Winner. Short Story.

I decided that today I’d do a short story, rather than continue with Shadow Crawlers. Don’t worry, the next installment will be up next week and it will continue on as regular after that.

It’s been a busy week, but now I’m heading back to Dublin, was in my sister’s house in Galway for Christmas. It was a pretty damn relaxing Christmas too, I must say. There was none of the rushing around that usually happens on Christmas day. It was very enjoyable.

There’s been some crazy-ass wind storms going on in Ireland the last few days (Potentially through Europe too, I’m not too sure about that!) We kept power, luckily, but it was hard to sleep last night with the wind screaming outside, so I’m pretty damn tired right now.

I’m looking forward to being back home, even though I very much enjoyed my time here. Mostly looking forward to home so I can play some video games that I got for Christmas. Should be fun!

I hope that you all had an awesome few days, and that it was relaxing and peaceful.

On with the show!

______________________________________________________________

He stood looking at the flashing card in his hand. He couldn’t believe it. He had won the lotto. What were the chances? He put the card back into his pocket, wondering what he had to do now.

Jeremy was twenty six, it was rare for someone so young to win the lotto, it happened, but not very often. In fact, there had only been ten winners under the age of thirty since it began sixty years ago. Usually it was the older people that won. Many suggested it was rigged, though no one said it outright. It was never something that was really discussed. Sure, most people knew someone, or knew of someone, that had won, but it was never a big deal, why would it be? It was just the way of life.

Two days, that was all he had. It seemed like plenty of time before, in the abstract, but now that he was faced with it, there was so, so much to do. He had to tell his family and friends, organise a get together for it, arrange all his affairs. They had people to help with that, but usually, those chosen already had this stuff in place. It was a dangerous world after all, there was no guarantee of living to a ripe old age but he had never bothered to set up any kind of will. It was generally accepted that once a child lived past five, they would live until around thirty five or so. Most people created a will when they hit thirty or so. He couldn’t bring much with him and everything else would be divided up amongst his family and friends.

He had so much packing to do too, all the stuff he wanted to keep. Mementos, trinkets, photographs. He was allowed to bring only a small amount with him, everything else would be supplied. He was allowed bring three pounds of weight with him, in that he could pack anything he wanted. Of course, some things didn’t count. If he could have it on his body, such as a necklace or bracelet, then it was usually fine. He had heard of one woman who had arrived decked out in twelve necklaces and fifteen different bracelets. They had been confiscated, she had been allowed bring one of each.

The party was bittersweet. He would never see any of these people ever again. Well, there was a chance, always a chance, but it was slim. Jeremy was moving onto bigger, better things. That was how he was supposed to look at it, but he couldn’t look at it that way. He didn’t want to go. He liked his apartment, small though it was, he liked his family, his friends, his girlfriend. They had been discussing going down to the courthouses and getting married, not that that mattered now.

He stood in the staging area, waiting, his small bag resting at his feet. He had already said his goodbyes at the party and afterwards in private. Jeremy didn’t want them to see him off, he wanted to be alone with his thoughts. Saying goodbye at the party had taken away some of his fear and dread. It was already happening, there was nothing he could do to change it.

The ship was small but luxurious. It was fully automated, the computer catering to his every whim. So Jeremy got drunk. He watched movies and drank, sometimes cocktails, sometimes beer. He could have whatever he wanted and there was no tab. Occasionally he would stop and eat something, but he stuck to his liquid diet for the most part. The trip was three days. Each night his final drink would be one packed with nutrients, designed to alleviate a hangover before it began, and he was injected with chemicals that sobered him up so he could have a natural, restorative sleep.

When he arrived, there was no welcoming party, a part of Jeremy was disappointed. He expected someone to greet him or tell him where to go. Instead, the door opened to reveal a long tunnel. He stepped out and the floor started to move. It brought him to another room where a pleasant voice instructed him to strip completely and to place his clothing and luggage into the tray provided. When he did so the tray vanished into the wall. The conveyer belt started to move again, the wall parting to allow his access. As it moved he was sprayed with foams and chemicals designed to cleanse him of any parasites. Once he was clean he was brought to another small room where he clothes were waiting. They smelled fresh and were neatly folded. He dressed and once done, the walls parted, revealing his new home.

It was bigger than his apartment and he felt guilty for the amount of space he had. He would never use it, not by himself. Outside he could see a golden beach and the sea that stretched as far as he could see. The windows could be changed though, he could view almost anything he desired, at least according to his house.

When he had stepped from the ship, he expected it to have all been a trick, that they’d reveal that he was actually going to be killed, or that he was now going to be used as slave labour. After all, no one ever heard from the lottery winners after they claimed their prize. Instead, Jeremy was given complete and utter freedom, he could leave the house whenever he wished, he no longer had to wait for assigned periods or hold off because the air wasn’t clean enough. The sea was always a pleasant temperature, and, after a few weeks he was able to swim in it with relative ease. There was no life forms in the sea, it was perfectly empty and perfectly safe.

The entire world seemed empty, despite the house’s assurances that he did in fact have neighbours, Jeremy hadn’t come across a single living person. He had tried to walk to his neighbours but quickly gave up. The scenery never seemed to change and he grew bored of walking for hours. He tried to use the phones to contact others in their houses, but no one ever answered, if anyone was actually there.

Months passed, with still no sign of anyone. He could talk to the house, but that was it. He had never spent much time outside by himself, he didn’t like how open and empty it was. At night it was almost terrifying. Jeremy found a bag and packed some food and water, he stepped outside into the hot sun and chose to go left. He began to walk. He decided he’d just keep going until he found someone or until he consumed half his supplies, then he’d have an idea of how far he had went and how much further he might need to go.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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