Friga’s Day Fiction: The Wish

This is a story I came up with in the late 1990s and I’ve printed it elsewhere once before, in a long-defunct newsletter lost to the winds of change. It’s a time-travel story with a twist, and was inspired by the fantasy fiction of Isaac Asimov, from his collection, “Magic.” ~ Troythulu

Casper Fendelman, an ordinary fellow was doing yardwork in the front lawn of his ordinary home one day, and noticed what seemed rather out of place in his ordinary neighborhood, right next to his favorite lawnchair, an odd little thing that looked all the world like a spaceship in miniature, straight out of 1950s SciFi movies.

This was rather disturbing, so he tried to figure out how to get rid of it without anyone noticing it, thinking it a prank played by the local children, probably ordered by mail out of a comic book advertisement before being placed on his lawn. But as he was turning over ideas for disposing of it in his mind, he couldn’t help but notice a rather strange figure, an octopoid no larger than his pet poodle, exit the craft and stride over to him on its tentacles as he gaped.

It pulled out some odd-looking device and fumbled with it for a second before the small widget it held emitted speech “…s a representative of your species to engage in first contact with mine, with my transparaconfabulatronic reality-bending technology, I’m hereby empowered to grant you a wish, but only one. You may not wish for more wishes, nor may you wish for more of me to grant them. Make your choice.”

At first Casper was suspicious, but looked over the small ‘alien’ to make sure it wasn’t just a remote-controlled toy and that kids were trying to pull one over on him, but he got the idea of humoring them just in case, and on the spur of the moment, thought up a wish…

“Alright, Mister…What’s your name?” “My name’s—-” It came out sounding like a cat trying to bark combined with a frog on steroids trying to croak the instrumentals to Beethoven’s 9th symphony while having a bad acid trip. As he heard it, Casper felt like he was in a Philip K. Dick novel, and seemed to be hearing colors and smelling sounds. He immediately and forever despaired of ever managing all that with his human vocal equipment. “…but you can call me Fred.” “Well, um, Fred, I wish to go back in time to my past to relive my youth.”

The alien hesitated, then warned Casper of the possible consequences of meddling in his own past, but still thinking he was just playing along with a children’s prank, Casper was insistent. The alien pressed a small indentation in the device he (she? it? they?) held and said, “Very well. Done.”

What happened next was, to say the least, rather surprising. Casper was suddenly in his past self’s body, in full control of it, and with foreknowledge of the future in hand he immediately set to work correcting the mistakes of his youth, while reliving his triumphs. He began to get a bit worried, as this all seemed too real to be a children’s trick. What the heck had they put in his coffee? Was he dreaming? No, what was going on around him made too much sense, and his brain’s reality-testing algorithms were in full working order. That, and while he could control his own actions, he was limited to that, not the global changes in the environment or physics possible with lucid dreaming.

When the wish expired (as all good things must) Fred appeared before Casper to let him know and send him back. Casper was fully convinced now, and insisted that this was the best thing that had happened to him, all errors of the past fixed, and when he returned to his time, all would be well in the world. No longer would he be Casper the nobody! But Fred’s saturnine expression (as best an octopoid without a face could manage that) worried him as the alien said…

“I warned you about changing your own past in your earlier self’s body, but you were insistent and not thinking any of this real, not taking it seriously enough. As I tried to tell you before, you were in your own past, but you didn’t simply ‘possess’ your past self — you exchanged bodies with yourself, so that while you were in the past, your past self whose mistakes you were so concerned with fixing was in your present body…” Casper’s blood froze in his veins as Fred continued, “…doing the things he would now as he did then…”

“…and while doing it, having the time of your life!

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