He was stunned. His whole life, his every day had always played to the tune of bad luck. Nothing ever went his way; until today. Mark was a 32 year old man, living alone in a dirty old apartment. He couldn't keep friends. He ate alone; he watched the same T.V. shows every night. Despite his horrible luck he insisted on spending his money on lotteries and scratch cards. He didn't believe in dreams coming true. Dreams were fairy tales meant only for the pages of childrens' books.
He insisted on putting his money into something that he knew relied on luck to win. Perhaps, deep down, he wanted to believe his luck could change. He tried every good luck charm he could think of. But still, nothing could sway the pattern. He was hopeless, until one day, when he was looking at trinkets at a stand in a market place; an old woman had approached him.
"Looking for something specific?" she crackled, looking at him intently.
"Just browsing" he responded in reflex.
He was used to the inquiries into his search. He spent allot of his time in the marketplace, looking for charms. This old woman no doubt noticed his obsessive search for such charms. That didn't mean he was about to admit it.
"Those won't help you" she stated plainly, grabbing Mark's attention. "Those things contain no actual power." He looked at her, interest spiked.
"And what would?" he responded, feeling his heartbeat increase in excitement.
"Contain power?" she said with a short low chuckle, "Come with me." She turned around and started to walk.
He followed eagerly, as if tied to an invisible leash. They entered a nearby building via a door that said 'employees only.' They made many turns, walked down a flight of stairs and stopped at a Grey, metal door. She knocked on the door and a slit opened at eye level. It closed quickly and the door opened with a loud creek. They made their way inside and the heavy door closed behind them. She moved fast for an old woman. They walked down a long, empty hall, with many hanging lights, and entered another room.
It was lit by candles only, and sitting by the far wall, on what appeared to be a wooden throne, was a large dark skinned man in a brown, hooded robe that covered his eyes. In his left hand was a metal staff of sorts; made of, what looked like, twisted steel.
"You seek real power," he stated in a deep strong voice.
"Actually, I'm just trying to improve my luck," he replied, looking around the room nervously. The man laughed, but suddenly stopped.
"Do you believe luck is real?" he asked slowly.
Mark licked his dry lips and eyed the staff in the man's hand. He didn't know who these people were, but he didn't think he wanted to. The man on the throne may have had his eyes covered, but he could feel his stare.
"Yes," he replied simply, wanting the fear in his veins to disappear.
"Do you believe you can change it?" the man asked, gesturing with the staff.
Mark was nodding before he even had time to think about it. The man smiled.
"Good, you are moldable." His smile disappeared.
"Are you ready for a change Mark?" His staff pointed at Mark.
"How do you know..." he started to say, but suddenly felt too weak to stand; so he collapsed.
The moment he hit the floor his eyes flew open and he sat up in bed.
"It was only a dream", he said to himself before getting up and making his way to the kitchen for breakfast.
After pouring himself a bowl of cereal he grabbed the lottery ticket that was stuck to the fridge and sat down on his older then vintage couch. He grabbed the remote that sat beside him on the faded green cushion to his left. He consumed his cereal while waiting for the lottery numbers to be called.
He couldn't get the dream out of his head. It chewed away at him like a dog on its bone. His thoughts were interrupted as he noticed that it was time. He picked up his ticket and listened to the numbers count away.
He was stunned. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. The numbers on the screen were a clone of his card. He thought back to the dream; had it been real? He didn't know, but either way, it looked like his luck had made a sudden reversal. His phone rang and he stared it down before answering.
"Hello Mark," said a crackly old voice. "How are you feeling this morning?" she said as he tried to identify the voice.
"Who is this?" he replied.
"You know who I am." she responded as he turned pale. She was the woman from his dream.
He was quickly starting to think that his dream was something other than a dream.
"What do you want?" he asked nervously, dreading the answer.
"We already have what we want," she said slowly, "you." He sat up straight, fear striking him hard.
"What do you mean me?" A knock at the door startled him.
"Answer it," she said, and then hung up.
He set the phone down and stood up, eyes glued to the solid wood door. He made his way to the door hesitantly. There was another knock. He wiped the sweat off of his forehead before opening it. The last thing he saw was a staff; his world went black.
He opened his eyes; he let them focus as he realized he was lying on his back on the floor.
"This is getting old," he said to himself.
"It wasn't me this time," a deep voice said from his couch, "You fainted."
The man with the staff sat on his couch, eyes still covered.
"You are more moldable then previously thought," he continued. "We have a proposition for you." he said, his head still pointing straight ahead.
Mark stood, wiping off the dust on his back. He no longer feared this robed man with a staff; he was merely fascinated by him now.
"We want you to work for us," he continued, not waiting for Mark's response.
"I thought you already owned me," he responded. "That's what that old woman said." The man smiled.
"Amazing," he said. "You already get glimpses."
Mark stared at him like he was crazy. 'Who is this nut?' he thought.
"What do I get if I work for you?" he said to him.
"We will give you something that no man is willing, or capable of owning."
"And what would this be?" he asked, but was interrupted by the phone ringing. He picked it up.
"You made a wise choice Mark," said a deep voice that shouldn't be on the phone. He hung up in a hurry; thoroughly freaked out. He looked at the man on the couch, then at the phone. 'This isn't possible,' he thought.
"Wrong number?" he asked Mark, in his slow deep voice. Mark looked at the phone for a moment, and then said,
"Uh, yes, it was a wrong number." He tried his best to keep the panic out his voice.
He looked at the phone again, feeling a strong urge to pick it up. He couldn't explain why. He gave in and in a quick motion the coolness of the receiver was pressed against his ear. He suddenly knew why he did it; his phone was dead. He gripped the table for balance. 'Now would be a good time to wake up,' he thought, but somehow knew he wouldn't.
"I accept your deal." he stated. The man smiled, and then stood, facing him.
"You made a wise choice Mark." he said. "Are you ready for a change?"
He removed his hood and Mark finally understood everything that had happen recently.
"Yes," he said, but for the first time in his life, he knew it was a good thing.