Mr Fortunate is a very lucky man who lives in a snowy tundra town, during a time that defies categorization. He has no family, few friends, and many enemies.
A Short Story in 10 Chapters
by David Yates
Chapter One: And So It Begins...Edit
In a time that defies classification, an era that spans all ages, there was a man. This man was known by his fellow men as “Mr Fortunate”. One can only presume that he had a first name, but there is no evidence to back that up. His friends, his foes, and people who were completely indifferent towards him all called him Mr Fortunate. Of family, he had none. Of friends, he had few, and they were only friends in the vaguest sense of the word. But of foes, he had a lot more than most people.
One day, a day that had no identifiable date, Mr Fortunate found himself walking to the establishment that he worked for. What he did, no-one could be sure. He got a pay cheque at the end of each month, but for what, not even his employers knew. Although nobody knew what he did, his employers were too scared that some obscure but vital task would not get done if they dismissed him.
The establishment itself was a boring building, made out of what seemed to be a grey, brick-like things. What material these brick-like things were made of, no-one knew for certain. The establishment's staff was mostly brain-dead office drones who spent their days filling out paperwork. This paperwork was then thrown into a furnace at the end of each day, as fuel. This furnace was what kept the surrounding city from freezing over during the unimaginably cold night. It was vital that the paperwork was filled in, as it was specially formulated to create the most long-lasting, super-hot fire imaginable – but only if it was filled in with exactly the right letters in exactly the right places.
The city needed to be kept warm in this manner due to being in the depths of a snowy tundra with constant blizzards that were so large that they blotted out the sun. Where this tundra was, geographically, is, like the time period in which all this occurred, impossible to pinpoint. This tundra was everywhere, and nowhere, at the same time.
As Mr Fortunate was walking to work, he thought about his life. He was not especially talented, smart, or strong. He was not a hard worker. In fact, he spent his days at Flame Corp (the aforementioned establishment) drinking coffee and surfing the Internet for games. If it were not for his disproportionate amount of good fortune, he would, without a doubt, be on the street. That's what he had going for him. Luck. Mr Fortunate was, as his name denotes, a very fortunate, very lucky man. Very few bad things had happened to him in his life. Every time it seemed that he was in an inescapable situation, he managed to wrangle his way out of it, by sheer luck. However, what was lucky for him was often unlucky for others. That explains why he had as many enemies as he did.
As he was walking along the street in this manner, lost in thought, he was knocked over by someone pushing him from behind. He turned around, and, to his shock, he saw a robber with a black mask, and an unsheathed handgun.
“Give me all your money, and I'll spare your life,” the robber said.
“I refuse to comply,” said Mr Fortunate, with only a slight hint of fear in his voice.
BANG! BANG! BANG! The robber shot Mr Fortunate three times, not missing once. Mr Fortunate's head slumped onto the ground, and he groaned in pain. He had been hit on the side of his face, in his neck, and near his heart. He could hear his blood gushing out. Maybe, he thought, just maybe, my luck has finally run out. He closed his eyes and prepared to die. Imagine his surprise at what he saw when he opened them again.
Chapter Two: After The ShotEdit
At first, Mr Fortunate thought that he had died and gone to heaven. Heaven looks an awful lot like a hospital, he thought.
He then realized that he was still alive. He wondered how he could still be alive after all the blood he had lost. He felt around the areas of his wounds, but they were gone. There weren't even bandages in the places where he had been shot. How strange, he thought.
He would have pondered this strange happening further, but he had been through so many lucky situations that this one hardly seemed worth worrying about.
Mr Fortunate examined his surroundings. The room that he was in was not furnished too extensively. It had a bed (the one he was in), and a strange-looking machine on the wall. Nothing else. The walls were made of the same thing that all buildings in Mr Fortunate's home town. That is, of some strange substance that no-one knew the name of. There were no doors and no windows in the room.
Mr Fortunate got out of his bed and walked over to the machine. What does this do, he wondered. He tried to figure out what it did, but he couldn't. To him, it was just a mess of wires and metal. As he was turning around to go back to his bed, he heard what he presumed was machine starting up. He looked back at it, and it began to make noises. Soon enough, these noises became words.
“Greetings Mr Fortunate,” it said.
Mr Fortunate said nothing.
“You do not know where you are. You are confused about the disappearance of your wounds. You want to escape. You want to know what is going on.”
Mr Fortunate remained silent.
“Remember Richard Clifton?” asked the machine. “Do you remember Richard Clifton, Mr Fortunate?”
Mr Fortunate remembered Richard Clifton. Richard had been Mr Fortunate's friend, back in high school. They had been very close friends, until one day, when something terrible happened. Something that Mr Fortunate could never forgive himself for.
“Richard Clifton desires revenge for what you did to him. Richard Clifton will have revenge for what you did to him.”
Mr Fortunate cast his mind back to what had happened on that fateful day. He didn't like to think about it; it was too horrific. Richard Clifton had been the only real friend that Mr Fortunate had ever had. With the way he had treated Richard, it was unsurprising that he had never had any other good friends. Mr Fortunate knew that Richard deserved revenge, but hadn't actually ever even considered that he would ever take it. As far as Mr Fortunate had known, Richard had left his life, never to return.
Ghosts from the past have an awful way of coming back to haunt you. Just, how would Richard enact this revenge? And would Mr Fortunate's luck be enough to see him through it? More importantly, did Mr Fortunate really want his luck to deliver him unscathed, or did he think that he deserved whatever punishment was waiting for him?
Chapter Three: MemoriesEdit
“It is now time for you to receive your punishment for what you did to Richard Clifton. You may see it as unfair, but it is justice.”
Mr Fortunate stood still, awaiting his fate. He did not know what would happen. No matter how many times his luck bailed him out of unfortunate circumstances, he couldn't help but feeling dread during tight situations. He knew his luck would save him, as it always did, but the haunting thought remained: What if it doesn't? What if my luck fails me on this occasion, thought Mr Fortunate. What if my luck has run out?
Do I really deserve this luck? After everything I've done? Maybe it'll be a good thing if I die now. Then, at least, I won't be able to hurt more people. Remember what happened to Richard? Yes... it's all coming back to me now...
We were doing our final year of high school, and we had just gotten our exam marks back. I wasn't happy with mine. I thought that the teacher had given me those bad marks out of spite. Things weren't going well for me. I had been fired from my part-time job, and I had been rejected by someone that I really tried hard to attract. I had also been very ill. And then, to get those marks, well, it just pushed me over the edge. I took out the knife I always carried around and I... I... stabbed the teacher. Repeatedly. In the heart. Richard tried to stop me, but he couldn't. I was mad with rage.
Around then, the police arrived. They staked out the area, and ordered me to come out with my hands out. Richard decided to go out and talk to the policemen, on my behalf. When he showed himself, one of the policemen let off a shot, in fear and nervousness (that particular police force wasn't very well-trained). The bullet hit Richard in the leg. He cried out in pain and hit the floor. Before he could say anything, the police arrested him. He was put on trial, and found guilty. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
And where was I during all of this? I hid away. Instead of confessing to my crime, I let Richard suffer in jail. Better him than me, I thought. Better him than me.
“Your punishment is this, Mr Fortunate” said the machine. “For your crimes, you are sentenced to... life imprisonment. Does that sound familiar? Good. You shall stay in this room for the remainder of your pathetic, self-serving life.”
As usual, Mr Fortunate remained silent. He seemed to have accepted his punishment.
“As you committed the crime, it is only logical that you should serve the sentence given to he who was thought to have committed the crime.”
The machine then shut itself down. As it was doing so, the strangest thing happened. No-one – not even Mr Fortunate – could have expected what happened next.
Chapter Four: The PassagesEdit
“I am sorry, Mr Fortunate,” said the machine, as it reversed its shut-down midway. “I am sorry... but... I... can't do this to you.”
Mr Fortunate was taken aback. He hadn't expected that to happen.
“Richard Clifton deserves his revenge, but I find myself unable to carry it out. My morality drive is against it. Instead, I shall free you.”
With that, the machine withdrew itself to one side of the wall it was mounted on. Behind the machine, there was revealed to be a gaping hole in the wall, just large enough for a man to fit through. Mr Fortunate, wanting to escape, went in. It was dark inside, but there was a lit wooden torch on the wall, which Mr Fortunate took. It did not provide a lot of light, but what it did provide was adequate for Mr Fortunate's purposes.
Mr Fortunate proceeded along the long, but straight path. After some time, he came to a fork in the tunnel. He couldn't decide which way to go, so he relied on his luck and flipped a coin. The coin came out as heads, which was left. Without any hesitation, Mr Fortunate went left. Most people would not be so sure of such a decision, but Mr Fortunate had faith in his luck. It has delivered me this far, he thought. Why shouldn't it deliver me just a little further?
Flipping a coin to decide which direction to go in reminded Mr Fortunate of another coin-flipping-related happening earlier in his life. It was when he applied to get a job at Flame Corp. He and another man, Frederick Hay, were both applying for that same position. At the time, Mr Fortunate knew that he would somehow wrangle his way out of doing anything if he actually got the job, but Frederick Hay was a hard worker. Unlike Mr Fortunate, Frederick was prepared to work for his salary.
After they had both applied for the job, the manager in charge of hiring had to decide who would get the job. He was indecisive, and flipped a coin to decide. Needless to say, Mr Fortunate got the lucky side. He got the job, and, even though he knew that Frederick would have been a better employee, he said nothing and took the job.
He heard very little of Frederick afterwards. All he knew was that Frederick remained unemployed, and was kicked out of his apartment and forced to live on the streets. Mr Fortunate knew that it was his fault, but tried not to avoid thinking about it.
Mr Fortunate had been walking down the passage for at least an hour when he became aware that he was not alone. He heard sounds and saw shadows on the dirt walls. He became anxious.
“Who's there?” asked Mr Fortunate.
“Surely you know, Mr Fortunate,” said a voice behind him.
Mr Fortunate wheeled around to see a dirty, short man standing in front of him. He recognized this man immediately.
Chapter Five: The ManEdit
“Hello Frederick,” said Mr Fortunate.
“Hello Fortunate,” replied the man, coldly.
“What are you doing here?”
“I've come for my revenge, Mr Fortunate.”
“You are but one of two, Mr Hay. A Mr Richard Clifton seeks me for that same purpose.”
“I know. It was he who contacted me.”
With that, Frederick Hay drew his dagger. He lunged at Mr Fortunate, but Mr Fortunate was too fast for him. He lunged again, with similar results.
“Luck, pure luck,” he said. “However much you may have, it will run out sooner or later.”
Frederick continued with his futile attempts, but to no avail. He missed every single time. He was persistent though. Even after so many failures, he still tried again and again. He was growing tired, but Mr Fortunate was not. He would inevitably run out of steam.
Luck is a strange thing. As has been mentioned many times before, it can, and will run out, often at the most inconvenient times. Even the luck of such a man as Mr Fortunate is susceptible to this phenomenon. Just as Frederick was about to give up, he managed to thrust his knife through Mr Fortunate's jacket sleeve. He then stuck the dagger into the passage wall, effectively pinning Mr Fortunate.
“I originally planned to kill you with my dagger, but I think I'll shoot you instead.” said Frederick menacingly, as he took out his gun.
He held his gun to Mr Fortunate's forehead. He rested his finger on the trigger. To his surprise, Mr Fortunate was not worried. He just stood there, awaiting his fate.
“I'm waiting,” said Frederick.
“Waiting for what?” asked Mr Fortunate.
“I'm waiting... for you to start pleading for your life. You've always been a proud, emotion-hiding man, Mr Fortunate, but I believe that the fear of death will alter that.”
“If you are going to shoot me, do it. Do it now, Mr Hay.”
“I think I will.”
Frederick's finger moved towards the trigger. It pushed the trigger. BANG! BANG! BANG! Frederick shot repeatedly. Then, there was silence.
Chapter Six: Put Them Against Each OtherEdit
Mr Fortunate heard the gunshots, but did not feel the bullets pierce his head. Also, he no longer felt the muzzle of Frederick's gun on the side of his head. Slowly, he turned to his side, and was shocked by what he saw.
Frederick was lying in pool of blood, with his gun lying by his side. It did not look like suicide, and Frederick had no reason to commit suicide. Mr Fortunate could not understand it. He looked around, in an effort to figure out what had just happened.
Mr Fortunate saw two bullet holes on the roof of the passage, right above his head. From this, he deduced that Frederick had tried to shoot him twice, and had missed. Luck, thought Mr Fortunate, as he bent down to examine Frederick's body.
He examined the bullet that was implanted in Frederick's skull. He then opened up Frederick's gun, and looked at the ammo. They did not match. There had been a second gunner.
Mr Fortunate was shocked by this revelation. He had had many lucky breaks in the past but, to the best of his knowledge, none of them had ever been because of the conscious actions of a human being. This is more than just luck, Mr Fortunate thought. This is planned. Someone is out to get me. But who?
Oh, of course, I know. It must be Richard Clifton. Yes, Richard Clifton. This is all some elaborate revenge scheme. That machine was obviously supposed to let me go. And when Frederick tried to kill me... yes... I get it now. Richard had to kill Frederick before Frederick killed me. If Frederick had killed me, Richard's plans would have been foiled. Richard cannot enact revenge upon me if I'm dead.
Mr Fortunate did not know what to do. It was inevitable that Richard would get him. And once Richard got him... well, Mr Fortunate did not want to think about that. He was certain that Richard's wrath would be great enough to overcome the obstacle of Mr Fortunate's luck.
Although Mr Fortunate had an unnatural amount of luck, he was a pessimist. He always assumed that the worst would happen, and then the best happened. However much luck he had, he remained fixed upon the thought that it would run out soon. Perhaps... perhaps this attitude was coupled to his luck in some way. Even though his luck had delivered him unscathed from every dangerous situation he had ever encountered, he gained no peace of mind.
The only thing to do is to continue along this passage, thought Mr Fortunate. I have no other choice. I can stay here, and Richard will find me, or I can go on, and find Richard. It's obvious what the best choice is.
Mr Fortunate put the ammo back in Frederick's gun and put it in his coat pocket, just in case he needed it. He then continued his halted course into the bowels of... wherever the passage would lead him.
Chapter Seven: Relieving The MonotonyEdit
Mr Fortunate had been walking down the passage for what seemed to be an eternity. It was dark, and it seemed to have no end. Whether he walked or ran made no difference to how far he got into it. It kept going, and he kept going.
I have to rest, thought Mr Fortunate. My feet are tired, and I am feeling faint for want of food. It's not as if I'm in a hurry to get to where I'm going, or as if I even want to get there.
Mr Fortunate sat down on dirt-covered floor, and searched his pockets for some food. He didn't find any. Why was I looking for food in my pockets, thought Mr Fortunate. I never keep food in there. I don't think too many people do. And why does everything look the same? I've been walking along this path for ages, and nothing has changed. It all looks exactly the same. And it never ends... it never ends.
After a few more minutes, Mr Fortunate tried to get up from the ground. In the process, he tripped over a dirt clod on the ground, and fell right back down. He landed with a loud THUD. This made him lose his temper with the passage, its sameness, its length, and its lack of light.
He got up hastily and gave the wall of the passage a good kick. To his surprise, the part of the wall that he had kicked crumbled, revealing a metallic area of passage. Wanting to relieve the monotony of the dirt passage, Mr Fortunate entered this new metal passage. As he walked along, his feet made a resounding clank sound.
As he was walking along, Mr Fortunate began to hear something other than his feet. He stopped in his tracks and listened more closely. It was the sound of water flowing. Strange, he thought. What place would water have in this underground metal... building-thing? I must investigate this further.
He walked in the direction of the water, which, co-incidentally, was the same direction that the passage went. As the sound got louder, Mr Fortunate became more and more excited about finding out if it was an escape route. He broke into a sprint. CLANK, CLANK, went his feet as they bashed against the metal floor.
Eventually, he reached the end of the tunnel. He peered out of it, and was surprised to see darkness. He had been expecting there to be light at the end of the metallic passage. Perhaps it is night-time, he thought.
He looked up, and saw that, rather than a star-filled sky, there was a dirty cave roof. This meant that he had not found the way out after all. Even so, he ventured onto the cave floor just beyond the metal passage's exit. He looked around for a source of the water he had heard, but couldn't find one. The sound was louder than ever, but, try as he might, he just couldn't locate its maker.
And then, it stopped. The sound of water that he had been listening to just stopped. This must be a trick, thought Mr Fortunate. I've been duped.
As suddenly as the sound of water had stopped, the cave became flooded with light. As he looked upon the newly lit chamber, Mr Fortunate understood. He understood what had happened, why it had happened, and how it had happened.
Chapter Eight: The Ultimate Enemy?Edit
"You are... earlier than I expected, Mr Fortunate," said Richard Clifton, as he looked down from the raised metal platform that he was standing on.
"Better early than late," replied Mr Fortunate.
"I assume you know why you are here."
"Yes, Richard. Yes, I do."
"I know that you have never been a man of many words, Mr Fortunate, but would you mind telling me why you are here?"
"I am here because of the acts of selfishness I have committed over the years. I am here because my luck sent you to prison for a crime that you did not commit. I am here because I took the job that should have gone to Frederick Hay. I am here because of countless other things that I have done."
"Very good, Mr Fortunate. I did not expect you to come clean like that so quickly. In fact, I am taken aback by it."
Mr Fortunate just stood there, in silence, thinking. All this luck, he thought. All this luck never brought me any friends. It just brought me enemies. I wish, I wish I could go back. I wish I could have confessed to my crime. I wish I could have served the life-long prison sentence I deserved. But no, I was tempted, tempted by luck. I wish I could at least go back to that job interview. Frederick deserved that job more than I did. I wish I could go back, and make that clear. But I can't. The past is the past, and all that I have is now.
"Are you ready?" asked Richard, snapping Mr Fortunate out of his thoughts.
"Yes," replied Mr Fortunate. "I am ready."
"Good. Let it begin."
With that, Richard took out a large rifle. He crouched down, and aimed it at Mr Fortunate. Mr Fortunate found he was unable to run. His feet were rooted to ground, by fear. Or was it by his new-found sense of justice?
BANG! The gun fired, and Mr Fortunate felt the bullet rip into his shoulder. He cried out in pain, but, he knew that he deserved it.
"Continue, Richard, continue. What I did to you was far more painful."
Chapter Nine: Luck Of The Greatest MagnitudeEdit
For a long time, there was silence in the cave. Mr Fortunate felt his life ebbing out of him as the blood flowed from his torn up shoulder. Richard Clifton just stood there with his gun aimed at Mr Fortunate.
"I... I can't do it, Mr Fortunate. I just... can't kill you," said Richard. "Maybe your luck has altered my mind. Maybe my conscience has gotten the better of me. Whatever it is, my finger just won't pull the trigger."
"I don't think you will need to kill me, Richard," Mr Fortunate replied. "My blood-loss will do that job for you."
"Here, have some bandages," said Richard as he bent over to take bandages out of the first-aid kit on the floor next to him.
Not wanting to refuse Richard's offer, and not wanting to die either, Mr Fortunate took the bandages and wrapped them around his shoulder. It may not have been too hygienic, but it would stop the bleeding.
"I don't know why I did it, Mr Fortunate. But, perhaps it is a sign. Revenge isn't a good thing. All it does is hurt people. And by holding on to this grudge for so many years, I have hurt myself a lot more than you ever hurt me. What do you say? Should we forget this and be friends again?"
As Mr Fortunate opened his mouth to reply, the cave shook and the floor cracked in two. Richard's platform cracked and tipped. Richard cried out in fear as he began to slide off the tilted floor underneath him.
The crack widened, and Mr Fortunate saw that there was water underneath it. Swirling, twirling, fast-moving water. Richard fell off of his platform and down, down into the water. A huge SMACK was heard as he hit the water's surface.
At the same time as all this was happening, a section of the cave wall caved in behind Mr Fortunate. He turned to see that he was now free to leave through a tunnel. And not just any tunnel. This tunnel had light at the end of it. All Mr Fortunate had to do was walk a short distance, and he would be free of the cave.
Being a staunch believer in self-preservation at all costs, Mr Fortunate started walking towards the light. He did not seem to hear Richard's cries. He just kept on walking. And soon, soon he was out of the cave, and back in the snow.
Chapter Ten: A Fortuitous FinaleEdit
Mr Fortunate breathed in the fresh air of the outside world. He had been in the caves for a long time, and was refreshed to feel the wind, however cold it was, blowing on his face. In the distance, he could see his hometown. He began walking towards it.
As he was walking, he stepped on a shard of ice, and slipped. He fell backwards and landed on the snow with a loud thud.
That was... unlucky, he thought to himself. That kind of thing has never happened to me before. Perhaps my luck is finally beginning to run out. Perhaps I know why. Perhaps I need to do something worthwhile with the small amount of luck I have left.
Mr Fortunate's eyes widened as the truth dawned on him. He picked himself up and ran back to the cave faster than he had ever ran before.
When he got there, he looked around for Richard. He saw Richard holding onto a shard of rock just above the water. He knew that Richard's time was limited. He couldn't hold onto that shard forever, and that water must have been cold.
What was this? Empathy? Mr Fortunate was feeling sorry for someone? Yes, yes he was. It was a strange feeling for him, one that he was ashamed not to have felt more often. But what could he do? Richard was too far away for him to reach without getting in the water. And Mr Fortunate knew that the current would be too strong for him.
Mr Fortunate was at a loss. He didn't know what to do. He started thinking about how much he would miss Richard. While he was thinking this, he had an idea. It would sound completely implausible to any other person, but, being an exceptionally lucky man, Mr Fortunate was sure it would be more than worth a shot.
"Oh, Richard!" he cried. "Your death would be a terrible loss. A great misfortune. I would be horribly disadvantaged without your friendship."
Richard stared at him with a questioning look in his eyes, but that look soon turned to one of joy. Slowly, the water levels receded. Richard was soon able to set his feet down on dry ground.
“I don't know how you did, Mr Fortunate, but I am eternally grateful,” Richard. “Now we can put all our old feuds to rest.”
“I am glad to hear that Richard, and, please, call me-”
“Look out! Above! Get out of the way!”
Mr Fortunate looked up and saw a large rock falling towards him. But it was already too late. He didn't have time to get out of the rock's way, and it crushed him.