is. You know as well as I do that the lottery is fixed. You don’t have the kind of connections it takes to get your number called. You know it, and I know it.”

Lucy looked down and noticed that he had ended the call. That was fine with her. She was going to be late if she didn’t get moving.

She locked the door up tight and got into her car. She still drove the dark gray car she had five years ago when all this started. She had the money to get a new car but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. It was important to her that nothing change. Once she won the lottery, she’d feel better about moving on. But for now, she needed things to stay the same.

She got in the car and turned the radio down. She couldn’t stand hearing music when she was driving to the Lottery Office. She needed complete silence. That’s another thing Ben didn’t understand. The one time she brought him with her, hoping he would see why she kept going back, he insisted on turning the radio on. She tried to explain why it was a bad idea, but he just didn’t get it.

The Lottery Office wasn’t far. It was a ten- or fifteen-minute drive at most. The problem is that it wasn’t in the best of neighborhoods. There was a clear line between the safe neighborhoods and the darker ones. Of course, there was no way the people who ran the Lottery Office could move. The building, if you could call it that, had been there for more than three hundred years. If they moved, well. It just couldn’t happen, that’s all.

As Lucy approached the makeshift parking lot, she started to get nervous. Her hands were sweaty. Her ears were ringing. It was in these early moments that she wished she could turn the radio on. But she knew the radio could interfere with the lottery. It was important that the frequencies stayed clear. They made that very clear on her first visit. She could mess it up for everyone.

Lucy parked the car and made her way to the dark alleyway. She stomped her foot three times on the hatched doors that led to the basement. Not four, not two – three times. They wouldn’t let her in if she didn’t do it exactly three times.

It felt like an hour even though it was only about thirty seconds. Finally, the door opened and she could hear the chaos emanating from the basement. Sometimes, she liked to refer to it as a chamber or cave. It was like no other basement she had ever been in. It reminded her of those scenes from movies about the 1920s when people were huddled in a dark cellar-like bar, placing bets and drinking illegal cocktails. All that was missing was a Robert Redford look-a-like.

As she carefully made her way down the seven rickety steps, she looked around. The same people were here month after month. Even the ones who had won the lottery before continued to show up. That really pissed her off. How greedy were they? Was it not enough that they won once before? Why couldn’t they give people like her a chance?

Lucy promised herself that, if she ever won, it would be enough. She would give other people a chance. But deep down, she wondered if once would be enough? She knew she’d end up coming back time and time again, hoping for just one more chance to hear her number called.

Oh well, it was time to buy her tickets. She wish you could buy more than one ticket. She had even thought about making Ben come with her so he could buy a ticket. Maybe she’d double her chances to win? But they made it clear that tickets were non-transferable. If he ended up winning, would she end up hating him? Could she hate him? If anything would test their friendship, it would be that. If he got the chance and she didn’t. Well, it wasn’t worth thinking about because she would never bring Ben or anyone else here ever again.

Lucy was up next. She recognized the man in front of her. He was here every month just like she was. Did he ever win? Not that she knew. It used to bother her that so many older people came. It was like they were snatching up the young peoples’ chances. After all, they wouldn’t need the lottery soon. Couldn’t they just wait a few years? It was so frustrating.

The clerk called on Lucy. “One ticket please.” The lady collected Lucy’s $1,000 in cash. Only cash. You couldn’t expect them to take a check. Not for this, anyway.

Lucy clutched her ticket to her chest. The last thing she wanted was for someone to steal it. That had almost happened to her the second time she came to the Lottery Office. Some guy came up behind her and tried to swipe it. Little did he know that Lucy had taken self-defense classes. She had no qualms about beating the crap out of an old man. This was too important to her. She would never let anything come between her and the lottery.

Lucy read her number – 102516. Hm. Does that number mean anything? Did she know anyone whose birthday was October 25th? No, that was silly. She sure didn’t know anyone born in 1916. Although, she was in the right place if she was looking for someone born in that year. Lucy laughed a little bit to herself.

Okay, just another ten or eleven minutes until they called the winning number. Lucy hated this part the most. She wished the clerk would stop selling tickets so fast. The more tickets she sold, the lower Lucy’s chances of winning. And she desperately needed to win. She was tired of watching strangers get taken to the back room where they collected their prize. She wanted to be the one who was escorted back there. She wanted to win. When would it be her time?

Two minutes. In two minutes, Lucy would know her fate. She honestly didn’t know how many more times she could make the trek down here. It had started to consume her life. For a year and a half, this is all she looked forward to. It was interfering with her work and her personal life. Ben was the only one who still reached out to her. She couldn’t think about reaching out to her other friends, the ones from before. They got tired of being around someone who was sad and depressed all the time. And they certainly would not understand what she was doing here.

One more minute. How much longer could she wait? Lucy was nervous with anticipation. She felt different this time. She could feel it in the air. She just had to win the lottery today. It was her turn.

Okay. The funny looking man who always called out the winning lottery ticket had climbed up onto the podium. He really was funny looking. He reminded Lucy of those midgets who used to run the carnies when she would visit her grandparents as a child.

Ten seconds. She could feel the countdown as if it were New Year’s Eve. The man was putting his pudgy little hand in the bowl to pick the winning ticket.

“Okay, folks. I have the winning ticket in my hand. I ask all of you to keep your cool. If you don’t have the winning ticket, come back next month and we’ll do this all over again. For the winner, please report to the clerk’s office with your winning ticket. She’ll take care of you.”

Lucy was trembling. She kept repeating the numbers to herself - 102516, 102516 – call the damned number already!

“Here we go ladies and gents. The winning lottery number is….102516. Once again, the winning number is 102516. That’s it, folks. Time to head on outta here.”

Lucy couldn’t believe it. She had won. Finally – they called her number. She felt for the ticket in her hand to make sure it was real. She felt like she was dreaming.

She made her way to the clerk’s office, not letting on that she was holding the winning ticket. She didn’t want anyone to try to pry it out of her hands on her way to claim her prize.

When she reached the clerk’s office, she placed her hand through the window, her fingers still holding on to the ticket. What if the clerk was in on it? What if she took the ticket and sold it to the highest bidder?

Lucy was thinking crazy thoughts now. The clerk didn’t care who won, did she?

The clerk said, “Well, congratulations my dear. I have seen you here every month for over a year. Happy for you hon. Let me see your ticket – let go, yes. Just let me have it. I need to confirm that this is the winning ticket.”

Lucy panicked. What if she read the numbers on her ticket wrong? What if she heard the funny looking man wrong? Oh no, it couldn’t be happening like this.

“Looks like we have a winner. Let me call the boss over so he can get you situated and on toward the back room so you can claim your prize.”

Lucy had been waiting so long for this moment, she could barely contain herself. As soon as she entered the special room, she encountered an older woman dressed all in white.

Startled, Lucy couldn’t stop herself from exclaiming, “I thought you’d be a man.”

The older woman laughed a silent laugh. Her eyes seemed frozen, peering directly into Lucy’s soul. “Most people do my dear. So, you’re the big winner tonight. What will it be? Do you know where you want to go?”

Lucy had been looking forward to this moment for a year and a half. Now that the moment was here, she was less certain about what to do. Once she made this choice, she could never go back.

“Yes. I want to go back to April 5th, 2018. “

“Are you sure? You get one hour. Is that where you want to spend it?”

Lucy was suddenly doubting herself. She was so sure this was what she wanted.

“Yes. I am sure. That is one day early. That’s where I need to go.”

The woman’s face was no longer smiling. She looked at Lucy seriously. “Ok. Let’s get moving then. To April 5th, 2018.”

She handed a small bottle of amber colored liquid to Lucy.

“Here. drink this. Once you’ve swallowed the last drop, I’ll take your ticket and you can claim your prize.”

Lucy drank the bottle as quickly as she could. It tasted like the whiskey her father drank every night after dinner. She started to look around the room but it was slowly changing. She was no longer at the Lottery Office. She was in her parents’ living room in the house they rented near the beach.

She looked to her left. She could hear someone coughing. She started to walk toward her parents’ bedroom. Her mom came running out – Now’s not a good time honey. Your dad wouldn’t want you to see him like this. Why don’t you come back later tonight?”

“Mom, no. I only have an hour. I need to see Dad now. Please. I have something important to tell him. I’ll just be a minute – I swear.”

Lucy’s mom looked at her, stricken.

“Lucy, I said it isn’t a good time. Come back later. Maybe he’ll feel better then.”

Lucy thought to herself – “No, he won’t. He won’t be here later tonight. I have to see him now.”

Lucy tried to brush past her mom. Her mom, shocked, followed her into the bedroom she shared with her father.

“Dad – Dad, hi. I had to come see you.”

Lucy’s dad was there in the bed, but he wasn’t there. He had no idea where he was or who Lucy was.

Lucy sat down on the side of the bed. “Dad, please wake up. I have to tell you – I have to tell you before you go.”

“Lucy, you’re upsetting your father. Please leave. I beg of you. You’re making things worse.”

Lucy tasted the tears on her lips before she even realized they were falling freely down her face. She heard herself screaming in her head – “Dad, I love you. Do you hear me? I said I love you.”

The next thing she knew, the visiting hospice nurse came into the room.

“I need you to leave the room for a minute dear. I need to tend to your father.”

Lucy staggered out of the room. She was too late. Dammit – why didn’t she tell the lottery people that she wanted to come back in January?

The next month, on the 1st, Lucy found herself once again in the car on the way to the Lottery Office. This was it. This time, she’d get it right.

When Lucy got to the Lottery Office, it was busier than ever. She went up to the clerk and bought her ticket. $19,000 and counting.

About five minutes later, they called the winning number. Figures, the girl standing three feet from Lucy had the winning ticket. Maybe she should tell her to pick the right time.

So, Lucy didn’t win – big surprise. Once again, she got the short end of the stick.

April 16, 2023 02:23

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57 comments

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Henry Smith
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05:05 Jun 11, 2023

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Brenda Logan
06:05 Jun 07, 2023

Hi everyone i want to share my amazing testimony on how Dr Wealth transformed my financial life, i still finds it difficult to believe that i now worth millions of dollars, am from US i have been playing lotto for so long and i have never win any reasonable amount, i was glancing through things online and i came across a testimony of a woman who won a very huge amount of money with the help of Dr Wealth who prayed for her and gave her a winning numbers to play, and surprisingly her name came out among the winners she won 36million dollars, s...

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Janet Willis
14:49 Jun 03, 2023

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Janet Willis
14:49 Jun 03, 2023

This is certainly a shocking and a genuine live Testimony!!!!. It was hard for me to believe when i saw a comment on the internet regarding how Dr Emmanuel help people winning lottery by sending them the winning numbers. This winning numbers are 100% guarantee that you must win the lottery. I give it a try and i won 39,000,000,00USD. My dreams came through when i email Dr Emmanuel and tell him i need the lottery numbers. i have come a long way spending money on ticket just to make sure i win. But i never know that winning was so easy until t...

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Janet Willis
14:49 Jun 03, 2023

This is certainly a shocking and a genuine live Testimony!!!!. It was hard for me to believe when i saw a comment on the internet regarding how Dr Emmanuel help people winning lottery by sending them the winning numbers. This winning numbers are 100% guarantee that you must win the lottery. I give it a try and i won 39,000,000,00USD. My dreams came through when i email Dr Emmanuel and tell him i need the lottery numbers. i have come a long way spending money on ticket just to make sure i win. But i never know that winning was so easy until t...

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Janet Willis
14:49 Jun 03, 2023

This is certainly a shocking and a genuine live Testimony!!!!. It was hard for me to believe when i saw a comment on the internet regarding how Dr Emmanuel help people winning lottery by sending them the winning numbers. This winning numbers are 100% guarantee that you must win the lottery. I give it a try and i won 39,000,000,00USD. My dreams came through when i email Dr Emmanuel and tell him i need the lottery numbers. i have come a long way spending money on ticket just to make sure i win. But i never know that winning was so easy until t...

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