Chapter 1; Chester buys a ticket
Chester wanted to hide in a hole or gouge his eyes out as his overweight alcoholic mother tried to sit up on the creaking sofa wearing nothing but soiled panties. Not again! He sighed heavily trying to help her straighten up, but she slapped his hands away with a vulgar slur that made him flinch backward.
“You get paid today?” her dull brown eyes, the ones he inherited that lacked any emotion or warmth stared at him from sleep-crusted eyes, “Don’t forget to claim my ticket. It’s gonna be ME this time. I can feel it, Chester.”
He turned and picked up his work shirt. Yes, the damn 24-hour lottery that had everyone at his shitty workplace in a frenzy. As if his mother would even know what to do with 24-hours of absolute freedom, with no consequences, if you stuck to the guidelines like not attacking government installations.
“I’ll see to it mother,” he gave her a tight smile, tossing the Petez Pizza Palace shirt over his shoulder, “The lottery falls on Halloween this year you realize.”
She laid back on the sofa with a snort, “Who fucking cares? You’re so stupid. Do you really expect anyone who wins will care it’s Halloween, Chester? No, they’ll be thinking of all the shit they can steal and do that’s what,” she glanced down, realizing she was topless, “Fuck, toss me my robe.”
Chester ground his teeth together fetching the smelly old bathrobe from the kitchen floor where she must have tossed it in one of her drunk blackouts. He looked around the small, dirty single-wide trailer he shared with the hateful person he despised called mother and decided then and there he would sign up for the lottery on his way home after work. Fuck that bitch. Every year he forged her shitty name; Marla Drivel but not this time.
“Here,” his mom held up the tiny vile of blood needed to mark the lottery paper with, “Don’t forget you stupid shit, we need this now more than ever. If I win, we can get out of this dump for good. First stop will be the credit department where I’d force that asshole Fred to hand over everything he has and more.”
He hid a smirk, “Sure mother. See you tonight.”
After Chester slammed the metal door to the trailer let out a chuckle. Of course, his mom would think small, as if Fred March, their head council was the money bags in Wayfarer City. Licking his lips, he followed the dirt road out of the neighborhood watching others doing the same march towards the city ignoring each other as if they could pretend they weren’t the lowly scum of the state.
Stopping at the checkpoint, he pushed his thumb to the security scanner, eyeing the line for the rail-car. Most days it’s a sardine situation with his front and back pressed close to other losers like him wishing to live inside the city limits where they weren’t forced to work or scramble to return to their zone by curfew.
“Get rid of curfew,” he murmured to himself, striding away with a ten-hour green light into Wayfarer proper, “Get rid of that damn pizza place with an UZI.”
The young girl walking next to him looked startled at his rambling and hurried past. Chester smirked, running a hand through his limp brown locks waiting for his turn to enter the packed rail-car.
He was usually a ghost to those around him with his slight stature and plain looks. His co-workers always told him how dull, ugly and unusual he was. Chester wondered sometimes how he could be both dull and unusual?
Fuck them all, he secretly seethed inside. Stepping into the smelly car became immediately crowded to the point he yearned to punch the massive man whose hair got into his mouth. The lady behind pressed her large breast to his spine, which was better than what he had going on up front.
The woman huffed as Chester shuffled his feet, landing on one of her shoes. He muttered an apology as the rail-car set off. Closing his eyes, he imagined she chose to be close to his junk. He’d only had sex once in his twenty-nine years and it was so long ago he couldn’t picture her whore mouth anymore. She’d been worth the hundred credits it cost and nearly missing curfew on his eighteenth birthday. She taught Chester it was okay to jerk off when the need called for it.
When Chester escaped the confines of the car he headed left, towards the food plaza. Checking his beat-up watch noted he was ten minutes early. Maybe the day would not be so bad. Petez Pizza Palace stood out loudly on the street with its orange and yellow neon signs. He slipped the work shirt on as he neared, hearing the cheesy music coming from the outdoor speakers.
“About fucking time,” Amy sneered at once when he’d straggled in through the back door, “There’s a party arriving in twenty and I will not be the one to set it up.”
Chester took in Amy with a sharp nod, avoiding eye contact. She was lovely, with long blonde hair and bright blue eyes over rosy cheeks, reminding him of a doll he admired once in a store window. So beautiful but untouchable. He wished Amy would choke on the diet soda she constantly drank from a cup she carried everywhere.
“What the hell are you looking at?” she screeched, “Get to work you freak. I swear there’s something missing between those huge ears of yours.”
Chester kept his face blank, going about his normal routine of putting on an apron and washing his hands. He hardly ever saw his coworkers wash their hands and wondered if the people who ate there often ran home with violent diarrhea. He smiled at that thought as he moved around the kitchen, picturing the pretty city folk with their heads and ass exploding with vomit and hot shit.
The day was a long one, especially since everyone only wanted to discuss the yearly lottery. The vile of his mothers’ blood went into the trash as soon as possible. The lottery was only 48-hours off and it seemed everyone but Chester put their blood oath down for the win.
“I still remember that woman from a few years ago,” Chester heard Carl, the cook, reminisce to Amy, “She broke the oath and executed for everybody to see,” Carl grinned like an idiot, “I can’t believe she thought she’d get away with plotting to kill the governor.”
“Governor Spell always holes up in Fort Ozark,” piped in Sally, the other station worker that liked to tell Chester she’s eternally too busy to clear her own area, “She should have had fun instead of trying to start some useless revolution. I mean,” Sally cast a glare in Chester’s direction, “If you wanted to clean up the city, start with the real problem.”
Chester felt his chest tighten in anger, turning and walking away. Those fucking bitches had no idea what the actual problem of Wayfarer City was. The neighborhoods where people like Amy and Sally lived did not understand what his family had been through. The low pay and high rent, the raids that made it impossible for him to save because of the corruption. They sat in their updated solar homes, with a proper council that didn’t charge their people triple what he had to just for fresh fruits and vegetables let alone meat.
After his shift ended Chester walked the three blocks to the lottery stage. It never failed to fill him with dread and awe. The large platform held a massive glass bowl bigger than anything he’d ever seen. Inside were scrolls and scrolls of people’s blood oaths vowing to uphold the rules if they won the raffle of a lifetime.
Chester swallowed and stepped into one of the ten lines to sign up.
“First time or returning?” A bored-looking older woman handed him his scroll to peruse.
Chester knew the drill since he’d signed his mother up, but this, in fact, was, “My first time.”
The woman’s full eyebrows furrowed as she looked him up and down, “You’ve been old enough for a while. Everyone signs up. Everyone.”
“Then why the fuck did you ask?” he couldn’t help snarling.
Her eyes widened before a grimace formed, “Endorse your blood oath boy and get out of here.”
Chester placed his thumb on the sharp surface of the scroll where he’d scrawled his name and his blood seeped into the thick parchment. The nasty old lady ripped the paper from him, rolled it up with practice and he watched as another attendant deposited it in the shuttle that would make his oath join those of the other thousands hoping for a 24-hour free pass to indulge in their wildest dreams.
The price for the others who lost...
Chester took one last look at the giant bowl of scrolls then headed towards the train depot. He knew why he resisted pledging until now. They put those who didn’t win on more work detail until the day they died. Every time you procured a ticket a year of work was added to your life. His mother was too far gone in the head for the council to push, but one day it was going to come down to them ripping her stinking ass off the sofa and into the worse possible workplace.
When Chester passed the checkpoint into his neighborhood, noticed a woman he had never seen before standing still, her head tilted back, looking up at the fading light. He frowned, noting her greasy black hair and too big clothes. A tiny thing, even by his standards, but the way she stood firm while others maneuver around her made him do a double-take. He realized she was studying the sunset. He hadn’t taken the time to appreciate anything in years.
“You’re staring,” she dropped her head and the vibrant green of her eyes surprised Chester, “Did you know you’re staring at me?”
Chester cleared his throat, “Just wondering if you needed help because you look a little dumb.”
She flashed her teeth in a twisted smile, “Liar. I hate liars.”
Then she spun on her heels and stomped away. Chester felt embarrassed then spat in the dirt, storming in the opposite direction. Women always treated him like shit and one of these days he would find someone who didn’t. A soft, kind-hearted woman who wouldn’t call him names or think his ears were too big.
Now he had to get through the night of avoiding his mother after lying about the lottery. It wasn’t as if either of them would ever receive a lucky break. Life was a shit show.