Edward Rollins’ alarm cut through his sleep by blaring its staccato buzz. He reached out from under his heavy down comforter and forced it to stop. He groaned and rolled over to sit up in his king sized bed. He wiped the sleep out of his dark brown eyes, and ran his hand through his thick dark beard. Edward turned his body and planted his feet firmly on the dark cherry hardwood floor. He took in a deep breath of air and released it with a sigh. The clock showed 6:15a.m. Time to start the day. Edward dressed in his robe and padded into the kitchen.
“It’s Friday! I think I’ll make breakfast today!” Edward said aloud to clarify his intent. It wasn’t necessary, but it was a habit he developed. He cast his hand toward the counter top and a golden D8 slid out of his palm onto the table. The die disappeared after it stopped. Even without looking at it he knew the result. He rolled a 1, critical failure. “Guess I’m picking up donuts.” Edward sighed and grabbed the fire extinguisher off the wall. He learned long ago that he still needed to perform the action, or the roll would carry over. Luckily for him, toast counted as breakfast. The second he depressed the lever the toaster burst into flames. He calmly put it out then went to finish getting ready. He reached the bus stop at 7:00 on the dot and greeted the usual crowd.
“Morning Eddie.” Julie, a pale redhead, greeted him with an annoyed look on her face. She put her smart phone up in Edward’s face with the commuter app opened. It showed a picture of a male bus driver with a number six next to him. Due to the skill involved, driving a personal vehicle was illegal within city limits. “Driver’s new. He rolled low today, so he’s running late.”
“What about the alternates?” Edward asked. Julie shook her head, and gave a slight chuckle.
“It is an alternate. They sent the only one that rolled high enough to get the bus out of the garage. The usual driver called in sick, and none of the alternates have mastered the skill yet. If his roll were any lower, we would have had to use another route,” Julie said.
“Damn. If he’s running late that means I’m not gonna have a chance to pick up breakfast.” Edward checked the commuter app to see just how late the bus was.
“You didn’t eat?” Julie asked. Edward shook his head.
“Nah. I tried to cook breakfast, but rolled a critical fail. I planned to hop off the bus at the donut shop then catch the next one. No time now.” Julie shook her head, and swiped through her phone. She pulled up a social media app and showed Edward again. This time it was a picture of the donut shop he planned to stop at with a number 20 next to its name.
“You wouldn’t have been able to anyway. Baker scored a critical success this morning, the line’s halfway down the block.”
“Oh. Well I guess it evens out. I’ll have to hit up the vending machine at work.” Edward cursed his luck. “It’s shaping up to be a fantastic Friday so far.”
“Vending machine?” Julie took a side step closer to Edward, and checked the crowd around them. She leaned closer and whispered in his ear.
“Ever tried rolling when you didn’t need to?” Edward turned to face her with his eyes wide. He met her hazel eyes, and she winked at him.
“N-nno. It never even occurred to me that it was possible.” Julie nodded her head eagerly.
“I do it all the time, it’s great for vending machines. I got a 20 once, it gave me *all* the snacks!” Her lips curled up into a smile revealing pearl white teeth. “It’s super fun.”
“What happens if you get a 1?” Edward asked, the failure of the morning still fresh in his mind. Julie shrugged.
“Dunno, never happened.” She punched his shoulder lightly. “But c’mon! What’s the worse that can happen, machine swallows your money?” She chuckled and Edward did too. Julie spent the rest of their wait, and then the ride to his office sharing her various success stories with rolling unnecessarily. He stood when the bus reached his stop, and Julie handed him a card with her number on it.
“Call me if you ever want to find out what critical sex is like.” She winked at him. Edward took the card with a smile and stepped off the bus. He reached his cubicle with seven minutes to spare, and headed to the vending machine. It sat in a bright empty hallway. Fluorescent lights shined on the vending machine like heavenly rays. He eyed the machine’s stock. Cookies, chips, and snack cakes all called his name, and his stomach had trouble deciding. Julie’s voice filled the back of his mind.
“ALL the snacks!” Edward looked up and down the hallway to make sure no one was coming.
“I’m going to buy myself a snack,” he said aloud. He cast his hand toward the wall and a golden D20 flew out and bounced off. It rolled under the machine, but he knew his roll. 1. “I guess I’m not eating today.” He complained to himself. He was down to his last couple of dollars, and now he assumed the machine was going to swallow it. He decided on a blue box of cookies and placed a dollar on the feeder. The machine ate the bill then spit it back out. For a brief second he let himself consider that the machine not taking his money was the result of his roll, but he knew better. He tried again and the machine took his dollar bill this time, followed by the next one.
“Alright machine, let’s get this over with.” He input the numbers for the box of cookies and waited. The arm began to turn slightly and the box of cookies moved forward. He felt a slight hope rise inside him. The cookies perched at the edge about to fall, and stopped. “Of course.” Edward said. He turned to walk away, but a slight creak stopped him in his tracks. He faced the machine again. The last thing he saw was the machine pitching forward, before it crushed him under heavy metal, broken glass, and all the snacks.