FEBRUARY VILLAINS 102 – Short Story Contest

TOPIC: OUTSMART A VILLAIN

THEME: Greed

SETTING: Your character comes in conflict with a villain who is pushing sorcery, bribes, extortion, or any other kind of immorality in order to gain money, fame, or power. You decide who might make a promise or break a promise in your story, the main character or the villain.

SUBMISSION: Scroll down and post your short story.

3 HIGHLIGHTS (include): outsmarting a villain, a promise, and an escape

WORD COUNT: 750-1,500

DEADLINE: 25th of the month

PRIZE: Winner receives a free book!

AWARDS: Each story will receive an award!

VOTING: Feb. 26-Feb. 28, 2021

3 OPTIONAL PROMPTS TO GET YOU STARTED:

1.) Your character sets out for a particular destination. Along the way, he/she encounters a greedy fortune teller, the villain, who gives wrong directions or false information. Your character finds out that he/she is being set up by the villain. He/she must figure out a way to outsmart the villain, escape the villain, and/or get out of a bad situation.

2.) Your character meets a greedy villain who is ruthlessly climbing the corporate ladder. Your character sees the villain robbing, pickpocketing, or stealing. Your character must outsmart the villain, find a way to catch him in the act, and/or escape from being the victim.

3.) Your character is invited to what seems like an innocent get together or weekend retreat. A nice but very greedy pimp villain attempts to lure your character into giving massages and engaging in prostitution. Your character must outsmart the villain and find a way to escape a bad situation.

VOTING: Voting will take place from FEBRUARY 26-28. Each writer will vote by selecting the top three favorite stories. Directions for voting will be made available during voting time.

WINNER(S) and AWARDS: Will be announced on March 1 or at the beginning of March.

OPTIONAL RESOURCES:

More optional conflicts can be found on pages 29-30 in “Writers 750 Emerald Workbook” written by H.M. Schuldt, available at Amazon.

“Giant Tales Beyond the Mystic Doors,” Chapter 2: Beasts

ITEMS THAT MUST BE INCLUDED

1.) A greedy villain who has immoral behavior (sorcery, stealing, or human trafficking, etc.)

2.) A promise

3.) An escape

3 Phases of an Escape Plot

  1. Feeling imprisoned.
  2. A plan to escape.
  3. The escape.

Sightseeing

Write about something you discovered. What did you learn?

Change Names

Write about an experience you had, but change all the names.

CONTEST GUIDELINES – Skip over this comment section if you are familiar with the Writers 750 Program.

GENRE: Fantasy, Thriller, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Crime, Comedy, Romance, or a mixture (No erotica)

PURPOSE –
The main purpose of this contest is to practice the skill of writing fiction, explore plot, conflict, and character development, collect your own short stories, and receive good feedback.

RULES & DIRECTIONS –
• Type in English – a minimum of 750 words; a maximum of 1,500 words

(The theme is required.)

• Post your title and word count total in the first line of your story posting.

• Writers are responsible for their own copyright. Authors keep all rights. PRIVACY POLICY IS ENFORCED. COPYRIGHTS AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS BELONG TO INDIVIDUAL AUTHORS. THIS CONTEST DOES NOT GRANT ANY PERSON THE RIGHT OR LICENSE TO COPY OR USE OTHER STORIES. EACH STORY IS PROTECTED BY THE COPYRIGHT OF THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR.

• ONE entry per person, must be the writer’s original work, a final revision, and a new piece of writing. Please do not delete and re-post since this becomes confusing to the readers. Try to post your final revision.

SUBMISSIONS: Scroll down to the bottom to post your story.

12 replies on “FEBRUARY VILLAINS 102 – Short Story Contest”

“February Villains” Awards:

The Bronze Owl by Terry Turner – Best Tragedy
Winter Angel by Glenda G. Reynolds – Best Escape
War in Inthinar by Rich Penny – Most Violent Action
Edema by Richard Kroll – Best Greedy Villain
Why Stop at Three Wishes by Arthur Chappell – Best Surprise Ending

Winner:

Why Stop at Three Wishes by Arthur Chappell

Congratulations, Arthur!

Thank you for participating in February Villains short story contest!

The contest is now closed. It is time to vote! Select your top three stories anytime between now and February 28, 2021. Send me your votes!

The Bronze Owl by Terry Turner
Winter Angel by Glenda G. Reynolds
The War in Ithanar by Rich S. Penny
Edema by Richard Kroll
Why Stop at Three Wishes by Arthur Chappell

TERRY TURNER | 477 comments Mod
THE BRONZE OWL
by terry turner 998 words

Jake and Berk woke one fateful morning to the sound of thunder. Rushing to the back door they witnessed heavy grey clouds sliding across their open farmland while mountains loomed like painted gods behind the ramshackle farmhouse. Cattle lay dead or dying on the parched earth.

They stood in silence as the lightning sent its vicious claws all around them. But their hopes of rain faded as the clouds passed over and ten minutes later the sun once again shone its unrelenting, strangling heat over everything. Their shoulders slumped. There would be no rain.

In silence, Jake went to the kitchen stove and prepared a pot of water to make the usual morning coffee. Berk sat at the breakfast table staring into an empty coffee cup with a look of despair on his face.

“I think we should go to the mountain today and continue our search for the Bronze Owl. We have to find it.” Jake said to Berk. “It’s worth a lot of money which would set us up for life.”

Berk and Jake had listened with interest, as children, to their grandfather who told a story of a Golden Owl and Bronze Owl that was buried by Spanish explorers in the early 1600s. The brothers had recently discovered their grandfather’s treasure map hidden away in the leather covering of the old family bible found in the farmhouse attic.

Grandfather had heard stories, over the years, while he worked at a nearby seaport, and secretly drew his map from the clues handed down from sailor to sailor who was the descendants of early explorers. After hearing the Golden Owl had been found, their grandfather had searched for the Bronze Owl most of his adult life but the whereabouts of the treasure eluded him.

After studying the map and the scribbled notes, the brothers believed their grandfather was on the right track and set out to finish his work.

They climbed the rocky trail to the cave day after day where they toiled and sweated chiseling the rocks from the walls in their frantic search for the Bronze Owl.

Every day their callused hands wielded the picks and mattocks against the basalt rock creating a fine dust that covered their faces and bodies so that they looked like white ghosts moving about in the shadows of the darkened cave.

The wall crumbled as their picks hammered against the solid rock while they dug their way to a room believed to be hidden within the mountain. They had been digging for six months hoping to find the elusive but well-known treasure – the Bronze Owl worth 250,000 dollars.

Both men had studied the story of the Golden Owl which had already been found and the elusive Bronze Owl which was yet to be claimed. They believed the map would lead them to it.

When the first pick broke through the rocky outcrop it exposed a small cave-like chamber. They could hardly contain their excitement. Working at break-neck speed their picks hit the basalt rock to expose a larger opening. Rivulets of sweat ran down through the white dust on their aching bodies. Then lifting the kerosene lamp, they climbed through the opening into a small chamber.

In the light of their lamp, they saw a crucifix, carved from wood, standing over a metal box in the center of the room. The silhouette of the cross danced eerily on the rocky wall with each movement of the lamp. They stood in awe of the room knowing that they were the first to enter after hundreds of years. Their hearts pounded wildly in their chest. The tension was live between them as they rushed to be the first to bust open the rusting lock.

Their concern and respect for the holy symbol of the Catholic Church that the Spaniards had left there was nothing, for what they saw when the lid was lifted, blew their minds and made the brothers gasp.

There, inside the metal box resting on a faded rotting cloth was a small but beautiful Bronze Owl gazing up at them.

“We’re looking at 250.000 dollars Berk. We can now fix up the farm like we promised mother before she died,” Jake said excitedly.

Already Berk had other ideas that didn’t include fixing up the farm. His dreams were of living the high life as a rich gentleman and that did not include his dull clumsy brother. They began to argue and fight over who would control the money that the owl would bring to them.

From somewhere deep inside Berk’s brain, his greed became a coiled viper preparing to strike and spit forth the venom brought about by the allure of the Bronze Owl. His wild eyes stared at the back of Jake’s head and his mouth twisted with a contorted sneer.

He lifted the pick from the white dust and brought it down on Jake’s head again and again while he screamed and shouted blasphemous words. Jake’s blood splattered on the metal box and the crucifix. In a mad man’s rage, he struck the crucifix with the pick shattering it to pieces.

Berk removed the Bronze Owl from the box and pushed Jake’s limp body inside and affixed the lid securely in place. Then, he left the cave, taking the owl in his hands still covered with his brother’s warm blood down the slope to the farmhouse.

But Berk’s aspirations of living the high life were to come to an end when he tried to claim the money it was worth. The government confiscated the owl as a national treasure and two years later gold prospectors found the body of his brother Jake. He now spends his life not on barren farmland but in jail looking out on an exercise yard for the rest of his life.

FOOT NOTE: This story is inspired by a Frenchman who buried a Bronze Owl worth thousands – Then left a trail of cryptic clues to its location.

https://magellantimes.com/anthropolog

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Winter Angel
1,149 words

I thought of myself as the average person with an instinct to survive. I made an average income and lived in an average apartment complex in South Texas. I’m sure my parents had high aspirations for me, perhaps to become a great artist or singer. My mother tended to nag me rather than provide useful guidance. Just when I thought I was tired from the nagging, a horrendous thing happened: a fatal car crash took the lives of my parents. Now I would give anything to hear her “nagging”.

My coworkers tried to give me comfort, but none more than Ben. Ben tried to talk me into attending his church, that perhaps I would receive healing there. I shrugged off his invitation. After all, if there was a loving God out there, why did he take my parents from me? My soul became bitter. After work I decided to stop by a bar called South Spicey on the way home. There I was on a bar stool, drowning my sorrows with a Texas Tornado. A handsome man took the bar stool on my right.

“I’ll have what she’s having,” he said to the bartender.

He turned to face me and I looked into his eyes. Nick saw the tears on my face. After pleasantries were exchanged, we did some light talking. One thing led to another. He ended up spending the night with me in my apartment.

I thought that luck had knocked on my door when I met Nick. Unbeknownst to me, nothing could be further from the truth. But after all, Nick drove a fancy Mercedes and had a lot of cash whenever he took me out. He had good looks and charm. Sometimes I would catch a glimpse in his eyes that hid some truth. Nick worked to gain my trust, and I fell for him. After he gained my trust, I saw his dark, abusive side emerge. If I refused to do something he wanted me to do, he back-handed my face a couple of times. His bed manners were rough and abusive. Stupid me. It was twisted, but I knew no other way to love. Of course he would act all sweet afterward, until the next time.

I followed him one day and parked across the street from an establishment in the downtown district. There were prostitutes dressed in tight, skimpy outfits just outside of the building. One was a young Latino wearing a bustea with skinny straps, mini-skirt, and high heels. Nick walked up to her, caressed her cheek, and gave her a lingering kiss.

“That’s my girl!” he said as he praised her. He looked at the other women along the curb and stated, “Work it ladies! Work it!” In response, the young women strolled provocatively down the sidewalk or walked up to cars stopped at a street light to ask if the passengers wanted a “good time”.

So he’s a pimp! This is how he got his money to pay for his fancy Mercedes! No doubt Nick would like to recruit me to be his prostitute on the streets of South Texas.

I tried to avoid him after I discovered the truth. I mentioned it to Ben. His only reaction was, “I’ve been praying for you.” Like that’s going to do me any good! You can bet though that Ben would be praying even harder for me. I made another stop at South Spicey after work. When I left to go home, I stopped just outside of the door to pull my jacket on since the temperature was plunging. A stranger wearing a dark hoodie stood against the building. My heart skipped a beat with fear.

“I didn’t mean to scare you, Ma’am,” he drawled. “You shouldn’t be out here alone.”

“I’ll be just fine. My place isn’t far from here,” I reassured myself.

“You need to take caution, Melinda,” he said while stepping out of the shadows and pulling the hood back to reveal himself.

“I’m sorry, have we met before? How do you know me?”

“I’ve kept watch over you from afar. You’ve recently been making decisions that put yourself in harm’s way.”

“And how would you know anything about me? I don’t even know you.”

“Forgive me. My name is Elias.” In fact he had a tattoo on his left check in Hebrew with the name Elias, which means the Lord is my God. He also had another tattoo on his upper chest of two dark wings with a cross in the center.

Maybe he’s one of those nutty MMA fighters covered in tattoos I said to myself.

“Your mother’s last prayer before she died was that an angel would watch over you. I’ve done a poor job of late. But then we can’t intervene when it is a matter of free will.”

I looked away, shaking my head at such lunacy. I turned to address him.

“Maybe you just need to…,” but there was no one there.

When I got home, there were bags of groceries at my door – lots of non-perishables, a couple of gallons of water, and a thermal sleeping bag. A note was left on top of one of the bags which read, “Inclement weather is coming. You’ll need these.” Maybe they were from Ben.

Sure enough, winter’s breath slammed South Texas with blizzard, icy conditions. Snow and ice covered roads, homes, and power lines. Water pipes froze. Millions were without power or water. Everything came to a halt except the families trying to survive. Nick tried calling me, but I refused them all. He finally had enough of my silence and drove to my apartment. He forced his way into my apartment. Then I told him that I knew about his sex trade. He laughed at me. Then came the barrage of slapping me around. I was able to run out of the apartment to seek safety. I hadn’t ventured outside since after the blizzard. There was blinding white snow and ice everywhere. Again, stupid me. I didn’t have a coat or boots on. But I needed to escape. I “skied” down the walkway of my building and tried to run across the street. Nick was hot on my trail, calling my name. I hesitated once to look back. Nick reached his hand out to grab me. Elias mysteriously appeared for a brief second to push me out of the street. Nick was fatally struck from a large truck that couldn’t break on the icy road. His body rolled to the side of the road. Death was immediate from the impact.

I looked everywhere but didn’t see Elias. The truck driver radioed for emergency services. I walked back to my apartment. After picking up the mess from Nick’s visit, I noticed a note on the coffee table which read, “Your mother is happy that you are safe. Until we meet again. ~ Elias

Great stories so far this month! Here is where you can find the “green room” where you can chat and leave comments about the contest:

goodreads.com – Community – Groups – Writers 750 – Monthly Short Story Contest – February Villains Short Story Contest

Some invisible force flung Desa sideways, to her left. Her shoulder hit the trunk of an oak, and she bounced off, pain surging through her body. No time to recover. She had to put an end to this.

When she turned, Adele was gliding toward her, feet barely touching the grass. Tall and slim with a pale face and black hair like straw, the woman sook her head. “You never do learn, do you?” she purred. “Let me say it clearly: you cannot kill me.”

She stretched a scaly hand toward Desa.

The tree behind her cracked and split, groaning as it began to topple over. Desa leaped out of the way at the last second, thirteen hundred pounds of wood hitting the ground with a rumble.

Wincing as tears slid over her cheeks, Desa gave her head a shake. Her shoulder was dislocated; she could feel it. It took everything she had to stay on her feet, to fight through the pain.

Adele just kept coming.

Spinning to face her, Desa backed up into the thicket. “Come on!” she panted. “If you’re so powerful, why can’t you kill one insignificant woman?”

A scream ripped its way out of Adele’s throat.

Triggering her Gravity-Sink, Desa jumped and back-flipped mere moments before the ground exploded with a deafening roar. Dirt fountained into the air. Some of it pelted her, sending new jolts of pain through her body.

She landed with a grunt, then jumped and back-flipped again. Another explosion followed half a second later. At this rate, the entire valley would be a wasteland in a matter of hours.

A burst of kinetic energy hit Desa like a punch to the chest, pinning her against the trunk of a tree. She was trapped, unable to move, barely able to breathe. Maybe her luck had finally run out.

Adele strode across the craters that she had made, her face red, her eyes wild with feral hatred. “Impudent, little primate,” she seethed. “You really think your pitiful powers are a match for mine?”

Desa laughed.

“Bravado in the face of death,” Adele said. “Well, at least that’s something. What’s so funny, Desa?”

“You stepped right into the trap.”

The other woman opened her mouth to speak, but she was cut off when the blade of a dagger punched through her chest, right between her breasts. Adele looked down at herself in confusion. “Perhaps we’re unclear on the concept of immortality,” she said. “Is this supposed to stop me?”

“No,” Desa replied. “This is.”

She found the Ether with no effort, and the world became a sea of dancing particles. The trees, the dirt, the clothes on her body: all clusters of molecules. Except Adele. She was nothing but a black pit of emptiness.

Emptiness that could be filled.

Desa forced the Ether into the gap, temporarily severing Adele from the source of her power. She expected to hear a scream or a whimper, but there was nothing of the sort. Only a soft, gurgling sound. The force holding Desa in place vanished, and she released the Ether as she fell.

Adele was hunched over, blood spilling from her mouth as she choked. Her eyes were blue again. Blue and full of terror. She fell to her knees, revealing Kalia, who stood right behind her.

A snarl twisted the sheriff’s face into a mask of hatred. “That,” Kalia seethed, “was for betraying the woman I love.” She yanked the dagger out, producing a squeak from Adele as blood fountained from the wound. Grabbing a fistful of black hair, Kalia tilted the other woman’s head back to expose her neck. “This…”

“Protect the weapon!” an Eradian shouted.

He came running into the thicket with a rifle clutched in both hands.

Responding to the noise, Kalia spun to face him and raised a hand to shield herself. The man lifted his gun and fired with a thunderous roar. His bullet jerked to an abrupt halt, hanging in midair.

Drawing her pistol with her good hand, Desa spun it around her index finger and then cocked the hammer. She fired a single shot, releasing a bullet that landed at the soldier’s feet.

The ground exploded when she triggered the Force-Source, sending the poor man flying. He crashed right through the hanging branch of an ash tree, causing it to snap, and then fell to land some fifty feet away.
Adele looked up, her eyes becoming orange again, round pupils transforming into vertical slits. She hissed, displaying those sharp fangs.

Two seconds later, she vanished.

Desa tossed her head back, squeezing her eyes shut and trembling with impotent rage. “No!” she groaned. “Not again!”

*********************

The Weaver reappeared in her cell, shivering as she dropped to her knees. She could feel her organs healing, changing. With each use of her powers, the humanity drained out of her. Soon, she would be as monstrous as Benny.

Her uncle Timothy stepped into the doorway, scowling at the sight of her. “What happened?” He strode into the cell, seized her chin with one hand and turned her face up to him. “You were injured.”

The Weaver said nothing.

“This should not be possible,” Timothy said. “No one should be able to harm you in this way. Who did this to you, Adele?”

“Desa Kincaid.”

Timothy backed away, resting one hand on the stone wall. His head drooped as if he had been the one to fight a harrowing battle. “I’ve heard the name,” he barked. “She’s a bounty hunter from the northern towns, is she not? What’s she doing in Ithanar?”

Laughing maliciously, the Weaver felt a grin coming on. “Looking for ways to kill me,” she said. “She has a rather singular focus.”

“And she was able to harm you?”

The Weaver tried to rise, but the pain forced her back to her knees. She pressed a hand to her chest instinctively. “It wasn’t the first time,” she muttered. “I had hoped that this vessel might last for years, but Desa has removed that possibility.”

Seating himself on a wooden stool, Timothy folded his hands in his lap. His mouth was tight with disapproval. “If she can harm you,” he began, “this woman may prove to be an impediment to our plans.”

“Such incisive observations,” the Weaver murmured. “I can see why they made you mayor.”

“You will go back and destroy the savages.”

“I will do no such thing.”

Reaching into his coat, Timothy retrieved a black crystal from its inner pocket. He held it up to the light so that she could look upon its shimmering surface. The sight of it made her want to claw his eyes out. “Need I remind you which of us is in control?”

Crawling on hands and knees, the Weaver made her way toward him. She looked up and flashed a devilish smile. “You can compel me to fight,” she said. “But this body will not survive. And do you know what happens then?”

She forced herself to stand.

Timothy tried to rise as well, but she clamped a hand onto his shoulder and pushed him back down onto the stool. She traced a scaly finger along his cheek, lightly scratching him with the claw. “Back to the void I go,” she cooed. “To the prison they made for me.”

Straddling him, the Weaver sat in his lap and seized his face with both hands. “Painful as it is to admit,” she said. “This bag of meat and bones is the only way I can survive in your universe. Human bodies are such disgusting things, aren’t they? Always secreting their fluids all over the place.”

Her tongue darted out to glide over his cheek, causing him to wince and recoil. “No, dear Uncle,” she purred. “You won’t give up your weapon so easily. You’ll let me heal the vessel before sending it back into battle.”

“Get off me!” Timothy snapped, throwing her to the floor.

“What’s the matter, Uncle?” she said through a fit of giggles. “You always said you wanted me to show an interest in men! Is it so horrible that I should start with you?”

He stood up, shivering, and then walked out of the cell without another word. Her maniacal laughter followed him.

EDEMA (753 words)

“Not Guilty?!!!” Louisa could not believe it. After the jury saw the pictures of her, the ones that ached while she sat for them, that stung even when they were no where in sight or turned face down on a table. How could they? The layers of ignominy piled up. Being treated like damaged goods by the police, being dismissed like an annoyance by the prosecutor, and being seen as an oddity by her neighbors paled in comparison with today’s addendum. Serigone’s evil smirk, as he blew her a kiss from the defendant’s table, competed with the realization that she was now branded a pain lover, a masochist, a willing victim. Like she actually wanted him to do that to her and take her life savings, to boot. Her biggest mistake was agreeing to that first date. After that, the mistakes piled up, until he took everything from her. Now the court and the jury were going to compound her suffering.

The one image she could not get out of her head was those people in town, sitting around on their porches, consuming hot dogs, corn on the cob, and whispered jokes at her expense, while she sat on the plaintiff’s side of the court, silently screaming.

Louisa changed everything. She moved out of Fetville, a small agricultural town, to a nondescript industrial city. She took a new name with a completely alien ethnicity. She learned a new trade, something blue collar totally unlike the office work with which she used to pay her bills. She morphed her body and appearance into different hair, eyes, and build. Born a petite blond, Louisa remolded herself into a stocky brunette. She tried to leave behind everything she had ever been, everything that made her feel a victim.

In time, the scabs on her soul dried, faded, and fell away. The scars left in their wake bled to watermarks upon her flesh. Protection tattoos disguised the corporeal marks remaining from her ordeal. When innocently touched by a man, the urge to flinch flooded her, but she masked that impulse with sharp manners and frigid aloofness. It took years to become the new her. Determined, she invested the time and effort. Louisa Frances Morgan evaporated from the surface of the Earth. A new and improved creature took her place and inhabited her body. No one was going to take advantage of who she had become.

And then he found her.

Serigone acted as if they shared a consensual relationship all those years ago, a relationship that could be brought back to life the way CPR brings a heat attack victim back from the dead. He sent her letters. She burned them unread. He called her on the phone. She disconnected it. He came by her home and knocked on her door. She tripled the locks and shuttered the windows. Serigone ambushed her on the street, threatening to explode her new identity. He never mentioned the “unless”, but it was implied in his manner.

Finally, she agreed to meet him at her place of employment after her shift. She opened the loading dock door for him, ushering him into the depths of the building. He complimented her on her hair and stole admiring glances at the muscular curves that were apparent even through her work clothes.

They came to an understanding. She was never getting her old life back. All of the money he took from her was gone. The autonomic feeling of self confidence she once possessed remained irreparable. He was never getting another cent from her, and whatever he appreciated in who she had become, he was never getting any closer. And still she felt satisfied, better, better than she had since leaving Fetville.

At the end of the next work day, she hung up her apron on the peg below her new name. She remembered writing the name and address of the store in her old home town on the label glued to the overleaf of the box. That thought spawned a crooked grin. She flinched for only a moment, when the reflection of her face in an office window reminded her of Serigone’s grinning visage in that courtroom so long ago.

She pulled her jacket off the hook by the door. It was emblazoned with the name of her employer on the back. She stared at it for a moment before putting it on. Reading that name filled her with pride and a sense of accomplishment in being a meat packer and sausage maker.

Why Stop At Three Wishes. (870 words)

I was never a lucky guy. I never won even a minor prize on the National Lottery, or any raffle I ever entered. I dreamt of wealth beyond the dreams of avarice but never imagined I’d actually attain it. Maybe I should have got a job instead of sponging off the state. Then, everything changed. Whether it was chance or destiny I have no idea.

I found the Jjin in a gin bottle, one picked randomly from the local off-license wine shop for a night when I decided to drown my sorrows, just like practically every night. It was his idea of a joke place to live. I thought I was seeing things from too much gin consumption, but when he magicked me into bed with a movie star as my first wish, I realized he was telling the truth.

The lady’s husband wasn’t too pleased when I materialized between them, but the Jinn’s spell made her turn to me for affection. He stormed out to tell his story to the gutter press, but they never published it – I wished against the scandal. The poor fool forgot he was ever married at all.

That media block and amnesia spell was about wish number twelve, and possibly thirteen too Oh, yes, I originally got the usual three wishes but after wishing for a glamorous movie star wife and five billion dollars, I asked the Jjin to give me another million wishes. He was obliged to do so, so now I just started wishing and wishing for anything I desired.

I never touched my untold-millions from the bank at all, as if I wanted anything I just wished for it. The swimming pool, the Rolls-Royce, (that I change every time I filled the ash-tray with Cuban cigar ash), the personal cruise liner, the Picassos, the lot.

Someone tried to mug me – I wished him instantly away to Saturn. It’s the only time I ever killed anyone, but hey, prove it. Go find the body.

I caught a cold and instantly immunized myself to it and all illnesses. I made myself immortal too, and when my movie star wife started getting wrinkles I dumped her for a new one with a wish and a click of my fingers.

The Ex sent me a Christmas card that almost did for me. It read, ‘I wish I was in Hell’ and I almost read it out aloud – just in time I wished myself to Hawaii instead.

Life was good. I travelled the World and I even went to the Moon on a proper space flight, not like my mugger’s one-way ticket to the outer planets.
I bought myself lots of new friends – everyone’s your friend when you magic gold bullion into their accounts.

It was all going so well, but my dream was shattered cruelly.

My Jjin rarely appeared visibly. I can’t even remember what he looked like. He changed shape more often than I changed my socks, usually just by thinking about them changing. I was getting merrily drunk on the Jjin-gin from our first meeting. I’d saved it for the first anniversary of my good fortune.
I got my wishes just by talking out loud and clicking my fingers. Thanks to my latest wish on a whim I was having an affair with another glamorous girl, and we were soaking in my Jacuzzi when she asked me why I never used my wishes to ask for World Peace or a cure for cancer, for everyone, rather than just for me. It would be less selfish of me she suggested.

‘Sure Baby’ I said, ‘anything to please you’.

I wished out loud and clicked my fingers but the next day I saw on TV that the war was still going on in the Near East and shortly afterwards I got a telegram saying my Mum had just died of cancer. Angrily I called for my Jjin, and my whirlpool bath-girl who I assumed to still be upstairs preparing for our venture into page eighty-seven of The Kama Sutra materialized in front of me, dressed in one of my suits. I asked her why my last two wishes had failed.

She laughed. “You used up all million wishes on yourself. Those were wishes million and one and million and two. You are bankrupt in the wish-pool – bye.“ With that and without a parting kiss or a smile for me, she vanished.

I was furious.. I smashed up a lot of my best ornaments, and then I thought of my five billion dollars. It suddenly struck me that I had no idea what bank I’d put it in, or in what name. I had no paperwork, invoices or accountants. I’d just wished for everything I ever desired for over a year. I had nothing.

There was a knock on the door and I wrongly guessed that the bailiffs were coming to repossess my things and evict me.

I opened the door to my find my first ex-movie star wife on the doorstep, half drunk, sipping from a very familiar looking gin-bottle. “I still wish you’d go to Hell,” she slurred, and sure enough, here I am.

Arthur Chappell