A rainy August afternoon, the early ‘90s. The 1990s. Meet Cooper Mewes – frozen yogurt store clerk by trade, grave robber by circumstance. Cooper has fallen on hard times of late: his credit cards stolen, his apartment burned down, and lady problems to boot. But Cooper has heard tell, through the usual channels – an uncle of a friend of a friend – of an ancient enchanted lamp buried here, in the cemetary of Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow, that could make all of those problems go away.

You've heard of the axiom “be careful what you wish for?”

Well, sometimes “careful” isn’t enough.

Cooper Mewes rested the shovel over his shoulder, breathing hard and staring down into the grave. The rain poured down harder now, plastering his hair to his forehead, running the dirt off his clothes, pooling in a puddle of mud at his feet. Cooper threw the shovel to the side and hopped down into the hole he had cleared.

Kneeling atop the bottom half of the coffin, Cooper began prying open the upper part. With a terrific wrench and the sound of splintering wood, he ripped the casket open. He was immediately hit with a gust of mildewed death. Instinctively, Cooper turned his head away, swallowing back vomit.

The young man closed his eyes and set his stomach, thinking back to the two girls with whom he had shared a single bathroom in college—he had endured much worse than the stench of a hundred-year-old dead man. He leaned forward again and gently pulled apart the brittle arms of Herman Adlersflügel. The man’s decomposing skull staring back at him, Cooper looked the rotting suit jacket up and down, searching for the tell-tale bulge of hidden treasure. He found it. He flipped open the remains of the jacket, then reached in and pulled free the oil lamp from where it had nestled in Herman’s cracked and deteriorating ribs.

Lightning crashed in the distance, illuminating the grave like a supermarket. The lamp was bigger than Cooper thought it would be—nearly a foot tall, four inches wide. There was a lot more glass than he had been expecting, as well. Still, a magic lamp was a magic lamp. Carefully, Cooper placed the lamp on the muddied ground above, then began to pull himself free of the grave.

As the young man started to haul himself up, he felt something grab his right leg. Thunder boomed overhead. Cooper, turning slowly and doing his best not to soil himself, saw it was just a twig stabbed into the fabric of his jeans. With a smile and a relieved sigh, he leaned down and freed his pants from the wooden assailant.

Cooper once again started to pull himself up, and once again he felt something grabbing at his leg. This time, though, the young man saw that it was Herman Adlersflügel himself clutching onto his jeans.

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About Eirik Gumeny


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Eirik Gumeny is over six feet tall and enjoys sugar. Originally from the highway-choked suburbs of New Jersey, he now lives in the mile-high desert of New Mexico. He is very pale and it is very sunny, so he will probably combust any day now. He has still never seen a coyote, though he has eaten lunch with a roadrunner. Eirik...read more is the author of the Exponential Apocalypse series, co-author of Screw the Universe, founding/former editor of Jersey Devil Press, and a folder of origami cranes. His short fiction has been published in a number of journals and anthologies, including Thieves Jargon, Kaleidotrope, and Monkeybicycle, and two of his stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His plays have been workshopped in New York City, his resumes have gotten a number of his friends jobs, and his doodles occasionally make it onto the refrigerator.
4 comments
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  18 months ago
This is funny. I like funny. Getting a wise-cracking genie, or sasquatch, ought to cost you at least one wish right off the top.
  18 months ago
Great job man!

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