A podium stood at the center of the council. A black box glowed steadily on top, the pulsating light escaping from the lid in a thin blue line.
“This is the future of the Fairy Godmother Initiative,” Faelynn, head of research and development, flitted around the stage. “A small box imbued with magic, that can be anywhere, help anyone, and do anything.”
“With a single phrase, any mortal can receive any wish. Think of all the time saved, and all of the people that we will be able to help, that we previously couldn’t!” She drifted back to the floor. “I present to you, the Wishing Star!”
She gently tapped the lid of the box with her wand, and the top began to spin gently, folding itself out like a rose, and then receding again. The light from under the lid began to shift through the colors of the rainbow.
“Now the box is active. To demonstrate what it can do, we’ll take the general Cinderella scenario. Wishing Star, I wish to have a beautiful ball gown.”
The box began to undulate again, the lid lifting above the box, and light emerged, scanning Faelynn’s body. It spun and beeped before the lid hovered to the side of the box and a bright yellow light came from it.
“Once it gets to this stage you simply reach your hand in…and…voila!” A flicker of sparkles and she was standing there in a shimmering blue gown that rivaled gossamer butterfly wings. Gasps and applause erupted in a flying ovation. As the din died down, she straightened and looked around at her fellows.
From the back of the auditorium came a timid voice. “Excuse me?”
“You are meaning for all of us to…well, retire from wish-granting?”
“Yes, isn’t it wonderful? We can reach so many more people than before!”
“But what are we meant to do?”
“There is plenty of work to do in the offices, and there are so many of us who have been wishing to retire.”
“And the personal touch?”
“The personal touch isn’t necessary in granting wishes. In all of our test cases, the Wishing Box performed fantastically well.”
“Was it tested with cursed individuals?”
“That wouldn’t be a control group, now would it? How often do we cater to those who are cursed?”
“Not often, I’ll grant you, however just recently I encountered a young woman cursed to never be able to ask for what she wants. If you asked if she wanted to live happily ever after, she would reply that she would rather remain eternally miserable. When asked her favorite food, she would respond with something she is entirely allergic to. In short, she couldn’t wish for herself, couldn’t even wish to have the curse removed. How then could she possibly use this device?”
“I..uh…well…” Faelynn stammered, her wings fluttering nervously. Whispers traveled across the auditorium in waves. Another fairy stood to speak.
“There are other cases I can think of where the personal touch is necessary. In cases where worthiness was misappropriated, or what if the Wishing Box falls into the wrong hands? Or if they mistakenly wish for something horrible out of jest? Oh no, we can’t allow that.”
An hour later Faelynn sat wilted on the stage, looking longingly at the box. “I wish…..” She left the auditorium with a touch of melancholy, the lights, dimming one by one. And the box that sat on the podium in the center of the council began to stir again, the light turning red.