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Rycke Foreman lives in Farmington, New Mexico. This story previously appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine (#27, Spring '95, vol. 7 no. 3).


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A Sunset So Glorious

by Rycke Foreman

     The djinn thought that Herman's first wish was a valid one:
     "I wish I was very handsome. Appealing to women, you know." He said this in his funny little voice, while bright red blossoms bloomed on his cheeks. "Sexy, you know. Irresistible. Sleek, even."
     "Very well," said the djinn. With the wave of one mighty hand, a new man emerged -- a man who would no longer be know as Herman (that name was so inadequate for the gentleman who stood in front of him), but possibly Arman or Armond. Indeed, the Herman who had brushed his sleeve up against the lamp was gone: no more horn-rimmed glasses that distorted his sheepish, watchful eyes; his meager, rounded jaw was now square and sharp. Herman (or rather, Armond) no longer slumped, but held his shoulders erect and proud, his spine stiff -- he seemed to have grown a full five or six inches; rips, from his now-insufficient suit, resounded throughout the room as his biceps, triceps, and gluteus expanded.
     The man turned, glancing into a nearby mirror. Herman would have gasped and said "Dear me!" but Armond simply studied his new face, held fast his magnetic-blue eyes, fluffed his already perfect hair. "You really are a genie, then, aren't you?" he asked in a strong, powerful voice.
     "A djinn, actually."
     "But you can perform magic -- I mean, really do magic."
     "Certainly. Did I not state that clearly enough to begin with?"
     "Yes, but of course I thought you meant party tricks or something. Pulling rabbits out of hats, that sort of rubbish."
     The djinn merely smiled, thinking: Now comes the greed. The djinn was, of course, correct.
     "I want power. Power," Armond said, as if savoring a thick, juicy T-bone steak. He smiled slightly, unmercifully. "Yes, lots of power. Not something so trivial as the Presidency or some hick oil tycoon; I want the real thing, the power to sway millions ... no, billions. I wish for the world to do my bidding, bow at my feet if that is my command. I want--"
     "You would like to feed off the nations?" the djinn finished for Armond.
     "No! I want to be fed by my nations ...." A maniacal grin slashed across his now-striking face -- Armond knew what his third wish would be "...forever."
     Just as the djinn suspected. "Is that your final wish?"
     "Yes."
     "State it as a wish, if you please."
     "Very well." The grin became wicked. "I want to be immortal. I wish it."
     Preparing to grant his nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandth, nine hundred and ninety-eighth and -ninth wishes--two of the last three wishes, after which he could regain his freedom -- the djinn inquired, "May I ask you a few questions?"
     "If it's quick," the man snapped.
     "Do you belong to any certain faith, Mr. Leech?"
     "No."
     "Do you particularly enjoy Italian meals?"
     "No. When I was ... him, I suffered quite badly from indigestion."
     "Do you participate in many outdoor activities -- hiking, swimming, sunning yourself at the beach?"
     "Not in the least."
     "One final thing, Mr. Leech. There will be ... certain limitations to your immortality. Will that be a problem?"
     "What sort of limitations?"
     "Nothing to difficult to avoid." Save for one, the djinn thought.
     "Fine, fine. Just get on with it."
     "Your wish is my command." As the djinn finished bringing Armond's wishes to pass, he quickly granted himself the hundred-thousandth wish,the single wish granted to a djinn. His legs -- until now a funnel-shaped mist - -materialized beneath him. He exercised his restored limbs with a deep knee bend. Standing up, the djinn (now Frank Tackerton, since he was, finally, again a human being) made hastily for the door.
     Behind him, Armond growled, "Wait a minute! I can't see myself." Armond was looking in the mirror; it revealed a room full of everything that should be there ... except him. "Where is my reflection?"
     Frank didn't bother to answer. Instead, he threw the front door openand gazed upon a sunset so glorious. His shadow fell long within the room.
     The vampire's scream lingered, even after Armond Leech had been reduced to ashes. Frank shot one last glance at the remains that were littered before the looking glass, then left smiling.
     It was a fine day to save the world, especially since it was the first fine day he'd experienced, as a man, in centuries.

THE END