Billy Wilder did not usually live up to his last name. At 12 years old, he was just entering puberty and was not sure that all girls were really worth the trouble. However, he would make an exception in the case of his 11 year old sister, Ann. She was the apple of his eye, and he tried to look after her as best he could, though he was hardly a physically imposing specimen. At 4'-10" tall and 73 pounds, much of which was still baby fat, he was the butt of much bullying and trash talk at school. The 7th Grade was a chore he hoped to get through all in one piece, but he had his doubts.
Ann was in the 6th Grade, and she was a real beauty at her age. She was just beginning to show that she was going to have breasts of ample size and a butt to drool over. Not only that, Ann was a friend to everybody. She was one of the most popular girls in her class and was the darling of the teachers. The contrast between siblings was amazing on the outside, but, inside, they were exactly the same. At least, when it came to feelings for each other. Ann appreciated everything that her brother did for her, and even tried to help him when he was set upon by bullies. That generally did no good, but she did try.
The elder Wilders were camping nuts and grabbed every opportunity to hit the road whenever school was in recess for more than two days. They even squeezed in a weekend or two during the year when they could take it no longer. Jim Wilder owned his own computer consulting firm, so he was able to bug out whenever he wanted to, and Elsie Wilder was a stay-at-home mom, so she was available to travel at the drop of a hint.
Billy and Ann were not nearly so enamored of the camping craze as their parents, but love and duty to the parents carried them along with little or no complaints. On this particular occasion, the Wilders were visiting a new camping area in a state park that was new to them all. They planned to be there a week, so there was plenty of time for hikes, something Billy did enjoy. In fact, he often went "exploring" on his own, though he was responsible enough to make sure that he did not go too far from camp or get lost.
On a Wednesday, Billy was wandering around while his parents and Ann were visiting the little village that served the new park. Billy came across a path that he had never noticed before, and he could not resist following it. The weather had been threatening all morning, so Billy had his poncho with him in case the rain came, as well as a sandwich and a water jug.
It was about 11:00 o'clock when the weather finally fulfilled its promise, but this was carrying things to ridiculous extremes. It didn't just rain, it gully-washed! Billy got his poncho and hood on in time to stay reasonably dry, but the wind that came with the rain was making it just too damned uncomfortable to stay out and exposed to the elements any longer than necessary.
Billy found some shelter by leaning against a vine-covered cliff. This broke the wind and rain some, but he was still in a very uncomfortable position. In an effort to escape the worst of the downpour, Billy leaned against the cliff wall. When he put significant pressure on the wall, the vines parted and Billy fell into a cave of sorts. It wasn't much of a cave, but it was deep enough to do a good job of breaking the wind and rain.
It was pretty dark in the little cave, what with the vines blocking most of the light that could get through the clouds. Billy had a flashlight with him, but he wanted to save that for emergencies, so he left it turned off. It didn't take long for his eyes to adjust to the dim light, so he looked around, somewhat concerned about the possibility of a snake or other varmint sharing the cave with him.
There was no sign of animal presence, but something was there! There was a kind of rose colored glow to be seen near one wall of the little cave. That was sufficiently unusual for Billy's curiosity to be tweaked, so he looked closer to try to identify what was causing the strange glow. It appeared to be a bracelet. Intrigued, Billy picked it up. As soon as he touched the bracelet, he seemed to be compelled to put it on his right wrist.
The bracelet ends snapped together and locked. Then, strangest of all, the metal of the bracelet seemed to contract around Billy's wrist. Before he could get the bracelet off his wrist, it sank through the skin! Once it was out of sight, the bracelet stopped shrinking, and the rose glow disappeared. Billy was now in a state of panic, but he seemed unable to move. Then the final miracle happened.
Billy "heard" within his head a voice speaking to him. Master, I am the genie of the charm that you wear. I am not a very powerful genie, but I am prepared to grant you any wish within my power.
"What ... What can you do for me?" Billy asked in a very tremulous voice. Like all kids in the USA, Billy had heard and read the stories of genies that granted wishes to very lucky people. Of course, he had never truly believed the stories, but they had been fun to fantasize about. Therefore, Billy was primed with a touch of belief when he first heard the voice in his head. As a result, he didn't panic, but he was very close to it.
Master, I can do a lot of things, such as make sure that you are never sick or injured, and I can increase your physical attributes, such as strength and stamina. However, my main abilities are centered around shape shifting.
"That first part sounds wonderful, but what is shape shifting?"
Shape shifting means that I can cause your shape to change to practically anything you desire at the moment you express that desire. For example, if you wanted to look like your father, all you need do is to think the command, and you would instantly change to look just like him. Give it a try, and you will see what I mean.
Okay, make me look like my father.
Billy felt himself change, though there was nothing painful about it. Suddenly, his head bumped on the low ceiling of the little cave, and he had to bend over to remain standing. He looked at the parts of his body that he could reach to see, and he saw that he was a man the size of his father and wearing the clothes that Jim Wilder had been wearing the last time Billy saw him. Billy laughed and said, "Hey, Genie, this is great! What else can you make me into?"
First of all, Master, you do not have to speak aloud to talk to me. Just think of what you want me to hear and I will receive the message.
As far as your question is concerned, I can change you to look like anything that you can imagine.
Do you mean that you could make me look like Walt Disney's Pluto if I wanted it?
Yes, would you like to try that?
Okay, go ahead.
Billy felt another non-painful wrench, and he was suddenly seeing the world from about 30 inches off the ground. He looked down and saw cartoonish dog paws. He looked at his rear and saw that foolish tail that Pluto had. Billy laughed again and thought, Let's try something really wild. Make me look like Lizard Man on the Saturday morning TV cartoons.
Very well, Master, I can do that, but I need to know what size you want to be. Remember that Lizard Man is eight feet tall, and there is not enough room in the cave for you at that size.
Yeah, right, I forgot about that. Thanks for remembering for me. Change me to look like Lizard Man, but only four feet tall.
A miniature Lizard Man now stood in the cave. Suddenly, there was enough light for Billy to see everything in the cave in great detail. That's when he remembered that the cartoon Lizard Man could see in virtual darkness. Wow, that power was suddenly now his! Billy was able to use another of Lizard Man's senses and determine that the storm had stopped. Genie, please change me back to my original form. It's time for me to return to camp. I don't want to worry my parents.
Yes, Master. Please remember that I am always with you whenever you might need me. However, I suggest that you keep quiet about your new powers. You might attract too much unwanted attention if your abilities were public knowledge.
Gee, thanks for the reminder, Genie. I would surely have blabbed to somebody if you hadn't warned me. But, what about my family? Do you think that it would be okay for them to know?
I really cannot answer that, Master. If you think that they could keep your secret, I suppose that it would be okay to tell them, but your mother may want to rush you to a doctor immediately, just to see if you are really okay.
Yeah, that's another good point. Maybe I'll just tell Ann and keep the secret from everybody else. Ann will keep the secret if I ask her to, and I do need someone that I can talk to about this.
That's entirely up to you, Master, but I surmise that you have made a good choice.
Billy left for the camp, and he could hardly wait to tell Ann about his adventure. However, there was too much going on as his parents drove up to take the time for it at that point. However, the two siblings shared a tent and were not closely supervised. This was perfect for Billy to relate to Ann what had happened to him that afternoon. He was about to burst with the news by the time they went to bed. Ann said, "Okay, Billy, I can see you are dying to tell me something that you don't want Mom and Dad to hear, so out with it."
"Ann, you won't believe me when I tell you, so I'm going to demonstrate something, first. Just watch this." Genie, make me look like Mom, only half size. The change was a quick as all of the other changes had been, and Ann saw a small version of her mother sitting on Billy's sleeping bag.
She almost screamed, but clamped her hand over her mouth before much noise came out. She almost screamed again when Billy was sitting in front of her. "OMG, Billy, how in the world did you do that?"
"That was what I had to tell you, Ann. I knew you wouldn't believe me, though, without a demonstration. Here's what happened to me this afternoon." Billy then related to his sister everything that had happened to him in the little cave.
"OMG, Billy, that's cool! Do you think there might be another of those bracelets in there so that I could have one, too?"
"Wait a minute, and I will ask." Genie, is there another one of these bracelets around so that Ann could have one?
I'm afraid not, Master. As far as I know, this is the only one like this in existence. I'm sorry that I cannot help you with that request.
"Bad news, Ann. My genie says that I have the only one of these bracelets in existence. I can't even take it off for you to try out. I'm sorry, but that seems to be the way it is."
"Okay, I can live with that. Show me some more of the shapes that you can do. Who else can you look like?"
Billy went through 20 changes to look like various of their friends. Ann was delighted in the show, but agreed with the genie that their Mom would go ape if she saw her son doing any of those crazy things.
The rest of the week was spent in the usual activities that the Wilders indulged in while they were out camping, and Billy might have forgotten all about his new genie if he had not noticed that he never got tired like he used to. One of the reasons for the family's dedication to camping was to try to get Billy's body to move along in its development. There was nothing really wrong with his body, but the whole family thought that it was time for Billy to grow out of the babyish look that he had. Billy was strongly in agreement with this idea, and did everything that he could to move the change along.
He didn't seem to be making any progress, lately, and he brought this up in his nightly discussion with Ann before they fell asleep. Ann asked, "What would you like to end up looking like? You don't strike me as the ultimate stud, but you certainly aren't the ultimate nerd, either."
"I really don't know, Ann. I never thought about it that far along. Do you have any suggestions?"
"I know what I think you should look like, but you might want to be something else. I've got an idea. Ask your genie to make you look better, and that may give you some ideas."
"That's a great idea!" Genie, have you been listening to our conversation? Please do what Ann suggested.
Without a moment's hesitation, Billy changed. Some of the changes were subtle, and some of the changes were major. All of his baby fat was gone, to be replaced by muscles in the right places. His face looked more mature, and he had a more pronounced chin, though it was not something that was a drastic change. His voice, which had been somewhat high pitched, dropped almost an octave into the range of the commanding voice of a Marine drill instructor.
Billy couldn't see the changes, but Ann applauded when she was able to study the final result. "Billy, Genie, that was a lot better than anything that I would have come up with. Billy, the essential you is still there, but you now have the looks and bearing of an adult who knows where he is going and what he wants out of life. The problem is that we can't leave you like this. Mom, particularly, would freak out if she saw you look like this tomorrow morning.
"I think that you should keep this look and voice as your goal, but drop back to your normal appearance for now. I suggest that Genie make gentle and gradual changes in you so that you grow to look like this, but you do it slowly enough so that it looks natural. What does Genie have to say?"
Billy snapped back to his former look, and a few seconds later said, "Genie said that he could follow your suggestions, and I would look like the person you saw in about two years. He also commented that he had modeled my looks on that of Alexander the Great. I guess that I should be flattered."
School was still six weeks away, so the kids spent a lot of time at the local park playing various games. Basketball and baseball were the prime choices, and Billy tried both of them. Billy was derided at first when he tried out basketball. His newly found speed, strength, and stamina made him the equal of many of the kids on the court. The result was that he was often one of the first players to be chosen in the pick-up games.
The same kind of result came when Billy gave baseball a try. He seemed to be a natural short stop, and, here, his size made no difference. Short stops were often small, so nobody commented on that part of his game. Billy was rock solid on defense, but he needed work to become the hitter that Genie said that he could become. There was a batting cage in town, so Billy talked his father into taking him around to practice as much as possible. Billy had never before been interested in sports, so his parents took this as a hopeful sign.
One afternoon at the park, a kid who had been an especially active bully for Billy saw him walking toward the baseball diamond. "Hey, shit pants, you headed over to watch some real men play the game?"
"No, I was planning to take my regular spot as short stop. I'd invite you to watch, but I don't think that you have the brains to know what is going on."
"You little pissant, you can't talk to me like that!" The bully charged at Billy, who was surprised at himself already for standing up to the bully. Do what you will know how to do, Master. I have already given your brain and muscles the information you need.
Billy was at least 10 inches shorter than the bully and 40 pounds lighter. Previously, the bully had proved on several occasions that this was enough to enable him to pound Billy into submission. This time, Billy was not the pushover the bully expected. The boy charged at Billy, expecting to grab him in a bear hug and squeeze him until Billy cried for mercy.
Instead, Billy stepped aside and let the bully fly passed. As the boy went by, Billy stuck out his foot and tripped the bully. Furthermore, he added impetus to the bully's fall by slugging him in the back of the neck with his elbow as the boy fell. After checking to make sure that the boy was not seriously injured, Billy rolled him over and loosened his pants. He pulled off the boy's sneakers and then his pants. Billy did leave the bully his underwear, but he took the pants and shoes with him the rest of the way to the baseball diamond.
The coach was standing with his mouth open as Billy walked up. He knew of the bully's treatment of many of the smaller boys in Billy's school, and no one had been able to stand up to him. He had watched the encounter, and had expected to write Billy out of today's game. Instead, the bully was still lying on the ground. Would wonders never cease?