First
Second




Once back in her room the girl sat down on her bed while the jinn floated around aimlessly. She was livid. And disappointed. One emotion fed the other and made for a glacial atmosphere in the room. The jinn tried to pretend not to notice, but he kept close to his can, just in case.

"So", she said. "No money, no precious stones, no decent cars, no nothing. What the smeg can you do?"

"I can do a quite passable ham sandwich", the jinn said. "With mayonnaise."

A long silence of the kind that would, in certain stories, be called a 'pregnant pause' followed this statement. The jinn squirmed under the girl's blazing stare.

"Look", he said; "I'm a low-budget jinn. I don't do wealth and fancy stuff. I mean, why the hell would I live in a tin can if I had the powers to do all the stuff the powerful jinns do?"

"You said something about a castle", said the girl. "What kind of castle would that be? I bet the city council would have it demolished within a week for being a sanitary hazard or something!"

The jinn shrugged, which basically involved making his shoulders whirl a bit, like fog in a gush of wind.

"Okay", she said. "Let's try this again. I want a really, really good computer. A laptop. Posh. Nice looking, lightweight... Can you do that? Is that within your 'budget'?"

The jinn nodded and looked quite convincingly certain. "Ah, that I can do. Trust me on this."

The girl heaved a deep sigh, and said: "I wish for a good, sleek, nice, powerful laptop!"

The sound this time was more like an "oumph", and the right beside the girl a black laptop computer appeared. It was nice looking, and seemingly brand new. The screen was black, but a little green blinking light indicated that it was on. The girl gingerly tapped the touchpad, and the screen came to life.

"It's protected with a password", she said in that very level voice that tells any sane person that the speaker is only seconds from comitting some heinous and violent act. "It belongs to some company. 'Blackest Corks ltd'. Look. It says so here on this sticker."

"That a problem?" said the jinn. The girl looked again at the laptop. "I think so. I definitely think so, you idiot. It's bloody well stolen!! I can't have a stolen laptop, even if I could make it work!"

She reached around it and held up two stumps of severed cord. "And you didn't even manage to get the power cord or the mouse! Damn!"

She eyed the jinn with narrowed eyes. "Take it away! Now!", she said. "And no, that is not a wish either! Twat!"

The laptop disappeared almost soundlessly, and the girl took a deep breath.

"You can't really, actually make anything, can you? You just steal it from somewhere, don't you. You are utterly, utterly useless!"

"Well, I didn't ask you to pick me up!"

"You did too!"

"Maybe in the practical sense of the word, but in a metaphorical sense I didn't."

"You're a loony!"

There was a long, gloomy silence.



The girl snatched a magazine from the floor and pretended to read for a while. Having a jinn at your beck and call wasn't nearly as fun as it seemed to be in the stories. Which only reinforced her already quite strong suspicion that stories and fairytales were all just so much bollocks, and that you should never believe anything your parents told you around bedtime. While it might seem sad that a girl so young should be so cynical, fact of the matter is that most girls are. When in need of a romantic and impressionable soul one should look to the boys - which is why the heroes in stories are more often than not boys: the girls would immediately see the tale as being nothing more than a ruse to make you eat your vegetables and slay your dragons, and always be nice to elderly ladies by the roadside.

Finally the girl held up the magazine for the jinn to see. "Can you get me that dress? A dress just like it, in my size? Blue. And it is to be completely, perfectly, totally NOT USED! Ever!"

The jinn peered at the magazine page. "Well...", he said. "I'll see what I can... that is to say that I have to go and... How will you explain the dress to your parents?"

"Let me worry about that. Can you, or can't you?"

The jinn whirled about in embarrassment. "I can get you a pony", he said. "Or a puppydog or a kitten."

"The pony would probably be ready for the glue factory, and the dog rabid. And I am allergic to cats. The dress!"

It was not a question. It was a demand, and there were promises of major unpleasantness behind the words. The jinn dissolved for a moment, and then pulled himself together again.

"Okay, you're right", he wailed. "I can't do it. I can only fetch stuff from one place to another, and I can only get things I have been fairly close to. I can only make ham sandwiches because I spent some time in a crummy diner. So there! I'm useless, I know. I've had a terrible life and everyone has been so mean to me always. Nobody likes me"

The girl looked at the jinn's quavering lower lip and felt her resolve weaken and her anger abate. What a miserable washout of a magic being he was. She sighed.

"Tell you what", she said. "I'll send you off to somewhere where you can rest up. How's that? I can use my last wish on that." She searched her mind for a fitting location, preferably some distance from her home. "Ibiza. Sun, surf, and... well, sun, I guess. There's all these ads about the place all the time."

The jinn sniffed a bit, and nodded. He used the hem of his t-shirt to wipe his eyes, and gave the girl a brave smile. And here you see how the cynicism of a teenaged girl can still be bested by the unscrupulous shrewdness of a centuries old jinn. A lesson well learnt, even if it can be hard to see how it'll ever come in handy.

"Thank you", he said. The girl smiled and made the wish, and the jinn disappeared with a whoooshing sound - and something that sounded to the girl like a rapidly fading "Sssuuuucckeeeeerrr", trailing off into some nth dimensional distance.

The girl thought that odd, and she would probably have chalked it up to a trick of the wind on her ears, if not, shortly after, her things had started disappearing from her room, one by one, beginning with her pink Hello Kitty socks - and every time leaving only a lingering smell of musty old tent...


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