It was dark. Dreary. The rain clouds had moved on, but water still dripped from the rooftops and skyscrapers. They fell and fell and fell... Hypnotizing. Dangerous in the city where it's already so easy to be caught off guard.
The hooded man approached me in the middle of the night, as I was walking home from a business meeting that ran late. He said the words that tear at the soul, a question with infinite answers but always a constant result:
“I will grant you one wish.”
I laughed to myself. Crazy person or not, I knew how these stories always went: make wish, granted in a horrifying way, wisher dies. Simple as that. I’d read “The Monkey’s Paw.” I’d seen Wishmaster. I wouldn’t be so carelessly stupid. I thought myself clever when I made my wish, so innocuous that any play on it would be downright foolish.
“I wish for one dollar.”
Had it been a crazy person, even he could have granted this wish. But it was no crazy person. I watched as the hooded man raised his hands, cupping them around the air, and slowly pulled a single dollar into reality as though out of a black hole. It gingerly floated down into my cupped hands. I looked at the bill, incredulous, and when I looked up, the man was gone.
At home, I could do nothing but stare at the bill, unsure if I had truly seen what I thought I had. How could he have done it? Was he really a genie of some sort? Was this bill even real, or am I just dreaming? I was sure I wasn’t, but these weren’t the questions that bothered me the most. The thought that racked my brain endlessly was: Did I just waste a legitimate supernatural wish on a single dollar?
I had figured, if the man was the kind of genie I’d been brought up by horror stories to believe in, that he would have created some sort of Hell for me in this wish. I figured the dollar would create minimal suffering at best, but I hadn’t honestly expected the wish to come true anyway. I thought I was just humoring a crazy man. But nothing has happened. The supernatural being granted me my wish and went off.
I could have had anything. Anything. I could have wished for billions instead of a single dollar. I could have wished for power. To be superhuman. I could have wished for world fucking peace. But I had a dollar. One. Dollar.
I didn’t sleep that night. Hell, I didn’t sleep for the next week. How could I? Every missed opportunity, embarrassing moment in my past, anything I wanted to change just zipped through my mind.
Every little annoyance echoed endlessly in my head. The woman in the cubicle next to me who kept smacking her gum, I could have wished her mouth shut. The guy who kept bringing his work problems to me because he couldn’t do them but still got paid more, I could have wished him to be fired. My boss, who did absolutely nothing but shit on me day-in and day-out, I could have wished him dead and had myself put in his place.
Saturday, I went into work. The only person who works Saturdays is my boss. That dumb shit, he never really worked. He went in to bang his secretary in empty offices while his wife at home with her two kids believed he was at work making them a better life. She would have thanked me.
The stapler on my desk would do the trick. I caught the secretary coming out of my boss’s office. The back end of the stapler gashed right into her temple. She was out cold. My boss, still buttoning his pants up, tried the old trick of yelling at me and telling me I was fired to get me stop advancing. But I could see the fear in his eyes. He couldn’t even work his zipper right.
I pushed him onto the desk, grabbed the fountain pen of his desk and stabbed him in both of his eyes. This time, not so quick as a bash to the head. As he writhed on the desk, I took my rightful seat at his desk. This is what my wish should have been, I thought. This was the happiest I’d been all week. It could’ve been the happiest I’d ever been, as far as I could remember.
Someone must have heard the screaming on one of the lower floors. We were at the top of sixteen stories. Maybe it was someone else’s boss screwing a secretary, too, who heard us. Someone who didn’t have the guts to murder for a better job. Whoever it was, I knew they heard us because I could hear the faint sound of sirens outside the building on the streets below. They probably wouldn’t let me keep this job after what I’d done.
I went up to the roof of building, dragging the still-twitching body of my former boss. When I got to the top, I found out I was right. Cop cars littered the street. Those are what I aimed for when I tossed the body headfirst off the building. I hit one car dead-on. A cop car was always where I thought that guy belonged anyway.
I heard the SWAT team bust the door open leading up to the roof. I pulled the dollar bill out of my pocket. My one wish. My one, clever fucking wish. I tore it in half and jumped before the SWAT team could grab me. Spending life in a cell would only create more problems I couldn’t wish away.
As I fell toward the pavement below, I looked down. In the midst of the police, no one seemed to notice a hooded man with glowing red eyes standing directly below me, arms wide as though he were about to catch me.
My last thought before I showered the ground with my guts, my only clear thought in the entire past week, was that the Devil was far more clever than I.