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4th Wish
by Ed Howdershelt

Category: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Description: A beach, a bottle found, and a beautiful woman. Just another day in paradise, right? Nope. That would be too easy. This is a new take on an old story.
eBook Publisher: Abintra Press/Abintra Press, 2008 2008
eBookwise Release Date: December 2008


561 Reader Ratings:
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Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [51 KB]
Words: 9447
Reading time: 26-37 min.

Connie said, "Very entertaining. It made me laugh out loud in line at my bank."

Heading toward the bar, I bashed my right big toe on something that barely budged on impact and nearly tripped me. After saying a few unkind words and checking my aching toe, I bent to uncover whatthehellever had assaulted my foot.

It was a Pinch booze bottle. No label and the exterior had been sandblasted to cloudy opaqueness by the elements, but the shape was distinctive. The bottle appeared empty, but was heavy as a brick. Holding it up to the sunlight, I tried to see what was in it. No luck. It still appeared empty. Pulling the stopper out, I looked inside, but saw nothing. Absolutely empty. Yet heavy as hell. Hmm. It was a curious thing, but I just wasn't interested enough to hang onto it.

There was a trash can near the bar. I tried to re-stopper the bottle as I walked, but the stopper didn't seem to fit anymore. Too much trouble to bother with. Sightseeing was what I had in mind. A distraction of female flesh and form to make me forget about the Internet code crap for a while. No more friggin' puzzles today, please.

I trashed the bottle and stopper as I passed the can. As with the parking space, I had to stand by and wait for a barstool. At last, someone unassed a seat and I scooted in to grab it, then ordered a beer. Like I said, I like Pink's music. I hate rap and dislike whiny country, but otherwise, anything with a decent beat will do. Drumming my fingers on the bar, I tried not to be too blatant about eyeballing the nearby sun goddesses as I sipped my beer.

If a young guy leers--and they do, indiscriminately--the ladies think it's cute or cool and preen themselves or pose. If an older guy looks, it isn't always received well. I haven't figured that out, really. All guys look, and if that's all you're doing, what's the big deal? Besides, by the time we hit fifty, we only bother gazing at the really good stuff, so if an older guy eyeballs you, take it as a compliment.

After a cold beer, a short walk on the boardwalk and beach, and a return trip past the streetside shops later, I'd had enough sand and sun. I was ready to head home, clean up, feed myself, and see if there was some decent music at one of the local pubs. Just as I'd decided to visit Crabbit's Pub around eight, I heard a woman's rich contralto voice say, "Excuse me."

I looked up from unlocking the driver's door to see the face and shoulders of a truly superb late-twenties specimen of brunette womanhood standing on the other side of my car. In her light-tan jacket and skirt outfit she was dressed more for an office than a beach. Wow! Tall. Beautiful. No, 'gorgeous' is a better word. Who did she kind of look like? Kate Vernon? Sort of? Lordy! Those eyes!

"Yes?" I managed to say when my eyes finally met hers. It seemed so inadequate. I'd wanted to say, "Yes, please," or something very like it.

"We need to talk," she said with an odd slight accent.

'Oh, hell,' I thought. Nothing puts a man on the defensive faster than a woman saying, 'We need to talk'. Automatically double your trepidation if you don't know her and triple it if you think she might work for any branch of the government.

I told myself to pull my tongue back in and be reasonably cautious. Twenty-something women who look like her aren't usually interested in over-fifty men who drive ten-year-old cars.

"Uhm, talk?" I asked, "About what, ma'am?"

Glancing around cautiously, she softly said, "I am in your debt. I must settle the matter with you properly."

Debt? Settle? Properly? I felt like looking for the mothership. Or perhaps a hidden camera?

Looking her over again, I said, "Lady, I don't know you at all, and--trust me on this--I'd definitely remember a woman as beautiful as you for the rest of my life. Maybe longer. Just think a minute, okay? Are you sure you have the right guy?"

Smiling slightly, she nodded and rather firmly said, "Yes, I'm certain of that. You've done me a great service and now I must do something for you."

With a vastly skeptical gaze, I said, "Uh, huh. Well, excuse me for asking, but would that 'something that you must do' later involve me paying you?"

After a moment, her gaze narrowed as she seemed to grasp my meaning. "No. You need pay me nothing. As I've said; I am in your debt."

There was firm insistence in her tone. I took a quick glance around and didn't see any cameras pointed at me, but, then, cameras were always hidden on those insipid TV shows.

If she wasn't a hooker, maybe she was a con artist? Go somewhere to "talk", then have someone burst in claiming to be a husband and try to shake me down? Surely she could see I wasn't particularly rich.

I asked, "Exactly what am I supposed to have done for you?"

She lowered her eyes and said, "I think that would be better discussed in private."

Uh, huh. Ducking a bit to look through the windows, I saw she had no purse. Flat pockets on her sleek jacket. No keys or pocketbook evident. Well-dressed otherwise, but away from home without a purse? Nope. Not bloody likely.

Shaking my head slightly, I said, "Like I said, ma'am, I don't know you. Sorry." With a last glance at her lovely face, I added, "And I really kind of mean that. Goodbye."

I opened my car door and got in, then started the car and zapped all the electric windows down halfway to let the heat out of the car until the air-conditioning could get up to speed. She tried the passenger door handle, but the door was locked.

Her hand reaching in to pull the door's lock knob up made me put the car in gear, but she didn't pull her arm out of the window. I started backing up. She still didn't pull her arm out. Instead, her arm seemed to turn into a colorful shadow of itself. The car's dashboard and windshield backed through her arm until her arm was on the outside of the windshield, apparently reaching through the hood of the car.

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