Hamid is tired of not measuring up to the other guys. Then, seeking to escape a torrential downpour, he finds a strange bottle and pulls out the stopper.
For his part, Hamid darted down an alleyway that offered a bit of protection, but not for long. The sudden storm quickly overwhelmed the gutters and drain pipes, and great gouts of water streamed off every surface. Still drunk himself, Hamid found himself disoriented and the rain was so fierce it stung his skin. Effectively blind, he stuck close to the wall, but stupidly he tried to keep moving. Soaked to the bone before he’d managed to reach the next street over, Hamid lost his footing and slid, carried down the sloping and winding back street that had suddenly become a river, and all went black.
He awoke some time later, in a dim reeking sewer, his feet submerged in what he really hoped was just runoff from the sudden deluge. Light streamed in from a small opening about twenty feet above, so he had been out for some time. He head stung, and he felt a nice bruise below his left ear, but he seemed remarkably in one piece. No blood that he could find, and nothing seemed broken, so he breathed a sigh of relief. He could have been killed. He was certainly bruised mad banged up, but he had survived. The adrenaline spike, however, didn’t last long, and he paused to take stock of his surroundings.
Flotsam of all sort had collected here, and that is probably what saved him. He lay atop a heavy, sodden rug, one of several that had provided a cushion for him, and the rugs lay haphazardly wedged atop a bunch of broken crates and furniture that was trapped above the steel bars of a grate, and below that, unknown depths. The light was dim, but enough to see by. Must be midday up above, he thought.
Around him, all sorts of garbage was strewn, along with smashed barrels and boxes. Water still dropped from the open hole up above, and Hamid realized he could, if he was careful, climb out. He could build a tower out of the crates and use that to scramble up. and so he set about doing so.
It was on the third crate that he found the bottle, a small and dented brass perfume bottle of some sort. It gleamed and caught the light, amongst the other rubble, so he paused for a moment and looked at it, holding it up to catch the light. There were markings all around it, and he couldn’t quite see them. An ornate stopper, bound with a silk cord, capped the item. It looked old and possibly valuable, but he couldn’t make out the words. Without thinking, he rubbed the brass against his sleeve, and in doing so, he loosened the stopper.
“What is thy bidding, my master?”
Hamid felt the words rather than heard them.
“What? Who’s there?”
“I was bound to this bottle by a vile sorcerer, but you have freed me. You may make three requests, no more. As the ancient terms dictate, I shall do what you wish, and then shall be freed of servitude.”
Hamid’s head swam with possibilities. Finally his luck would turn! But he had heard the tales and knew he must be careful and clever, or things would backfire, possibly tragically.
Hesitating, the boy asked: “Are there any limits? Things you cannot do?”
“None I am aware of.”
“Allow me, my master. You may not ask my name. You may not have more wishes. The power I have to serve you is limited to one wish per day, and after the third day, I shall be free.”
Hakim, I was in a quandary. Here he was, stuck in a swear with world altering power. What should he ask of the genie?”
He needed to be careful, that he knew, and he needed to get out of this hole. Another summer storm could drown him here. But he feared wasting a wish on something mundane like escaping.
If Samir were here, the athletic hunk could climb the walls or at least shift these waterlogged crates around to get out. If only he had Samir’s muscles and grace….but he had to use what cleverness he possessed.
“If I wished to be as strong and graceful as my friend Samir, is that something you could grant?”
“It is within my power to alter reality in your service,” the voice said. “But be warned, you must be precise and maintain a firm image in your mind, or I cannot guarantee the results are what you would really want. This is not malice on my part, but lack of focus on yours.”
“I see,” Hakim said. It was a momentous decision. Other ideas drifted rough his kind, but his long obsession with his hunky friend pretty much sealed the deal the moment he considered his options. He would want to look similar to Samir: strong, graceful, attractive. Yet still himself! He didn’t want to be Samir, he wanted to be like him.
“I sense you are ready,” the voice said.
“I wish to be as strong, graceful, and attractive as my friend Samir, that I might use my strength and agility to escape this place.”
“So it shall be.”
Instantly, Hamid feel the urge to yawn and stretch, standing precariously as he did so. He almost lost his balance as something shifted under his feet.
But as he stretched, his muscles grew, and he felt the power in the. His spine popped and a dull but not unpleasant ache tugged at his arms and legs as his body lengthened. His teeth shifted oddly in his jaw as that became more shapely. He felt the coiled power in his legs, his firm buttocks his broad chest and his strong arms. In wonder, he flexed his hand, making a first that seemed larger than before. Would his hands be as large as Samir’s? His feet?
“It is done. You may call upon me tomorrow.”
“How?” (His voice even sounded a little deeper!)
“Grasp the bottle, touch it to your chest, and open the stopper,” the voice said. And then all was silence.
in the late morning light, up in the alley, he quickly checked himself over for any wounds, but whatever the genie had done to him seemed to have taken care of that. His clothes were, however, a loss—they were still soaked and torn and filthy, but worse, they simply did not fit. He looked ridiculous. And he was miles from home, not even sure really where he was.
First, he needed to get clean, and into clothing that looked like it belonged to him. He needed directions.
“You look a bit worse for wear,” a voice said. Confused, he looked up above and saw an old woman staring down at him as she folded laundry on her small balcony. “Out drinking were you?”
“I got caught in the flood last night and wound up in the sewer,” he answered.
“I was out last night when the storm hit. Yes, drinking, but that’s not why….”
She stopped folding and cast a critical eye over him. Something must have satisfied her, because he harrumphed and frowned at him, but then shook her head.
“Please, can you help? I need a change of clothes, I can’t go anywhere like this. I will pay you once my money dries out….”
“Promise you won’t molest an old woman?”
“I’ll probably regret this, but come on up.”
He felt incredibly awkward as the old woman—led him to the bathroom of her cramped flat, and told him to strip as she ran a bath.
“Wait, first, I will measure. Maybe one of the children has something you can borrow.”
After what seemed a rather professional measuring, the tub was full enough, and she stepped away for privacy. He dumped the contents of his pockets into a bowl she handed him, and was told to place his clothes in a bucket.
After being soaked and dirty for hours, he needed a thorough scrubbing, and, he quickly discovered that he had a lot more to scrub. Everything was firm and solid, yet pliant, and he could reach everywhere with ease. He delighted in his muscular and lithe form, happy to feel strong.
But when he stood up, he realized that he hadn’t been specific enough. He may have had the overall look he wanted, but between his legs, he was very much the same disappointing fellow.
Sighing, but finding it hard to be too disappointed in his luck, he toweled off and, realizing his too-small clothing was gone, tied the towel around his waist.
“I’m in the kitchen. There are clothes just outside the door, on that chair. See if anything fits,” she bellowed.
He looked over the offerings. A loose-fitting shirt seemed his best bet, and it was mostly good but tight around the shoulders. The blue and beige pattern suited him. A pair of comfortable, gauzy lounge pants only barely fit, thanks to his recent acquisition of a bubble butt, but the waist was quite loose. There was no underwear, though.
“Thank you so much,” Hakim said. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.”
“My grandson’s clothes suit you,” she said. “Keep them. You are better built than he was, and he has no use for them anyway. They’re a bit snug but I imagine that’s a pretty common problem for you. Your wet things are already scrubbed. Don’t know how you got into them in the first place, they looked painted on!”
“It’s a long story…”