Robin de Voh
there's never enough stories

Nanoprep 2021 Day 12: Lucky Find

By Robin de Voh on 2021-10-19

A small blue flask, made of intricately crafted glass, labeled just 'LCK', was in the big cardboard box he was unpacking. Alec didn't do it often, but sometimes he felt like a bit of adventure. So he'd bid on and won the contents of an abandoned storage unit and had taken a few days off to go through it all. Most of it was worth something but not much, but this box had so far just been crap. He put the little glass flask away and kept looking.

Blankets, sweaters, some old insurance paperwork, but nothing worth much. This was the last box, so he closed it up, kicked it to the back of the unit and got ready to leave.

Before he did so, he looked back at the flask and decided to take it along. It looked fragile, and also a bit more special than most of the items in here, so he figured he'd see if it actually was special.

The drive home was uneventful, and when he got back he called for some Chinese food and then sat down behind his laptop. He took an image of the flask and did an image search. Some similar flasks showed up, but the most similar were on a website by an antique shop just 2 towns over. He stored the address in his phone and made a note to go by tomorrow, he had the day off anyway.

After a long day of rummaging through someone else's former belongings and a rather big and comforting meal, he fell asleep on the couch.

When he woke up, his eyes quickly went to the flask, which he'd left on the coffee table, and he got up and checked when the store would open. In an hour. It was about an hour's drive, so he got up and showered, to get out of there early, so he wouldn't end up doing all this in the middle of the day and ruin his day off.

It was an uneventful drive and he eventually made it to the store. It seemed like he'd always imagined antique stores in small towns -- dusty and dark. The sign said it was already open, so he walked in.

ding ding the bell above the door went.

He looked inside but his eyes needed to adjust to the lack of light in here.

"Hm, yes?" a voice murmured from the back of the store.
"Hi, err, I have an item I'd like appraised? Or, at least, some more information on?"
"Come to the back, son," the voice said.

He slowly made his way towards the back of the store. Closets full of old stuff were around him, stuff he couldn't really appreciate for what it was supposedly worth, but it looked nice enough.

He turned a corner and there was a small coffee corner, where an old man was sitting, pouring a cup of coffee.

"Sit down," he said, "it's too early to stand."

Alec sat down and went to fish the flask from his pocket.

"No, no, son. First, have a cup of coffee. Then tell me why you're here."
"Ah, okay, thank you," Alec said as he picked up the cup the man had just filled up.

He took a sip and given that he'd left the house without having any coffee, he actually really enjoyed it.

"Ah, thank you, that's actually really nice," he said.
"Told you," the man said, putting the coffee jug down. "Now, what can I help you with?"
"Ah, so, I saw on your website that you have a collection of small colored flasks?"

The man raised an eyebrow and looked Alec straight in the eyes.

"I do, but they're a private collection," he said warily. "Why do you ask?"

Alec produced the flask now, and held it up to the old man.

"Because I found a similar one and was wondering if you could tell me anything about them, actually."

The old man squinted, then decided to put his glasses on, which were dangling around his neck. He touched the flask carefully and moved his face closer.

"Luck, I've got that one," he said. "Sorry, not interested."
"Hm, well, even so, could you tell me anything about it? You say you've already got one of these?"
"Yes, I've got Luck, Balance, Water Breathing and -- what was it again... Oh, yes, Telekinesis."

Alec raised an eyebrow in turn and looked a little incredulous.

"You're talking about these like they're potions," he said after a second of thinking.
"That's because they are. That there is a luck potion," the man said as he took his glasses off and sat back again.
"Potions are magic, and magic isn't real."
"Magic isn't common. Not anymore. But it's real."
"No, that can't be true, we would have known," Alec said. "Right?"
"If something is so rare nowadays that you need an antiquarian to tell you something about it, do you think it's possible that its effects might get downplayed?"

Alec turned the flask around in his hand.

"So I can just try it and see if my luck improves?"
"You could, though I've found the Luck potion especially is rather hard to verify. Luck, in a sense, is positive random chance. The random nature makes it, well, random."
"True, but if I take this a few times and something good happens after, it would tell me something. Whether you're selling me a tall tale here, for example."

The old man laughed. "Believe what you will, son, same to me either way."

"Then maybe I'll try some now," Alec said.
"Ah, please, no. Please use it far away from me."
"The potions have some side effects. In the case of the Luck potion, I found it doesn't just give you luck, it takes it from somewhere. Like there's a limited amount of luck to go around, so it simply redirects some to you from where it was supposed to be."
"Wait, if I get lucky because of this, it means someone else gets unlucky?"
"Yes, and from what I can tell, it's whoever's closest to you."
"That's... That's not a great deal."
"I'm pretty sure I once killed someone with it," the man said, looking down at his cup. "I found a lottery ticket, won 50.000, but the person who was nearest to me got hit by a truck not long after."

An awkward pause filled the room. Alec felt bad, but also felt like he'd gotten what he needed from the old man. And that he didn't necessarily feel like playing therapist to him either.

"Okay, noted. I won't use it near you, I promise," he said, as he pocketed the flask and got up.
"I would suggest not using it," the old man said.
"I won't," Alec lied.

He left the antique store and got back to his truck. He got the flask out and considered taking a small swig, but decided that he should heed the old man's warning. The guilt in his eyes had been real, it had taken a real toll on him. So Alec would not make the mistake.

He put the flask away again and started his truck. He set a route to the biggest city in the area and found a parking space near the biggest square it had.

If he took it near hundreds of people and didn't know whose life it ruined, he'd never have to deal with the guilt.