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The Vine: January 24, 2014

Submitted by on January 24, 2014 – 12:24 PM7 Comments


I'm trying to find a short story I read as a kid, maybe 30 years ago.

It was about a genie in a bottle that was more of a demon…the way it worked was, you bought the bottle from someone and then the genie/demon would grant your wishes without limit — but if the bottle was still in your possession when you died, off to hell you would go. So you'd just get rid of it when you were done, right? Wrinkle number one: you can't just throw it away, it'll come back to you. You have to sell it to get rid of it. Well, fine, who wouldn't buy it? Wrinkle number two: you must sell it for less than you paid for it. In the story, the main character gets it, uses it, sells it; then, later, he NEEDS it back and tracks down the bottle's current owner, only to find that the price has fallen all the way to one cent! What. To. Do?

Googling "demon in a bottle" just brings up a bunch of references to Iron Man. Help me, Nation!


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  • Georgia says:

    Sounds like "The Bottle Imp" by Robert Louis Stevenson:

  • Angela says:

    OMG I KNOW THIS ONE! It's The Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson.

  • ^kat^ says:

    This story sounded fascinating, so I googled "story genie bottle sell die"… and found The Bottle Imp? Sounds like what you were looking for–regardless, sounds like a story I want to read.

    (of course, the second hit was for Christina Aguilara…)

  • Nanc in Ashland says:

    Wow, is this the fastest solve ever? I've never heard of this but I'm adding it to my reading list!

  • T-Creole says:

    Yep, that's it! Thanks, everyone – I'm starting to think I didn't try hard enough when I was looking for this.

  • RC says:

    I remember this one!! I think?? The wiki entry has a different ending than I remember… is there another telling where the old man who decides he's going to hell anyway buys it for a ha'penny, which is where younger-me learned what a ha'penny was. Maybe I made that part up.

    I feel like in more modern times you could just hop on a plane to a country with rampant inflation (Zimbabwe?) and sell it for some small amount in local currency. The ripples through the local economy and a clear imperialist subtext might make for an entirely different story…

  • Mingles' Mommy says:

    I remember this story…. I'm so glad y'all remember it too, 'cause I was starting to think I'd imagined it!

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