The target was tall, elegant, and dressed in an overly ostentatious set of black and purple robes that in the magelight he'd conjured practically gleamed. The ensemble was topped with a matching turban. The whole thing screamed "I will be king."

The prominent nose set firmly above his black Van Dyke-style mustache-and-goatee was elevated just high enough that he could look down over it on everyone else — most of all his (absent) boss, who was sadly unaware of his subordinate's opinions and plans despite the rather obvious "smelling something bad" expression the target habitually wore when not schmoozing.

He so looked the part of the classic cliche "evil vizier" that I idly wondered if there were some kind of menswear/stylist chain through all the universes that catered to slick villains who worked themselves into positions of power in order to betray their bosses.

The intel I'd received said he was a sorcerer of some sort. Probably explained why he could keep that red parrot on his shoulder all the time and not have his back covered with bird shit. I was pretty sure I could take him if we were to go head- to-head, but even so it still left too big a chance that he might win. Instead, I decided to go with an attack against which no sorcerer in this here-and-now could defend.

In position and with the target under surveillance, I settled in and waited for the right moment. It didn't take long.

My first shot blew right through that tastefully-coordinated turban and changed its color scheme from black-and-purple to black-and-purple-and-red-and-white/grey. The parrot shot straight up in a spray of loose feathers, squawking raucously; its cries reminded me of the duck from those insurance commercials, oddly enough.

The target was just starting to fall. I worked the action on the high-powered sniper rifle and put a "guarantee" bullet into his back and through his chest. Not that I needed it — no one ever took a shot like my first and got up afterwards. But I am a professional, and it cost me nothing to ensure that the job was done right.

The parrot's squawks were swallowed by the surrounding dunes as the mostly headless body toppled, its knees hitting hitting the sand first before it fell prone into what would have been a face- down position if it still had a face. The impact raised a little cloud of sand and dust that shone briefly in the moonlight. In the same moonlight, the pool of blood that formed and spread under the body was mostly black.

Satisfied that my job was done, I slid the rifle into the long leather holster I'd slung on the side of my motorcycle for this little mission. Because the faint lensing from the stealth system's fields played merry havoc with telescopic sights both optical and electronic, I'd relied on darkness, altitude and distance to hide me; but now I re-engaged them. I gunned the drive, banked hard to the left, and made a beeline for our rooms in the palace.

On the way back I kept an eye out for my current protege. If all had gone well he would still be busy wooing the girl of his dreams, and the last thing he needed was for his mentor to show up unexpectedly at a moment one could reasonably expect to be private. Unless the two of them were inside one of the few clouds I avoided going through, though, they were nowhere nearby.

Good for them.

I dropped down, Harrier-style, to make a perfect two-point landing on the balcony that spanned our entire suite of rooms. I shut all the systems down, swung off the saddle, and took up the rifle and its holster. Before I could even turn and step inside, though, I was challenged by a worried baritone voice.


I turned and smiled at the speaker. "Got 'im. The kid, his girl, and her dad are all safe now." I held up the gun. "Thanks for the firepower, Big G. It made all the difference. But I don't need it any more."

A blue hand the size of a small ham closed around the leather case, and before my eyes the rifle and its holster vanished in a spray of golden light.

"One wish left," the Genie said, uncharacteristically sober.

I nodded, and crossed the room to where the kid had left the lamp in our care, and nodded to Abu. The monkey chittered at me as I picked it up and studied it in the soft light of the more prosaic lamps that hung from the ceiling of our chambers. Simple brasswork, almost crude in its simplicity, but the container — the prison — for so much power. I walked back across the room and placed the lamp in the genie's hands. "As I swore before we began, my friend — if Aladdin doesn't free you, I will use my third wish to do it." I grinned. "But trust me, he'll do the right thing."

As the Genie threw his arms around my shoulders and wept — a bit theatrically, I thought, but no less sincerely for it — I smiled to myself. It's good to know the plot when you find yourself fallen into a story.

Drunkard's Walk, Steplet:

I Dream of Djinni

by Robert M. Schroeck

This work of fiction is copyright © 2009, by Robert M. Schroeck.

Jafar, the Blue Genie With The Voice Of Robin Williams, and other characters from Disney's "Aladdin" are trademarks of and copyright © 1992, Walt Disney Studios, and are used without permission.

"Douglas Q. Sangnoir," "Looney Toons", "The Loon" and any representations thereof are copyright by and trademarks of Robert M. Schroeck.

This page was created on May 26, 2009.
Last modified March 12, 2011.