The Bottle, by L. Anne Wooley
Among the dusty artifacts that were in the attic, there was one that was stranger than all the rest. Maggie was almost too frightened to touch it. It wanted her to touch it. It wanted her to touch it very, very, much. She couldn't seem to fight the impulse as it dragged her closer and closer; nearer and nearer, until she was beside it.
It looked quite ordinary, and the muted design covered whatever was inside the bottle. In this light she could not tell either the color, or the design. It was like the "I Dream of Jeanie" lamp from the old TV show with Barbara Eden playing the lead role. But Maggie was not into that esoteric crap, nor did she believe in that shit.
However, she could swear the bottle was swaying. It was like it was almost saying, "But we believe in you!" She shook her head, maybe some of the outer cobwebs, went in through her ear and were making a home in her head. The shaking only served to make her dizzier.
She backed up, bumping into the hanging light making it sway. It made the attic alternately bright... then dark. Bright... then dark. She absently put up a hand to catch it arresting its momentum, and bringing it to stillness. Then she leaned back against the armoire, grateful for its support.
When she did, she saw the lamp sitting on the table where she had left it, and it was most definitely rocking. Not a gentle rocking, but an increasingly violent shaking fit, like it had epilepsy or something! The bottle beckoned her, and as she reached out to touch it, the damned thing jumped into her hand. The stopper popped out, and a loud "Whoosh!" entered the stillness of the attic.
Before Maggie stood a ginormous figure that had a transparent head, and opaque white clothes that flowed from the generous sized body. She could not tell if it was male or female. "Oh!"
"Oh???? Is that all you can say young woman!"
"Definitely male," Maggie stated.
"Of COURSE I am a Male! You are a very stupid woman," he was very put out. He paused... "But, I forget you being a woman... I must adjust my way of speaking so that you can understand me clearly."
"Um... yea... I CAN speak clearly, and am quite educated sir!" Maggie was incensed, nobody had ever called her stupid before, nor been quite this rude.
" Well then young lady, I have a message for you."
"Oh great! I thought that messages in bottles were supposed to be on paper?" she raised her eyebrow at the pesky poltergeist.
"Show's what you know!" he harrumphed back at her.
"Well, then out with it! Go on, give me my message!" Maggie was almost done with this whole ridiculousness. She was tempted to do whatever she needed to, to get this... thing... back into the bottle and throw it away in the refuse. She waited her arms akimbo, while tapping her foot.
"Well, if you are going to act like that, I won't give it to you!"
"OH for PETE's Sake! Stop messing around and give it to me if you must. Or don't, it makes no difference to me! Or have you forgotten it?"
"Who is 'Pete Sake'? And no of course not, I am a professional as you call it."
"Look you. There is not any more room in my head for my eyes to roll back any further!" She pinched her lips together, making them form one thin line, and glared at him for good measure.
"I am instructed by your Grandmother to tell you NOT to sell the lamp... and thereby not sell me!" he recited imperiously.
Maggie blinked incredulously. "Is that all? Is that all you came to say? After all that rocking and carrying on?" she almost had smoke coming out of her ears by this point. She wanted so badly to shove the thing back in the bottle, and toss it in the rubbish heap out back.
Maggie tossed her hands up in the air, and marched over to the table to grab the stopper that had erstwhile been inside the bottle. "Get back in there NOW!"
A startled look crossed the genies face, and he yelled "What are you going to do with me? His face contorted like a fun house mirror as he was sucked back inside the bottle.
"Sticking you where the sun don't shine," and she pushed the stopper in before walking over to the window. Then she thought, "I better fix this things little red wagon," and she walked over to the area she had set up for boxing the stuff she wanted to keep, and grabbed the duct tape. She took the bottle and placed it between her legs holding it in place like a vice. She took the tape and pulled off a section, and then started to tape the thing shut. "THERE, I am going to get rid of you!"
Maggie walked back over to the window. She opened the shutter outward, before opening the window. She threw the bottle with all her might, satisfied to hear the thud it made as it landed in the rubbish pile. She brushed the dust off of her hands onto her skirt, breathing a sigh of relief as she thought to herself, "Good riddance!"
Then she decided that she had done enough for the day, and started walking to the door. She tried not to look, but then it was too late; back on the table was.... that damned bottle... minus the duct tape.
As she ran out the door, she could've sworn she heard a chuckle. Then her foot slipped on the stair, and she went flying, flying down the stairs; hitting her head and then knowing no more.