Once again, my weekly attendance of Write It Up! Burbank has paid off with a set of colorful prompts, resulting in an equally bizarre story.
La Lotería con Sr. Bieber, by Alexander Paul Willging
Word Count: 516
The year was 1927. The place: the south side of Barcelona. In a tiny plaza a few miles south of La Rambla, throngs of people lined every corner of the bandstand. A jazz quartet was performing classic ballads to a modern theme, attracting flappers and their boyfriends from far and wide.
Hanging near the back of the crowd was a worn-down, perplexed Justin Bieber. He wore the same tie, vest, and hat as every other man in the crowd, but he didn’t have much of an ear for Spanish.
As far as he could tell, this wasn’t a dream. One minute, he’d been performing for millions of screaming girls, and the next, he was stumbling down an alley in 1926, somewhere in the heart of Spain.
“It’s close, señor,” a warm voice murmured in his ear.
That was Justin’s only friend in this strange land: Doctor Ernesto de Avila, a rather eccentric engineer and self-proclaimed “inventor.” He’d helped Justin after finding him begging for help. And he alone believed the young man’s story of traveling back through time.
“I hope to do the same myself,” Ernesto had declared. He showed Justin his prototype for a time machine, built on principles being discussed by the world’s leading physicists at Copenhagen. At this point, Justin didn’t care.
He just wanted a ride home.
Meanwhile, the jazz band had finished their set onstage. Everyone burst out in applause as an older Spaniard stood up at the microphone. He cleared his throat and called out, “Bienvenidos a la lotería!”
Justin looked down at the lottery ticket clenched in his hand. It was his last shot at getting out.
Ernesto had explained it thusly: “Ay, nino, first we get the winnings. Then, we build the last parts of the time machine, verdad? ¡Muy fácil!”
While he didn’t know a thing about science or engineering, Justin had faith that his old Spanish friend would be proven right.
Back in the plaza, the master of ceremonies spun a basket full of numbered balls round and round. He plucked them out and read each number one by one.
“Cero…! Uno…! Siete…!”
“Come on, baby, baby, baby,” Justin hissed.
The last ball came up. “Cinco!”
Justin almost kissed Ernesto for joy. They cried and laughed and hugged. The crowds parted as they ran toward the stage, with hundreds cheering them on.
When at last he reached the stage, Justin presented his ticket. The old man laughed and shook his hand.
“Congratulations!” he said in accented English. “You’ve won la magdalena grande!”
When no one offered him an enormous check or a bag of money, Justin looked around in confusion.
“Oh, no,” Ernesto said.
As he turned around, Justin laid eyes on the largest cupcake he’d ever seen. It was the size of a boat, with mountains of pink frosting. It needed at least eight men to wheel it into the tiny plaza.
Around him, the crowd’s cheers filled the air. The master of ceremonies clapped him on the back. And Justin Bieber wept bitter tears as his pastel pink harbinger of doom approached the stage.
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