“I knew it!” Todd exclaimed as he slammed the heavy book shut. He wasn't in the least bit surprised when the tome exploded into a puff of golden smoke.
The genie leaned back against a huge oak tree. Even its partially ethereal form was still great enough to bend the trunk slightly. A golden hue bathed its ancient visage.
“Are you prepared to make your second wish?” it boomed.
Todd stood up and rubbed his stubbled chin. The possibilities were endless now that he found a loophole, apparently one large enough to drive a truck through no less. He eyed the glowing form of the genie.
“You know I majored in English back in college.”
The genie was becoming irritated. “Your second wish?” it repeated in a darker tone.
Todd ignored the genie’s imposing mannerisms.
“A conjunction,” he continued, “is a word or words that join other words, groups of words, or sentences. They also show relationships between ideas.”
The genie’s expression grew threatening. It floated over to where Todd was standing, looming over him with its menacing, gaseous form.
“Your incessant babbling tests my patience mortal.”
Todd smiled up at the creature. “Please, just bear with me.”
“Your second wish?”
“I’m getting to that. You see Mr. Genie, I thumbed through your rule book, which as you may recall was my first wish.”
The genie nodded in resignation. “Continue.”
“Thank you. As I was saying, I went through your book and found no mention as to the use of conjunctions, nor any restriction as to wish structure. Only the basic limitations are covered: cannot raise the dead; cannot alter or delete love; and of course the most obvious: cannot wish for more wishes.”
The genie rose up into a huge pillar of golden flame, bloated with immense but flawed power.
“Enough of this foolishness!” it bellowed, shaking the very forest with its cries. “Make your last two wishes!”
“I will. I will. I promise,” Todd said as calmly as he could. “Your book stated the punishment for breaking any of the rules was… well let’s just say you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of it. And with that, I am prepared to make my second wish.”
“Proceed,” the genie snarled as it gradually shrunk back to the size it was when Todd had first released it from the lamp: about seven feet tall.
Todd casually sauntered over to the edge of the campfire.
“I wish for ten million United States dollars, tax-free, in ten-thousand dollar denominations…no, deposited directly into my Money Market account at Trust Bank.
And…a brand new Porsche 918 Spyder…
And…the ability to fly…
And…enormous musical talent, including but not limited to drums, guitar, keyboards, and flute.” He once dated a girl who played the flute so well he’d fallen in love with the instrument.
The genie’s arms elongated into a swirling, golden mist as it encircled its new temporary master. The stench of sulfur drifted upwards, tainting the forest air and corrupting the night with its promise of doom.
“Are you finished?” the genie asked quietly, but still with enough conviction to easily cut through Todd’s words.
And…world peace… (He felt an obligation to do something for everyone else).
The genie smiled a devilish smile as its ethereal form darkened. Forest animals scurried away, fleeing for their lives. The campfire began to wane, sputtering as it splashed its depleting warmth into the chilled air. And as it began to bear down on its clueless victim the genie convulsed in a poisonous mockery of a dance…of death.
Todd finally stopped his wish making when he felt the hot breath on his back.
“What? What’s going on? I wasn’t done yet.”
The genie swept its master up in its powerful embrace.
“You broke a rule. Your fate is sealed.”
Todd was dumbfounded. “What? What do you mean? I checked your rulebook.”
“You wished to see the tome of my restrictions,” the genie replied while flexing its fingers in anticipation of what was to come, “but your wish was singular-only ONE book. But, foolish mortal, there is yet another volume which has yet to be viewed by yourself.”
Todd was having trouble breathing. The mist from the genie was clogging his senses, disorienting him, weakening his grip on life.
“But…but that’s not fair. I…”
The genie laughed, a deep reverberation that echoed in the forest.
“Behold fool,” it boomed. “Part two.”
And the last thing Todd saw before he slipped into oblivion was an enormous black book. It was frayed from age, and scrawled across its cover was one word, that although simple in its structure, was nonetheless profound in its implication:
- - - I’m a forty-three year old father of two who loves anything horror-related. I’ve had over 250 publications so far, and have written two novels, five anthology books, one book of novellas, and edited an anthology of Michigan authors.