Runner-Up: Most Disturbing Story
Pffffft. The genie arrived without fuss and smoke.
“Cool. Do I get three wishes?”
He checked his outfit.
“Wrinkle-free folding my ass.”
“Excuse me, but I just let you out. Do I get three wishes or not?”
“What? Oh, yeah. Thanks. Fire away.”
“I want you to help me with my new years resolutions.”
“Take your time. I’m not going anywhere.”
“I already told you.”
“You’re allowed to think about these things, map out possible consequences, make sure I’m not going to give you a Twilight Zone ending.”
She stamped her foot. “You’re not listening to me.”
He raised his hands placatingly, palms catching the light from the last of the fireworks. “Hey, you’re the boss. New years resolutions it is.” He paused. She paused. He realized their fecund pauses were in danger of becoming pregnant and said, “So, what are they?”
“I want to quit smoking.”
“Ooooookay. You know, you could do that yourse…”
“I can’t. I don’t have the willpower.””Have you tried patches, or gum.””Just grant my wish, please.”The genie snapped his fingers as the strains of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ drifted across the dunes. “Done.”
“I want to drink less.”
“You do know that I could grant you anything, don’t you?”
“Do you want to go back in your lamp?”
“Fine, don’t get all pissy. Jeez.” He snapped his fingers again. “Done.”
“And I want to lose weight.”
“You sure about that?””Who’s in charge here?” She stamped her foot again.”
“It’s just that…”
“Stupid Gemma’s been giving me a hard time about my smoking, my drinking and my weight the whole party. That’s why I came out here. That’s why I found your dumb lamp. I don’t want her to have anything over me at the next party, so make me lose weight.”
“I don’t think anyone will have anything over you if you make me do this.”
“Is that an order?””Yes.” The foot stamped a third time.
“Fine.” He snapped his fingers. “You really are an idiot.” His form became a blur, traveling out to sea across the moonlit sky, accelerating to freedom.
“You’re the idiot,” she called after him. She noticed red light coming from near her feet. Glancing down, she saw a digital read out showing her weight. 120lbs. Scales? The numbers changed. 119. 118.
“He did it,” she breathed.
“I’m losing weight.”
“I’m gonna look so good.” She ran her hands down her sides, but stopped them when they met only her familiar curves. “What the fuck. That idiot lied to me.”
105. 104. No I didn’t. 102.
“Did you just write that?”
100. 99. No. 97.
“What did you do to me? What’s happening?”
95. 96. You’re losing weight. 94.
“But I’m not getting any smaller. I asked you to help me lose weight.”
92. 91. Derr. 89.
“So if I’m not getting any smaller, how am I losing weight?”
84. 83. Heard of Helium? 80
“What. Yes. You put it in balloons.”
75. 74. 73. And… 70.
“And what? They blow up and float at the end of their strings.”
65. 64. Have you got a string? 61.
“What? No. What do you mean?”
59. 58. Dumbass. 55. What do helium balloons do if they don’t have any string? 50.
“Don’t call me dumbass. You’re the one who got my wish wrong.”
50. 49. I think you’ll find it was you who got the wish wrong. 45. 44. What happens to helium ba…
“They float away. Why do you keep asking dumb questions?”
38. 37. You are turning into a helium balloon. 33.
“Huh? That can’t happen. People don’t turn into balloons.”
29. 28. Ahem. Magic. 25.
“Stupid genie. Make it stop.”
20. 19. 18. 17. 16. 15.
15. I didn’t change anything. 14.
“But the numbers stopped. I still weigh,” she checked, “thirteen pounds.”
13. That’s what a thick rubber balloon with just enough helium to keep your existing shape weighs. 13. I didn’t stop the weight loss program. 13. I just ran out of you to turn into helium and rubber.
“So what’s your next trick, genius. You gonna pull rabbits outta your…”
12. 11. I’m gonna finish your weight loss by adding helium. 10.
She missed the last message as she tried to find the source of the hissing sound. “Where’s that coming from?”
10. Your chest. 9.
“Fuck. Make it stop. I wanted to be thinner. Stop it.” She clasped her breasts as they grew beneath her sweater, the hem pulling out of her jeans.
8. Better get indoors. Or find some string quickly.
She didn’t notice, but the ominous squeaking of her growth and the tightness of her clothes were enough. She lunged… well, she tried to move quickly… would you believe she stepped daintily from the scales and began a strange waddling amble toward the house lights beyond the rim of dune tops, her feet seemingly in more of a hurry than the rest of her. Her inflating torso, now constrained by the too small sweater, wafted backward, its buoyancy and air resistence making itself known more with each cup size she outgrew. Buttons popped. Cashmere can only take so much punishment. The beach balls floated free and bobbled in her face. She picked her increasingly tenuous footing by the moonlight shining through her transparent rubber boobs. Her progress up the dune, aided as it was by her rapidly diminishing weight, was quick, but at the crest she could no longer find traction.
“Help me!” she screamed to the party-goers on the balcony.
“Is that Susan out there?”
“Fuck. Anyone except Gemma, please, come help me.”
She heard drinks spill and saw the dim outlines of several guests jump the railing with varying success.
The seams of her jeans gave way and swelling buttocks caught moonlight. Drunken male shapes raced across the sand only to miss an upwardly mobile ankle by inches.
Out on the dark sands, a final text arrived. Lol. e Pop.