It’s been awhile since I posted anything and I figured, what the hell why not… Here’s one of the stories I have written. Not one of the short story challenge I have been working on (16 of 30 completed by the way), but something I did last year. Enjoy and have fun.
“So, what is your desire? Wealth? I can give you riches that you can’t even imagine. Enough money or gold to purchase anything or anyone you wish. All your fears and worry would evaporate. Women? Think of all of the women of the world just dying to be in your presence. You would never lack for companionship and all your fantasies could be fulfilled. Power? Think you could change the currents of the world with a single word. A persons life or death could hang on your single whim. There would be nothing you couldn’t achieve. Ahhh, perhaps even youth? Your body is aging and starting to show it’s wear and tear. How about never having to worry about getting old again? The body and endurance of your youth with all your wisdom and knowledge retained. So what will it be?”
We were sitting in a room that looked like one of the personal conference rooms that were scattered through out my work place. Small cozy, with a window into the hallway. Except, there wasn’t a phone and the window looked out into a grey nothingness. On the table was a small glass carafe that could contain water yet it had an odd sense of wrongness about. I placed my hands on the table just feeling the faux wood veneer and gained a small sense of stability from it. I peered closely at the man across the table from me.
I had never seen him before. In fact it was almost as if he was subtly morphing and his features changing. So subtle that you felt something change yet couldn’t pinpoint what had exactly changed. I closed my eyes focusing on the feeling of realness of the plastic table surface and tried to remember how I had gotten here.
“Come, come, I may have all of eternity. You on the other hand don’t. You called, I answered. Now, what do you want.”
That voice had a subtle resonance to it that seemed to speak of youth, age, and eternity. I didn’t know how I knew that, it just felt like it to me. I had called? How? Remember, that was the key. I couldn’t make a decision until I remembered calling… I had called out to the universe it seemed. I was starting to remember now. I was sitting at my desk facing another seeming impossible deadline. The day had started off with an argument with my wife. Something about finances I think. That was it! I had just said ‘I wish…!’ and then I was here.
I carefully scanned the room looking for any signs, decorations and found nothing but the institutional plainness of a corporate room. There wasn’t even a motivational poster on the wall like most of the conference rooms had. A pointed cough drew my attention to the man sitting across the table from me. I pulled my attention to him and studied him.
“Tick tock, tick tock. Time is awasting.”
“What are you offering me?” I asked him.
“Freedom I guess, or what you would think would be freedom.” He crossed his arms, placing them on the table and leaned in towards me conspiratorially. “You could have the world or a small corner to call your own. Nothing could hold you back again. I. Could. Give. You. Anything.”
Anything. I could have everything that I ever desired. Shadows started to poke at the back of my mind. All the stories of wishes offered, given, and fulfilled entered my mind. Things started to shift in the room. The bottle seemed to have shadows or changes. A lantern, a ring, a golden scale, a fiery feather. The man as well seemed to shift. Quickly as a blink of the eye he was a horned efreet, a large golden fish, a bird made of flame, a wizard, a crone, a devil. I shook my head and he was just a man. Who smiled at me knowingly.
“Yes I have taken many forms, some real, most fantastical. I have given everything I promised.”
The ghost of Aladdin, Midas, and countless others from tales I had read, heard or watched raised their hands in agreement. I have read a lot and remember pieces of their stories. Of course there was something else tickling my memory. What should I wish for? How should I wish for it. I wish that I could get some help with this.
“I can hear you thinking. In order for this to work you have to vocalize it. Don’t ask me why, it’s just the rules. You must clearly and declaratively say exactly what you wish for.”
This was an interesting statement. I can think the words and they don’t do anything. As well he or it could read my mind. Shouldn’t be too surprised about that actually. He has the power to grant me my heart’s desire. Why then couldn’t he be able to read my mind. So I have to speak my wish vocally. A monkey’s paw came into my mind, I saw Midas whispering, or was it screaming something at me. Hordes of other people yammered to get my attention. What were they trying to say?
Oh, right, that was it. Not all wishes come without strings. Midas with his touch of gold. The monkey’s paw that granted wishes yet there was something tainted with the wish. People that have bargained with other powers and got exactly what they wanted, yet at other costs and attempts to cheat the cost backfired badly on the wisher. Yet, do I take the chance?
“No strings attached. At least none of my addition. Tick tock, tick tock”
I finally spoke, “If there is no time here, why are you in a rush to get me to commit to a wish?”
“Ah, there is no time here. That is not to say we aren’t limited in the time we have. You think you are the only person that has had sufficient will to call out and get an answer? I am waiting, yet this limited time offer can only be yours if you answer in a sufficient amount of time. And you are running out of time.” He leaned back in his chair and smiled like a late night infomercial host hawking the latest must have gadget.
So, I was running out of time. Wealth? Bills were starting to pile up again. Women? I guess that would be interesting maybe. Power? What would I do with it? Youth? Now that was a tempting thought. The typical aches and pains of a misspent youth was finally starting to catch up with me.
Did I really need anything though? I sat back and thought long and hard about all the wish stories that I remembered. The characters seemed to be just behind me and if I turned quick enough I felt that I could see them standing at the window to the room. All of them it seemed needed the wish to fulfill a goal. Well most of them, there were a few that didn’t need anything really. Guess those could be more cautionary tales. Yet, here in my grasp was the chance to achieve god mode. I could have everything I ever wanted.
Or did I want everything. I took the opportunity to think seriously. I may not have much time and this wasn’t something one rushed at. I thought about my wife. Sure we had a serious argument this morning, but we had been more or less happily married for over twenty years. Bills or wealth? Well, things hadn’t really worked out recently. We both had made a couple poor choices recently that were now starting to be called due. Really though? The house was paid for, so were both our vehicles. We did have some savings and the kids college education was almost fully funded. Bills could be dealt with, belts would probably have to be tightened a bit. As to power, I made a lot of decisions and a lot was always riding on what I did. I had the capability to create a career or destroy it at my whim if I so choose. So I had power.
Youth, the most tempting thing of all. No more aches and pains, wisdom and knowledge to go with the youth. I could have it all. Or could I? Would it be worth it to watch everyone I know wither away and die? Did I really need anything at all, or was I just whining about things that I couldn’t change? No matter, apparently I had the will and I could change things. If. I. So. Choose. I quickly glanced at my benefactor and he was sitting there quietly. I know he could read my thoughts, and I wondered what he was thinking.
I had wealth the like of which Midas himself hadn’t noticed, I had the only woman that counted. I had all the power I wanted or needed. There wasn’t a damn thing I needed. The sense of all the other previous receivers of this largess faded from my mind and disappeared. Almost like the collapse of a quantum state or a soap bubble. I had come to a decision. The man sat up straight and looked at me expectantly.
“So, what is your wish.”
“I have no wish. There’s nothing that I can think of that wouldn’t ruin what I have already. I was just a petulant little brat squalling at the universe about things I thought I couldn’t change. I have wealth, woman, power, and youth enough. I am sorry to have wasted your time, and I will be going now.” I stood up out of the chair and went to leave through the door. A small cough made me pause and turn around. There he was clapping silently and smiling. He poured a drink from the decanter and swigged it down.
“Congratulations. You have made the most correct choice possible given everything you know. I hope you appreciate the service offered and will give a good review in the suitable forum.” He chuckled, winked, and faded away like a wisp of smoke on a breeze. I was alone, then suddenly I was sitting at my desk.
I glanced at my computer monitor which had my email up to go through. One new message and I should probably answer it promptly. I had an idea what it was about. First things though. I picked up the phone and dialed my wife. One ring two rings, and “Hello? Why are you calling me now? aren’t you supposed to be slaving away earning enough to solve all our problems.”
“Hi dear, I just called to say I love and I am sorry.” The pause on the other line was deafening. I guess I had cut short another argument. “Listen, I know we got a little heated this morning. I think we need to talk things over this evening. I realized that I can’t do everything without you. We will get through this and we will get things better. After all it’s just money and you and our two children are the biggest wealth I have.” I heard a sigh.
“I’m sorry as well love, I guess we have been a little stressed lately. Will you be home in time for dinner?”
“Yes, I should be. Just have to deal with another fire here at work and then I will call it a day and head home. I miss you and I can’t wait to see you.”
“Love you too hun, see you when you get home.” I hung up the phone. I have all the women I need, all the wealth I have ever wanted. As to power? Well once I finished ragging on the latest idiocy from marketing I would show my power to stop the company from making another disastrous decision that would lose us money in the court of the public opinion. Really? Toddler straight jackets? I swear the marketing department was on some form of hallucinogenic.
Wealth, woman, and power. I had it all.