Luck of the Devil


(500 words)

Discontent among the lottery-playing public was at an all-time high. Nick Naylor sat in front of the TV, clutching a lottery ticket, sweatily. Following last week’s ‘fiasco’ he’d chosen five lines of ‘lucky dip,’ £2 apiece, for the not inconsiderable sum of £10.
“It had to be a scam!” said Jude, his ‘other half’, toying with her dyed auburn locks.
The previous week, the nigh-on-impossible had happened. Numbers one to six had been picked – in sequence.
A presenter’s smarmy face, replete with a stitched-on smile, filled the screen. “Well, after last week’s spectacular draw, the first time ever six consecutive numbers have been drawn in a major lottery, let’s see what the balls have for us this week!”
The shot switched to balls spinning in a transparent machine.
“Just to reassure everyone watching that all sets of balls and all machines have been thoroughly checked by engineers and nothing untoward was found!”
The balls started to emerge from the machine, feeding into a long tube.
“And the first lucky number is, Oh my God, seven!”
The presenter seemed shell-shocked. So much so that the number eight rolled down the tube without being announced. Then nine, then ten, eleven and finally, and predictably, twelve.
There was a stunned silence in the studio, and in fact in every lottery-watching household in the country. And before long in every media-capable household in the world. Suddenly, the program vanished from the screen. “And in place of the published program, another chance to see Episode 17 of ‘Arctic Diary’ with David Attenborough.”
“Bloody hell, not that wildlife shit again!” said Jude.
A week of feverish activity had seen all balls and machines replaced and the studio lined with lead. After every possible conspiracy theory had been exhausted – hackers, aliens, communists – you name it, and all employees given a lie detector test, Jude and Nick sat down to watch the draw again. There was no spiel this time, just a simple “Let the draw commence!” before a little-known ‘celebrity,’ notable only for her sizeable bosom, bounced onto the stage to push a red button. “Good luck everyone!” she giggled, jiggling her assets.
“And the first number is … THIRTEEN. Oh ….” The presenter keeled over in a dead faint, just as the next ball rolled out. A collective sigh of relief rang around the world at 58, then 24, 37, 16 and 40.
A substitute presenter raced onto the set to announce these numbers, looking as if he’d won the jackpot himself.
“What d’you think it was all about?” said Jude.
“Christ knows. Perhaps something or someone was trying to demonstrate their power.”
“What, like God?”
“I dunno, maybe the other one.”
“Then the power of good won over evil!” said Jude.
Nick pondered. “Either that or it was just a freak of chance.”
He looked at his ticket. “Hey, guess what, I just won twenty-five quid!”
“That’s good!”
“Yeah, I can buy The Complete Arctic Diary Collection on DVD!”

Featured in the book, To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories

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