Classic fairytales provide a third wish to repair the damage caused by the first two. But the protagonists in these tales get one wish only. And, as you can't change one thing without affecting others, that wish is qualified by odd conditions. So these wishes with whiskers cause surprising twists.
And who grants these wishes? The Department of Requests and Disbursements - an organization that exists in a light-orange limbo obviously some way south of Paradise. The Department has a very human staff, three of whom we get to know as they appear in every story. They are the case managers or `Facilitators' who process the wishes received. As for the diverse individuals offered the chance to change their lives, as we follow what becomes of them, we enter quirky territory indeed.
An An ethical but low-paid assistant in a department store is also sole carer for his rich and unpleasant grandma. He becomes obsessed with a store dummy and wishes she were alive. His wish is granted - with a peculiar feature. He can switch the dummy to a person and back again by simply bending her big toe.
The new woman, innocent of life, has to learn everything like a child. The couple fall in love. But when grandma discovers he's brought a woman home, she prepares to disinherit him.
Then his Lothario-like store manager discovers the loss of the dummy, spies on him, sees how he operates her, converts the woman to the dummy and takes her home as a sexual convenience.
At which point the Department of Wishes, charmed by the innocence of the star-crossed lovers, make two adjustments that dispense justice in the most uncompromising way.
Click on this link for The Dummy
The music-loving proprietor of a shop selling aquariums and exotic fish just wants peace and time to play his cello. But his wife is a shrew. He wishes she were a fish.
The wish is approved with provisos. The shop-owner is not allowed to harm her and the wife is permitted one last phone call before the conversion. The wife rings her neighbour, seeking help just before she's turned into a trout.
The trouble is she can still talk. The husband hides her out the back in the pond where she eventually gets the neighbour to rescue her. Meanwhile, the husband discovers his soulmate, a woman customer, and invites her to lunch.
The not-so-bright neighbour resents the fishwife and hides her in the fish tank of the Chinese restaurant next door. All the strands of the plot are now ready to intersect.
Click on this link for The Fishwife
An irritable businessman who can't relate to people is nearing home on an international flight. Everyone on the plane annoys him and he remarks to the person sitting beside him, who happens to be the Facilitator, Gwen, that the world would be much better without flies and other people. She decides to have some fun with him.
Immediately he is alone in a deserted plane. Even the pilots are gone and the plane continues on autopilot. He tries to radio people. No reply. He tries flying the plane but cannot do it and inadvertently dumps fuel. His blind panic induces flashbacks to his life - and the way he ignores his family.
He realises what he's like and that he'll never see his wife and daughter again. When the plane's engines cut out, he retreats to the deserted cabin. Now, one person sits there, Gwen. But when he begs her to reverse the wish....
Click on this link for Flies and Other People