Here we bring you another short story about a man who thought he’d found a real treasure but found out otherwise. Please enjoy this dark treat!
The Third Wish
by James R. Colbert, Jr.
Marty Dobbs has a confession to make.
The time is Halloween night, just a few years from today. Somehow a doorway to a nightmare world, an alternate existence, has been opened and allowed some very bad things to enter our own world. One man knows what happened and may be able to close the door if he finds the courage. Yes, Marty Dobbs has a confession to make.
Marty is a veteran of the Middle East debacle and while out on patrol one night he stumbled upon something. Just a small, plain looking vessel, much like a bottle with a stopper, a flask, except it was made all of gold. He figured it would be quite valuable and took it for his own. Like virtually everyone, Marty had heard about the Jinn, also called a Genie. And, like virtually everyone, dismissed the story as a myth. Except it’s not. Marty took his find to one of the local merchants who operated a stall at the bizarre located near his unit’s base in Iraq. Someone he could trust. As soon as Marty revealed what he’d found, the old man told him he had discovered one of the magic vessels that held one of the Jinn and that he should never tamper with it, but of course, he did…
How was I supposed to know this would happen? I thought I was getting three wishes, that’s all. No one would have thought any different, how could they? I tried to be careful, I really did. If I had known that damn thing would have led to this, well believe me I would have never opened it. That’s what lets it out you know. Not rubbing it, God knows I tried that first! I swear to all of you I’ll make it right, tonight. Let me fill y’all in on a few things I learned about Genies. I suppose I might as well start from the beginning.
It was October 2010 when I found it. Some crummy little village in Iraq, and no I can’t remember the name of it. My unit was on patrol in the area when we stopped for some reason, nothing of consequence, when I found the thing. Just a little container no bigger than a pocket flask, in fact, I thought that’s what it was at first, but it was a lot more weighty that most of the ones I’d handled before. It was nighttime so I couldn’t look at it real close, it had no wires, no indication it was an IED, so it seemed safe enough (little did I know we’d all be better off if it was a bomb), but I figured I’d look it over in the daylight later, so in the cargo pocket it went. I can tell you that right from the start I felt drawn somehow to the thing. It was a bit strange at first but after an hour or so that feeling passed. We rolled back into base around five AM, ate chow and hit the rack for a couple of hours. I couldn’t sleep and kept checking out my find. It looked like it was made of gold and I was convinced it was worth some real money. One of the locals I’d gotten to know pretty well, Umar, ran a stall in the marketplace near the base. We were allowed to go to the market twice a week and that day it happened to be one of my days, so I thought I would see if he would buy it from me, or maybe he knew of another who would. We couldn’t leave until after ten in the morning and had to be back by four in the afternoon so I had plenty of time to clean up and change into clean BDU’s. I caught the first shuttle going to the market and went directly to Umar’s shop. His reaction to my little treasure was not what I expected. He recoiled at the little flask and begged me to put it away. He told me I should get rid of it right away. He seemed genuinely afraid of the thing. He then proceeded to tell me it was a thing of foul magic, that a Jinn had been imprisoned within. He demanded that I leave and dispose of the thing, put it back where I’d found it. I laughed and that really got him upset. He began to throw a royal fit and I decided that that would be a quick way to lose my down time privileges so I beat feet out of there.
Of course, I kept the thing, how do you think what is happening, happened? Now what Umar had said seemed ridiculous at first, but as the days wore on it seemed to make more and more sense. I began having dreams when I was able to sleep. Dreams of an exotic looking woman, (I called her my “Dream Girl”) and dreams of money and power. I must have had Umar’s warning in the back of my mind though because for a long time I rarely looked at the thing, but every so often I’d take it out of it’s hiding place and stare at it for hours. That is when the dreams were the strongest, seemed to be the most realistic. Finally, my tour was up and I was headed home, back to the States. Somehow my little treasure never got discovered. The night before I left, Dream Girl told me to make sure I kept the flask on my person, that she would make sure everything went smooth. I did what I was told and you know what? Everything went perfectly. No problems, no searches, no questions all the way home. Wild, right? I became more convinced than ever that Umar had been right about having a real Genie in my possession!
I went through the process of getting discharged over the next couple of weeks and began to really think about my little secret more and more. The first night I was free of the Army, I rented a car and decided to head back to Hammondsport, NY where I grew up. My mother still lived there and was happy to have me stay for a while. That first night home I took out the golden flask and thought about what to do with it next. Even though I was not sleeping my dream girl was there, whispering in her strange way, deep inside my thoughts. She said she wanted to serve me, that I only had to release her from her prison and she would fulfill my desires. I didn’t know the first thing about Genies, but I remembered something about rubbing a lamp, or something like that. I can tell you, that doesn’t work. I rubbed that thing every way I could think of and nothing happened. She must have been angry with me because she did not come into my thoughts for two days after that. I borrowed Mom’s car and drove around trying to remember the surroundings, clear my thoughts a bit. I took in the familiar sights, all the wonderful wineries, the Harvest and Artists Market, the village square, all that seemed to lessen the influence of the flask and Dream Girl. But that was not to last. The third night she came back. At first she seemed really angry, then suddenly changed direction and became subdued, subservient. She told me to open the flask and she would then be able to grant me my desires. I jokingly mentioned three wishes and was only mildly surprised when she told me that was exactly how many wishes she would fulfill. She told me to speak three words after I opened the vessel and then she could serve me. The words sounded strange, not in any language I was familiar with, but I was sure I could say them easily enough. It had been just over six years to the day since I’d found it and decided to open it on the upcoming Halloween night, just two days away.
That actually went pretty well, a little scary maybe…well a lot scary. I opened the thing and at first, nothing seemed to happen. Then I remembered I had to say the three words Dream Girl had taught me. “Daeron, Kalabish, Azkog.” Those were the words. Well, within a few moments the room got noticeably cooler, a misty, smoky substance flowed out of the flask and something began to take form in front of me. Over the period of a minute or two, my Dream Girl became more and more real recognizable until she stood in front of me exactly as I had seen her in my mind so many times before. She didn’t really speak aloud, more like a telepathic communication thing. She looked both gorgeous and scary as hell at the same time. Like a demonic, drop-dead swimsuit model. Intoxicating beauty and clearly big trouble if you screwed up. I could hear her clearly in my mind. She asked me what my first desire would be, money, power or love.
Now, when I mentioned earlier that I tried to be careful I meant it. I asked for money. I figured that would be the safest bet. Power can be really dangerous and as for love…I think you’d agree that is probably the most dangerous thing of all. So, I asked for money. How much trouble could that cause? A lot more than you think.
She smiled at my request and told me I’d see my desire very soon, then reminded me I had two more wishes. She told me that I could only have my three desires fulfilled one time a year on the same day at the same time as the first wish. After that she would be free from her bondage. Then the whole process reversed itself and I found myself once again alone in the room. I felt ill and faint and within a few minutes found I could not keep my eyes open another second. I slept like a log the rest of the night. No dreams at all. I woke up late in the morning and stumbled downstairs, still not quite sure if what I experienced was real or not. My mother was not in her usual chair that morning and I called out to her. No answer. Odd, I thought to myself. I snooped around a bit then headed to her bedroom, although I really didn’t expect to find her there. She was usually up before me and if she was still in bed at this hour then the world had had gone mad indeed. I found her in bed, but she was not asleep. I tried to revive her to no avail. I called 911 and all the official vehicles arrived within twenty minutes, but it was far too late. She was gone. Now I didn’t realize it at first, but that is how I came into money. Mom had a life insurance policy that named me as the sole beneficiary, two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of life insurance to be exact. Hell of a way to get a wish fulfilled, right? See what I mean, lots of trouble.
I stewed over my predicament for few days after the funeral and after some serious consultation with two longtime friends, Jack Daniels, and Jim Beam, I decided to call Dream Girl forth once more. I again opened the flask and spoke the words and, as before, my little demoness appeared before me. She seemed much less subservient this time, annoyed that I summoned her. In my drunken state, I raged at her over my mom’s death. That was the last thing I wanted to happen, I told her. Her demeanor turned icy as she told me the first desire had been fulfilled and that I should be more careful next time if I didn’t like the results. She then stated that the proper amount of time had not yet passed for my next desire. As it turned out, I was only her “master” during the time I made my wishes. Otherwise, I was not to disturb her again until the appointed time, and believe me she made this quite clear. Her eyes burned with fiery intensity and her “voice” rumbled with barely contained anger. She began to fade back into the smoky stage of her transition and soon I was alone.
At this point I planned to rid myself of the flask before anything else happened, I really did, after all it was my wish that caused my own mother’s death! But something would not allow me to dispose of the thing. I took it down to the lake and tried to throw it into the water, but within my mind a powerful presence stayed my hand. I even tried to bury it out back at the far corner of the property and actually did get it in the hole and covered up, but within two days Mom’s old lab, Smoke, had dug the damn thing up and brought it back to the porch. I ended up putting it into an old shoebox and as the weeks and months passed, I looked at the flask less and less and Dream Girl did not communicate with me either. By the following October I’d nearly forgotten about the flask and her when suddenly, as I was watching a news program, the picture seemed to go offline for a few moments and an announcement stated that important breaking news story would be interrupting the program momentarily. The TV screen then went totally black except for a small dot of light at the center. The light grew and an image began to take shape. It was Dream Girl. She spoke to me in her usual manner via my thoughts. She told me that soon the time would come again that I could summon her and use my next wish. I then turned off the power to the set, but her image remained, now crystal clear. Dream Girl laughed at my failed attempt to shut her down, then told me more details about what I was involved with. I was now pretty freaked out, as you might expect. Then, just as fast as it had happened she was gone and the news program was back on.
So, did I then finally get rid of the damn thing, seal it up in cement and sink it to the bottom of the lake? No, of course, I didn’t. I thought I could get one more thing, a safe thing, a really good thing, then get rid of it before the last wish. I’ll get into that in a bit. I had a week before Halloween and I thought long and hard about what to wish for. Finally, the day arrived and I really figured it would all work out fine. I summoned Dream Girl as I did before and she once again materialized and asked what my desire was. What I wished for was that the people of the world would find common ground that would unite us all, that a wondrous event would inspire awe and serve to bring us together. She grinned and told me to expect something to begin very soon and stated that I had one desire left. Then, as before, she retreated to her flask to wait for my next and final wish.
Now, doesn’t that seem reasonable to you? Pretty much I wished for world peace, isn’t that what we all want? I was a fool. My wish has caused the gate between her elemental world of Chaos and our own world to be opened. That was the “wondrous” event she provided. Now all of our collective, worst nightmares have entered our world and have united us: in fear, despair and hopelessness and I am so, so sorry for that. The corrosive infestations of hate, violence and vengeance have begun to spread all over the world unchecked and as long as the gate remains open and unsecured, then this and much worse will worm its way into our world until all life ends. Tonight, though, I will fix all of it, the third Halloween wish. As they say, the third time’s the charm.
So, have you ever wondered what happens after the third wish? The story I’d always heard went like this; release the Genie, request three wishes, free Genie from its bondage. Wrong! Like most things in this life, it ain’t that easy. One little detail that’s missing is the fact that you, as the wisher must forfeit your life in order to release them. That’s right, you give up your life and soul to send them back to their world. I’ve been trying to prepare myself all year for tonight and I think I’m ready. I thought about wishing that I’d never found the flask to begin with, but instead, I’m going to wish for her to reverse my last wish, to restore the world back to the way it was and force her to seal the gate shut once again. Otherwise, someone else might find the flask and I cannot allow that to happen. That’s the least I can do. Right?
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