Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"O, Great Genie..."

It's writing challenge time, brought to you by Indie Ink. New writers are always welcome to sign up for next week's challenge by following the link above.

Week 22
My Challenger: Courtney
My Challenge: Gandhi said "Be the change you wish to see in the world." What change would that be?
Who I am Challenging: The Drama Mama
What I Challenged Them With: Romantically Jabberwocky-ish (She totally nailed it, FYI--go take a read!)

"O Great Genie..."

Be forewarned. If you have found this journal, then I myself must have perished. I can only hope that you heed this warning, and leave this place immediately. This is a place of evil. Please forward this journal to the following address as soon as you possibly can:"
"And then it lists an address to someplace in Indiana." Troy flipped briefly through the pages. "Looks like a normal enough journal to me." He tossed the book over to his hiking companion.

Jill caught it in the air and also glanced at the holographic note on the cover. "How odd," she mumbled. "What year do you think this is from?"

"I dunno. Are the entries dated? When is the last one from?"

She flipped through until she found the beginning of the last entry. "This journal is over a thousand years old! Troy! Do you realize how valuable this must be?"

"I doubt that the person at the other end of that mailing address is still holding out hope."

"No, seriously! This could be from some missing persons case! We should really contact the police or something."

Troy laughed, and then mimed a communicator to his ear. "Hello, officer? We're hiking in Tibet and we found a journal! Could you please come right away? The guy went missing a thousand years ago and we're hot on his trail!" He laughed again. "Get serious. Look, we can make camp here tonight, and when we get back into town early next week, we'll look into getting that journal to someone, okay?"

She grimaced. "I don't know. It says this place is evil." She glanced around nervously.

"Seriously? You want to know evil? Climbing back down that mountain after the sun goes down. I'm not about to do that based on a thousand-plus-year-old note on the cover of a journal. Come on, we can camp right here in this old temple, under the benevolent gaze of the Adi-buddha. This place will protect us from any sudden storms that come up in the mountains this time of year."

"I suppose." Jill climbed up the old stone stairs and began to set up camp for the night.


She rolled over in her sleeping bag and stared at the small campfire they had started. She couldn't shake that nagging feeling of worry ever since Troy had tossed her his little discovery about an hour ago. Glancing over her shoulder at his slumbering form, she slowly eased herself out of the bag and removed the discovered journal from her backpack. Finding the beginning of the last entry once again, she began to read...

Tibet, May, 2346 BCE I'm not sure how much longer I have. Everything in my mind seems quite muddled, and I find myself phasing in and out of physical being. I will now attempt to recount the events of today, and hope that, at some point, someone may discover what has happened to me, to let the world know of this terrible danger, so that others may avoid this same fate.

It started when I came across this ancient monastery while on vacation in Tibet...

"I'm assuming the basic rules apply? No wishing for more wishes, no wishing the dead back to life, that kind of thing?"

The genie turned his head slightly to look me in the eye. A shiver ran down my spine as those stone, lifeless eyes met mine. And although he said no words, I took it as an agreement to my statement.

This one is different, I thought to myself.

You see, this was the seventh genie I had come across in my life. You may think me fortunate, but let me warn you, "wishing" isn't always all it's cracked up to be. The first genie I had freed from his "place of confinement" had been while hiking in Mexico, and quite by accident! Once I finally had the courage to take him up on his offer of three wishes (still thinking I was dreaming, or that it was an elaborate hoax of some kind), I made my first wish and was devastated by the results...

You, like myself, have probably imagined this scenario a hundred times over! "If I found a genie, I'd wish for..." Or the "If I had just one wish, I know I'd wish for..." Just keep in mind that old Chinese proverb, "Be careful what you wish for, because it might come true."

Being the altruistic, ever-optimistic human that I was, I had made the fatal mistake of wishing for world peace. Lofty? Yes. But I was young, a dreamer, and very naive in the ways of the djinn.

Because quite suddenly I was standing on a desolate, lifeless world, just me and my genie. (You can be forgiven at this point if Me and My Shadow has suddenly popped into your brain; it's happened to me countless times over the millenia...) Astounded at how "world peace" could result in such all-consuming death and destruction, the mischievous little gnome replied, "There is no peace in life. Life is a struggle, from beginning to end. For there to be world peace, there must be no life." Needless to say, my second wish was for negating my first, and my third and final wish was for the ability to find others like him, who had such power as to grant wishes.

Thus, I find myself here, before the seventh one I had found in my travels about the globe. Granted, not all of the genie were as devious and dangerous as the first--in fact, I counted myself lucky to have had such congenial wish makers, resulting not only in my multi-billion dollar estate, an overall lack of poverty and hunger in the world, twelve space colonies throughout our solar system, but four of my six beautiful children as well!

But this one, this genie... He was one to wish carefully upon. Maybe it was due to the fact that he was made of granite, sitting just inside a Tibetan monastery in one of the remotest places on earth, that gave me pause. Isolation typically gives me goosebumps, and having found this djinn had taken me by surprise--after all, I was only here on a personal vacation, for once not out on a lark looking for more wish fulfillment.

I realized then that the genie was still looking at me, his cold eyes boring through me, down into my soul.
Jill shivered and glanced up at the statue of the Adi-buddha. Had it's head... turned?

Quit being a silly scaredy-cat, Jill! she chided herself. She glanced away and grabbed a blanket, pulling it tight around her shoulder. Throwing a few more pieces of wood on the fire, and then inching closer to take in its warmth, she refound her place in the journal.

Walk away, I thought. Just walk away and leave this one well enough alone. But I couldn't. It had been over a year since my last wish had been fulfilled, and I needed my fix. It was like a drug, the all-powerful feeling that came with having your every (carefully thought-out) wish granted.

So I placed my backpack on the ground, rooted around for my journals (the very journal you find yourself reading at this moment, dear reader...) and began to peruse my list of unfulfilled wishes.

No... I thought, looking through the list. No... no... Ah-hah! I glanced up at the genie, who still had yet to utter a word. He simply stared at me.

"My first wish, O great genie," I began, "is for human doctor's to be able to find a life-giving cure, within the next five years, to every deadly disease, known and unknown, to all human beings in the universe so that all people may live long and prosperous lives to the end of their natural days and die only of old age."

You may think it silly, reader, to have to spell out such exact limits and guidelines, but I still was thinking upon that first genie I had met, and knew that if I were to leave any of the details open to interpretation, I could well find myself standing alone, once again, on a lifeless earth. After all, I reasoned, what better cure to disease would a djinn think of then to have no humans at all? No humans, no disease. Therefore, I was trying to tread very, very carefully.

And then I saw the nod. The nod of wish fulfillment.

However, being that I had given a five-year grace period, I had no idea at this point whether or not this wish would even be granted in the way I envisioned. Add to the fact that I find myself in the most isolated parts of the globe, I had no way to even turn on my cell to watch the news, to see if discoveries were even now being touted within these first few minutes of disease eradication.

I had done my best, however, with wish number one. I also then had five years to find another genie to reverse this wish if, indeed, disastrous results were to unfold. If I was going to make the world a better place, if I was going to effect change that was to help everyone on earth, I had to make sure I had back up plans.

I continued to stare at the genie. He continued to stare back. I could only trust that, as I was still standing here and he was still standing there, I had not made a wish that could be twisted or manipulated.

Still, I continued to wait.
"Jill? What are you doing?"

"Jesus, Troy! You scared the shit out of me!"

"Sorry. You all right?"

"Just can't sleep. I'm reading through this old journal. Good stuff, if you're into fantasy stories."

"So it's not even a real journal then, eh? Glad we didn't call the police." He smiled tiredly, then rolled back over in his bag. Jill waited until she heard the soft snoring before turning back around to the fire.

"Your wish has been granted, human."

"You... You can talk?"

It gave a slight nod. It suddenly seemed more real to me, more alive, now that it had spoken. Still, I was quite shaken by the deep, rich, booming voice, especially within the confines of this temple. Something still didn't feel quite on the up-and-up. Nevertheless, I had two more wishes to make before I could be on my way.

"No shenanigans, right? You are making sure my wish is fulfilled as I intended it to be, correct?"

It locked eyes with me once more, then after a second gave a slight nod in the affirmative. "You have two more wishes to make, human, before I am free. Make your requests."

Before I am free? What does that mean? But I knew better than to ask. There was still a great deal I didn't know about these fantastic creatures, and until I found one a little more--friendly? congenial?--I knew I'd get no answers from this brute.

"Fine," I said. "On with the business at hand. My second wish, O great genie, is that all six of my children would be great leaders in the profession of their choosing, rivaled by none and experts in all that they endeavored to do, leaving them content and fulfilled throughout their lives."

Again, I waited. And again, I was rewarded with a slight nod. "Your wish has been granted, human."

I was dizzy with excitement. Oh, the power! I was practically giddy that I had just secured a bright and promising future for my offspring, lives that would be rewarding and fulfilling! I clasped my hands to keep them from trembling. "Thank you, genie."

It gave me that stony nod in return.

Now I sat. I contemplated. I made myself dinner over a small cooking fire, staring at the djinn as he continued to stare back at me. Hours must have passed as I gave thought to my final wish of this magical creature. He seemed quite unperturbed, happy to wait, happy to not wait. I thought about the eons that must have passed right here under his gaze, the millions of lives that have been born and died at his feet here in this temple.

And then it hit me. And to this day I wasn't sure why this wish, this desire had not come to me sooner. After all, hadn't every wish I'd ever made only been to improve my life and the lives of others? Hadn't each one since that first been only to bring about positive change in a universe that dementedly suffered? Why should I need to find a genie to make these things happen? Why couldn't I be the one to simply make them happen? Why couldn't I be the change the world so desperately needed? What was that ancient proverb? "Be the change you wish to see in the world"?

I stood up, shook the dust from my pants, and approached the ancient fairy creature. His gaze followed my every move.

"O great genie," I intoned quite dramatically, drunk on the idea of the power I was about to receive, "my third wish, my final wish of you, is for me, myself, to have the power to change the world, for there to be no need for myself to find a genie for wishes to come true." I was practically jumping up and down in my excitement, knowing that now, I had no need to choose my words so carefully--I would know exactly how I wanted my wish fulfilled, I would know exactly what change I wanted to take place! No more back-up plans, no more worrying about some evil creature twisting my words and meanings! I would be the one to determine what I meant!

And then--

Oh, dear reader, too late I recognized my fatal mistake. And suddenly I was looking at myself standing there and I realized...

Sweet Jehoshaphat, did I realized...

I watched as my former body approached my new body. "You now have the power to grant wishes, human. You can now be the change you wish to see in the world. As soon as another human finds you, and demands of you for wishes to be granted."

And with that, he walked away in my body... And I looked down to see that I, now, inhabited his former body.

Even now, as I write these final words, the granite of my new flesh grows hard. I'm thinking that I need a human presence to move, to give life to these limbs. As this pencil threatens to break in my now monstrous hands, as I try to delicately put down these words so that you, dear reader, may know...
Jill shivered. She looked up and saw those eyes staring at her.

Quit being silly, Jill! Dear god, what would your father say if he--

"And how do you find the reading of my journals, child?"

She gasped. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod...

"There is no need to be frightened. Only the need to wish it, and I shall grant your request."

"You-- You-- You're..." She trailed off, already knowing how stupid this sounded, already knowing this couldn't be real.

"I am Beaufort Whitney Charleston the Third. That is my journal. I see you have decided to ignore my warning. But then again, the genie I had hoped to warn anyone against is long gone. And now there is only me. It has been many years since I had had company here in my prison."

Jill glanced over at Troy, who snored so peacefully amidst the booming noise of the Adi-buddha statue.

She turned quickly to face the statue once again. "I must be dreaming, right? Tell me I'm dreaming."

"Is that a wish?"

She gasped. "Nononononononononono!"

The statue chuckled. "Child, you must calm yourself. I'm sorry my attempt at humor has failed. I don't often get to use it, you see."

She gulped, found herself nodding. "I... uh..."

"Come now, my dear. Calm yourself. You should be delighted that you find yourself with the power to make three wishes, three glorious wishes, and to have a genie such as myself to make them happen. I assure you, I have no wish to see anyone else suffer my same fate."

"I can't really... I'm sorry... This just seems..."

A loud, booming laugh emitted from the statue. "Yes, yes, I realize. But there is no rush on the wishes. You see, I can stop time, keep Troy asleep, and let you take all the time you need to decide on the three most wondrous things you wish to make happen! I myself am going nowhere, of course. Ha, ha, ha!"

Jill cringed at the noise, cupping her hands over her ears.

And then it hit her--she had three wishes. She got to wish for anything at all.

She could make all her dreams come true.

Her eyes widened. Her heart raced. Excitement and hope filled her eyes, and she lifted her head to gaze into those cold, stone, lifeless eyes of the genie.

"My first wish, O great genie," she began...

Previous Challenges I have answered:


Major Bedhead said...

Oh, not fair!!! I want to know what she wished for! *stomps foot* ;)

That was excellent. Everyone's has been great this week.

supermaren said...

Jason, you are SO good at this kind of storytelling. Everything about this was really engaging and exciting! Loved it!!

The Drama Mama said...

Ahhhh, yes!! I Love lvoe love love it. I love the premise behind the story. I love that I didn't realize he was going to become a genie until he practically was. This is very well written.

My only issues? The time frame. There is no way it is over a thousand years old and he has a cell phone, not if you are using BCE as the date (unless I'm wrong but as the reader thats how I took it) though a 1000 years ago in our time frame isn't as ancient as it seems anymore.

The other thing was that I had a small bit of confusion at first when the journal entry stopped being italics and became normal. It kind of shifted me out of the story a little. Once I realized it was the journal, I moved on with the rest of it just fine.

Both are minor, easily fixed things, and really overall don't impact the story. I love this I really do. It's right up my alley.

Karla said...

Love it! This was such a well-crafted story and the narrative just swept you along with it. The ending was great and a perfect way to tie the whole story together. Wonderful piece (again)!

Tara R. said...

This was incredible. You had me on the edge of my seat. I hope you keep going with this story.

Amy LaBonte said...

I really loved this story. Great concept! Hope you continue.

Cedar said...

Brilliant! I think what Drama Mama said on the time was correct - try leaving out the date. Merely using a comment on the age of the journal and the archaic name form whould do the trick. Lovely cliffhanger, perfect ending.

wendryn said...

I really enjoyed this! The storytelling was quite good, and the characters were interesting.