Saturday 2 May 2020

Halloween and the Jinn

by Mason Bushell

a Bloody Mary

“Ah, I love Halloween. Nobody ever calls upon a genie at Halloween. Time for a nice long rest and some relaxation.” The Jinn snuggled into his hammock slung between two palm trees on the beach outside his home.  Despite belief, genies do not live in the talismans and lamps that summon them. The artefact is merely the receptacle for the enchantment that brings forth the demon from Otherworld, a parallel planet, to Earth. Otherworld is split into light and dark sides. The light is home to the good creatures, fairies, kelpie, phoenix, angels, elves and many more. The dark side is home to the worst creatures ever to exist, demons, Cerberus, boogiemen, reapers, vampires and worse. The Jinn used to be of the dark side. Still was if somebody summoned him as that horned fire demon. He hated that form,  preferring to be the relaxed shorts and sunglasses-wearing genie he usually was. A friendly Brownie had kindly used his magic to ensure only the angriest of humans could summon that irascible ifrit. Since then the Jinn would only appear in all his sassy bare-chested glory.
“Yoo-hoo! Jinni, darling.” That high-pitched voice was like pained brakes being applied on a bus.
The Jinn grimaced. “Yes, Doris, dear.”
“Ah, there you are. Comfy, are you?” Doris fluttered over the sand on her dainty swallowtail-like wings. Doris was an overweight tooth fairy with willowy hair, a love of gaudy dresses and a short temper. She was once a wonderful Fae in the Jinn’s eyes and he married her to prove it. One-hundred-and-twelve years later they divorced in a bitter moment that led to Doris banishing all his belongings over a dozen dimensions- Something he still hadn’t forgiven her for. The two had met again a few weeks ago, and thanks to a gnome councillor called Doctor Shulkin they’d begun to rebuild bridges.
“Hmm, this is nice, lying in the sun.” The Jinn lifted his sunglasses and grinned. 
“Oh, that’s good, darling.” Doris filled her lungs with air and focused on the Jinn as a gryphon flew overhead. “Now, get your backside indoors and do the laundry!” she bellowed so loudly that the shockwaves sent him spinning out of the hammock with a thud.
“Bloody hell, Doris! I was two feet away not in the other dimension!” The Jinn sat up with his sunglasses askew and sand everywhere. “Doctor Shulkin told you to ask me to do things nicely. Not to yell at me, remember?”
“Yes, I remember. He also said for you to do as I request, often and when asked. I told you ten times to do the laundry. Did you? Noo! So, get that cute little red bum of yours in there and do it, now!”
“Don’t but me, Jinni. Go, or I’ll curse you into a slimy salamander!”
“Well, at least I’ll be a good-looking salamander any—” The Jinn cut himself off as a fiery red glow emanated from his body. It left him grinning like a boy who'd gotten the most Halloween candy.
“Jinni, don’t you dare!” Doris made a grab for him but a human had activated his talisman. The Jinn had been summoned.  
“Goodbye, Doris,” he said as with a chuckle he vanished into the air.  

A genie is powerless to stop a summons. They experience a moment of weightlessness, a bubble of incandescent light that fades as they materialise on Earth. Their talisman is supposed to deposit them before the summoner. The Jinn’s coin had never excelled in that respect; preferring to summon him into sticky/painful places anywhere within a mile of his summoner. Today was to be no exception. His senses returned with a shock of loud party music. He was momentarily aware of the dripping-wet, spherical walls that glowed orange around him. He focused on what appeared to be eyes and teeth on one side and gulped. His orange-and-black bat patterned shorts were growing very hot- smoking in fact. He grew wide-eyed and shot into the air. His head hit the roof of the small globular chamber, and he slammed back to the wet floor.
“Ahh! What the hell is this?” he screamed as the whole thing lurched and fell. The tea-light candle he’d appeared on, hit him in the face as the object slammed into the floor hard enough to cave it in. The Jinn felt himself rolling end over end a half dozen times before the momentum stopped. He dropped to the floor of the object, covered in juices, singed and dizzy. “Oof, who needs a rollercoaster?”
“Woah, guys. What made the Jack-o-lantern fall?” asked a male voice breaking through the loud music, somewhere above.   
“Ahh, I think it was a ghost. Will you protect me?” replied a female.
“Nah that’s not it, boo-tiful. Ghosts don’t affect things, poltergeists do that. They throw things, you know,” said another voice.
“I reckon, one of you clowns knocked it off,” decided the one called Stevie.
“Bite me,” replied a vampire girl looking annoyed at the blame being spread in her direction.

The Jinn crawled out of the jack-o-lantern’s broken mouth. He was immediately surrounded by a sea of legs in a darkened room. “It fell off because one of your rotten gits summoned me upon the bloody candle in there!” he yelled. Looking up he saw teenagers who looked like walking dead, some grotesquely skewered with knives, others just seemed to be festering with their green skin. He saw a mummified girl, several vampires, a giant bear, witches, superheroes. He opened his mouth to yell again, but a foot slammed into his back sending him flying over the sea of partying people. With no time to react, he smashed through bat and pumpkin bunting and took out a swath of fake spiderweb. Free of that, he let out a cry of fear as he slammed into a wall-mounted skeleton, knocking the legs off. His momentum gone, he plummeted into a bowl causing an explosion of popcorn.
“And pop goes the bloody Jinn,” he groaned as he surfaced. “Where’s my Sum—” he never finished the sentence, he was scooped up with handful of popcorn. He felt himself rise toward an unshaven male face. The Jinn watched the cavernous mouth open. The whole handful of popcorn and the Jinn were going to go straight into that maw of pearly white, minty fresh teeth.
“Don’t eat me!” yelled the Jinn unable to free himself.
The boy saw the Jinn in his hand, swore in shock and dropped him. The Jinn fell straight into a Coke glass. It dropped onto its side and rolled off the buffet table. He barely jumped clear as it hit the floor and detonated like a fragmentary grenade.
“What the hell are you doing?” somebody yelled over the music.
“Oh, I hate parties!” The Jinn set off between feet he was forced to dodge in search of his summoner. 
“Ahh! What’s that, Amy?” Stevie, a vampire, looked scared of the five-inch-tall, red-skinned man who’d walked past his feet.
“I don’t know, but?” the young lady looking like a dead schoolgirl, chuckled. “He’s so cute. He’s wearing Halloween bat shorts and matching bat-wing sunglasses, look.”
The Jinn looked down at himself. His talisman always matched his outfit to his summons. He liked the shorts, it was a pity they were tattered and scorched because of the candle. “I’m a Jinn. Which one of you summoned me?” he said as loud as he could to beat the music.
“Aw, he’s a cute little Jinn.” Amy reached down to touch him and shrieked.
The Jinn opened his mouth and snapped his teeth at her finger like a bulldog. “I’m real. I’m not cute. I’m a muscle-bound Jinn who’s not in the mood to be treated like a damned teddy bear. Now, who summoned me?”   
“Wow, he’s a grumpy little fellow, isn’t it?” said a zombie boy with a knife in his stomach.
“Let me set fire to your boxer shorts and see how happy you are then.” The Jinn pointed a hand at him.
The boy grabbed his backside. “No, please don’t do that. I’m sorry.”
The Jinn sighed. “It’s alright.” He snapped his fingers to fix his clothes and cursed as nothing happened. He tried several more methods without raising so much as a spark. He sighed. “Great, just flipping marvellous!”
“What is it, Jinn?” asked Stevie crouching near him now.
“My bloody magic doesn’t work. I…” The Jinn felt a warmth in his chest. He looked about and saw a Blonde girl dressed as a princess. The feeling told him she had the talisman. He closed his eyes to teleport to her shoulder. Once more nothing happened, leaving him groaning as stamped his foot. “Blast!”
“Jinn, you okay? Can we help?” Amy asked.
“I’ve lost my damned magic.” The Jinn folded his arms and took on a thoughtful gaze. “Take me to the princess over there, will you? Keep me low, we don’t want the whole room to see me.”
“Sure.” Amy put out her hand and allowed him to step on to it. “Why do you want her? She’s horrible.”
“I’m sure she summoned me. I need her help.”
“I see.” Amy looked at the little man in her hand. “I still think you’re cute,” she said as she stepped into the crowd. 
“Thanks, I guess.” The Jinn looked up at his helper and saw her grin. “What?”
“If only you were human size. This party would’ve been worth coming too.”
“Oh, Really?”
“Yeah, there’s lots of bedrooms upstairs, you know.” Amy gave a coy wink.
“Hell no! I have enough trouble with my partner Doris, without giving her more reasons to yell at me!” the Jinn looked toward the princess. “She’s definitely the one. Put me on her shoulder then buzz off and enjoy your evening.”
“Aww, that’s a shame Jinni, I was just starting to like you.” Amy pouted.
“Just do it.” The Jinn looked at himself and groaned; he was not representing his kind very well today.
“Hmm, okay. I’ll get her away from all these people first.” Amy approached the princess and tapped her shoulder. “Harmony, can I borrow you.”
“Ugh, no!” the princess shrugged her off. “I don’t talk to people like you at school. Why would I acknowledge you here.”
“You, snooty sow. Who do you think you are? The ruddy queen?” Amy remembered the Jinn and raised her hand stopping Harmony from replying. “Don’t say a word. Just come on.”
“Why?” Harmony could see Amy was serious.
Amy took her arm and pulled her outside through a set of double doors made to look like a crypt entrance. The Jinn saw several couples smooching on the patio and amid the darkened foliage of nearby bushes. Amy walked on until she was sure nobody was nearby. She stopped at a small lawned area with a statue and a bench
“Amy, what’s going on?” Harmony freed herself and gave her a stony look.
“Did you read any incantations or spells in the last few minutes?”
“No way, why?”
“This Jinn thinks you did.” Amy raised her hand with the little red man stood on it. Harmony sucked in a terrified breath and opened her mouth. Amy lunged with her free hand and gagged her with it. “If you scream, I’ll slap you.”
“If she screams, I’ll slap her too! I’ve had enough of women screaming at me.” The Jinn added. “Harmony, keep your hair on I’m a friend. Now, did you read the words around a fire demon on a large coin?”
Amy removed her hand from the princess’s mouth. “Don’t scream, just talk to him.”
“I… I did.” Harmony took the large silver coin adorned with the horned monster and flames from her purse. “My cousin Leon left this on the table. I brought it with me as a fun prop for the party.”
“Leon… Oh, yes. The twit who was learning to drive and destroying half the city in the process.” The Jinn clapped a hand to his forehead and groaned. Just for once he wanted to be summoned into a nice calm, relaxed situation.
“Yes, that one.” Harmony still looked scared of the Jinn. “W-what are you going to do to me? F-For summoning you, I mean.”
The Jinn sighed and shook his head. “I’m not here to do anything to you. I’m supposed to grant you wishes. Trouble is, I have no magic. That means I can’t do that and I can’t get home either.”
“Aw, you poor thing,” Harmony looked a little sad for him.
“I think I know why,” Amy said. “It’s Halloween. I’ll bet the energy it creates to empower witches and ghosts also prevents demons from doing magic.”
“That’s ridiculous. There's no such thing as witches and demons.” Harmony glanced at the Jinn then Amy in a clear state of confusion.
“Erm, do you need to go to the opticians?” asked the Jinn “If you hadn’t noticed- I’m a five-inch-tall, handsome demon!”
“Oh, yeah. Sorry.” Harmony had drained of colour. She looked about to faint.
Amy noticed and forced her to sit on the bench. “So, what do we do about it, Jinn?”
“I’m not sure. This has never happened before. Harmony, I can only be summoned by someone who needs something. What were you wishing for when you read my incantation?”
“Erm… A vodka cranberry cocktail...” Harmony had more hopefulness than conviction in her word.
“And, now what were you really wishing for?” The Jinn pressed over the sound of somebody throwing up nearby. “We know she’s wishing she didn’t have her last drink… And now she’s wishing she had a sick bag as well,” he added.
“That’s gross, Jinn.” Amy grinned at him all the same. “Harmony, tell us the truth.”  
“Oh, alright.” Harmony cheeks flushed a little. “I was wishing my boyfriend would love me as much as his eyes love all the other girls in the room.”
“Boyfriend?” The Jinn looked about. “What boyfriend?”
“Exactly. He was supposed to be getting me a drink. Instead, he’s off chatting-up all the other girls at the party.” Harmony’s embarrassment vanished in place of sadness. 
“Aw, don’t cry over a rotten boy. He’s not worth it.” Amy made to hug her.
Harmony stepped back. “Thanks, but I’m still not your friend.”
“You won’t be anyone’s friend if you keep playing the snooty princess.” The Jinn gave her an unimpressed look. “How do we find this so-called boyfriend without magic?”
“Easy, here’s Terry’s picture.” Harmony offered her phone’s screen to the little man.
“Hmm, ugly fellow isn’t he? Amy, leave me here with Harmony and find him, will you? Get him out of here by any means necessary.”
“Will do, Jinni.” Amy put him on the bench beside Harmony and dashed away.

The Jinn turned to Harmony and opened his mouth to speak. A witch stumbling into view beat him to his tongue.
“Ah, there you is, Harmony. Tha’ rotten boy… er boy-boy, … er yeah, boyfriend of yours made me a really strong dwink. Now I feel really sick.” she slurred, threw-up in the hydrangea and pointed angrily at Harmony or at least where she thought Harmony was anyway. “And it's all your bloody fault.
“Er, Cassidy. I’m over here- that’s a statue.”
“Oh yeah.” Cassidy smiled stupidly. “Hello, Harmony.”
“Now, don’t you bloody well blame me! You drank what he gave you, so it's your fault.”   
“I hate you, Harmony.” Cassidy lunged forward two steps and staggered three back the other way. “I… I… er— Wow, nice starsies. Oh, yeah. I’ll slap you when you stop moving.”
“Cassidy, I’m so sorry. Go and find some coffee, okay?” Harmony offered.
“Yeah. Coffee be good. I come back and hit you later.” Cassidy scowled and staggered in a circle before her feet pointed her back toward the house.
“And calm down before you head home on your broomstick. You’ll only fly off the handle!” added the Jinn catching a funny look from Harmony. “What? Mad witches on broomsticks always lead to witches stuck in trees and broomsticks cracking people over the head.”
Harmony laughed at him. “You’re hilarious, you know that?”
“I try. Doris never appreciates my jokes though.” The Jinn grinned. “Right, here’s what I need you to do.”

Amy returned from the Halloween party with Terry just in front of her. He was walking backwards with an excited grin on his face.
“So, you single, Amy? I thought you were with that Stevie. I guess I was too sexy for you to resist, was I?”
Amy rolled her eyes at him.
Terry smoothed his vampire pompadour. “Yeah, I was, huh? Are we going to have fun in the bushes?”  
“Not a damn chance!” Amy made a frustrated noise in her throat and scowled at him. It was then the Jinn jumped from the bush and regained her shoulder. “Jinni, can I break his nose, please?”
“Maybe in a minute,” he said. “Listen up, Terry. There is a young lady out here who is very upset with you. You told her you loved her. You don’t do you? No, you’re meandering around this party like a creepy electric eel, trying to see how many girls you can slither up to, stun and take advantage of.”
“What young laaah! What the hell is that, Amy?”
“He’s a Jinn.” Amy folded her arms across her chest.
“The lady is Harmony. She gave you her heart.” The Jinn went on. “Go around this bush to the bench and apologise.”
“Oh, I don’t know that I owe her one.”
“Amy, smack him in the mouth for me, will you?” The Jinn was glad he couldn’t do magic, this boy would have never been the same again! He held her ponytail in readiness for a sharp movement. Amy wound up and stopped short of breaking cartilage.
“Alright, I’m going… Geez!” Terry sighed and continued down the garden.
“What a shame. I wanted to deck him for trying to kiss my friend Becca indoors.” Amy followed with the Jinn.
“He’d make a great incubus. What with his talent for lip-locking anything in a skirt.” The Jinn made a disgusted noise as Amy came into view of the bench.

Harmony was sat on the bench surround in twinkly pumpkin lights. She had two glasses of wine and slices of cake on a tray.
“Hey, Terry darling. I thought I’d arrange a surprise for you.” Harmony tapped the bench beside her with a coy beckoning smile. “Will you come and have a drink with me?”
“Hello, Harm. I…” Terry looked back at Amy. “Sorry… I thought I was going to have some fun out here with her.”
 “Really, Amy? What is this?”
 “He’s dreaming. I’d choose never having another kiss, over touching him.” Amy raised her hands in surrender, her face twisted with disgust toward Terry.
“Oh, Terry. You, slimy rotten slug!” Harmony stood in her princess dress and stalked toward him.
“Harm, I’m sorry. I—”
Harmony cut him off having swung for him. Blasting him in the mouth with a slice of cake. He turned away coughing and spluttering. Amy wound up and slapped him off his feet where he landed with a crack in the rhododendron.
“If we see you hitting on another girl, we’ll be sure to tell her what a sorry heart-breaking incubus you are.” Amy grinned at the Jinn.
“Now get lost,” Added the Jinn, while looking worried.
“Thank you, Amy. I should have seen what he was like.” Harmony said.
“No worries, we sorted him.” Amy raised a hand and gave a little cheer as the girls high-fived.
“We did, come and have a glass of wine with me.” Harmony offered the second glass on her tray.
“Thank you.” Amy looked to the Jinn. “Seems we changed one person for the better,” she whispered.
“We did. I’m still powerless though. I failed to do Harmony’s bidding. Now, I don’t know if I can ever get home.”
“Oh, Jinn you did help me. You showed me Terry was horrible. Now he’s gone and I’m happy again. So, thank you.”
“My pleasure. I’m glad I helped.”
Amy saw a fiery glow emanating from the little man’s body. “Jinn, is it?” she asked.
The Jinn snapped his fingers, his shorts and sunglasses vanished, replaced with a white suit. “I’m back baby!”
“Aw, Jinni. I’m so pleased for you.”
“Me too!” The Jinn jumped into the air, turned his back and pulled his trousers down, giving the girls a view of his red backside.
“Jinn, that’s disgusting!” they said almost together.
“Well, no Halloween is complete without a full moon.” He burst into laughter as he flew about the girl’s heads.
“I love you, Jinni,” Amy said, but she was too late, he’d disappeared in a cloud of red sparkles.

The Jinn reappeared on the beach by his home in Otherworld and right in front of Doris the fairy.
She grabbed him by the scruff. “Gotcha! Get your hide in there and do that bloody laundry, NOW!”
“Hallo, Doris. I was going to. I just came from Dwarf Deli with your favourite rock cakes, look.” The Jinn made a paper bag appear in his hand with a single shimmering white rose.
Doris managed a smile. “Aw. Thanks, darling.”
“Want to come and help me fold the clothes while I iron, like we used to?”
“Don’t push your luck and I might even get us some of our favourite crab apple cider to go with the cakes.” Doris led him inside.
“That’d be wonderful. Happy Halloween, Doris.”
“Aw, Happy Halloween, Jinni.”

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