Lucked Out

The world was never a fair place. It just needed some help. Gordon adjusted his crisp white lab coat, changing the lapel pin from a four-leaf clover to a golden horseshoe. Its the details that matter, after all. The Dimensional Probability Adjustment Bureau was created in the late two-quads as governor of all chance-based events in society.

No longer would the universe roll the dice, doling out favors to a scattered few while passing over everyone else. DPAB, or as some of the more recursively-minded called it – LAB, “Luck Adjustment Bureau” was the great equalizer. The apparatus was impressive. Two large pylons soared from the roof of the LAB building, emitting exotic quantum particles.

The founders assured the public that this was not a “Luck Bank” or “Luck Reserve”. There had been a scandal a few years back where allegations of pay-for-luck schemes had reached the highest level. All proven false, but the rumors persisted still. Gordon worked in the Luck Research Division, an isolated office set in the middle of the building, far from the executive suites.

It had something to do with the “dead spot” between the pylons, where Gordon could work on experiments in chance without having their underlying probabilities skewed. It also was the densest part of the building, which meant no phone reception. Gordon didn’t have a desk phone, relying instead on his personal assistant.

Every day, the tuning dynamics were changed to select one particular person. That person would enjoy varying degrees of luck, in the form of small events correlating and combining. Much like how shallow waves can combine into one large wave at sea. This temporary focus would imbue this person with a “lucky day”, causing tertiary ripple effects on family and friends.

It was a familiar sight on the street, recent “Lucksters” being followed by a contingent of friends and hangers-on. Sometimes the trough of the lucky wave would cause disruption in the form of extra traffic or small areas of decidedly “unlucky” events. Society put up with it though, since every day there was a chance that you could be next.

Gordon had never known anyone who had been selected. Maybe one day, he thought. He pushed through the revolving door into the lobby. On the far wall, a large display ran live feeds of the current “Luckster”, an idea from the marketing people. Drones were cheap and numerous, so why not have one follow someone around?

Gordon thought it was vulgar. No reason to rub everyone’s noses in the fact they hadn’t been selected. At least that was how he would have handled it. Maybe that was why he had a quiet career in probability research. He never wanted to play the corner-office game. Too many meetings and lunches, currying favor with the the bosses and vice presidents.

Gordon had seen the CEO once, as he was exiting a conference room on his floor. He walked right by in his expensive suit without registering Gordon was there. It was a disconcerting feeling, being actively ignored. He frowned, palming his security pass and swiping it at the gleaming turnstile.

A triple-tone played, with the sound of coins cascading down. An ancient reference to luck, though no one went to the desert anymore, not after the canals dried up and there was nothing left to hold on to. The skeletons of Vegas were still there, swaddled in dunes and rusted steel.

Gordon had an old-style slot machine in his office, an homage to a time where people would actually travel somewhere to possibly be lucky. How quaint and outdated. Walking down the hallway to his office, he passed the framed news articles documenting past selectees. “Big Win – Luckster Finds Missing Hard Drive Filled With Crypto Coins”, “What’s Better Than One Baby – Twins!”, “Man Survives Fall From Skyscraper” and so on.

Today was going to be tough, it was the first round of personnel evaluations – Lucksters excluded. Gordon worked through lunch, assembling reports and various planning documents for the bigwigs upstairs. Before he knew it, the clock on the wall displayed 7 pm.

He pushed on. Upstairs loved detailed reporting, but it came at a cost. Gordon had been stalling as long as he could, but the looming deadline had piled it all at his feet. No matter, he downed a lukewarm cup of coffee and kept on typing. The words and numbers flew from his fingers, thought becoming paragraphs and charts with seemingly little effort.

It was almost enjoyable. He finished the final page and hit “print”, the bulky Documax churned to life. Just my luck, Gordon tapped his fingers against the plastic tray. One more set and he could drop off these forms and go home. Final drop of the still-warm copies completed, Gordon pressed the elevator button to the lobby.

A metallic glint caught his eye. Near his foot was a golden coin. Picking it up, he flipped it in the air, guessing heads.

The coin came up heads.

Gordon flipped it again, guessing tails.

The coin came up tails.

He flipped it several more times, each outcome matching what he desired.

No, it couldn’t be. A chime sounded, the doors opening to the main lobby. Gordon walked out, glancing back at the large display. “Luckster Finally Emerges – From The LAB Itself!”, the crawl on the bottom of the screen had a countdown to midnight, when the next person was selected.

It was 11:59:59.

Gordon looked out into the street. People had been camping out, media trucks and cameras pointed at the revolving doors. Gordon flipped the coin again, guessing heads.


Sighing deeply, Gordon pushed out into the street. Drops pattered on his head, wet and cold. He had forgotten his umbrella.

Just his luck.