The Short Story Experience: LUCKY STRIKE

March 31, 2047

It’s official: the four-leaf clover you’ve been carrying around inside your wallet is useless — but your genes might not be.

By now, you’ve certainly heard of Aurora Zeinallah. Eighteen months ago, the Sudanese scientist put her small town on the map when she came on the record about a curious study — the genetic traits of luck. With an already large pool of volunteers, Zeinallah came to the public to invite people who might be interested in participating in her research and ask for funds. The unusual theme coupled with the Doctor’s impressive resume garnered a lot of attention from the media and some eccentric billionaires. The scientific community, however, laughed and turned their back on her. Apparently, though, she who laughs last, laughs the longest.

This week, after months of silence, well after the story had fallen into oblivion, Aurora Zeinallah published a preliminary report containing the results of the first year of her trial claiming she found proof of her theory. Unlike the last time, scientists and the general public alike are very interested in her findings.

“It’s all uncertain and unofficial,” Jakob Gustavsen, one of the most prominent names of the fourth genome wave, states. He and a handful of his male peers are gathering a committee to review Dr. Zeinallah’s methods and interview her subjects. She has extended an open invitation to anyone wanting to discuss her findings, although she’s not willing to leave her village to do so.

“Resentment has little use for science,” Dr. Zeinallah told us over a recent phone call. “My concealing these facts would only harm the very people I’m trying to help.”

This study is undeniably remarkable on its own, but it also has very personal roots for the young Doctor. Aurora’s whole family died from a very treatable infection when she was only a baby. She survived alone for sixteen days until a group of British medics found her. She declined to comment on this.

Aurora Zeinallah’s research has created an unprecedented buzz and raised many questions, among which a very basic one: what is luck?

September 22, 2047

Results are in! According to Jakob Gustavsen and his committee of 15 of the most respectable geneticists and scientists in the world, Dr. Aurora Zeinallah’s assumption that luck is a genetic trait is true.

Over the last several months, Dr. Gustavsen and his peers have been carefully reviewing the results of what might be this century’s greatest discovery. Yesterday, in a press conference held at the city hall of Yoma, Dr. Zeinallah’s hometown and where her trial has been ongoing, Gustavsen announced his committee deems the study evidence indisputable.

“We went over every piece of data and even rerun some of her tests,” Gustavsen stated. “It’s all true, repeatable, and accurate. I’m also happy to announce 13 out of our 15 members have the L-gene.”

After verifying the safety of all procedures, the members of the committee tested themselves. Unsurprisingly, most of Dr. Gustavsen’s committee, some of the smartest, richest men in the world, tested positive for the L-gene, or the AZ-link, as it is becoming popularly known, in a clear tribute to Doctor Aurora Zeinallah’s name. It is unclear if the Doctor herself carries it in her blood.

The author of this groundbreaking reveal was noticeably absent from the gathering. We were able to get a hold of her this morning, in a rare opening of her busy schedule. When asked about the importance of the scientific community and Dr. Gustavsen’s support, Dr. Zeinallah said it is ‘irrelevant’.

“I’ve been working all this time without them and, frankly, I intend on going forward on the same terms,” she stated. “My goal now is to expose all the ways luck as a hereditary trait has shaped our society and, hopefully, find a way to level the field for everyone.”

How exactly she plans on doing that remains a mystery. However, now, Aurora Zeinallah might have the upper hand in the old-as-time fight for justice.

June 14, 2048

Six months in and the demand for Lady Luck tests is only increasing. Even with the expansion of production and the joint efforts for distribution all over the globe, the waiting times — for both the paid and free versions — are up to years. It seems like you’d need a little luck to get your hands on one of the popular green stripes.

“We’ve been trying to consolidate the different waiting lists but it’s out of control,” David Shepherd, head of the Administrative department at St. James Hospital, said. “Now, it could be anywhere between a few months or even a decade.”

The situation is not different for recording results. According to Shepherd, the process of verifying and registering those who have taken the test is pretty slow, especially since some people have taken the test more than once. “People have been treating it as pregnancy tests, which can yield false results. That’s not the case at all — Dr. Zeinallah’s method has zero chance of giving a false positive or negative,” Shepherd says. It’s still unclear how Dr. Aurora Zeinallah’s team will use this data, although it has already started to reshape our society.

“We cannot be expected to ignore this and go on living our lives like this changes nothing. This changes everything! We have to take action and we must do it now,” Congressman Jason Fink told us last week, after presenting an amendment that intends to make Lady Luck tests a requirement in applications of every kind — from school admittance to government jobs.

“This has been happening since we were born. This is simple genetics. Requiring someone to reveal an inherent trait of themselves in order to decide whether they’re fit for a job or even education is discrimination at its core,” Cara Crawford, house representative, stated.

Politicians are not the only ones divided over this, as we’ve seen an increase in protests from both advocates and enemies of the Lady Luck initiative. Those in favor of the test defend that awareness of this existing advantage would make for a fairer world, albeit not specifying the hows. Those against it, like Crawford, raise the discrimination flag, stating this would marginalize people even more — which we have already started to see.

Only two weeks ago, P.O.P. made history by committing to not use ‘AZ-linkers’ in their campaigns anymore, going against the tide since similar brands have decided to only hire ‘lucky people’ for ads and promotion. Reports of violent acts against those who carry and do not carry the gene alike have also been on the rise. Parents are being encouraged to not disclose their kids’ test results if they choose to take them so they avoid bullying in schools. People with any sort of stability or advantage have suddenly become ‘persons of interest’, being singled out and even harassed. All of this, mind you, before knowing the actual implications of carrying the AZ-link. A number of studies about the sociological, psychological, and even evolutionary aspects of this finding are currently ongoing, yet professionals claim it is too soon to draw any type of definitive conclusions.

Meanwhile, Dr. Aurora Zeinallah has stayed quiet and away, focused on her own research back in her village in Sudan. Always solicitous despite her busy schedule, she talked to us this morning to address some of the controversies.

“This is all foolish,” she stated. “Only foolish people equal science to status. That’s not what my work is for.”

Yet, when asked what is her work for, she didn’t answer. Dr. Zeinallah’s secretiveness has been raising a lot of suspicion in the science community, to which she responds with a hearty laugh.

Another topic Dr. Zeinallah dodged during our conversation is the rumor that she’s been working on a vaccine that would provide the necessary changes in the DNA of those born without the AZ-link, making them, as one would say, ‘lucky’. This rumor has been gaining traction over the last couple of months, being discussed in interviews and online by some of the most renowned scientists of our time.

“I don’t see how that would be possible,” Dr. Jakob Gustavsen shared on a recent livestream where he listed several roadblocks to the development and subsequent approval of such a vaccine. One of his strongest points is that “that’s not how vaccines work.”

However, it wouldn’t be the first time Gustavsen would be wrong about Dr. Zeinallah’s abilities.

January 4, 2049
Meet Elimu, the first registered patient to get the AZ-cyclin shot! page 4
We attended an ‘AZ-cycliNOT’ meeting — here’s what you need to understand about the newest anti-vax group. page 7
Tension grows in the West as Sudan reinforces its borders. page 9
The ‘lucky vaccine’ has reached the black market. Are governments losing control? page 12
Aurora Zeinallah’s nomination for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine causes controversy and outrage. page 16

April 1, 2049
Jackson Grandino, one of the first people in the country to get the AZ-cyclin vaccine, or ‘lucky shot’, has died in a car crash aged only 43. The fatality has brought to question not only the efficacy of the new drug, but the discovery as a whole. Reports claiming there are no visible changes to people’s lives whether they carry the AZ-link or not are becoming increasingly common.

“I tested positive last year, but that actually changed nothing. I didn’t get ahead in life, in fact, I never have. I lead a pretty ordinary life, struggled in school, have a mediocre job… I’m not sure where the luck gene comes in for me,” A. F., age 32, stated. He’s not alone — AZ-linkers everywhere have come forward to testify the gene has never played any major role for them. Some studies are being assembled to investigate these subjects, who, curiously, are in their majority white, heterosexual males.

The death of Mr. Grandino added to the overall dissatisfaction with the vaccine, although waiting lines have not seen any decrease since its launch. Yet, this has fueled the movement against the drug, with ‘AZ-hinders’ claiming this proves the study, or at the very least the vaccine, is a scam.

“Nonsense,” Dr. Jakob Gustavsen told us in a recent interview. “Death was never a matter of luck. Everybody dies, regardless of your DNA composition. At most, what this sad tragedy allows us to deduce, is that accidents might not be related to luck as well.”

This has raised a whole different set of questions. What is related to luck, then?

Last week we’ve seen the first vaccinated person win the lottery. Maria Montoya got her shot in a clandestine clinic at an undisclosed location and won the draw merely two weeks after. Another popular case is Indian engineer Manal Shukla, who was among the first hundreds to be vaccinated in her country — she invented a system to make plastic so biodegradable that it can be consumed by nature in only a few days. Her yet-to-be-named contraption is already being dubbed as what might save the planet. Of course, she has dedicated her entire life to this project; still, she came across the missing piece only after taking the ‘lucky shot’.

Other cases, like the fan who got rockstar Billy Brim to fall in love with her during a concert, or Italian mobster Nicolo Sposato who got through customs unsuspected while carrying a case full of cocaine, have also made headlines over the past months. Born AZ-linkers, like top model Gwendolyn Green and FeedBit social media mogul Chris Patrick, have been riding the wave high as well, with every new million accounted as proof of Dr. Aurora Zeinallah’s credibility.

The doctor herself, however, has been hard to contact since she won her Nobel Prize late last year. We were unable to grab a hold of her to comment on Grandino’s death or any of the stories mentioned in this article. With the borders to Sudan closed and her research still ongoing, it’s hard to say what any of this means at this point.

The only certain conclusion we can make is that we are quite a ways out of understanding what luck actually is.

» Would you like to suggest the theme for my next short story? Send me prompts! Leave a comment below or hit me up on social media.

Follow Me!
Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Facebook | Goodreads | BookBub

Subscribe the Newsletter to be the first to know when there’s a new post up!

[ninja_form id=4]

1 thought on “The Short Story Experience: LUCKY STRIKE”

  1. this story is so fucking amazing in so many ways! what is lucky? what is the impact of it in our lives? who controls it? I would like to read an entire book about it ♥

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *