The Jackpot
By C.J. Johnson

The pile of bills sat innocently atop the kitchen table. Not a letter bomb among them, they each still had the same devastating effect when opened. Not ten minutes earlier they had taunted Sheila needlessly with their contents, causing her heart to flutter in panic and anxiety.
Tears shone in Sheila's eyes and she suddenly whooped loudly. Laughing and hugging herself, she began to dance around the kitchen table. The telephone conversation with Harry, her husband of 12 years, played and re-played in her mind.
"We've won the Lottery babe," he'd told her. "I'm on my way home now with the ticket!"
He'd walked out of the office to come home!
That must mean a substantial win.
Sheila, exhausted from her delirious antics, sank onto a chair and grabbed the pile of bills. One by one she tossed them around the kitchen, squealing in happiness.
No more debt collectors, no more worrying.
Sheila spent the next twenty minutes daydreaming of the wonderful life she would soon be leading when the sound of Harry's key in the front door sent her heart pounding in excitement and caused fresh tears to gather in her eyes. She raced to the door, throwing herself at Harry who stood holding his briefcase and grinning at her.
"I can't believe it," Sheila gasped, her words muffled as she hugged him tightly.
"Believe it babe, we've won on the Lottery!"
He handed her the ticket from his left pocket. Sheila could barely focus on the piece of paper as her eyes constantly filled with fresh tears of happiness. Once she managed to focus however, her happiness turned to confusion. She looked at Harry.
"You...you," she stuttered.
Harry began to laugh. Hearty laughter soon gave way to hysterical peals and wails as he bent over and clutched his sides, the sounds sending wave after wave of crippling disappointment over Sheila.
Haaa haaa haaa, Ahhhhh haaaa haaaa!
The almost psychotic laughter stirred a dark place deep within Sheila, a dark place that she had struggled to contain for years. A dark place that had whispered unspeakable things in her ear during the course of her marriage to this cruel man. An hour seemed to go by, but it was likely no more than thirty seconds. Regaining some sort of control, Harry stood straight and began to adjust his suit and tie. Sheila again looked at the ticket in her hand. They had indeed won the lottery, Harry had not lied.
They had won £10.
"You should see your face," Harry told her before bursting into a fresh round of laughter.
"But you left the office," Sheila muttered, feeling completely detached and numb.
"Left some important papers here this morning, just popped home to get them."
Harry laughed as he went to his study to retrieve the papers, laughed as he brushed past her frozen figure in the hallway, the ticket still clutched in her stiff fingers.
"Classic!" he yelled at her before leaving the house, his laughter fading as he walked down the garden path.
Sheila sank into a heap on the floor. Through her numbing disappointment and shock, the dark place, once again, began to whisper to her.
Six months later...
Sheila sprawled on the sun lounger, soaking up the sun as she gazed at the view from her balcony.
Harry's life insurance had made her a rich woman. A car accident had claimed his life, faulty brakes, the official report claimed.
It was amazing what one could learn about cars from the Internet, both how to fix them, and how to disable them.
Sheila grinned, then began to laugh.
The dark place slumbered within her, satisfied.
For now.

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My name is C.J. Johnson and I'm 30 years old. My first horror novel entitled Female of the Species will be released shortly in digital format and I'm currently writing my second novel, which is a thriller. My first Flash Fiction story will appear on Linguistic Erosion on 27/8/12. I can be 'Liked' on Facebook for anyone interested in my work.

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