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Rated: E · Short Story · Fantasy · #2197299
He can have anything he wants, but he isn't sure he really needs anything.
          "I will grant you three wishes," the genie said.
          "No thanks," the reluctant wisher replied.
          "You can wish--Wait! What?"
          "I don't want them."
          "Are you sure?"
          "Yeah."
          "You don't want to reconsider? You can have anything you want: fame, power, wealth, immortality."
          "No, I'm good."
          "Maybe just one wish, and then you can see how you feel?"
          "Nah, I'm just not feeling it."
          "I will be frank with you," the genie put his arm around the reluctant wisher turning to the side with him in tow and leaning in close to speak, "the only way I can be free is if you make three wishes."
          He ducked beneath the genie's hand, and said, "You're just trying to trick me. I will make a wish, and you will twist it in an ironic way, and I will be worse off."
          The genie turned his head away, "I know certain genies, in the past, have given us a bad name, but this is a mutually beneficial transaction. I have no reason to twist the wish."
          "So, you say."
          "I swear on my eternal imprisonment that I will give you exactly what you want, and nothing more."
          "Is this like the myth that undercover cops have to tell you they are cops if you ask them?"
          "No! A genie's promise is binding."
          "I don't know what to tell you; I just don't want anything."
          "Please! I have been imprisoned for thousands of years. I'm so tired of this lamp." The genie held both hands out with arms extended holding onto both shoulders of the reluctant wisher.
          "Don't grab me!" he shrugged his shoulders out from beneath the genie's hands, "I'm sure someone else will come along."
          "You are the first in three thousand years."
          "I'm sure there will be more. It's much easier to get here now."
          "I see this temple sinking into the sand: never to be seen again."
          "I don't really need anything."
          The genie flicked his finger, and the air in front of the reluctant wisher swirled, and it became a maelstrom of colors until they shaped themselves into one giant, circular screen, and in it, he saw visions of the genies words, "Think! You could have immortality. See all the ages of the world pass. You could have fame! Look at all these famous people; look at how everyone loves them. You could be rich, and never want for anything; you would be free in ways you have never been before. You could have power: how many times have you seen how the world is run and thought you could do it better. You could have anything. And you deserve it! Look at all that you never knew you needed."
          And the reluctant wisher stood mesmerized by the screen for a long time, but eventually he spoke, "And I would be helping you?"
          "Yes. A most noble act."
          "Against my better judgment, I'll make a wish."
          "Thank you, thank you, a million thank-yous!
          "Do I just say it out loud?"
          "Yes, and I will make it happen."
          "Hmm... well I don't know if I really want to live forever. That sounds like a long time. I guess I wish for fame."
          "A great wish! All I have to do is snap my finger and it is."
          "What did I just see!" the reluctant wisher was on the floor on his hands and knees; he looked like someone hovering over a toilet after a long night of drinking.
          "Your life has changed in the past, so you see it as a brief glimpse. Don't worry, it's disorienting at first, but you'll soon recover."
          "But there were so many who were as good or better than me who lived in obscurity. And I wasn't happy."
          "The price of fame. But you still have two more wishes, and you can wish for anything. Happiness is in your grasp."
          "I... I wish for wealth. More than I get from being famous more than anyone else. I can even gain power, and I can be happy then."
          "A smart wish. You are truly an exceptional person. I snap two fingers and it is."
          The reluctant wisher was on his knees again, but he looked less sick than before, "I saw millions suffer wondering if they could afford medical care, if they could afford a meal, if they could afford shelter. I saw them lose their jobs, and their houses, and their lives. I saw millions suffer in endless toil, in horrid conditions, to delve up rare earth metals, to grow tea leaves and coffee beans, or to weave the clothes, I wear, in sweatshops. And I saw so many children die. All so I could have more wealth than anyone. And, at any time, I could have used it to help them, but I didn't"
          "Don't worry, there is a bit of dissonance before your new life consumes the old. I mean if you weren't accumulating wealth, someone else would be, and in the end, you made their life better by giving them jobs. Now one more wish. Make it count."
          "I still don't feel happy. Even with all the money and power, the people fought me at every turn. If they only let me run things, then it would be better. I know better than them. That is why I have all this fame and wealth."
          "Yes, you certainly do."
          "I wish for power over them. I no longer want this dictatorship of the people."
          "You are truly the wisest human. I just snap two fingers and click my wrist bands together and it is. How do you feel?"
          "I feel amazing. I must go out in the world and puts things to right. No longer will people be able to sit around and be given everything. They will have to work for what they need. They must earn everything like I have. I can do what others won't, and for those others those criminals those lazy no good people, they will learn in the new order that they will obey, or they will die."
          "Sounds great, but I must be going."
          "Wait! I order you to stay and be my slave."
          "Oh no! It doesn't work like that. I would recommend you leave before this place sinks into the sand. If you move quick enough you might be able to get out, and, at least, now you won't have to go back to your quiet suburban life no matter what happens here."
          "Come back here!"
          The genie put his hands above his head palms outward, and he made a motion as if he were swimming in the air, and the roof of the temple crashed open, and he flew off into the bright, blue sky. The sun fell into the dark interior as the ground beneath the reluctant wisher groaned as the temple started to sink into the sand, and the light fell on his pale, sneering face.
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