I slumped against my steering wheel as the engine finally gave out, slowly letting it slide to an ungraceful stop on the side of the dusty road.

‘Damn,’ I whispered to myself, alone in the car. I slid back in my seat and, on instinct, punched the dashboard. A few of my buttons briefly lit up, then immediately died again.

‘Is it my battery?’ I mused out loud. ‘No, that doesn’t make sense – that wouldn’t stop my car while it was still driving—’

‘Hey, I was going to say that!’

I screeched in terror at the man suddenly sitting in my passenger seat.

‘Who the hell are you?!’ I asked, once the scream had finished, feeling around frantically for the door handle.

‘Relax, relax,’ the man chuckled. ‘I’m here to help.’

Who are you?!

‘I can see you’re upset,’ he said in a soothing tone. ‘But you don’t have to be afraid – I’m the Road Genie!’

He clicked his fingers and all of the door locks popped open. I fell backwards as my door opened behind me, dumping me into the dirt.

‘You’ve got heatstroke,’ I whispered to myself, flat on my back. ‘You’ve actually been out here for days, and you’ve gone mad with heatstroke. All because you didn’t find the time to see the local auto electrical mechanic workshop in Bentleigh.’

‘I thought we spoke about this,’ the Road Genie frowned, hovering out of my door and looking down at me. ‘Battery problems don’t make your car stop mid-drive.’

He cracked his neck and floated past me, clicking his fingers as he got to the bonnet. It popped open for him, no problem – I couldn’t even get it to do that when I pulled the lever.

‘Oh yeah, this ain’t looking good,’ the Genie mused. ‘You really should have looked into a mechanic that does car servicing in the Bentleigh area.’

‘Right,’ I nodded. ‘Fair enough.’

‘I’m here to help all stranded travellers,’ he explained with a smile. ‘Especially the ones that don’t know what they’re doing!’

‘Hey!’ I shot back defensively.

‘You can’t lie to the Road Genie,’ he shrugged. ‘Also your engine is destroyed and you’re walking home.’