The three free wishes of Justin Taylor

The three free wishes of Justin Taylor

A Story by hogan
"

A contemporary version of either 'Aladdin' or 'The monkey's paw'

"

The three free wishes of Justin Taylor.

 

    Justin Taylor settled down in the old, very well worn armchair that had come with the house.  They did not particularly like the chair but the elderly couple they purchased the house from told them it was a comfortable chair, well-built and they would love them to have it.  As it turned out when they tried to remove the chair, its dimensions were exactly perfect to render its removal impossible.

    Anne, his wife was at a school governor’s meeting and would not be back for a couple of hours yet.  He had flicked through the two hundred and twenty four television channels and rejected all of them.  He turned his attention to the old cardboard box; it had been unceremoniously dumped to his immediate left.  The house was old, very old, and Ann had been keen to fill it with suitable period knick-knacks, their budget was limited, Anne was carrying their first child, only two months, but so exciting.  The box had come from a local auction, every second-week there was an auction in the town market, most of the items were beyond their price range, but sometimes there were boxes of bits-and-pieces from house clearances, these were assorted lots and you took a chance if you made a bid.  The box he was now rummaging through had been purchased for the cost of a cheap bottle of wine, from his preliminary inspection it appeared the wine would have been the better option.  As he reached into the deepest and lowest recesses of the assorted junk his finger tips came into contact with something that felt warm, the quality and suppleness of the texture was reassuring, he gripped firmly and removed the object that was a tactile pleasure to feel.  It was an old book, bound in a very soft and well preserved cover.  He studied the remaining flakes of gold leaf that once formed the title, but the scattered traces of precious metal were far too infrequent to allow their original form to be deciphered.  He opened the cover and was disappointed to see the browned, brittle pages had been ravaged by mildew spots; the damp had eroded the charm and any potential value.

    He carefully turned the first two blank, spotted fly sheets and read the hidden title of the book.  Tales of Magic and Mystery from ancient Persia.   There was no name of an author, come to that no details of the publisher or printer, the next page contained the start of the first story.  The story was quite traditional and reminded him of something he had once read before, his foggy recollections were of a story about a monkey’s claw and the benefactor being given three wishes.  In the case of this story it was about a magic lamp and the finder was given three wishes.  The unfortunate man was ruined as each wish delivered exactly what he asked for, but with disastrous consequences.  He would keep the book, one day he would use it as a bedtime story book for his children. 

    He gently closed the book and reached from the comfort of the over-padded, over-sized chair for his I-pad.  He needed to check through todays E-mails, an evening ritual he had come to detest.  The inbox glared its scarlet warning of 32 unread mails in the inbox.  All would be important; his spam filtration system was always reliable.  He began to tackle the tedious messages, most only needed to be read, but a few needed a quick written response.  He was about half-way through when he came across a very unusual piece of mail; his first thought was how dare they manage to penetrate my spam filters.  The subject simply said.  “Congratulations Mr Taylor, you are the lucky winner of three free wishes.”  He clicked the box and was set to delete the piece of junk mail, but something made him stop.  He thought about the amazing coincidence.  He had just read from the old book about a man who was given three wishes, how ironic was it, this message was now seductively teasing him to open it.  He hesitated, he thought, his firewalls were all on, there was a green tick by the message indicating it had been scanned and contained no cookies, no tracking files and was totally virus free.  Curiosity was the victor; he touched the blue highlighted text and opened the message.

    A picture of a cartoon formed oil lamp appeared, it looked like a page had been copied from a young child’s book, he wondered who was playing a joke on him.  He checked the E-mail address of the recipient, it was his.  He now checked the address of the sender, it said, Three free [email protected].  How odd, who were they?  Some hazy text appeared under the lamp, the swirling purple smoke formed a short message. ‘Rub the lamp to claim your three free wishes.’  His finger hovered over the lamp, he hated these intrusions into his privacy.  He touched the lamp, nothing, he touched it again and nothing happened.  The purple smoky text once again swirled and reformed to a new message.  ‘Rub, not touch, Justin.’  They knew his name, it must be a joke message from one of his work colleagues.  He placed his finger on the lamp and began to rub from side-to-side.

    At first nothing happened, after a few seconds though the crude graphics sprang into action and some purple smoke started to puff out from the spout of the lamp, the screen filled with the swirling purple vapours and then the mauve fog dispersed.  He read the message that had appeared during the ‘foggy’ recess.

Congratulation Mr Taylor, I am pleased to inform you have won three free wishes.  Please use them wisely and be careful to read all instruction, terms and conditions.  Three free wishes cannot accept any liability for any consequence or outcomes from your choice of wishes.  The following instructions are for your guidance and assistance in helping you to choose the best three wishes for you.

 All wishes must be specific, no vague or poorly defined wishes can be accepted. (Do not wish to be very rich, state the exact amount you wish for.  Do not wish to live forever, state the exact age you want to live to.)

 It is not possible to grant a wish instantly, wishes will be delivered at the first possible opportunity.

The second wish cannot be made before the first wish has been granted.

 

    He looked down the screen, there was a simple text box waiting to be filled in.  He liked the joke, someone had gone to a lot of trouble to play this one on him.  He thought for a while, what would his first wish be?  They had recently bought this big old house, now they had a large mortgage and in seven months’ time there would be a high maintenance child to raise, his car was ageing and they needed a lot of new furniture.  He calculated a reasonable sum, no need to be greedy.  He typed in the text box his request.  ‘I wish for the sum of £247 392.18.’  He pressed the ‘done’ button, but the red text lit up.  Before a wish can be granted you must tick the box saying you have read and agree to all the terms and conditions.  He scanned down the screen and selected the terms and conditions option.  There were pages and pages of the usual micro-print, in fact more than normal.  He scrolled back up and ticked the ‘I agree’ box, then he touched the ‘done’ box.  The screen swirled purple once more and a short message appeared.

 

Thank you for requesting your first wish.  At this very moment our team is calculating the best way to grant your request, once this has been completed suitable actions will be taken to fulfil your wish.

 

    The screen went blank and returned him to his unread E-mails, the mail he had opened had disappeared.  He finished reading and replying to the remaining E-mails.  He decided he would have a shower before Ann got back from her meeting, she would be home soon and always spent ages in the shower.

 

    He was enjoying the luxury of a long hot blast from the new power shower that was installed last week, when he became aware of the prolonged ringing of the doorbell.  He turned the shower off and could hear raised voices shouting, the words were not audible though.  He grabbed the nearest towel and wrapped it around himself and made his way down the steep stairs to the front door.  He opened the door to two solemn faced police officers.

 

    “Mr Taylor?”

 

    “Yes,” he replied, already sensing a huge feeling of anxiety.

 

    “May we come in sir, I am afraid we have bad news.”

 

    The police explained to him that a patrol car had tried to stop a vehicle they suspected was stolen.  The car had set of at high speed and the patrol car had followed in a high speed pursuit, unfortunately the car lost control, at very high speed, and had hit Ann’s car head on.  They told him, as if it would comfort him, she had died instantly, there was nothing that could have been done to save her.

    It was four months later the brown envelope arrived, sent by his solicitor.  He opened the letter and read the details relating to insurances and other compensations that had been made, enclosed with the letter was a cheque made out to him, the total amount came to  £247 392.18.

 

    He reached for his I-pad; he wanted to check the figure, the figure he had wished for.  He searched through all his files, but no trace of the E-mail, or his request was showing on any of the history.  Hesitantly, shaking and feeling nauseas, he opened his E-mail account.  He scanned down and froze; there halfway down his inbox was the message. 

 

    ‘Your first wish has now been completed, now it is time………..’

 

    He opened the mail and read the full message.

 

    ‘Your first wish has now been completed, now it is time Mr Taylor to make your second wish.  The image of the lamp appeared and his mind turned to anger, this had to be a very sick joke, he had lost his wife and his unborn child, now some creep dared to wind him up with this.  He deleted the mail, it came back, he shut down the I-pad, it reappeared on the screen, he was tempted to smash the tablet into tiny pieces, but decided this would be a waste; he would only have to buy another one.  He sat and thought for a while and decided to play along the game.  He typed in his wish.

 

    ‘I wish my wife was alive and with me now.’

 

    In red text the words appeared.

 

    ‘This wish cannot be granted, please read full terms and conditions.  Reference, section 564, paragraph 31.  It is forbidden to make a request to bring back a person from the dead.   

 

      He thought for several minutes, he would make a request that would be impossible to achieve, but would also be harmless.  There was a disturbing thought though, which was really bothering him, some part of his brain was sending little messages that kept saying, but what if it’s true?  You really can make a wish.  His finger hovered over the text box and he typed his request.

 

     “I wish for the sun to turn dark for 21 minutes and 15 seconds precisely, this should take place at mid-day in the location I am at.”  If it is a practical joker, that will defeat him, he thought to himself.  He tapped his finger on the ‘done’ button and waited.

 

    The purple smoke cleared from the screen and once again a clear message emerged as the last wisps evaporated from view.

    Thank you for requesting your second wish.  At this very moment our team is calculating the best way to grant your request, once this has been completed suitable actions will be taken to fulfil your wish.

 

    The screen returned to his list of unread E-mails.

 

    Over the next few weeks he turned his eyes to look outside as each noon approached, nothing happened, he knew it never would.  Over the next few months he had completely forgotten about the second wish, time is a great healer and now Justin was excited about his forthcoming holiday.  A few years his parents had emigrated to Australia, he never seemed to find the time to arrange a visit, there had been issues at his work place, the house move, Ann becoming pregnant and then her untimely death.  Four days from now he would be on a plane and flying half way round the world, he needed this break and was determined nothing was going to stop him.  He checked through the news items, there were no reports of strikes, of airlines threatened with bankruptcy or volcanic ash clouds, nothing to jeopardise his plans.  As he scanned the last news items, one caught his eye, it was only a piece of trivia.

 

    Tomorrow a large asteroid will pass close to the Earth.  Scientists say there is no cause for concern, the asteroid known as TFW 203, is set to pass just 200 000km from the Earth.

 

    The article continued to explain this was a rare event, but had happened on previous occasions, in this case, the asteroid would not come close to the Earth again for several hundred thousand years.

 

    It was a few minutes before mid-day, the following day, a voice and what it said, caused his blood to freeze in his body. 

 

    “That’s weird, the sun has dimmed, I didn’t know there was an eclipse today.”  He stood up and looked out of the large, south facing office window.  Something was not as it should be, the Sun seemed to have lost some of its intensity, but it’s glare was too strong to see clearly.  On his desk was a black glass coaster he used to prevent his coffee cup leaving unsightly rings, he walked over and picked it up and then returned to the window.  He tilted the glass and the reflected image of the Sun was clear.  At its centre a black smudge had appeared, the fuzzy dark shape was growing by the second and just two minutes later the black growth appeared to have eaten the Sun away.  It was pitch black outside now, they all left the office and went out to view the phenomena, the stars were out.

 

    About twenty minutes later the Sun gradually reaffirmed its dominance.  At first it became barely perceptible, as if seen through a black cloud that had diluted its opaqueness, just sufficiently to allow an outline trace to become visible.  Within minutes the light grew and everything returned to normal.

 

    “What was that, what do you think happened to the Sun?” someone asked.  There were endless suggestions put forward, but all Justin could focus his thoughts on was his second wish.  A few hours later the news began to break.  At 12.00 hours GMT the Sun had been obscured from view for 21 minutes and 15 seconds.  Astronomers had been tracking a large asteroid measuring several kilometres across.  The asteroid was known as TFW 203 because it was the 203rd asteroid discovered by the Trajectory Focused Web system.  This system involved many of the world’s largest observatories had been linked together, with the specific aim of identifying asteroids and their current trajectories.  The strange phenomena of the Sun blacking out, had been caused by the larger rocky asteroid, being struck by a much smaller metallic meteor travelling at very high velocity.  He watched as an expert explained that when the metallic meteor had penetrated deep into the rocky asteroid, its energy had been transferred to heat, the temperatures high enough to vaporise the metal.  The pressure had been sufficient to cause the large asteroid to explode and break into hundreds of thousands of pieces, along with hundred of thousands of tonnes of powdered rock.  The collision had occurred in just the right place to produce a dust cloud in space that temporarily blocked off all the sun-light from the Earth.  He went on to assure everybody there was nothing to worry about.

 

    Justin was worried, perturbed, distraught and stressed.  The second wish had been granted, the name of the asteroid TFW 203, could it stand for Three Free Wishes 2nd of 3rd ?  At least this time nobody had died.  Tears welled in his eyes as he thought about Ann.  He felt as if he would go insane if he kept on thinking this way and decided to go home.

 

    He arrived home and did something he rarely did, he searched the house and found three, nearly full bottles of alcohol.  The urge to remove himself from the current reality was overpowering, two hours later he had finished the bottles and fallen into a deep alcohol induced sleep.  It was still dark when he woke up, out of habit he pressed a button on the remote control and put the news on.  At first he assumed the pictures were from some war-torn region, but as the words of the newscaster sunk in, he rapidly advanced from his drunken stupor into a state of total sobriety.  The pictures depicted on his television screen, the massive explosions and streaks in the sky, they were not missiles being launched in some distant corner of the world, they were footage of a massive meteorite shower.  Debris from the exploded asteroid had been hitting the Earth six hours after the initial impact, the one that had been caused because he had wished it to happen.  Already an estimated 100 million people had been killed and it was likely to get worse.  He reached for his I-pad and opened his E-mail.  It was there, the message telling him his second wish had been fulfilled, asking, no instructing, him to make his third and final wish.

 

    He had an idea, would it work?  He rubbed the lamp, he made the wish, a simple one this time.  He typed, ‘I wish I had not made the first two wishes.’

 

    Thank you for requesting your third wish.  At this very moment our team is calculating the best way to grant your request, once this has been completed suitable actions will be taken to fulfil your wish.

 

     He closed his eyes, the wish had been granted, did this mean Ann would walk through the door soon, he fell asleep, feeling a distant hope.

 

    “Hi darling, have you fallen asleep again?”  She was back,  he felt elated, he started to talk to her, to tell her about the strangest dream he ever had.

 

    “And this case, I notice he seems to talk about a dream, he seems to be talking to someone just in front of him, look at how focused his eyes are,” remarked Dr James.

 

    “A strange case.  His name is Justin Taylor, he was found at his house, he had killed his wife, smashed her skull in with a tablet computer.  When the police arrived he was talking to her about his dream, he has not stopped talking about it for over 10 years now,” replied Dr Smith.

© 2012 hogan


Author's Note

hogan
I have always enjoyed short stories and wanted to try and write a contemporary version of 'The monkey's claw.' Here it is.

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Featured Review

a brilliant twist of an age old story. you have , however , embellished it with the advances of technology and made it relevant to todays reader. i absolutely loved this write. this would make a wonderful horror story for theatre or film. perhaps they will pay you handsomely for the screenplay? well done!

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

quinfinn

6 Years Ago

as with my personal favorite, Edgar Allen Poe
hogan

6 Years Ago

Will read some more of your work shortly, the site is very slow, just two more chapters to sort.
quinfinn

6 Years Ago

no problem. perhaps i can persuade you to give my newest effort "frozen love" a glance. i posted it .. read more



Reviews

A very interesting modern take on this tale, some of the old writers had no fear of awful endings! I'll check out some of your other stories too.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

hogan

6 Years Ago

Thank you for your kind words, hope the odd error did not spoil the read
a brilliant twist of an age old story. you have , however , embellished it with the advances of technology and made it relevant to todays reader. i absolutely loved this write. this would make a wonderful horror story for theatre or film. perhaps they will pay you handsomely for the screenplay? well done!

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

quinfinn

6 Years Ago

as with my personal favorite, Edgar Allen Poe
hogan

6 Years Ago

Will read some more of your work shortly, the site is very slow, just two more chapters to sort.
quinfinn

6 Years Ago

no problem. perhaps i can persuade you to give my newest effort "frozen love" a glance. i posted it .. read more
You've done a very good; this is "The Monkey's Paw" reimaged. I'll read more of your work as I am able.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

hogan

6 Years Ago

Yes it is, wondered if anyone would recognise it, note I said claw on purpose to see if anyone would.. read more

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Added on October 30, 2012
Last Updated on October 30, 2012
Tags: Genie, wish, destiny, the monkey's claw, curse

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hogan
hogan

blackpool, United Kingdom



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Currently working on a series of short and contemporary horror stories. Decided to join this site because I have been working on a project for the last fifteen years. Fourteen thinking and one writi.. more..

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