The Lucky Winner
by Jason Covey
He had done this before. In fact, it was one of his favorite games.  Sometimes he wasn't sure which was
more fun: setting up the contest, anticipating the end, or the act of supplying the prize.

Each box that he made held its own special allure. With great care he shaped the plain white cardboard;
designed, printed, and affixed the labels. He completed his masterpiece by gluing entry slips and a
removable ball-point pen to the front of the box.

He was proud of his irresistible temptation. After all, small minded people dream shallow dreams. What
fool could resist the chance to win fifty thousand dollars and a new sports car?

He smiled. "You could be The Lucky Winner. All you have to do is play my game."     

Late on a Friday night, just before the lobby closed, he walked into the restaurant and set the box down
on the counter. The drive-thru was keeping the workers busy and there were still a few stragglers
inside, placing their orders and otherwise furthering their wretchedly pathetic lives. The commotion
provided adequate cover for him to go unnoticed. Within moments the box was strategically placed and
ready for contestants. He walked out the door, already anticipating the end of the game.

A month later he returned to the restaurant. The dinner rush had died down and the crew of idiot
teenage workers didn’t seem to notice as he removed the box from the counter. Too busy gossiping
about who was screwing who. What filthy swine they all were. Perhaps one of them had been unwise
enough to enter his game. He laughed at the possibility as he left the lobby.

Once inside his van he turned the engine on. The radio buzzed as the heater blew in cold air heavy with
noxious fumes from a worn out engine. Breathing deeply he held the box close and listened to the
soothing tone of the southern-drawled evangelist:

"My children repent for the end of the world is near. The evil is among us. The world is coming under
its own destruction. Because, you see, most of mankind just don't want to do what is necessary to
avoid the apocalypse. Accept the angel of light into your heart and then begin your journey. That is the
only way to save yourself.. You must complete a spiritual journey and grow as a spiritual being. You
must enlighten yourself and become more than what your are. Only you can save yourself."

His hands were slick with sweat and the box shook as he opened it. Inside he saw a large pile of entry
slips. Closing his eyes as tight as possible he began to dig through the folded papers. Suddenly he
stopped. He had found it.

The slip in his hand was The One. Barely able to contain himself he pulled the slip out of the box and
unfolded it.

"And the lucky winner is…"

At eight o'clock exactly he rang the doorbell. He could hear some commotion from within and eventually
footsteps approaching the door. The deadbolt clicked as it was disengaged and he heard muffled voices
just before the door was opened.

The moment the door cleared the doorjamb he kicked it open, knocking a teenage boy against the wall.
Bursting inside the killer leveled his shotgun onto a man that was standing across from him in the living
room. The shotgun boomed and flashed an instant before buckshot ripped the man apart. Racking
another round into the gun, the killer turned to the teenage boy and shot him.

Strolling through the house the killer shot a middle aged woman, another teenage boy, and a
whimpering girl in her late teens.

As the killer made his way to the front door he heard groaning coming from the living room. He stopped,
pulled another round from his pocket, and went into the living room.

The man he had first shot had not immediately died. With blood gushing from his chest, the killer slowly
walking closer, the dying man tried desperately to get up and run away. The killer smiled at the sight of
the man's twitching legs.

Just as the killer inserted the round into the firing chamber, the dying man muttered his last word.

"Why?"

Closing the chamber, the killer offered an explanation:

"Because, you are today's lucky winner."

Pulling the trigger, the blast from the shotgun drowned out the killer's voice as he said,
"Congratulations."