You Have to Say

The three police officers waited in the precinct lot. One stood, two leaned on their cars, but none was at ease. “God, I wish this guy would show up,” Officer Brusky said.

“Stop it,” said Sergeant Chopra. “It doesn’t work like that.”

“Yeah,” added Officer Millikan. “You have to say something like, ‘I wish I could run faster than Usain Bolt,’ and then he shows up.”

They didn’t notice the purple smoke drifting out of their tailpipes until it coalesced into a muscular man with a broad smile. They jumped when he clapped his hands and boomed, “Your wish is granted!”

Service weapons practically leapt into the officers’ hands. “You’re under arrest,” Chopra shouted. At the same time Brusky stammered, “What wish?”

“The wish to run faster, of course! Look at your phone!” Against Chopra’s direction, Millikan holstered her weapon and checked the news. The surprise genie crossed his arms and looked smug. “Oh my god,” she said, “look.” She showed around a breaking news article: Bolt had just broken both legs in an accident.

“I didn’t wish that!” she cried.

Chopra repeated, “You’re under arrest!”

“Of course you did, Officer,” the genie said. “And under arrest for what?”

“Um, battery. On Bolt,” said the sergeant.

Millikan said, “But I didn’t mean it!”

“I never touched him, your Honor,” said the genie, dissolving into mist. “And you don’t have to mean the words. You think anyone else thinks their wish will come true?” He vanished.

“Dammit,” cried Brusky, whose trigger finger looked itchy.

“Told you this wouldn’t work,” Chopra said.

Officer Millikan met with the department counselor a few times, then returned to work. A month later, she ran down a fleeing suspect with unbelievable speed. The next day, the news revealed that Bolt’s supposed injury had been a hoax.

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