Chapter 4

Be Careful of What You Wish For

Just as I was coming to Alan was getting up. We both looked at each other and then at the lamp. The same thought crossed our minds at the same instant. We both wanted that lamp, neither of us really thought about the reality about the lamp and its possible powers we just knew we wanted it. We both leapt for the lamp and took hold of it at the same time too, that was a little annoying. At that point I started to kick as best I could without letting go of the lamp hopping he'd let go of the lamp. I was about nine at the time so don't judge me.

Between his yelps I suggested, "Okay, wait, why are we fighting? Wr can just share it."

Yes, that is what I said.

"Fine." Alan relented. "On the count of three lets both rub the lamp."

At that very instant we started to rub that lamp.

Then an unseen force blew us backwards and tumbling to the floor. Looking up we could only make out that the lamp hung in mid air. If a flying lamp wasn't interesting enough it started streaming out a red smoke. The smoke streamed out and took shape of a man. Giving it a moment the smoke became solid and took on new colors. There wasn't smoke there anymore but a man. The man looked to be middle eastern, he was tall and was wearing long flowing red clothing. The most interesting feature about him was his eyes were glowing red balls of fire that flickered whenever he turned his gaze. It was clear that he wasn't human.

Alan simply muttered in amazement, "Cei-u."

Me on the other hand, "What? Smoke? Person? Lamp? Er? Huh? What? Wo?"

Again, I was nine at the time.

The man started to speak his voice seemed tired and almost emotionless, "Who is the one who released me, the djinn Ali Nuwas?"

Both me and Alan pointed to the other.

"Very well, young masters." He said humbly. "I am here to serve you."

"So you're a genie?" Alan asked a little unsure about the situation. "The whole three wishes thing?"

"Not so Master," The mythical creature standing before us said. "There is no limit to the number of wishes you can receive."

"So no limits?" Alan said barely being able to hide his excitement.

"There are no limits to the number of wishes you can make, there are however limits to my own abilities." Ali began to explain. "I cannot bring the dead to life again. I cannot control the emotion of another. I cannot also use my power to kill or cause any harm anyone directly."

"I can live with that." I pointed out. "Let's make a few wishes."

"No, I want to go first!" Alan shouted like a was just a big kid, which in a way that is pretty accurate.

Anyway the sublime djinn turned to Alan, "What would you wish for?"

The way he spoke was odd to me. It was clear steady and emotionless and I thought that was just how he spoke as many people a language that wasn't their native tongue. The thing was it felt more empty and I might have figured that out if I simply thought about it.

"All right!" the eager Alan spoke up, "I wish to have every psychic power."

Ali gave him a knowing grin maybe it was a smirk. Right then Alan started to scream as his head started to grow until it looked like a balloon filled with too much air and ready to pop.

I took a few steps back after i let out a yelp.

Still groaning in pain Alan only said, "What the hell happened?! My head it's huge! I'm a freak!" Alan started to scream again.

"Stop screaming!" I pleaded with him. "Just with you head back to it's normal size." I had to look away I certain his skull was about to break open and I couldn't bare to watch.

In my head I tried to figure what happened. I figured Ali's powers did something to his brain to give him those powers that caused everything to grow. Right or wrong I still couldn't stand to look at Alan.

"Give me a second." Alan managed to say turning to Ali. "Ali, I wish that my head was back to its regular size but I still want to keep my new powers."

Yeah, he should at least get something out of the pain.

Ali gave him a quick nod, "Very good master."

Lucky for him his head then deflated and went back to its normal size and it seemed to leave no lasting damage though he had a look like his brain was put in the blender for a moment.

"Ok, let us give my new powers a test drive." Alan said eager once again as if he didn't even remember what just happened. "I'm going to try and tell my brothers to come here telepathically."

His expression went blank, he had an expression like no one was home.

He came back, "They will be here in about five minutes."

Again with the telepathy I was not so sure.

"My turn!" I said taking a cure of my eagerness from Alan. "I wish for the power of elasticity."

Ali seemed to be intrigued by my unique choice of wishes, Yes master."

Then my body shook and it I kinda started to melt. It didn't really hurt but felt really weird. I have no idea what it looked like but judging from the expression on Alan's face it must have been stomach churning. Then even seeing became hard seeing, it was like seeing everything from underwater. I was strangely calm it was actually like being in nice warm tube of water minus the tuba and being the water. Alan told me once that I looked like a puddle made of me stuck in between my clothes. I tried to reform but it was only making things worse and more puddle-ly. i started to freak out and I think Alan sensed that.

"Alexis! Don't panic!" Alan said clearly panicked. "Pull yourself together."

"Not sure how I do that." My voice sounded more distorted than usual.

"Listen I've read a lot of comic books so just listen to what I have to say." Alan said trying to sound calm and failing at it. "Don't focus. Relax and move in feels natural to you."

Taking that advice seemed to help as I sort of took my natural shape again. I sighed with relief to be me shaped again and I managed to keep my clothes on. Then just for fun I played around with my new power, I shrunk down my neck and stretched my arms across the room and vice versa. As I started to corkscrew my own neck, Alan started to play with his new abilities. Alan with his new found abilities started to move things in the air with his mind. Then as if to show off he raised his had and a ball of fire formed within it. The with little effort he snuffed out the ball of fire.

"This is so cool!" I shouted because it was.

Ali then spoke with a life less tone, "Yes, it is quite impressive you both have shown a prowess over your new skills."

Then there was knock from the door so I stretched my arm far enough to open the door. Stretching my neck to see who was at the door I found Ralph and George. When they saw that my neck was now several feet long they were more than a little surprised. George rubbed his eyes as if he was dreaming.

Ralph asked in a stunned voice, "Are you ok?"

I pulled them in quickly before anyone else saw anything.

"I'm great." I grinned at them before stretching back to my normal shape.

"What's happening?!" George blurted out tired of waiting for answer to his unspoken questions.

Almost sounding like he was rubbing it in Alan told them, "You'd better ask our genie that."

We explained to them what had happened.

"So you two have your own genie?" George said barely believing that he was even said that.

"Yes." I quickly answered back.

"But that's impossible. There are no such things as genies."

"Yes there are." I pointed at our genie "We have one right here."

"No, I mean they're not real, they're just made up stories."

"Maybe thats where the stories came from."

"That's the thing, the stories about genies granting wishes are incompatible with the first stories of the genies."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"The genies were not wish granters, they were like people except made out of fire."

"That's a good question." I turned to Ali " Why do you grant wishes?"

"Young master," the genie started, "the story would be of no interest for you."

"Oh come on tell me. I wish you would tell me the story."

"Very well. The story begins a time long ago in a land far away called Maghreb. My people lived in peace with the people of that land, those were good times. One day a strange man came to a village were djinns and humans lived. This man walked to were a djinn had a small shop, the djinn tried to convince him to buy a lamp without any success, he tried win this mans business but they only talked. The man found out that the djinn was not content with the life he led. The man made a proposition to give him the power he need to bring whatever was desired to reality, the djinn quickly agreed to the proposition. There was a flaw in the contract that was made as the djinn could not use the new powers for himself. Since then many djinn's have fallen under the contract and have used this power to grant others their heart's desire."

Something felt wrong about the story and I couldn't put my finger on it. There was also something strange Ali actually showed some emotion when telling the story, he sounded sullen and almost mournful but there was something else in his voice.

But before I could make this known Ralph pulled me to the side and told me "Alexis, I get the feeling that he doesn't want to grant wishes."

"I thought that too." I told him

"He's basically your slave." When he said that a pit formed at the bottom of my stomach

"What do you want me to do?"

"You saw Aladdin, set him free."

"Ok,but can I make a few more wishes."

"Fine but make it quick. I'll talk to my brother about this."

Ralph went to talk to Alan and I started to think what I wanted.

"I know what I want for my next wish. I wish for super strong legs."

"Super strong legs?!" George shouted, "You could wish for anything and you wish for strong legs?!"

"Yes, I could run fast and I could jump high."

"Why don't you just wish for the ability to fly or super speed?"

"I'm afraid of heights and I don't like moving that fast."

George was visibly confused and upset at my choice of wish but he relented and let me make my wish.

I turned toward Ali and said to him " I wish I had super strong legs but I don't want to see any changes to my legs or anything like that."

Ali seemed agitated that I had been so specific in my wish but he did not hesitate to make it happen. At first my legs felt stiff and it even hurt a little but I started to move about, my legs did felt stronger. I bounced up three time and then jumped, unfortunately too high, my head struck the ceiling.

"Ow, my head, my neck." I moaned rubbing my head.

Ali gave a quick laugh though just as quickly he muffled it.

"Are you ok?" George asked me

"Yes." I said through gritted teeth expecting him to say something about making a foolish wish.

As I continued to rub my head Alan came over to the djinn.

"If this is going to be my last wish" Alan threw a dirty look at his older brother "then I am to make this wish count." he was lost in deep thought for a minute "Ok I know what I want. I wish I had super powers."

Ali gave a sinister smile that sent chills through my spine. Ali grabbed Alan's arm, flames shot out of him and jumped into Alan. Alan's body was completely engulfed flames before anyone could do anything the flame went. Where Alan had been there was now a small gold lamp in his place.

"What happened to him?!" George demanded

"He's there." the djinn pointed to the lamp "He wanted super powers and what powers are more 'super' than a djinn's power."

"You turned him into a genie?"

"Yes" he answered callously

"That's not what he asked for!" George said as he picked up the lamp "Why did you do that?"

"Because I had to." Ali's tone changed now from somber subservient to bitter "For centuries I have had to grant the wishes of simpletons. Ever since I made the deal with that that man, Shaitan."

"Wait, you were the genie from the story." Ralph figured.

"Yes, I am. The moment I agreed to his deal, I was trapped in the very lamp I tried to sell him. I was tired of the pathetic life that I lived and he offered me the power to become Ifrit, the most powerful type of djinns. With that power I could become someone that would be respected and admired. I was even willing to give up my family to make it happen."

"What?" Ralph interrupted

"To pay for the power I desired I would have to trap souls into the same fate and my family were the first. They would get greedy and their wishes would turn against them and I used those wishes to entrap them. I took every opportunity I had to trap human and djinns alike into this trade, for everyone I trapped and everyone they trapped I have grown stronger. For each mark on my lamp a soul is dammed because of me. Eventually all the djinns fled this realm in fear of suffering the same fate I inflicted on so many of them, so I had to focus my efforts on humans which never made me as powerful as I wanted. That is until today."

The light in the room seemed to fade and the room seemed to get hotter.

"Today" the genie continued "with your friend I almost have enough souls to pay off my debt, so that I may finally be released from my lamp. All I need now is your soul. You have been marked to be the final soul I need and I will have it."

"My soul?!" I said terrified trying to hide behind Ralph.

"Yes, your soul is the very soul I have been waiting for centuries." Ali ordered "Make the wish, give it to me!"

All he wanted me to make a wish that he could turn around on me and trap me like he had with Alan and so many others.

"Wait, how about I wish you free that way you don't need my soul or Alan's." I bargained in desperation.

"That won't work. That is one of the few things I cannot do."

"I'm not giving you my soul!"

"Then I will just have to take it from your lifeless body."

I pointed out, "You said you couldn't use your powers to kill."

"Correct. I can't kill anyone with my powers. So I will just have to kill you with my own hands and this." A ball of fire appeared in his hands and it became a sword.

I ran to the door and the others quickly followed.

"Fine, if you're going to be difficult." Ali said snidely.

He snapped his fingers and all of the sudden the room became a hundred times bigger and the wall simply seemed to disappeared. The floor dropped and then it ripped apart. The ripped pieces of floor floated in mid air. I looked over the edge of one of these floor pieces and saw the ground had been turned to in a dark red vortex spinning below us.

Ali appeared before us floating in mid air.

I shouted at him, "What happened to my house?!"

"That is the least of your concerns. Give me your soul and I promise to leave this place just like it was and your friends unharmed."

Ralph pushed me behind him as to protect me, "It sounds to me that you made a bad deal and that you have to learn to live with that but that does not mean you have to get Alan or Alexis involved. You tricked my brother for his..." Ralph couldn't finish the sentence "But your not getting Alexis' soul!"

"This is between me and the child." speaking to me again Ali said, "Make a wish for power and I promise you that it will be painless but if you refuse your friends will suffer."

All I could say was "No"

"Then live with your choice."

A surge of energy shot out of his hands and it was headed straight for us.

Ralph pushed me out of the way at the last second and yelled to me one word, "Run!"

The energy hit Ralph and George and their flesh turned into stone.

"What did you do to them?" I said trembling.

"Don't worry." the djinn replied "they are well, they just sleep. I offer you one last chance; give in and I will restore them."

As I stood there three things came to mind: that I was going to die, my brothers owed me money and Ralph's last word: run. That is what I did, I ran, I ran off the edge of the floor onto another small chunk of ground and kept running. I did not know where I was running to, I saw no end to the room or a door but I did know I did not want to be caught. I leapt on to another chunk of the floor just barely making it over the edge. I needed to rest, I was running out of breath. I was so tired and my legs felt like they were going to burst.

Then Ali caught up to me grabbing me by the back of my shirt, he picked me up into the air and tossed me back to the ground. Ali created created heavy chains out of thin air and wrapped them around my legs with his magic.

I started to say "I wish-" when Ali waved his hand and then I was unable speak anymore.

I tried to scurry away but I tripped over something and fell on to my back.

"Don't worry" Ali coldly told me " I will give you a quick death."

I couldn't help thinking about the snake that had been wrapped around me once, and how I was once again staring at something was probably going to kill me. The djinn held the sword above my head and swung it straight at me, unlike the snake this time I did not stay still, at the last second I moved to the side. I landed on my stomach and I thought the he would try again so I was a little surprise that he didn't try again right away. I managed to turn around to see that what I tripped on was Ali's lamp and that Ali himself had sliced the lamp in half in attempt to kill me. The lamp shook like a broken washing machine, then it exploded. The blast sent me and the djinn backwards, I almost fell off the edge of the chunk of ground we were on. Where the lamp was there was now was a ball of bright blue embers, they began to swirl around the air like they were dancing. I looked over at Ali and he looked terrified.

Ali only managed to whisper a "No."

The embers as if they were alive turned direction and headed straight for the djinn and encircled him.

"No,no, you can't do this." Ali shouted "I was so close. No!"

The embers headed straight into the Ali as they touched him he burst into bright blue flames. As he screamed his entire body was engulfed in lames and with that he burned away into nothingness. I was terrified to the point that I couldn't speak or even yell. A few embers remained and floated towards me. For a second I thought they were going to do the same to me. As those few remaining embers swirled around me they seemed to hum a beautiful song, as the song finished so did the embers.

As the embers vanished I could swear I could hear, "Thank You"

There was a burst of bright white light and everything that Ali did was undone. The room returned to normal and the brothers were changed back normal even Alan. Alan and I lost all that Ali gave us, which was in my opinion really sad. As far as we could figure when the lamp was destroyed so was Ali and with him gone all that he did undid itself. George suggested that the lamp was at least symbolically attached to his contract and with it gone there was repercussions. We were a little shock up but considering how things went we were fine except for George who was out of it finding out that magic was real but he snapped back. Even though the djinn had tried to kill me I couldn't help feeling a little sad for him and where his greed had led him. The real surprise that came from this was that when I inspected the spot were the lamp was I found the ring. The ring that had been on the lamp the whole time managed to survived the explosion, even though it was singed and even though reason told me I should get rid of it something deep inside told me that it was something I needed to keep