The Win Machine (a short story)
The Win Machine:
Toby stepped through the gaping doorway of his home; echoes of summer rain still trapped in his hair. He relieved his tall frame of a cheap, blue waterproof, and strode into the living room; cursing as he acknowledged his sopping trainers.
Removing the irrigated footwear, Toby stretched his aching toes, and crashed heavily onto the brown leather settee. The soft cushions welcomed his weariness, and it was not long before the urge to sleep overcame him.
Sleep soothed his battered body; hiding the day’s stresses within a blanket of darkness. Awareness slipped into the aether, and Toby began to dream. Subconscious desires assaulted his senses, drawing him into a twisted cavalcade of expectations.
With a start, his eyes flashed into awareness, light streaming into his gaping pupils, and shattering his retinas. Focusing, they came to rest on a large, black object, sat a mere foot from his resting place. The boxy intruder stood about four feet in height, and glistened like a polished grand piano.
‘How the hell?’ His mind rapidly caught up with his eyes; accutely aware of the frightening absurdity. There was no logic, and no obvious indication of how, or why, this inanimate visitor would be sat in the middle of Toby’s living room.
‘Greetings Mr Hitchins!’ whirred a surprising, and unnaturally cheerful, voice. ‘I am a Win Machine, and I am here to give you The Prize!’
Prize? Toby didn’t understand. He hadn’t entered any competitions or lotteries, and he wasn’t a betting man. Uneasiness dawned on him, dancing in the pit of his stomach.
He had no idea where this thing came from, how it got into his house, or why it could possibly want to give anything to him! He didn’t want a “prize”, and certainly shouldn’t be in any position to get one. It must’ve all been some kind of crazy universal error; a bizarre mix-up, intended to grace the life of another.
‘I am here to give you The Prize!’ echoed the voice. ‘Please place your right hand in the slot, to accept your winnings!’
Toby felt an immense urge surging through his body; begging him to move his hand towards the eerily glowing orrifice. The action was irresistible; as if he was being called by God himself. Time seemed to slow down to an unbearable crawl, and Toby found himself succumbing to terrifying inevitability.
His fingertips trembled, as they were bathed in a cool blue light, which rose to envelop his entire hand. The machine whirred and hummed with a ferocious intensity, drawing Toby into it’s dark interior; his extremity now out of view entirely.
A searing pain gripped Toby’s hand, burned it’s way up his right arm, and blazed into his nerve endings. He screamed with a mighty intensity…then blackness, accompanied by a strange, rhythmic pulsing.
His eyes opened slowly. It was evening, and shadows crept across the sparsely-furnished room. The strange contraption was nowhere to be seen. Had it been a dream? The horrifying images had etched themselves onto his soul.
The rhythmic pulsing returned: Someone calling his phone.
Toby reached instinctively for the coffee table; his cauterised stump knocking the smart phone to the floor with a reverberating clatter…
– Author: Iain Peter Morrison
– Copyright: Iain Peter Morrison