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The Black Clover Equation

JULY 9, 2018
Big progress today. Despite worries, experiment was complete success: walked under ladder with rabbit’s foot in hand, was missed by lightning strike on other side. Measured distance between self and scorch mark on ground: 2.7 meters. Weather report suggests lightning strike was likely, even before tests began; as such, near-miss should be considered instance of “good luck.”
Conclusion: rabbit’s foot marginally more potent than ladder. Will try again tomorrow outside local theater, while mentioning name of Scottish play.

* * *

July 10, 2018
Burns not so bad. Majority of bones unbroken. Doctors got heart beating again on third attempt—two better than last time. Nurses pleased to see me again, say they enjoy my enthusiasm. Asked Shauna to bring me black cat and four-leaf clover, offered to reward her handsomely. Got pudding instead.
Would not recommend.

* * *

July 11, 2018
Discharged from hospital today. Ready to resume research. Good-luck items left to test: four-leaf clover, leprechaun, wishbone, face-up penny. Bad-luck items left to test: black cat, indoor umbrella, Friday 13th, opened mouth of lion. (Note: call Africa. Place order.)
Recap of positive/negative luck values so far:
Rabbit’s foot: +12.
Walking under ladder: -10.
Mentioning Scottish play: -30.
Horseshoe: +7. (Only +25 for full horse; appears to be some sort of bulk discount here.)
Hospital pudding: -2. (Flavor appears to be non-factor; hence reasonably high rating.)

* * *

July 12, 2018 (1:00 p.m.)
Big day tomorrow. Friday. 13th of July. Must be ready in time—much to do today.
Due to time crunch, have tried cutting corners. Went to zoo this morning. Entered African habitat with can of spray-paint to turn lion black, thus conducting both “open lion mouth” and “black cat” tests at same time. Took all necessary precautions: approached slowly, did not wear gazelle cologne. Was mauled anyway.
Counting experience as instance of bad luck, despite zookeeper’s thoughts to contrary.

* * *

July 12, 2018 (3:00 p.m.)
Tests going well. 3/4 of all limbs still mostly functional. Never used left arm much anyway.
Leprechaun is last item on list. Having difficulty locating one on short notice, but am confident something will come up.

* * *

July 12, 2018 (7:35 p.m.)
Remembered that nephew is quite short and has affinity for magic tricks. Despite sister’s objections to research of this nature in past, went to her house to borrow child. Found nephew alone, convinced him to be spray-painted green. Added shiny black shoes to create reasonable facsimile of leprechaun.
Sister came home before tests could be conducted. Was arrested, spent two hours in jail.
Conclusion: spray-paint very unlucky.

* * *

July 13, 2018 (8:00 a.m.)
Big day. Stayed up all night reviewing recent data and running calculations from previous Friday 13ths. Have settled on equation to use during test.
Ready to start now. Have prepared all materials in picnic basket: 7 horseshoes, 1 black cat (non-lion), 3 face-up pennies (NOTE: DO NOT TILT BASKET), 2 spoonfuls hospital pudding (one for tests, one for caloric replenishment as demanded by tests), 1 rabbit’s foot (half spray-painted black, half covered in clovers), 4 wishbones.
Am prepared to mention name of Scottish play exactly 1.57 times. Truncating word and ending on “B” should create stuttering sound, like unexpected hiccup or escaped burp. Humorous.
Beginning test soon . . .

* * *

July 13, 2018 (1:36 p.m.)
Success! It worked! Have found absolute balance of good/bad luck. During experiment, lost three fingers when nearby logger slipped with chainsaw, but quickly sold disembodied digits to strange woman for exact amount of money needed to purchase prosthetic replacements. Perfect!
Very exciting time. Want to celebrate, but must watch and record long-term results.

* * *

July 17, 2018
Project was mistake. Friday 13th experiment appears to have had repercussions on universal level. Polarity of all luck reversed. Rabbit feet now carrying diseases. Riders of shoe-bearing horses developing leg-rash media have dubbed “thunderflush.” Face-up pennies reflecting sun’s rays and permanently blinding children. Leprechaun-themed cereal #1 cause of diarrhea in America. Etc.
Items previously considered to be unlucky have reversed charges as well, though general population seems unwilling to alter views on matter. Massive increase of bad-luck incidents has resulted in frightened citizens collecting (formerly) good-luck trinkets—rabbit’s feet, clovers, etc.—for protection. “Solution” only making problem worse.

* * *

May 14, 2019
Appear to be last man alive. Survival can be attributed to welded-open umbrella and constant recital of Scottish-play mantra. Silence throughout town is eerie, but solitude has offered time to work on current project.
DNA manipulation harder than anticipated, but am pleased with results. Have successfully bred luckiest creature known to man: black lion that shares several properties with hospital pudding and has loose familiarity with Shakespearean plays.
Plan on introducing lions into wild soon. Not sure what they’ll eat, but am confident in their ability to survive apocalyptic wasteland.

* * *

August 17, 2020
Hyper-intelligent lions have enslaved remains of humanity. Am currently in cell, awaiting trial. Public defender is leprechaun named Wishbone with face-up pennies in loafers. Confidence in acquittal is minimal.
Fully regret all experiments now; world is terrible place. Am vowing to never again engage in scientific pursuits, regardless of—
Hm. Just noticed lions’ science lab is located on way to prisoners’ exercise yard. Could potentially sneak in during afternoon recreation time.
New plan: will develop flesh-eating bacteria that latches onto pudding in lions’ DNA. Can see no way this could possibly go wrong—success is imminent. Project will be difficult, but can be completed with help of sharp wits, strong determination and able hands—and, perhaps, small amount of luck.

Zach Shephard

Zach Shephard is the author of dozens of short stories, some of which have even been published in places other than his mom’s refrigerator. He mostly sticks to the fantasy and science fiction genres, because autobiographical tales are a tough sell for a guy whose proudest moment involves eating nine fair scones in one sitting.  His fiction has appeared in places like Fantasy & Science Fiction, Galaxy’s Edge and the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology series.  For a complete list of his published works–including a link to his first-ever sale, “Lovestruck,” which appeared right here at Flash Fiction Online–check out zachshephard.com.

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