Harry went into Ye Olde Curio Shop and slammed an antique bottle on the counter. “Nothing in this place is any damn good!” he shouted.
“What’s the problem?” asked the gnomish old shopkeeper.
“Remember last week when I rented a wishing bottle, and it turned out to be empty?”
“Right. And I gave you this one as a replacement. So, what’s the problem now?”
“I only got two wishes. The genie owes me two more.”
“You must’ve done something wrong. Did you talk nice to her like I told you?”
“Sure did. Every time I made a wish, I said pretty please with chocolate syrup on top. For the first two wishes, everything worked out fine. She brought me a hundred billion in cash, and the German castle I always wanted.”
“Well, maybe you should count your blessings,” the shopkeeper said. “You have enough money to last a lifetime of fantastic luxury, and you have a fine new home. How many bathrooms does it have?”
“Don’t change the subject. I have two more wishes coming. If I don’t get them immediately, I want half my rental fee refunded.”
“Frankly I never heard of a genie failing to carry out a customer’s wishes.”
“Well, this one did. Just as I was making my third wish, she interrupted me right in the middle of the sentence.”
“Hmm. That’s highly irregular. What did she say?”
“That she wanted a pepperoni pizza. With extra cheese. I wondered what the hell was going on? Since when does a genie get on her high horse and order me around? It’s supposed to be the other way around. And I told her so.”
“What did she say to that?”
“No pizza, no wish. I asked her why she wanted pizza at a time like this. Do you know what she said to me?”
“I can’t imagine.”
“I’ve been cooped up in bottles for 5,000 years, and I’m famished. Get me a large pepperoni pizza, or no third wish. So, I called Pizza Hut and had them deliver one. Would you believe that tiny thing ate the whole piazza? She didn’t even offer me a slice. Then, she made me wait until she took a nap. Plus, I had to sit there and listen to her burping while she snoozed.” “I assure you I’ll report this to the Genie Supply Warehouse,” said the shopkeeper. “You can be certain she’ll be strongly reprimanded.”
“Serves her right. But there’s more. When she woke up, I tried again. I said, ‘Oh beautiful magical genie, I wish for all the oil in the Middle East be placed in the ground under my castle, pretty please with chocolate syrup on top.”
“She just sat inside the bottle with her arms crossed, looking pissed. ‘What’s the problem now?’ I asked. Know what she said to me?”
“I’m afraid to ask.”
“She said from now on, she wants me to say, pretty please with chocolate syrup, marshmallow, peanuts, whipped cream, and a cherry on top. So, I told her that’s not the magic formula, and that she’s just stalling. I told her to get the oil like I just wished for. But she wouldn’t budge. She took out a marking pen, a piece of cardboard, and made a sign that said ON STRIKE. You can see it taped to the inside of the bottle.”
The shopkeeper examined the bottle. “That’s awful. I’m going to call the Genie Supply Warehouse right now.” Grabbing his cell phone the shopkeeper dialed. “Hello…Customer Service? I got a problem. A very irate customer’s in my shop, and he’s complaining about one of your genies. What’s her name? I’m checking the bottom of the bottle now. It’s Razzle-Dazzle. Oh, I see. Well, that explains it.”
“What did they say?” asked Harry.
“She’s a defective model. They shipped her accidentally. They said I should swap this bottle for another. Only problem is, all my genie-filled wish bottles are rented. None are due back until a week from Tuesday.”
“That’s OK,” Harry said. “By then, oil will be up to $200 a barrel.”
Before leaving, Harry picked up the bottle. “Hey genie. You know, I think you are the most beautiful female I’ve ever seen. My fourth wish after you got the oil was gonna be that you became a full sized woman. Then I would’ve married you, and we could’ve had a fabulous time together living in my castle, spending my money, and selling oil to the world. Wouldn’t that have been better than living in stupid bottles for the next gazillion years? Imagine all the pepperoni pizzas you could've had.”
The genie smiled, tore up the sign, and said, “Your wish has been granted. Not only has all the oil in the Middle East just been relocated to the land under your castle, but I also threw in every drop that the United States has offshore. Plus the deposits in Anwar, Alaska. Now make your wish, because your offer about making me a real woman and helping you spend all that money sounds fantastic.”
“Can’t,” Harry said.
“I’m on strike.”
Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His fiction has won first place in seven contests and placed in six others. He’s also won Editor’s Choice awards four times. His stories have been published by 103 magazines and 28 anthologies in Australia, Canada, England, India, Scotland, and US. He’s authored a book of flash and micro-fiction stories: “A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales.” eBook available at www.BooksForABuck.com and www.fictionwise.com Paperback available at www.amazon.com.
How this story was conceived: I belong to a flash fiction exercise group. Every week we get three prompts. This story was written in response to one of the prompts.
Mari Mitchell lives in the high deserts of California. She has been married for over ten years, has two sons, two pet rats (who are actively plotting to take over the nearby space port,) and one very round, very loved cat (who is passively-aggressively taking over the couch and computer.)