The Lottery Winner

The man screams when I open the rocket door. They often do. Maybe it’s my intimidating height, or the shining metal in my suit. But I suspect it’s my eye bulbs dangling on their stalks that distresses them.

Earth’s cold night air ripples soothingly over my gills. I’m still shaken from the rough landing. The craft is overdue for its yearly overhaul. Vera nags me about it—bless her six tentacles—because I keep postponing it. I have no patience for the swartiers who run the rocket garage on Jupiter, or their annoying thousands of questions and endless forms to fill out. I swear, one day I’m going to chop off their tails and send them all back to Section 3.

The man takes a step back and stares at me. Maybe this one’s tougher than the others I’ve come across. The humans. So certain they are alone in the universe. I love it when they realize this is just an illusion. I’ve been to Earth regularly over the years, but this is the first time I’m here on an official assignment.

I notice that my rocket’s tail has sliced off the top of the garden hedge and made quite a hole in the man’s backyard.

“Sorry about the hole,” I chitter, my teeth clicking. I stretch out an apologetic tentacle towards him, but stop midair when he cringes.

I straighten my back. “Greetings. I’m Ikkus Hag, representing the Southern World Alliance. I’m pleased to inform you that you are this year’s lucky winner of the SWA Annual Galactic Lottery. Congratulations!”

Excited, I stretch all my tentacles in the air and wait for his response.

For years now, this has been one of my favourite assignments. The names of all the Galaxy’s residents are in the lottery pot from the day they are born, so it’s an astonishing bit of luck to be picked out. The eyes of the winners when they realize their fortune—I love that. The lottery prize is overwhelming: a luxury house on Mars and a holiday cabin at Vepolis, a Model 094 rocket—my favourite, but I can’t afford one—a dinner with the president of the Alliance, a cruise to Saq, and enough money to have a comfortable life.

This man is the first Earthling to win the lottery and I know it will bring him fame and a neverending series of dinners and exciting invitations. And possibilities—after all, one of the early winners is now the Vice President of the Alliance.

The man is wide-eyed and silent. I’m starting to wonder if he’s dumb or just shocked beyond words, when he turns around abruptly and disappears into his house. I lower my tentacles. Probably fetching his family, I figure. Must want to share the good news. I rub my tentacles against the rocket’s matte surface in an effort to polish it. It’s stained and there’s a rift on one side. I’d better get the rocket to Jupiter after this assignment.

The man is back. He’s carrying something in his arms. It glints in the moonlight. He’s pointing it towards me. A gift for me? He must be so happy. I click my teeth in excitement.

He’s yelling now: “Hooo mi hasi tki!”

“What?” I squeal in confusion. Why can’t I understand what he says? Where’s my linguistic device? Have I forgotten to turn it on? I poke my tentacles into all my pockets, but cannot find it. Have I left it at home?

If I can’t understand him, he can’t understand me. So he doesn’t know he’s won the lottery. Frustrated, I bang my tentacles on the rocket—doonk doonk—and look up.

“Ta ta hokk,” the man shouts. He sounds angry.

“Yes, I’m angry too,” I mutter, and glide back into my rocket, turning my eye bulbs to watch him as I move. The last thing I see before my door closes—swoosh—is him aiming his shiny thing at me and firing it. Finally, the craft stops shaking from the explosion and I study the interior. Undamaged, but Jupiter next stop for sure.

Feeling cheerfully again, I wave my tentacles at him. “I’ll be back.”