Monday, March 8, 2010

Chapter Seventy-Nine

The Dwarf has spent several long moments pondering his next wish - after hearing the Genie's explanation of the rules and ignoring the increasingly horrible suggestions from the Wolf - and finally he speaks.

"Can you help him?" he asks, his voice oddly gentle. He points toward the dying Monkey.

“Aw, poor little fella,” says the Genie, and he is suddenly covered in a white tunic with a white paper cap on his head. A mask covers his nose and mouth and rubber gloves pop into place over his hands.

“Ol’ Doc Genie will have you good as new,” he whispers to the Monkey, but then looks up shrewdly at the Dwarf. “If that is your second wish.”


“I’ll take that as a yes!” says the Genie. A flurry of magical light - through which it seems several Genies appear and disappear, all dressed in strange white outfits, some of them with long, blonde hair, and much odd beeping - and the Monkey’s head un-bruises, its ribs reconnect, and its body plumps slightly to a healthier weight.

“Bingo, bango, bongo, no tips, please,” says the Genie, and he laughs. “I’m not a mohel.”

The Dwarf stares at him blankly, and the Genie pulls at the collar which appears about his neck. “Tough crowd,” he says. “What is this, an audience or an oil painting?”

“Third wish,” says the Dwarf loudly, and the Wolf nods eagerly. “Can you get rid of the undead?”

“Yeah, yeah!” says the Wolf. “Do that! Then get to my wishes!”

“Sorry, Charlie,” says the Genie, now a spectacled, hatted fish. “I can’t kill anyone, even if they’re already dead. Them’s the rules.”

“I figured,” grumbles the Dwarf. He slaps the lamp thoughtfully against his hand. “But can't ya just undo it? Whatever caused this mess in the first place?”

“Oh, if I had a nickel for every time someone asked me that, I’d be a millionaire!” says the Genie. His expression - full of such foreign words like "nickel" and "millionaire" - is lost on the Dwarf, but he understands its meaning.

“I wish I could - get it, ‘wish’? No, you see, buddy,” says the Genie, and he drapes an ethereal arm around the Dwarf’s shoulders. “Maybe I could do that. Maybe...” He stretches that word out for several seconds.

“There's probably a loophole, and maybe we can work around it. But turn back time? That’s tough stuff! And I’d have to undo some serious magic! Damn it, Jim, I’m a genie, not a Hercules!” The blue-skinned arm buffs up and now belongs to a handsome man in a tunic and sandals.

“That’s big-time! And that ain’t easy, no-sirree-bob, it ain’t! And I can’t do that all by my lonesome. I’m just a small-timer! A nothing! A minor-leaguer!”

“So unless,” he continues, now sporting long hair and a beard and speaking in an unfamiliar accent, “the wish came from a powerful spell-slinger, someone whose magic could boost me up to an eleven,” the Dwarf has no idea what sort of contraption the Genie morphs into, “I’m afraid I can’t grant your wish.

“And even though you have a funny hat and a funny beard,” adds the Genie, “I don’t think you’re a wizard.”

The Dwarf fumes, and the Genie continues, “But... do either of you happen to know a powerful wizard?”

Together, the Dwarf and Wolf turn toward the crumpled corpse of the Vizier.

"It all makes sense," grumbles the Dwarf. “Right at the moment when it’s too late to do anything about it.

“A wizard sends us to retrieve his lamp. Right?” He scowls and sputters. “But he doesn’t tell us what he’s up to. Why should he? So what do we do? We kill him. We ruin our only chance of undoing this entire mess.”

“We ain't licked yet,” says the Wolf, and the Dwarf stops mid-rant.

“What do you mean?” he says, suspicious of any hope.

“Don't you remember the Queen?” says the Wolf. “Couldn’t she make the wish?”

“Oh, yeah,” says the Genie, and he becomes a female version of himself. “I’m not gender-biased! Either sex will work.”

“The Queen," growls the Dwarf, and he spits on the sand. "I wouldn’t trust her as far as I can throw her. You'd go back to her? After leaving you to die, and doing what she did to Cinderella?"

“Yeah, well, beggars can’t be choosers,” says the Wolf.

"I ain't no beggar."

The Dwarf sits on the carpet, his feet dangling over the edge. He ignores the Monkey jumping onto his shoulder, the Wolf panting impatiently, and the Genie ticking like a clock and humming a catchy tune.

Finally, he says, slowly and carefully, “For my third and final wish, Genie, I want you to give us a list of all the people still living who are powerful enough to wish away the undead."

The Genie's smile grows and grows until, like a Cheshire cat, only his grin remains. "Great wish," he says, and he disappears amidst a sheaf of paper.