Genie 2

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Old Helen was the only person in town who could issue legally binding contracts, and she was often called upon to resolve disputes.  She had a memory that seemed magical; she knew everyone’s name, birthday, and that one ugly comment you made years ago (and regretted).  There were rumors that even the King had sought her services with his tangled matters.

Once, Oscar had asked Old Helen how she managed to remember everything.  She had looked him straight in the eye and said, “I do it the hard way.”

He had nodded, and that had been the end of it.

Walking back to town with Thymia, Oscar poked a finger into the genie’s belly.  It felt like… nothing, really.  Like there wasn’t anything there at all, just the cool evening air.

Thymia turned to face him, “Who’s this person we’re going to see?”

“Someone much smarter than me, so I can try to figure out what to do,” he said.

“Hm,” said Thymia.  “It’s a lot easier to achieve your wishes if you figure out what they are first.”

Oscar was caught off-guard.  “Well, what else would you do, not figure out what you want to get done first?” he snorted.  “I mean, isn’t that obvious?”

“Just because it’s obvious doesn’t make it any less useful, friend Oscar,” Thymia gestured with its own hands, which passed through Oscar’s shoulder.  That was actually a pretty good point.

Again, he felt nothing.

The lights of town grew closer, as the two of them began a descent down from the road that had led to the sea.

“Wow!  How beautiful!” Thymia burbled.  The genie took off, racing towards the bright mass.

“Wait!” Oscar said.  

Thymia rushed forward a few feet and then promptly disappeared.  

Oscar panicked.  Thymia had literally—

“Huh, looks like we’re still too far off,” Thymia said, suddenly appearing behind him.  

“How?” he said, spinning around.  “How did you do that?”

Thymia just looked at him.

“Is this normal?  For genies to just move around like that?”  

“What, did you expect for me to not be bound to you?” Thymia asked, with the same tone of surprise Oscar had used earlier.

“Can you do that a few more times?” Oscar asked.  He watched carefully, making sure not to blink.

Thymia moved around.  Each time the genie got more than a few feet away from Oscar, it vanished and reappeared diametrically opposite him.  No slow fading or a flash of light accompanied Thymia’s movement.  

One moment the genie was here, and then, very simply, it was there.

Oscar found himself wondering if the distance was actually exactly diametrically opposite… Oscar stopped, stooped down, and picked up some rocks.  

“Can you try this just a few more times, Thymia?” Oscar asked, laying a line of stones from where he stood.

“Sure, friend Oscar!” said Thymia.

*****

Some time later, Oscar sat down on the sandy road.  Around him lay several lines of stones extending outward from his position.

“Okay,” he said.  “That should do it.”

Over and over, he asked Thymia to slowly float over until the genie reappeared behind him.  He’d done his best to line up the rocks in a straight line.  Thymia indeed appeared to teleport directly across from where the genie disappeared.

Basically, thought Oscar, there’s a circle with a radius of about twenty rocks, which makes about three feet that Thymia can move around, with me as the center.

Oscar found this unsettling.  Perhaps I’m imagining all this?  A genie I can’t even touch?  A genie that teleports?  (In a perfect circle, no less!) With no observable impact on reality?  Oscar was strongly reminded of the drunks who fled from shadowy demons only they could see.  He very much hoped that other people could also see Thymia.  

Thankfully, Old Helen’s house was the first building from the road.  It was two-stories tall, with a large sign on top, painted in blue.  “Legal Services” was written on the sign, right above the large wooden door.

He’d spent longer than he’d wanted testing out Thymia’s range.  The street, softly illuminated by the streetlights, was empty of people.

Oscar walked up to the door.  Thymia hovered near his shoulder.  The door was locked, and the blinds were closed.

He was about to use the knocker, when he had a fantastic idea.

He pressed himself close to window, noting that the three feet radius extended through the other side.

“Hey Thymia?” he asked.  “Can you go through here to see who or what’s inside?”

“Of course!” said Thymia.

And the genie promptly floated through.  Oscar held his breath.  If this worked…

“There’s two people inside!” Thymia said, popping back out behind him a few seconds later.

“Really?” asked Oscar.  His felt his heart beating rapidly.  “Who did you see?”

“There was an old woman with short black hair with a white streak, and she was sitting at a square table” Thymia said.

“That’s what Old Helen looks like!” said Oscar.  “And the second person?”

“I couldn’t really tell; they had a hood on.  But they had a large gold ring that shone in the light!” Thymia said.

“Hm, can you get a closer look?” Oscar pushed himself tighter against the window.

“Sure!” Thymia floated through again.

Oscar felt empowered.  He’d found something that actually worked!  Granted, being able to peek through houses didn’t seem too appealing, but it was a start.  He briefly wondered if any thieves would find such a service helpful.

“Got it!” said Thymia, popping back behind him again.  “The ring is molded in the shape of a dragon’s head, but it had three red stones for eyes!”

“Are you sure?” he asked, feeling a cold sweat come on.  “Three eyes?”

“Yes, friend Oscar!” Thymia said.

Oscar laughed.

So the rumors about the King were true after all.

Next.

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