Back in the 1990s, in Sweden, Bingo-Lotto was the epitome of bliss. It was such a simple concept that spanned across the entire country: you played bingo, via your TV, with a bingo card bought at a nearby gas station together with your Mom; Dad stayed home, helping us carrying grocery bags once we got back with redness in his eyes, ensuring that we actually had gotten our hands on some bingo cards as they sometimes ran out of them, and what the hell would we do then?

This show, Bingo-Lotto, was hosted by Leif (pronounced “Lay-F”), the most simplistic and banal human ever to be brought into this world. There was this photo of him circulating the web in the early days of both the internet and Bingo-Lotto, on the handball field, in his referee outfit. He had started out as a handball referee, and now there he was, this cicero that commandeered our Saturday evenings, emitting laughter and joy that reached our hopeful and desperate ears as we, too, ached to become millionaires.

Because that was the thing.

As it worked, they drew numbers digitally (real fancy graphics), and then (with your special Bingo-Lotto pen), you marked each number. Once you got “bingo,” you could phone in, and if you were lucky, you GOT TO TALK TO LEIF HIMSELF!

But very few got that lucky.

Still, if you had gotten “bingo,” you went back to the same gas station and collected either your win of 100 Swedish Krona (10 US dollars) or got two new bingo cards for the following Saturday—Dad stayed home.

If you got to talk to Leif, you were to choose a number between 1-15, and Leif would open a box in this pyramid of boxes with said number. Usually, you won stuff like snow tires or a gift card for something, or it could be “your weight in salami.” So people had to, on national TV, reveal how much they weighed, and then they got 95 kg (210 lbs) of salami sent to their homes.


The thing, the enchilada, the top pot, was the big MILLION—1,000,000 Swedish Krona. Back then, it was still a lot of money.

The banshee-like scream people harbored inside and let loose as Leif giggled was dazzling. It held a new future within, an idea of another bright life, not just specks of sunshine here and there, illuminating everyone’s poverty-tainted depressions.

We envied those. We witnessed, yearned, and bought new bingo cards.

And so, after years of attending this mass of dreams each Saturday, we, with a diminishing devotion, won. But not money.

Mom got “bingo,” and Dad phoned in.

We were met with the pre-recorded message saying that “Hey, glad you won, but you can forget talking to Leif, so get the fuck off the line,” or at least that’s how it felt.

So we called again (each call cost 5 Swedish Krona, but what does that matter when the light in the tunnel shone upon us!?).

The same thing.

And then.

An operator, a real person, explaining that we were next in line to talk with Leif.

Everything stopped. A frozen memory where Earth lost a second, something that maybe didn’t alter anything, but that second was our second; it was our 1/60 of a minute, and nobody could rob us of it.

Dad was asked to pick a number.


And Leif opened it.

It wasn’t a million (you had to spin a wheel to get that million, so even then, the shot for that new life was meagre at best).

It wasn’t salami or snow tires.

Leif opened number 10 and then—as he did—turned to the camera and howled:


“Okay,” was all Dad managed to say.

With his piercing gaze that felt like it reached through our white Luxor TV, Leif slapped us around as we didn’t join the past chorus of banshee-winners.

The rest is a haze. Dad hung up. The operator said “Congratulations” and asked for our address. Mom took the phone, Dad just sat there. She recited our address—a psalm—and I remember her angelic voice coming with a softness I seldom got to experience. Even Dad gawked at her mild demeanor.

I remember the following weeks snailing by. We ate breakfast with a ceremonial stance, not uttering a word, glancing out the window, awaiting the delivery. We pondered whether it would be white, dark or milk chocolate or what exactly fell under the label “all the chocolate in the world.” But we didn’t discuss it. We stumbled about in our death-rattle-like lives, with Mom cooking and Dad in a constant, deliberate obsession with automobile cleanliness—sponge and car shampoo in hand as I could observe him, hunched over, polishing our Ford.

Mom cooked stews, which took a while, so she stayed in the kitchen, stirring for hours, staring out the window facing the backyard, not the carport.

I just was.

Then, a Tuesday, we woke up, and outside our house, on our lawn, in the neighboring woods, across the fields, up towards the forest, down to the lake, and alongside the road leading to our house, were shipping containers, as far as we could see.

It had arrived—all the chocolate in the world.

I ripped open the closest one and gorged.

Dad took inventory. Out on the lawn were about eight of them. Down by the lake, some had tipped over, being partially submerged in the water. In the woods next to our house, containers had been stacked. The road barely had room for our car, and the field was forever destroyed, no longer a place for wheat.

We trekked up beyond the field, checked the forest, and saw that the containers kept going farther than we could see.

In total, there was a shitload of chocolate, but we weren’t sure if this was all the chocolate in the world, which, in turn, would mean that friends, family and neighbors had been robbed of their chocolate. The most obvious and feasible answer was that this was a perverted amount of chocolate, simple as that.

At first, we ate. As pigs, we had chocolate whenever—bits, chunks, rolling it up like an apple, and eating it as obscure, fattening hand fruit.

As we grew bored with indulging and feasting plebeian style, we dove deeper into the world of chocolate as Dad came home with a chocolate fountain one day. For weeks, it stood there, constantly turned on, with brownness looping over and over, never running short, and we could sneak up during the night and let a finger of our choice glide through the waterfall and lick it off as a hedonist.

Mom began carving chocolate, creating everything from rabbits and dogs to famous people, and for a long time, we had Leif himself—a bust—fronting our porch.

As it was early March when we had gotten the shipment, heat wasn’t a factor. Still, closing in on summer, we went to this department store and brought home an inflatable pool, which we filled with bits of chocolate, and as it had melted into a puddle of sugar and cocoa, we bathed.

During summer, more chocolate was delivered, and this time, in chilled containers, all emitting a “hum” that filled our dreams as we slept. Soon it became the new normal, an ever-heard brown noise that was never feared, assuring that our chocolate was forever in pristine condition.

We grew bored with it and handed out chocolate to friends and family, and soon anyone could swing by, and we’d hand them a bucket of chocolate—endlessness had never felt as terrifying.

The chocolate in the non-chilled containers liquified in July and froze again as November crept closer—small conclaves of land inside each one, and we chipped off pieces with a hammer and screwdriver every time we ached chocolate that had aged.

However, we were not just growing bored but also weary. And, to be honest, scared. An absolute surplus of chocolate was one thing to accept, but this perpetual flow of chocolate, new chocolate, had us jolted.

Throughout this ordeal, with having to handle the horrid oodles of chocolate, our Bingo-Lotto ritual—some snacks, bingo cards and Coke (Dad with a whisky)—had no natural space in our lives. We hadn’t really contemplated it; it was just a memory of a past that maybe remembered us more than we remembered it.

And one day, Dad wasn’t there.

Mom and I looked. The lake, the woods, the field. We asked our neighbors, who more or less avoided us as we forced chocolate upon them.

For dinner, we had chocolate marinated chicken, with a chocolate and red wine sauce and shredded chocolate as a duvet, resting upon it all.

The following day, on the front door, we found a note:


We ran up towards the forest, where we could hear the echo of fanfare—a trumpet’s call. As we reached the treeline, we saw Dad atop a massive chocolate castle, wearing a chocolate crown, and holding a trumpet.

“I’m the Cocoa King!”

This was the beginning of the end.

Mom tried to talk him down from there, none of us pondering his newly found architectural skills—a mastery high enough to construct a castle, complete with a moat, built out of chocolate. But he refused, and it became apparent that he had “lost it.”

It was unclear whether this turn of events stemmed from genetic or nutritional deficiency or if it was the lack of that thing Mom used to do when she let her fingers flow across Dad’s neck as he sat at the kitchen table, reading the paper.

For days, we were woken by the fanfare, and each day, Mom went over to hand him food, but he simply declared that he “lived off the land,” and we had no idea what that meant. Still, as she brought back the tray, it was empty.

For days I observed them at a safe distance—a silent film on repeat, over and over, me interpreting the whole thing, assuming that every scene began with Mom begging him to dethrone himself and give up The Crown. Then, Dad declaring war upon Mom, causing her to leave.

At night, we could see a flame burning ever bright. A beacon that let us know that he was still there. Mom shivered each time she saw it, as if the light drained her from heat to maintain its own.

Time passed, and one day I woke to an empty house.

“Mom!” I yelled. No panic, just a worry, a swift thought that grazed my mind, and I knew what had happened. It wasn’t an enigma flaunting its complexity; it was genes—a hereditary fracture.

Close to the forest, near Dad’s castle, was now Mom’s.

As I came closer, she emerged, as Dad, declaring:


I went back home.

All I could muster during those first hours was to nibble some chocolate, sitting at the kitchen table. It was only me now, and that’s not sufficient to label as “family,” and I had been reduced to a “kid”—a hermit. All my meals from that point onward went from “containing” chocolate to being just chocolate. I found their credit cards without much on them, and my boy bod could not carry groceries that far anyway. So I ate chocolate. At first, I evolved into a faux-adult, setting the table with chocolate cut into lovely little shapes, and I ate it with a fork and knife—even ice cubes in my glass. It only took about two weeks before I had devolved back and further, spanning beyond homo sapiens, and had grown primal, eating wherever and whenever—squatting like an ape. Perhaps I had yearned for that freedom, a child’s dream of not adhering to any rules.

After four weeks, I hardly slept.

Every day, a routine of desperation, using Dad’s binoculars to spy on my parents. It seemed like they were in constant dispute, an everlasting readiness of hatred, with some kind of crude spears in hand.

I never dared go over there.

Boredom overflowed the void of simply existing. I had re-watched every movie we had in the house. Read the same magazines. Then, all that stuff that previously would have caused me to be grounded for a month.

And when everything had been done, again and again, it dawned on me: the savior—my savior, a guardian angel, a defender, a liberator—Leif.

I was desperate, but he got us into this mess, so he had to fix it.

I grabbed as much chocolate as I could carry and headed for the gas station. There, I sold it to customers, a whole bucket for more or less nothing. As I had earned enough, I bought a bingo card and hauled more chocolate.

Finally, I had twelve bingo cards ready to go, and I sat on the floor, with all of them, fixated with masking tape, the phone next to me—I had even showered, a ceremony, believing that dirt and stench would taint my illogical solution to an illogical situation.

Of course, I had my special Bingo-Lotto pen.

Twelve was almost too much to handle, but still, I managed. It wasn’t until the fourth number called that I noticed tears falling upon the cards. My wetness and moisture helped me mark numbers.

As the eleventh number, B04 was called, I got “bingo” on card number 5, second row in the middle. I picked up the receiver, dialed the number, and got that automated response.

It took seven tries.

“And who’s this then?”

I said my name, and Leif continued:

“So, do you have your parents with you?”

“No, Leif, they’re not! A long time ago, we won all the chocolate in the world, which I doubt was really all the chocolate in the world, but it was a lot, Leif, you should’ve seen it, and at first, it was pretty cool, but now my Mom and Dad have gone chocolate crazy, and they have built themselves a castle, and I’m eating chocolate for breakfast, and everything is fucked, Leif. FUCKED!”

He just stared at me. Through the screen, into me, my soul, as if he could traverse time and space, an out-of-body experience, where he became me and I, him, and suddenly I was Leif, gazing upon myself somehow.

“I am very, truly deeply sorry to hear that, son.”

I cried.

“What can I do? You wanna pick a number?”

I managed to sob “2,” and he opened, and I won a gift certificate at this place selling cleaning products and a Bingo-Lotto beach towel.

“Thanks,” I said and hung up.

Leif had failed me.

That Saturday, I went to bed and didn’t wake up until Monday.

With fresh eyes, I prepared a proper breakfast, stared up toward the forest, and understood what must be done.

It took roughly six days to build my own castle out on the field—getting a hold of a trumpet was more tricky. Instead, I ended up using this old whistle I had won at a fair two years ago. Dad had been impressed as I managed to fling a frog into a hole from quite a distance. He hugged me and gave Mom a nod, and at that moment, I wished I could freeze time or turn seconds into eons.

Once done, I constructed a crown out of chocolate and blew as hard as my lungs could into the whistle.


Mom came first, dirty and disgusting, with her crown slanting as it had partly melted.

“What do you mean?”


Dad came second, beard and long hair and not enough clothes on.

“Declare war on what, son?”


I then lept the walls of my castle—I called it Castle Brownhole and had laughed at my own wit—and rushed them!

I had no real weapon or plan; it all just happened. I jumped my Dad and began pummeling him with pent-up rage, disappointment and confusion—more potent than a bazooka. Mom hurried to drag me off, but I clung to him, to Dad, beating and pounding. He fell over with me on his chest as I unleashed everything, with Mom screaming—begging me to stop.


Dad sat up.

His crown was crumbling.


He embraced me, and I finally stopped and sank into his lap. Mom got down on her knees, and as Dad covered my front, she hugged us both from behind.

I must’ve fallen asleep there because I woke up in my room with Mom and Dad sitting beside me in bed.

“Good morning,” they cooed.

Two days later, trucks came by, and a man knocked on our door, handing us a note from Leif, handwritten and all, stating that he was “Sorry for any inconvenience that he and Bingo-Lotto might’ve caused our family.”

We framed it.

In hindsight, we knew it wasn’t Leif’s fault.

We let the castles melt in the sun.

Eventually, all containers and traces of chocolate were gone.

We kept playing Bingo-Lotto.

And sometimes, Dad joined us as we went to the gas station to buy bingo cards.

About the author:

Born in Sweden, Julius works as a narrative designer in video games and writes anything from flash fiction and books to games and screenplays. He’s been longlisted in The Bath Short Story Award (twice), The Bath Flash Fiction Award and The Aurora Prize for Writing. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Flash Fiction Magazine, Roi Fainéant Press, Lavender Bones Magazine, The Airgonaut, Sage Cigarettes, The Heimat Review, Hidden Peak Press and elsewhere. Find him on Twitter as @PaperBlurt and at his website

Feature image by Dan Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash