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A Genie in a Jam

by Oonah V. Joslin

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DJ, an irresponsible young Djinn, wants to be a Genie. Despite the opposition of Obsidian, his old teacher, he persuades the Elders to allow him to take a position with a company selling jam.

DJ finds it’s no easy thing granting wishes, but humans and their vices fascinate him. Naively he blunders from job to job until at last he is called upon to answer some serious accusations. He faces a sentence of hard labour or worse. Just when things seem blackest, DJ realises how sweet life can be.

Genie, by Jerry Wright

Chapter 16: Coming Unstuck

DJ recognized John and Nora at once and they confirmed that they knew him.

‘This genie did not grant your wish, I gather,’ began Jasper.

‘Oh, but he must have,’ replied John. ‘I said, “Promotion? I wish!” and the next morning I go into work and my name’s on the office door. They said there’d been some ghastly mistake and the job was mine if I still wanted it.’

‘Who else could’ve done it?’ asked Nora. ‘How can we ever thank you, Mr Genie, sir?’

DJ said not to mention it and the two were sent back to the precise moment they’d left Earth space. He was pretty certain he wasn’t responsible for John’s promotion but he wasn’t complaining.

Next the honeymoon couple were called. DJ had a feeling it would look bad for him to have split them up after his own protestations of love, but to his astonishment they both proclaimed it to be the best thing that ever happened to them, since it had shown their values to be incompatible and since in any case, they were both now happily involved with other people; she with Edward and he with Roger.

‘Better finding out sooner than later,’ said Neville.

‘We could have wasted years with the wrong partner, had it not been for the genie,’ said Georgia.

‘Thank you,’ they chimed and then gave each other a dirty look and were returned to their own sphere.

DJ didn’t recognize the woman who now stood before the council. He was sure he’d never met her but he recognized the Scottish accent and something about the features reminded him of....

‘Ogh, I’m that pleased tae meet ye at last, Mister DJ,’ she said wringing his hands. ‘Oor Jamsie’s a different lad entirely, because o’ you. You saved him frae himself. He’d hae lost he’s job an’ ruined his life wi’ them drugs if it hadnae been for you.’

DJ saw that the woman was leaking with gratitude. It was a most unpleasant sight but he said, ‘There, there now,’ as he’d heard humans do.

‘How can a thank you enough for giving me back ma son?’ She dabbed at her eyes and then she was gone.

Carlena was wearing considerably more than when DJ had first encountered her, but he remembered what lay underneath that demure white coat and he blushed to a deep, fiery red and waited for the sordid details to be told.

‘Not grant me a wish? Well, I suppose not technically, your honours — the actual word was never mentioned, but on the other hand it is entirely due to DJ that I realized I didn’t want to sell myself so cheaply any more. It was so demeaning. I hate jam!

‘Anyway, I decided to take a beauty course instead. I would never have thought to ask DJ for any money but... well, he funded the course for me anyway because that’s just how he is and then he put a deposit on the premises for me. He’s been so kind. DJ made me feel I was worth something — and now I am. Thanks Deej.’ She rushed over and planted a little kiss on his cheek and was returned to the time she left.

A smile lingered on DJ’s face.

Geoffrey had been altering a costume and appeared bent over and with a mouthful of pins which he spat out in his surprise at being pulled into the realm of Djinn. He stood and turned to face the council. ‘So this is where you come from is it, little buddy? Very nice! Tastefully done.’

‘Sir, you are here to testify with regard to DJ’s... unfortunate liking for alcohol, not to admire our décor,’ said Topaz. ‘What have you to say?’

‘Nothing wrong with a little drink, your honours. He tried tea, coffee, juice, water...’

Several of the council winced. ‘Water?’

‘He drank water?’ asked Topaz.

‘Spat it out, actually — said it was disgusting. So I let him try some other drinks. You can’t blame a person for liking something.’ Geoffrey admired the polished stone surfaces. ‘Maybe you’d like it yourselves... I wish I could give you a sample. Well I’ll be...’ for in an instant a bottle of fine Armagnac had appeared in his hand. He poured a libation for each member of the Council and without exception their flames livened and flashed.

Jasper declared it to be better than rhubarb jam. Jade’s flame flared, then sputtered alarmingly. Onyx relaxed to a smolder and Topaz crinkled at the edges like a good pipe tobacco. Obsidian nodded gravely in a scientific way, as if considering the therapeutic properties of this liquid fire.

‘I see no harm in this beverage,’ said Topaz. ‘Did it lead to neglect of his work?’

‘No, Sir,’ Geoffrey replied. ‘DJ never missed a single appointment as far as I know — in fact he was often early and he may have stated the odd objection as to costumes etcetera, but he always got to the job.’

‘Well, the beverage has some unique qualities,’ pronounced Topaz. ‘We will study it later. Dismissed.’

A flash of evergreen flame lit up the room, startling even Topaz. ‘Why was I not informed of this conflagration?’ interposed a commanding voice and a smell of icy spruce announced the arrival of none other than Father Christmas.

‘Emerald, my old friend,’ greeted Topaz, with genuine pleasure. ‘We did not know you’d had any dealings with this young flicker-snapper.’

‘I’ve met him,’ said the elder.

DJ remembered the role gin had played in that meeting and he had no doubt the old fellow would remember it too. Yet it was unlikely he’d told anyone. Drunk on duty hadn’t been mentioned in the charges. Besides, the old codger wasn’t averse to the odd sherry and mince pie himself — surely he wouldn’t...

Once again, Father Christmas — Emerald by his Djinn name — placed his hand on DJ’s shoulder. ‘They won’t hear it from me,’ he whispered and DJ looked up at him in appreciation.

‘This lad has a heart of garnets and gold,’ he said aloud. ‘I have been attending to the welfare of a certain child because of him. He has no malice in him — and no intent towards deceit. He has stood here with truth on his lips and is more honourable in this than his employers.’

‘Explain yourself, Emerald,’ demanded Topaz. ‘You know it is not for us to judge human kind...’

‘Nor govern them, alas, though they choose not to govern themselves...’ There was a ripple of flame across the council chamber. ‘I call the board of Jeanie’s Jams to hear my accusation and to answer to it.’

* * *

It was a startled group of humans that appeared, table and all, in the great chamber of the Djinn. They were as still as frightened rabbits.

‘What’s going on?’ asked Joel Jarre. ‘Why have we been brought here? Santa?’

‘Good, you know me. Then we can dispense with introductions. It was your great-grandmother who started the company, was it not?’

‘Yes. Made the jam herself she did — her and Great-Grandfather together, in a warehouse up the East Docks. The sugar came in there you see,’ he nodded, ‘and the markets were close by for cheap fruit. Deuced clever people, though I don’t see the relevance to you.’

‘Yet it was there, in that warehouse that a certain genie was kidnapped and held, terrified, against his will until he granted success to their project. Is that not so?’

‘Not kidnapped! Detained a while maybe. No harm was done. My grandfather told me no harm was done. Are you calling my grandfather a liar, sir?’

‘No indeed, for the harm was to come later,’ Emerald turned towards the Elders for effect and pointed a long finger at Joel Jarre, ‘when you and your company unscrupulously used this same genie to advantage your sales within another time frame, thus inveigling him in a paradox!’ Emerald turned swiftly to the board.

The word paradox shook Djinn to its roots. The quake sent shivers such as had never been felt before through the gem mines and up into the very roof of the high chamber. Topaz flared up. Obsidian sat down. Jade paled and fanned her flame vigorously.

DJ suddenly knew why they’d been so anxious not to have him resign over the marmalade matter. Of course! If they hadn’t got him to stay he’d never have done the time shift, and if he’d never done the time shift Jeannie’s Jams wouldn’t even have existed.

That was what he’d felt that day in the cellar full of blackberries — the beginnings of a paradox. But whether it was his fault or whether he’d been duped, complicity in a paradox could not be tolerated. Young Djinn were thoroughly warned about the possibility of such occurrences in their dealings with beings of linear time. They were schooled in what to look out for.

If only he had attended to his lessons, he might have been on his guard — might have recognized the signs for what they were. Now he would not even be allowed a life in the mines like Kunzite and the others. He would surely be extinguished.

Copyright © 2010 by Oonah V. Joslin

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