Luck and Chance

by Alison Pearce

Languishing back on the burgundy chaise lounge amidst the spoils of her game, Luck looked about with satisfaction at her opulent and bizarre surroundings. Every inch of spare wall space was covered in paintings. Shelves completely covered one wall, packed with ornaments, books and odd relics.

‘Make yourself at home, Major Carrigan,’ she waved the bewildered astronaut to an armchair with a negligent hand.

‘Where am I?’ he asked, taking off his helmet and glancing first at the beautiful young woman lounging across from him and then at the quiet young man in the armchair by his side, ‘And why am I here?’

‘You are a guest in our home,’ she smiled, ‘You took a real chance on that re-entry you know? And Chance isn’t in a very good mood.’

‘Don’t you dare put the blame on me,’ Chance complained moodily, ‘they wanted good luck, and let’s face it, you haven’t been very good today.’

Carrigan looked over at the shelves and jumped slightly as he noticed a polished human skull in pride of place. A shiver of dread ran down his spine. Chance saw what had attracted his attention and grimaced.

‘Don’t mind that, Major,’ he said softly, ‘The owner of that little memento tried his luck on early cryogenics. My sister likes to keep these reminders around, no matter how distasteful.’

‘It helps me keep perspective, Chance, as I have tried to explain to you before!’ she snapped at him wolfishly, ‘Just because you have no job satisfaction doesn’t mean I can’t take pride in mine.’

‘Oh well, please excuse me,’ Chance grumbled, ‘if I don’t appreciate humans taking the most ridiculous risks and then blaming the outcome on me!’

‘Never bothers you when the outcome is praised on you though.’

‘Look here!’ Carrigan interrupted, ‘Am I dead?’

‘No,’ Luck sighed dramatically, ‘The truth is that we’re having a bit of a disagreement over this matter.’

‘What?’

‘Well, like I said, you took a chance on making a re-entry with those loose tiles, but you’ve had way too much good luck already. Chance and I have been arguing about this for some time, so I thought I’d better meet you before I make my decision.’

‘Your decision?’

‘Obviously. All outcomes of risk taken by chance are determined by either good or bad luck. That’s me. Now, I wanted a bad outcome in this situation but Chance has been most pestilential about giving you a break. So, here we are.’

‘I…I don’t understand.’

Luck rose in one graceful, fluid motion and pointed to a large, colourful canvas on the wall above his head, Carrigan craned his neck around to look at it, ‘Picasso took a risk which is Chance’s domain.’

‘I don’t make anyone take risks,’ Chance complained, folding his arms across his chest, ‘I only encourage them if I think they have a fair chance,’ he glanced over at the Major, ‘She’s always trying to shift blame on to me.’

‘Yes, thank you Chance,’ Luck drawled sarcastically, ‘As I was saying,’ she glared at her brother as he opened his mouth to make another point; he shut it immediately, ‘mine is determining the outcome. I liked Picasso, so I gave him some good luck.’

‘You decide the outcome of all risks?’ Carrigan looked and sounded thoroughly flustered and confused.

‘Hmm, sort of,’ Luck replied evasively, examining her long, painted fingernails, ‘Sometimes I just flip a coin. Only on the boring stuff you understand?’ she added hastily.

‘But Father has marked you as one of his favourites,’ Chance cut in quickly, rising from his chair, ‘Luck is supposed to stay out of his affairs.’

‘Your father? Who is your Father?’

Luck shot Chance a withering look that set him back down again, ‘Our father is Fortune,’ she admitted, ‘and although it’s true that he has marked you, well, he’s not here right now.’

Carrigan remained silent. He was utterly perplexed and sure that he was back on the shuttle suffering from oxygen deprivation. There was just no other explanation for this.

‘I’ll give you a little example shall I?’ Luck picked up a slim square of black plastic and flicked a button. A hologram of a car race filled the air in front of them, ‘Boring,’ she sighed and flicked more buttons, causing the scene in front of them to change rapidly, ‘Ooh, this is better!’

Chance groaned as the scene changed to a brightly lit stage where a pretty young red-haired woman was singing into a microphone, ‘Can’t you leave that poor girl alone?’

‘She shouldn’t have tested her luck on that outfit should she?’ Luck grinned maliciously as they all watched the translucent figure of the singer tug at the top of her strapless gown.

‘Please don’t…’ Chance began.

‘Whoops,’ Luck giggled as she pressed a tiny button. Immediately in front of them Carrigan and Chance watched in pity as the singer’s dress fell down exposing her nude upper body. Cheeks flushing as red as her hair, the woman fled from the stage as Luck laughed uproariously.

Carrigan rose to his feet, ‘Lady, you are sick,’ he turned to Chance, ‘How the hell do I get out of here?’

Moving to stand in Carrigan’s way, Luck’s eyes flare malevolently, ‘Well, I think you just sealed your own fate, Major.’

‘Just what do you think you are doing, young lady?’ a voice boomed from the doorway. All of them turned to see a gigantic man with dark hair and a trailing beard standing in the doorway, a small girl that closely resembled Luck clinging to one massive leg, ‘Put that Astronaut back where he came from. You know very well that I have already decided his fate.’

Luck looked down and the little girl and hissed, ‘Nice going, Serendipity.’

The girl poked out her tongue, ‘I told you Daddy would be angry at you, Luck,’ she replied smugly.

‘Our youngest sister,’ Chance whispered an explanation into Carrigan’s ear as Fortune and Luck began to argue, ‘Always loves getting Luck in trouble,’ he said as though that explained everything.

As the argument dragged on, Carrigan put two fingers to his lips and whistled loudly. The strange family turned toward him, ‘What about me? I have a mission to complete.’

‘Sorry, Major,’ Fortune stepped forward and put a hand on his shoulder, ‘Remember that Fortune is with you.’

With a start, Carrigan opened his eyes as they space shuttle entered Earth’s atmosphere.

‘You okay, Major?’ his co-pilot looked over with concern, ‘You blacked out for a moment.’

‘Yeah,’ Carrigan shook his head in bewilderment, ‘Had a weird dream though. How are those tiles holding?’

‘Seems good, Lady Luck must be with us today.’

‘More like, good Fortune and a little help from Chance and Serendipity,’ Carrigan smiled to the bemusement of his crew.

Copyright © 2008 Alison Pearce .
First published in our Infinitas Newsletter, February 2008 .

This page last updated 16th September 2008.