I stared at the young man, speechless. Having come from a broken Christmas ornament I had to admit he was looking rather well. With his well cut suit, lopsided grin, and expertly styled hair I could only think to call him dapper.
"And the rest of these ornaments?", I asked.
"Baubles, not ornaments. And 'cell' might do them more justice. Naming conventions aside, yes each one houses a genie."
I looked around for somewhere to sit down, and found a sturdy looking box labeled "Byron's Books". I sat, it held, and I took a moment to breathe. This was shaping up to be a very trying morning, unexpected guests had that effect. I looked back at the gentleman and turned the word 'genie' around in my head. It didn't fit well.
"Now when you say genie, you mean three wishes and unintended consequences living eternity in a lamp. All of that?"
The genie clenched his jaw noticeably before breathing deeply.
"The details seem to have transitioned with time, but your mind is heading in the right direction. As you can see the lamps are not a specific requirement," he said gesturing towards the box full of glass ornaments.
I looked back at the box for the first time since breaking the first one. The box was quite full of them, each nested inside of a padded brass cup. The globes themselves seemed to be filled with colored smoke, and wide variety of colors were evident. The one I had plucked from the holder had been filled pale red, shifting along the inside of it's enclosure. I had been taken in entirely until it had grown suddenly quite hot. My reaction was predictable, the consequences were still unwinding.
Gathering my thoughts I turned back to the self proclaimed genie.
"But the wishes, you passed that detail over. Am I allowed to make them?"
This time there was no clenching, but the off balance smile made a return.
"Indeed you do, good master. There are some rules, a few guidelines, but ultimately you have what is, by all accounts, unfettered freedom to direct your own future."
He waved a hand through the air and a chair appeared looking very heavy, quite solid, and all dark wood appeared in my grandmother's attic. It wouldn't have been out of place there, among the other stored memories, had it not been for the elaborate (and somehow intimidating) carvings that ran across the entirety of the object. Mahogany colored birds of some sort appeared to swoop and take flight within it's carved lines.
My guest took a seat as I admired his creation. He settled in, his arms resting along the elongated beaks of unfamiliar avian predators.
"It feels good to sit and rest again. Time spent in transit is quite restless and I've certainly missed the outside world. I gather from you speach, which is rather difficult to fully emulate I should say, and dress that a significant amount of time has passed since I walked freely. I desire to see what else has evolved in my absense, but at the moment you are my priority."
I examined his face, searching for sarcasm or mockery. This man was clearly a god of some kind while I was a store clerk at a sleepy cafe.
"I'm your priority? I don't see what you could hope to gain from that." I shifted on the box, suddenly uncomfortable with how things were unfolding.
I should have been more alarmed at chairs appearing (or men for that matter) out of thin air. Or at the possibility that a box of trapped people was resting less than a meter away.
This day had certainly taken a left turn at some point.
[To Be Continued]