The Unluckiest Man in the World

Terry stood on the side of the stage, one hand holding a small photograph of his late mother and the other a ticket. Powersweeps was printed across the paper's top in bold red letters, just above a series of numbers.

Terry trembled, but not because of excitement. The fact that he had matched all six numbers and won the grand prize of $303 million hardly accounted for the nervousness that was wracking his body. It was something much different, something that a person who would just won the lottery shouldn't be feeling.

Fear. It was fear that he felt, deep penetrating fear.

"And now I'd like to introduce the man of the hour, Mr. Terry Pincola."

Amid frenzied applause the swarthy Lottery Commissioner, in his two-thousand dollar suit, stepped back and gestured for Terry to come to the podium.

Terry stumbled onto the stage. He had a terrific headache, and the flashing cameras and bright lights in the room only made it worse. He shook the commissioner's hand and took his place behind the podium as an attractive blond woman in a red sequenced dress came up behind him with a four-foot long cardboard check. It was made out to him in the amount of three-hundred and three million dollars.

"Thank you," he mumbled into the microphone. "I just want to say thank you…" The pain in his head increased, threatening to split his skull open. "I mean, it's like a dream to win something like this." It felt like his head was in a vice and someone was slowly turning the crank. "I wish my mother was alive to see…"

The room blurred and Terry pitched forward, using the podium to stay on his feet. He saw in his disorientation the audience: journalists, lottery officials, men in suits and jeans, women in sundresses, even a couple of children.

But it wasn't the variety of people that caught his attention.

It was what they were doing.

Every one of them had their hands on the side of their heads, groaning in misery from the intense pressure in their craniums, begging for relief.

Terry could hear the beautiful woman behind him collapse to the floor. He heard the cardboard check, the one with his name on it, hit the ground, immediately followed by the woman, and then the Lottery Commissioner in his expensive suit. They crashed to the stage, writhing in pain, clawing at their heads in a feeble attempt to alleviate the agony.

Terry fell to his knees. He wanted to rip his head open but didn't have enough strength to raise his hands. He rolled over onto his side and watched the audience scream for mercy.

All except for a young woman with long dark hair and wearing a blue and pink blouse. She sat in the back of the room, quietly watching the pandemonium.

Terry stared at her, trying to understand how she wasn't affected like everyone else was.

The woman stood up and casually sauntered down the aisle way, oblivious to the screaming people around her. Her expression alternated between malevolence and satisfaction, the former underscoring the latter.

Terry was slipping in and out of consciousness. The pain in his head had grown to such an extent that all he wanted to do was die. Time lost all meaning, each second meshing with the one before, as he rolled around in his own private hell. He saw a dark figure step up onto the stage and straddle him. The woman then bent over, her body contorting in ways that a human was incapable of, and came to within inches of his face. He recoiled from the stench of her breath. It smelled like excrement mixed with raw sewage, and something else, something he never smelled before, something not of this planet.

Cold. He smelled cold. It was like the cold vacuum of space, empty, foreboding, void of warmth or life.

He smelled death.

Terry lifted his head as much as he could and glared at the woman's face. But the more he looked the more he saw she wasn't a woman at all.

Yellow eyes, elliptical and burning with hunger, stared back at him. And the mouth, still laden with residual pink lipstick, was curled into an unsettling grin. It opened, revealing rows and rows of needlelike teeth, far too many than should have been able to fit, but somehow did. And through those teeth came venom-laced words directed at one person and one person only.

"Congratulations. You appear to be someone of importance so we have chosen you." The face leaned in closer, its pointed nose touching Terry's, it fetid breath stinging his eyes. "I'm certain you will suit our needs quite admirably."

Terri then felt a sharp pain in his side, just below his armpit. It quickly spread across his entire body, touching every nerve, polluting his system as it went.

The creature reared back and studied its prey. It withdrew the tentacle from its victim's side and sheathed it away in its chest cavity. Its job was done. It had successfully inseminated the target and now only had to inform its superiors.

Hardly resembling a woman anymore, the creature slid off the stage, leaving a thick trail of slime in its wake as it disappeared through the back door.

And on the stage, Terry was sprawled out. He still retained a flicker of consciousness in his rapidly cooling brain and couldn't help but think that on his big day he actually wound up being the unluckiest man in the world.