A 10 Minute Story
“Do not leave me!” the addict screamed at the departing caravan.
The Bedouin camel drivers ignored him though their leader, more knowledgeable in the ways of the west than the rest of his tribe, flipped the addict off as the caravan crested a dune and disappeared from sight.
The addict rubbed his lips, anxiously looking about, desperate for salvation…or at least a fix.
Sand, nothing but sand from horizon to horizon.
The Bedouins left him a prayer rug, a half empty goatskin of water, a robe, and a pair of slippers in the Persian style.
“Can you fly?” the addict asked the rug.
“I can fly,” the addict said. “Gimme a fix and I can fly.”
He scanned the distance, trying to figure out where food / water / drugs could be found.
Picking a direction purely at random, he rolled up his rug, shouldered his goat skin, and started walking.
A day and a night he trudged.
The djinn showed up halfway through the following day.
“Hi,” the djinn said in an oddly American accent. “Whatcha doing way out here?”
“Trying to find my way home,” the addict said.
“You are home,” the djinn laughed.
The addict kicked sand in the djinn’s direction. The djinn laughed again. “Aren’t you going to ask me for a wish?”
The addict eyed the djinn carefully. “I’m desperate and dying and strung out,” he said, “but I know a deal with the devil -- or a djinn -- always carries blow back.”
“No blowback,” the djinn said.
The addict arched his eyebrow.
“Promise,” the djinn said. “Cross my heart and hope to become human.”
“You don’t want my soul?”
Again the djinn laughed. “No! What would I do with that? No, no, no, I want to offer you something.”
“What good would a rescue do you? You’ll only get strung out again. No, I’m offering you a fix -- an eternal fix, one to last you the rest of your life.”
The addict stopped and studied the djinn carefully. “Okay, I’ll bite,” he said.
The djinn nodded, and instantly the addict felt a bliss he never experienced before, a bliss that filled him with love and joy and warmth and light as bright as the sun --
And with that, the smiling addict fell dead, face first in the sand.
“Well, that was easy,” the djinn said, meeting her daily quota.
- - - - -
I gave myself 10 minutes to write a story using these prompts: An addict, a pair of slippers, “Do not leave me”, and desert.
Okay, what do they have in common? Slippers could be Persian slippers, the desert is vast, don’t want to be abandoned there.
So there’s my opening and my conflict:
The addict has done something to piss off the Bedouins. (What? Unimportant; the Bedouins are leaving the story, let the reader imagine something.)
Okay, now what? We’re in the Middle East, we’re pretty close to contemporary times -- close enough for “addict” to be a clinical term and for a Bedouin to know what flipping someone off means. Been reading a biography of William S. Burroughs, use him as a basis for the character.
What else has our boy got? If the Bedouins left him slippers they probably also left a few other items: Robes, water, a prayer rug.
Prayer rug to flying carpet is an easy jump. Okay, now we’ve introduced the Arabian Nights to the mix. That means anything is possible, including…
Don’t have enough time to really figure out how an authentic Middle Eastern resident -- even a djinn -- would talk, but, hey, work that in. Hang a lantern on it, call attention to it -- the djinn speaks like an American.
We know what our boy the addict wants:
Rescue and / or a fix, and not necessarily in that order.
But our boy is crafty, yes, sirree. Not gonna be hornswoggled by any ol’ djinn, no, sir.
He’ll take his chances with his life rather than risk his soul…
…but he needs that fix.
So the djinn offers him one, and the djinn doesn’t lie. This is a lifetime fix.
Always read the fine print.
Now the ending is obvious, all we need is the capper.
Hey, we made the djinn talk like an American for a laugh. Milk that for a punchline, make her motive something mundane like…like…like a daily quota.
And there we are.
© Buzz Dixon