I must be in a very “hustler” mood, because the main characters in today’s flash fiction are unapologetic con artists. lol Fun to write.
What is flash fiction? It’s an itty bitty story, generally under 1,000 words or 3 printed pages. Fresh fantasy and sci fi flash fiction every Friday!
*Please pardon grammar whoopsies. They will be fixed when this story is published in a collection later this year.
“Coins for Wishes”
A fantasy flash fiction
K. D. Jones
The genie looked at his inventory in the wishes warehouse at the back of his store and sighed. Honestly, he needed someone to sort out all these boring wishes for him. “A new pair of shoes.” “More milk from my cows.”
How dreadfully boring.
The bell at the front door chimed as a young man walked into the genie’s shop on Dreamers Boulevard.
The genie poked his head out.
He stared, blinked. Blinked again.
He wasn’t hallucinating! There really was a customer in his store!
The genie strolled out from the back, smiling. “Welcome! Can I help you, sir?”
“Oh! Hello.” The man gripped a small satchel. “I was hoping to purchase a wish. You do sell those, right?”
“Yes, I sell wishes.” It took effort to keep sarcasm out of his voice. “What sort of wish do you need?”
“Um… Well, you see, I don’t have very much money.”
The genie had already noted the man’s threadbare tunic and patched tights. The soles of his boots were also loose and flapped as he walked.
“It’s fine,” the genie said, waving a hand. “I can work out a payment arrangement, if necessary.”
The man’s shoulders slacked as he blew out a breath. Hope rekindled in his eyes. It contrasted with the shadows in his gaunt face. “Thank you, sir. I didn’t think I would find a place like yours anymore.”
Yes, thank you for reminding me my livelihood, the very reason for my existence, is dying. “It’s true that business has been steadily declining since people decided to work to make their dreams come true versus wishing for them.”
“Wishes aren’t cheap.”
“Honey, there are two forms of payment in this world—money and time. Being immortal, I have all the time in the world. Can you mortals say the same?”
That shadow of doubt returned to the man’s face. He bit his lip.
“Nevermind.” Honestly, these mortals were such serious creatures! Then again, he supposed he’d be serious, too, if he only had sixty or so years to live. “Shall we begin the paperwork?” He snapped his fingers. A roll of parchment, a quill, and a vial of ink appeared in his hand in a puff of pink smoke. The scroll unfurled itself and floated over to the man, who gazed in astonishment.
“Sign on the dotted line, please.”
“And I can have whatever I want?”
“For the right price. But yes, that’s the gist of it.”
The man’s gaze became hungry. Snatching the quill, he dipped it into the ink and scrawled his name three times. The second he finished, the quill, ink, and parchment vanished.
“Where did they go?” the man asked.
“Who knows? I’ll find them when I need them. Now, lets discuss this wish of yours.”
The man pursed his lips, his eyes growing thoughtful. “You say time and money are the only two currencies in this world.”
“Whole-heartedly believe it.”
A heartbeat passed. “I’ve changed my mind. I want to be immortal, like you. Turn me into a genie.”
The genie’s eyebrows shot up. He hadn’t been expecting that. “Are you certain? The life of a genie, especially in these times, is unstable and harrowing.”
“It cannot be worse than my current life. I lost my family in a terrible accident. A year later, my business failed. I have nothing.”
Yes, yes, in the thousand years of his existence, he’d heard every sob story on the planet. “Very well. How much did you bring?”
“How much money?”
“Oh!” The man handed him the satchel.
It felt very light. The genie opened it and dumped its paltry contents out onto his palm. “You’re joking. Three bronze coins?”
“The last of my savings, sir.”
When the genie didn’t say anything, the man said, “You promised there would be a payment plan.”
He most certainly did not make any promises, but he wasn’t about to tell the man that. “Very well.” With a snap of his fingers, the man’s drab, lamentable attire turned into colorful silk. His form had filled out. He looked healthy, and his skin glowed with the same faint golden light as the genie’s.
He held up his hands in wonder and laughed. “I’m a genie! I’m immortal!”
“You certainly are. Now, let’s talk payment…. Let’s see, at the rate of three bronze coins per month, we’re looking at one million, nine-hundred-and-seventy-nine thousand, six-hundred years, two months, one week, twelve hours and five second.”
“I… wait, what?”
“I said we’re looking at one million—”
“No, no, I heard you the first time! That can’t be right!”
“Success doesn’t come cheap. Now,” the genie said, slinging an arm over the man’s shoulders. “Let’s talk business. You cannot wish for bronze coins—you have to earn your money, same as any genie.”
“But I don’t know the first thing about being a genie!”
“That, my new shiny friend, is where I come in. How would you feel working for me? Actually, it doesn’t matter how you feel, because you have no choice. Let me show you my wishes warehouse.”