“Your wish,” the genie intoned with a slight bow of its smoky head, “is granted.”
“Just like that?” I asked.
“I speak and it is so,” it said. “Just like that.”
“Oh,” I said, a little overwhelmed at the thought of it. “Wow.” The words both seemed so insufficient, but I didn’t know what words would be sufficient. This was actually happening. It was really true. I was really…
“But,” the genie said, “I must warn you… there is one condition I may have, ah, neglected to mention.”
It chuckled darkly. I felt a chill run down my spine. Of course it had been too good to be true. Of course there would be a condition.
“What?” I asked. “What is it?”
“Nothing,” the genie said. “I’m just fucking with you.”
“Yeah, seriously,” it said. “Boom, wish granted. That’s all there is to it. No secret cost, no horrifying twist… well, that is, unless you count… no, maybe I should let you find that out on your own. Nobody ever believes the warnings, anyway. Not until it’s far too late.”
“What warnings?” I asked. What had I done? “Too late for what?”
The genie doubled over in laughter, flames licking around the edges of its mouth.
“Oh, man, you should see yourself,” he said. “I’m still just fucking with you. You got your wish. Go home and enjoy it.”
“Okay, seriously,” I said. “Is there some horrifying twist or not?”
“By Shaitan’s fiery beard, you spent like three hours drafting your wish to make sure there were no ‘loopholes’ or double meanings or anything like that,” the genie said. “The thing had a freaking preamble on it. I seriously thought you were going to call your lawyer or something. When you’re that obviously uptight about it, of course I’m going to fuck with you. But relax. You freed me from my imprisonment, I gave you what it’s within my power to give. That’s all there is to it. Don’t make this into more than it has to be.”
“Well, it doesn’t help me relax when you keep making ominous pronouncements or whatever,” I said.
“I’m sorry,” the genie said. “I’m done now. I’ve got it out of my system. Okay?”
“Okay,” I said. “Thanks.”
“No, thank you,” the genie said.
“I guess now I finally get what I’ve always wanted,” I said.
“Yeah,” the genie said. “Now… now you get to find out if you can live with that.”
“Christ, will you knock that off?”