There followed the sound of clicking fingers—then nothing.
“Well?” asked Drew.
“Are you, y’know, granting my wish?”
“It has been done!”
“What? Really? Is that it? Just a click of your fingers? No whooshing magical sounds or flamboyant lighting like when you came out of the lamp?”
“Does there need to be? I’m granting a wish, not entertaining a child!”
“God, you’re a crank! I’ve a good mind to stick you back in your lamp. Is what I asked for there? Like, in the basement?”
“Take a look and see for yourself.”
Drew walked out of the lounge and towards the basement hatch. Sure enough, he could hear muffled noises. He lifted the hatch and switched the light on as he climbed the ladder down into the basement.
There in the corner, affixed to a chair as requested, was a man. He was a man of many colours—as varied as the weather he was. The man looked up at Drew. “Who are you? What is happening to me?” His accent was muddled, not really reflecting any regionalised accent.
“Oh, come on,” Drew replied. “As if you don’t know who I am.”
“Should I? Are you the reason I am suddenly a human being?”
“My name’s Drew, and you’ve been seriously pissing me off of late. It seems you can do whatever you like to anyone and there are no consequences in it for you. Well, Weatherman, today you’re going to learn what it’s like to be helpless and have misery inflicted upon you.”
“I do not know what—”
A thud cut Weatherman off as a balled fist connected hard with the bridge of his nose. He could taste the blood; he could feel the pain. It was like nothing he’d ever experienced. It was awful!
Drew emitted a high-pitched whoop of delight. “Shit! You have no idea how good that felt!” He attacked again with a series of punches to Weatherman’s face, following up with a crude roundhouse kick.
Weatherman groaned as his head lolled from the impact. “Why… why are you doing this to me?”
“How about you answer to me first, you bastard?! What makes you think it’s okay to ruin my plans all the time, huh? Torrential downpours and freak lightning strikes when I’m en route to dates; sudden gusts of strong wind blowing me into puddles; the sun only coming out when it’s low enough in the sky to practically blind me. Need I go on? Why are you doing that to me?”
“I have to provide the planet with weather or it will die. It is my job, my purpose.”
It was a vague answer and Drew wasn’t happy. He walked to a nearby table that had an array of weaponry laid out on it and picked up a football sock filled with snooker balls. He twirled it a couple of times to feel the weight before swinging it hard at Weatherman’s left leg. The impact caused Weatherman to cry out in anguish. The parts of his body that represented sunshine went grey while the parts that represented lightning storms flashed.
“Don’t mug me off with shitty answers! You kill people all the time with your antics. Hurricanes that kill hundreds of people a time and destroy homes: is that keeping the planet alive, you sick fuck?”
“I am not here to protect and shield humankind,” Weatherman yelled. “I am here to keep earth replenished. She is more important than your damned species, as much as you all like to think the opposite!”
“Alright,” Drew assented quietly, approaching the table again and running his hand across the handle of a cricket bat with nails protruding from it. “Explain to me how screwing me over is replenishing the earth.”
“I have not screwed you over.”
In a swift motion, Drew picked up the cricket bat and hit Weatherman hard in the midriff, a few of the nails breaking his skin and burying into his abdomen. Drew wondered if killing the weather was a possibility and what impact it would have on the planet if he did. That was a chance he couldn’t take, so he made a mental note not to take the punishment too far.
Throwing the cricket bat, complete with bloodied nail heads, on the floor, Drew knelt before Weatherman and looked him in the eyes. “Don’t bullshit me. Sudden downpours whilst I’m heading to a date on days that are forecast to be sunny; conveniently aimed lightning strikes that halt trains I’m riding on; gusts of wind strong enough to knock me, and only me, off my feet and into the only puddle in the damned area… you’re toying with me and I don’t fucking like it!”
“I operate over the whole world. There are billions of people on the planet. Many of them get affected. I am sorry that you have been affected so often. I assure you that I do not do it intentionally.”
“You’re talking crap and treating me like I’m stupid.” Drew gave Weatherman a hard, open-handed slap across the face. “You’re a messer. You’re a sadist. You do things like this because you know you can and there’ll be no backlash from it. How does it feel now to be at the mercy of one of the people you so frequently antagonise? Not nice, is it?”
Weatherman babbled pleas of clemency as Drew went back to the table and picked up a hammer, which was then brought down ferociously onto the bound man’s right hand several times.
“Stop… act… ing… the… inn… o… cent!” Drew growled with each whack. He then threw the hammer at Weatherman’s chest in frustration.
“Alright! Fine! I admit it. I occasionally pick on people for my amusement. Do you know how boring it gets doing the same things constantly, forever? Billions of years I have been doing this job. Only in the last ten thousand years has a species developed the conscience to react to what I do. How could I not take advantage?”
“So, you’re admitting that you’ve sabotaged two dates and made me generally miserable on purpose? Just because you can?”
Weatherman nodded with a look of shame.
Drew smiled tightly. “Y’know what? I’m actually really grateful to you for coming clean. For all this time, I’ve driven myself crazy wondering if I’m being irrational, but I was right all along.”
“I am sorry. I truly am. Please, let me go. I promise that I will never single you out again.”
“Oh no. You’re not getting off that easy. I have at least another fifty minutes of this to enjoy!”
“Stop this now or I swear to you that I shall make it my mission to ensure you suffer for the rest of your life!” Weatherman raged.
“Is that so?”
“That is so!”
“That’s interesting.” Drew stepped around the chair and put his face close to Weatherman’s ear. “I have two wishes left. I’m quite happy to keep them in reserve. This is how it’s going to go: you’re going to take your punishment because you damned well deserve it. After you return to your original state, you’ll never mess with me again. If you do, this will happen all over again, and I’ll ensure that my second wish means that I can drag you down from the sky whenever I want.”
Weatherman’s confidence waned in a heartbeat. He was a beaten man—literally and metaphorically.
The drubbing continued as promised. Weatherman was taught a harsh lesson for all the things he’d done. Drew didn’t relent. When he felt himself feeling bad, he reminded himself of Weatherman’s admission that he was essentially a bully and deserved what was happening.
With a minute left before the hour was up, Drew stopped and looked at the battered, bruised, and bloodied form sat before him. “I’m not sorry. You asked for this. If you have any sense at all, you and I will never meet as humans ever again. It’ll only mean bad things for you if we do.”
Weatherman looked at Drew sorrowfully through the one good eye that remained him, the other having since been welded shut thanks to the bruising. He said nothing, but his expression suggested the message had been received.
And then, Weatherman vanished. So did the chair, the table, and all the weapons. The wish had come to an end.
With nothing left to remain in the basement for, Drew made his way out and back to the lounge.
The Genie, sitting on one of the couches, looked up at Drew, unable to contain a slight hint of reproval in his mien. “Do you feel better now?”
“You know what? I do!”
“Good. I’m glad I could satisfy my master.” The facetiousness in the Genie’s tone was flagrant.
“Oh, shut up!”
“What’s next? Do you want to beat up water for being too wet? Grass for being too green?”
Drew picked up the lamp and rubbed it, causing the Genie to disappear within. He then placed it back on the table where it belonged and got about the rest of his day.
The view through the window was distorted thanks to the rapid rainfall. Drew stared out of it absentmindedly for a handful of seconds, shrugged his shoulders, and then drank down the last of his beer.
A pretty, shapely woman joined him at the table where he sat and tutted. “Weather’s lovely as usual, huh?”
“Yeah. Hey, why don’t I buy us another drink and we can go and sit outside.”
His date, Andrea, looked at him askance. “Sit outside? Are you joking?”
“Not at all. I’ve got a really funny feeling that it’s gonna take a sudden turn for the better within the next couple of minutes.”
“Never mind joking; you’re mad!”
“Trust me; by the time we’ve got our drinks and gone outside, the weather will have completely changed.”
Andrea narrowed her eyes, but nodded anyway and followed Drew to the bar where he bought them a drink each. They then made their way to the door of the bar.
Sure enough, just as they reached it, the heavy rainfall ceased and warm sunshine broke through the dark grey clouds. Andrea could hardly believe what she was seeing as they took a seat under a canopy. What made the experience all the more surreal was that it seemed the horrendous weather continued all around apart from the immediate area in which they were sat.
“Have you seen that?” she asked.
“It’s glorious sunshine here where we are, yet people on the other side of the road are still scurrying around with umbrellas.”
“Oh yeah. That is strange,” Drew agreed with a slight smirk that he couldn’t contain and a brief look skywards. “I’m really glad you broke your own rule and agreed to give me a third chance.”
“What can I say? There’s something about you that I can’t quite put my finger on. Almost magical.”
Drew grinned wider this time and winked. “I have been known to dabble in the dark arts…”