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The Kampung Lottery

Short Horror Fiction On Supposed Community Spirit

By Michelle LiewPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 5 min read
Top Story - June 2024
The Kampung Lottery
Photo by faiz zakaria on Unsplash

Prologue

In days of old in Southeast Asia, a kampong was a village of largely makeshift houses consisting of zinc roofs and other materials people could use to construct their homes. Such villages were common all over South East Asia, and each had a thriving community spirit. This one, perhaps, had one that thrived a little too well. 

*********************************************************************

Kampung Besar. A rustic collection of makeshift dwellings where no one locked their doors, and everyone knew his next door neighbour. Everyone practiced the spirit of "Gotong Royong," or community-mindedness, and the person next to them was always their brother. Unsurprisingly, moods were always upbeat and everyone walked around with perpetual smiles, together with the chickens and ducks they reared. 

Lim Ah Bah was no different. He was the Kampung's clown, always exchanging flirtatious words with the hapless housewives who thronged at the stall he ran at the market, asking for the most succulent cuts of meat. Everyone loved his rough and ready humour. 

This day was no different  Mr. Lim Ah Bah came home to his Kampung feeling as if his spirits couldn't be any higher. He traipsed into the kitchen and wrapped his arms around his wife's shoulders.

"What was that for?" His wife, Sook Mei, returned the hug with a bigger one of her own. "The day's over. It's almost time for dinner. Go get ready and smile. The kids will be home from the field soon." 

"I might win the Kampong lottery." Ah Bah grinned, his smile barely having enough room on his face. "Sook Mei, do you know what that means? We can finally buy a coloured television!"

"Oh, good."Sook Mei's face beamed, taking on its typically radiant colour. She was the Kampong beauty - everyone knew her for being fair-skinned and genteel. "Well, more good news. The Kampung's population has been escalating lately, what with the large number of babies being born this month." 

"We must get new clothes for this event, Sook Mei. It isn't every day that one might win a lottery, you know."

"Let's not get our hopes up.It's just a lottery. We may not win anyway." Sook Mei , ever the rational wife, tried to curb Ah Bah's enthusiasm. Ah Bah began dishing out plates of rice for his returning children, basking in the apparent triumph of his potential win. 

**********************************************************************

"Daddy, did you buy me the Spinning Top you promised?" Li Ping, the Lim's five-year-old daughter, tugged anxiously at her father's sleeve. 

Ah Bah slapped his forehead and let out a loud chortle. No, darling. Daddy was really busy at the stall today and forgot." 

Not to be outdone, Ah Kow, the Lim's oldest son, made a quick grab for the dinner table limelight. "I scored three goals during our futsol (makeshift football) game today.."

Sook Mei filled the dinner table with a rare Chicken Rice feast. She gave Ah Bah a meaningful look, and her dutiful husband took her cue. 

"That's good, boy," Ah Bah tried to swallow a spoon of chicken rice and turned to the children, beaming from one ear to another. "Papa has great news of his own." 

His cheery demeanour was contagious and touched the effervescent, eleven-year-old Ah Kow. "Daddy, what's up? Can we finally get a coloured TV?" He raised an eyebrow. 

Ah Bah couldn't contain his excitement. "Children," he paused for a long while and watched as they turned to him, faces attentive. " We might actually be able to. I might be able to win the Kampong Lottery. My name is up for a lucky draw selection."

Total joy overcame Ah Kow's features. "You're up for the grand prize! And we have chicken today!" 

Ah Kow nodded, serenity covering his face. "Yes."

"There's nothing wrong with having a little celebration beforehand," Ah Kow gave everyone a large chicken thigh, prompting disapproving looks from his beloved wife, who always chastised him about saving. 

"Is winning a lottery good?" The innocent 5-year-old Li Ping asked while taking a generous bite of her chicken thigh. 

Ah Kow, seeing how his father was enwrapped in his potential victory, answered his sister on his father's behalf. "It is! We can watch cartoons on a coloured TV!"

Ah Bah nodded vigorously, smiling in agreement.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Sook Mei cautioned,ever meticulous and and wary. "Papa only received a notification that he might win. He's to go to the square to find ouot if he is actually the winner of the prize." 

Ah Kow faced his father squarely. "We really should buy new clothes to attend." 

Ah Bah sighed contentedly, happiness forming his usually jovial features. It would be good to accept this grand monetary prize, indeed. 

**********************************************************************

The Lee family sidled with excitement into their seats at the Kampong Square, the venue for the lottery. The event was a once-in a lifetime entertainment opportunity for the residents of these sleepy, backwater abodes. 

The announcer, Kwee, donned in a sombre black suit and wearing the sternest of faces. greeted the crowd. "Good afternoon," he nodded his grim acknowledgement of the family. "Congratulations! So glad that you've the rare opportunity to be here!" His plastered smile seemed a little out-of-place, but the Lees, consumed as they were by the possibility of monetary gain and a colour TV, simply ignored him. Everyone around them extended their congratulations, and the Lees offered the same. 

Kwee took the stage. His eyes swept over the audience with an odd, uneasy knowing. "Again, congratulations on the golden chance to be here. You'll already know that you're a potential winner of the village lottery, which is actually its tontine. Let me announce the winners. "

Everyone's ears perked up immediately. 

"Ang Choon Tat. Tan Chwee Choo. Kwek Swee Say." His voice, monotonous and pedantic, had an ominous ring. "Lee Ah Bah." 

Ah Bah stood up and nodded at everyone around him, barely able to contain joy. He practically bolted to the stage, hands extended, ready to accept any cheque the announcer would place in his greedy hands. 

**********************************************************************

But the announcer did not have any cheque ready. Instead, two burly men,apparently guards of sorts grabbed him by the wrist. 

"Wha........" A nonplussed Ah Bah looked about him in complete surprise. Four other similarly-sized men had grabbed the other winners. 

"Heartiest blessings. You're prize awaits." The announcer spoke into the microphone with a crude sneer. 

"What kind of prize is this?" Ang Choon Tat demanded, his voice starting to to boil over in anger. 

"Yeah! This is supposed to be a lottery!!" Kelong! Kelong (Rigged! RIgged!)

"Ah, but it is a lottery. Your prize is to help our community's population control endeavour!"

With that the brusque guards moved the winners to where bales of grass waited, stakes fixed on top. The 'winners' were summarily tied to them. 

Ah Bah's family looked on in horror. Their celebratory mood was no longer present; they now sat, surrounded by guards who prevented them from moving foward towards their beloved patriarch. Sook Mei was beside herself with tears. 

"Once more, congratulations!" The announcer beamed, lighter burning and raised. 

Horror

About the Creator

Michelle Liew

Hi, i am an English Language teacher cum freelance writer with a taste for pets, prose and poetry. When I'm not writing my heart out, I'm playing with my three dogs, Zorra, Cloudy and Snowball.

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Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

Add your insights

Comments (18)

  • ROCK about a month ago

    Well deserved Top Story!

  • Inspire & Engageabout a month ago

    This is beautiful

  • Nathal Nortanabout a month ago

    Thanks for sharing, its a great writeup

  • Gabriela Trofin-Tatárabout a month ago

    Back to say congrats for top story! 🥳🥳🥳

  • Gabriela Trofin-Tatárabout a month ago

    Oh no, this was really sad, he didn't just not win, he got chosen to die?! That's horror. Superbly written, so compelling!

  • Winners can be randomly chosen though it is best if objectivity is applied rather than subjective or random choices. Great story with a well deserved accolade

  • Kathy Tsoukalasabout a month ago

    This is beautiful- so heartwarming! I was hooked from start to finish.

  • TahimaAniabout a month ago

    amazing story ♥️

  • KhutsoMachikaVeVoabout a month ago

    I enjoyed reading 📚

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    OMG, great job! I began to feel uneasy in the middle of the story with the father's excitement at a possibility to "win." Congrats on TS!! 🥳

  • Gerard DiLeoabout a month ago

    Winners aren't randomly selected--they're chosen. Wow, didn't see that coming. The Wicker Man comes to Southeast Asia! Congratulations on top story, I really enjoyed it.

  • Esala Gunathilakeabout a month ago

    Back to say congrats on your top story 😊👏.

  • Ricardo de Moura Pereiraabout a month ago

    Very good

  • Kendall Defoe about a month ago

    Oh, I like this! Shirley Jackson meets the Far East. Well-deserved Top Story!🏅

  • Melissa Ingoldsbyabout a month ago

    Scary 😦 ohh so sad for the family

  • CHRISTIAN Pabout a month ago

    Nice fiction story 👍

  • Esala Gunathilakeabout a month ago

    Superb flow of a fiction. Enjoyed it.

Michelle LiewWritten by Michelle Liew

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