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art by Junior McLean

O is for Obfuscation

Tim Pratt's stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and other nice places. He's won a Hugo for his short fiction (and lost Sturgeon, Stoker, World Fantasy, and Nebula Awards). He lives in Berkeley CA with his wife and son. Find him online at timpratt.org

Jenn Reese lives in Los Angeles and is currently writing a middle-grade adventure series for Candlewick Press. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons and the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology Paper Cities, among others. Follow her adventures at jennreese.com.

Heather Shaw is a writer, editor, gardener and aikidoka living in Berkeley, California with her husband and son. She's had fiction in Strange Horizons, Polyphony, The Year's Best Fantasy, Escape Pod and other nice places. She just finished her first middle-grade novel, "Keaton T., Junior Gene Hacker" and is looking for representation. For more, visit heathershaw.org

Greg van Eekhout's fiction for adults and children includes the novels Norse Code and Kid vs. Squid and stories published in Asimov's, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, and other places. He lives in San Diego, CA. For more information, visit writingandsnacks.com.

I shoulda never wished for invisibility. That stupid genie thinks he's so smart. He explained how I couldn't be really invisible without going blind, on account of how light would pass right through my transparent eyeballs or something, but he said he had another idea about how I could creep around unseen. I said "No way, you're not turning me into a tiny beetle or a gnat or something," and he said, "Nope, I won't do anything to you at all," so I said okay.
Now every time I get within somebody's line of sight, they go blind until I'm gone. It's no fun sneaking into the girls' locker room at school when all the cheerleaders start screaming and stumbling into things and rubbing their eyes. I can't even rob banks, because all the tellers and guards and stuff freak out when I get there, and they can't open the safe or give me money because they can't see anything. It might be okay if I could turn my power on or off but I didn't think to ask the genie for that, so I'm kinda screwed.
I've got two wishes left but every time I get near the genie he goes blind too, and when I yell at him that it's me, he says he can't be sure unless he sees me, because somebody could be imitating my voice. So no more wishes. Meanwhile the genie's in my house eating all my food and playing my Xbox and for some reason my parents think he's me. I guess he does kinda look like me, and he's wearing my clothes, so.
I figure there must be some kinda upside to this power. Like I could become a superhero or villain or something. I could call myself Blindfold or Eyesore and have a lair called "The Valley of the Blind." The genie could be my nemesis. I've got some cool ideas for a costume, but come to think of it, that's kinda pointless. Well screw it. I can keep the genie from having so much fun anyway. Let's see him play my video games when I'm standing behind the couch messing up his eyes.
At least I don't have to worry about sucking in my gut around girls or about anybody noticing when I pick my nose anymore.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
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