Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Wish Derailment

I can't even call this one a story, but over the last couple of days I've seen two different writing prompts that asked questions like "if you had three wishes from a genie, what would you wish for? Why?" 

So, that just started me on a mind spiral pretty much unrelated to the actual answer to the question. There's something in this that may become a story some day, but for now, here's what popped out:

Wish Derailment

If I dared to say anything, my first wish would be to make my hands stop shaking. Instead, my mouth stayed shut. I've heard too damned many stories about people who were given three wishes and then end up screwing up something major because they didn't think it through.

You know – like “I wish for World Peace!” and then everyone on the planet is dead.

So, yeah, as I looked down at the dingy hunk of brass, I realized I had to stay quiet and figure some shit out. For his part, the genie just stared down at me, an unreadable expression that nevertheless felt smug.

Does every question count as a wish? How does he not come with a rule book? How does this all work? Do I have to say “I WISH” in capital letters before what I say becomes a command? What if I say “I’d like” something? Does that count? I feel like Ralph on Greatest American Hero. I've got powers, but no damned instruction manual.

What about additional clauses? If I say “I WISH FOR the powers of a genie, but I want to still be my normal self in every other way” – does he cut it off before it gets to that caveat? If clauses are okay, are there any limits? How does he know when a wish stops and it’s not just a run-on sentence? Does he have some sort of grammatical rules? Does the wish have to be framed according to some mystical Chicago Manual of Style I need to study?  How does he even know English? He’s not exactly dressed like a local, unless he’s been hanging out on Venice Beach with the hippies.

What about homonyms? Does my intent count for anything or just the words? Is he allowed to misinterpret what I say? Whose fault is that? If I said I wanted to go to Greece, would I be stuck watching some revival show in a Broadway theater? Or worse yet, transported to an auto shop?

Who exactly wrote the “Genie Rule Book?” I’m pretty sure I can’t ask for more wishes. That’s pretty much always against the rules. What are the other ones? There’s the one about not bringing someone back from the dead – but this is a big guy with a hoop earring, not a monkey’s paw.

Then there’s the rule against making someone fall in love with you. That one was in the Disney movie, I think. That’s no problem. Who the Hell has to force someone to love them by wishing for it? Okay, I guess a lot of people TRY that, but it’s not exactly effective. Then again, they don’t actually have a way for those wishes to come true.

Dammit, I don’t even know if it’s three wishes or not. He didn't say anything about that. Is that a rule? I can’t remember if Aladdin had three wishes, but it seems like he just had a genie who would do anything he asked.

I started freaking out when I realized I couldn't even safely fall asleep. It’s not like talking in my sleep has been a big problem, but who knows? I might wake up and all of Los Angeles could be filled with marshmallow fluff. Does he keep hovering over me day and night until I make my wishes? That could get really awkward when I need to go out to get some dinner.

Let’s try to think through this logically. How powerful can he be? He's not God, right? So, if I ask to be rich, he finds money from somewhere, he doesn't create it out of nothing. It's still got to be verifiable by the Federal Reserve or something. Or maybe that's the trick. Shit, I’m fucked either way. It’s money he creates out of thin air, so I’m in trouble for passing off counterfeits or he “finds” real money somewhere. Who knows where that might come from? Maybe I could specify where it needs to come from, so no one would notice it. Like how in the movie Office Space, they just took fractions of a cent from thousands of transactions. Am I allowed to do that or will I end up in Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison?

Fuck it.

“Okay, Genie, I wish you’d just go away.”

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