“Let me go and I’ll grant you a wish!”
Kevin peered at the little man in the upturned tumbler, his tiny, perfect hands pressed against the glass. The voice was high-pitched and barely audible. Kevin marvelled. The little man’s clothes were more detailed and more delicate than anything any of his action figures sported in their mass-produced, factory-made costumes. And now he was at Kevin’s mercy. Well, that’s what you get for trespassing in our garden! Kevin laughed.
The little man’s expression implored his captor to do the decent thing. Tiny tears, smaller than dew drops, coursed down his ruddy cheeks.
Kevin sat back on his calves and tapped his chin as though considering the best course of action to take.
“Think about it!” the little man urged. “Anything you want and I shall provide it.”
Kevin laughed. “Why should I believe you? If you can do magic, why don’t you magic yourself out of the glass?”
The little man shook his head. “You’re a smart lad. It doesn’t work like that. I can’t use my powers to my own advantage.”
“But surely, granting my wish so I will set you free is to your advantage.”
“Indirectly, yes, I’ll give you that.”
“I need proof,” Kevin decided. “Prove to me you have magic powers and then I’ll make my wish.”
“And then you’ll let me go?”
“Maybe. Maybe not. Might be good to have my own personal magic man in my pocket.”
The little man waggled a finger. “It doesn’t work like that. One wish per person.”
Kevin rolled his eyes. “Who makes up these stupid rules anyway? All right. Show me proof and I’ll think of a wish.”
The little man tapped his chin in direct imitation of Kevin’s gesture. “Let me see… I could change the weather for you. How would you like that?”
Kevin glanced at the cloudy sky. He shook his head. The weather was changeable at this time of year. How would he know that the little man was causing it?
“Do you like animals?” the little man asked.
“I love them!” Kevin cried. “I know! Turn me into an animal so I know it’s true. Then you can grant my wish and I’ll let you go; I swear I will. On my mother’s life, I swear it.”
“Very well.” The little man pushed up his sleeves and made some arcane gestures. Frustrated, he shook his head. “It’s no good. The glass is getting in the way.”
Kevin laughed. “You can’t fool me. If I lift the glass, you’ll get away.”
The little man looked insulted. “I would never! Now that I have engaged to grant you your wish. I have honour, young sir.”
Kevin looked suitably abashed. “OK. I’ll lift the glass just a little but at the first sign of you trying to escape, it’s going back down again. I once cut a spider in half doing that.”
“You’re a brave boy indeed,” said the little man. “Ready when you are.”
Kevin nodded. He tilted the tumbler backwards. The little man basked in the rush of fresh air. He repeated his arcane gestures. Kevin began to itch. The garden around him stretched and grew as he shrank and shrank to the size and shape of a flea.
The little man’s hand darted out and pulled the flea under the glass with him, just as the tumbler fell back into place.
“Now do you believe me, you nasty little bug,” the man shook the flea. The flea nodded its head vigorously.
“Now make your wish!” the little man commanded. He cocked his head. “You wish to be restored, is that what you want?”
The insect nodded again. The little man dropped it to the grass. All at once, the ground fell away, as Kevin stretched and expanded until he was his natural shape and size again.
Using one of the words he’d heard his father utter when someone cut him up in traffic, Kevin lifted his foot and brought it down on the little man, crushing him to death.
“Kevin!” came his mother’s voice from the back doorstep. “Why have you got a glass on your head?”
Kevin laughed and spun around. The tumbler tumbled; it smashed on the path.
Kevin’s mother dropped dead in the doorway.