The lamp seemed to sort of twitch in my hands, like it was alive, or like there was something alive inside it. Then a wisp of smoke curled out of the spout, and then the wisp grew into a great big massive column of black smoke. Then the column kind of formed and solidified into the shape of a great big massive enormous genie.
At this point, you must be thinking, Yeah, right. And I don't blame you. Cause that's what I thought, too. A genie. Yeah, right. I mean, reality check, or what? I've never believed in crap like that. There's kids at my school who'll swallow anything - like they believe in ghosts and horoscopes and UFOs and alien abductions and men in black and the Illuminati and God knows what else, anything as long as it's weird. But I've never been like that. I just believe in stuff you can prove, stuff you can see. But the trouble was, I could see this genie. I didn't wanna believe it, but I couldn't deny it - he was there, hanging in the air in front of me, with his feet a couple of inches off the floor and his turban brushing the ceiling, lit up in the torch beam from my phone. He was wearing baggy trousers of purple silk and those kinda Turkish shoes that curl up at the ends. His moustache curled up at the ends, too. His chest was bare and brown with an impressive set of pecs. Like, he was built. Ripped. You wouldn't wanna get in a fight with him. Steve Renwick wouldn't have stood a chance. No one would. You wouldn't bet on the Incredible Hulk with Iron Man and the Mighty Thor backing him up against this guy.
So, the genie was like, 'I am the genie of the lamp!'
I was like, 'Right.' Then I go, 'You speak very good English.' This was a moronic thing to say, I know, but I was pretty much in a state of severe shock.
'I speak all languages. You have released me from the lamp. What is your wish?'
'Er - wish? Wodjer mean, wish?'
'Your wish is my command.'
… So then I started to think. I knew I had to be careful. In stories, people always blow it. Give them a wish and they waste it. They wish for the first thing that comes into their head, like a sausage sandwich or something. Or they wish for something that sounds good but turns out to have a catch, cause they haven't really thought it through, like they wish to live forever but forget to say anything about not getting old. I didn't wanna get caught out. I wanted to get it right.
OK, so this was probably all a hallucination anyway. But spose, just spose it was real? What would I wish for then? Natalie, obviously. But then, I was still gonna get beaten up by Renwick on Monday. I needed a wish to take care of that. It was a pity I didn't have two. And then, there was my GCSEs. It was too bad I didn't have a spare wish so I could get 10 A-stars without doing any work. Really, I needed three wishes. At least. Cause I'd have liked to wish that my Mum and Dad would get on better. And I'd have liked to wish I was brilliant at football. And while I was at it, I'd have liked to wish for some money, say a million squid. Or say ten million, why not?
Well, OK, spose I wished for more wishes? Would that be allowed? Spose I wished for a million wishes? It was worth a try.
'I wish for -'
Then I stopped.
A million wishes seemed plenty. But I knew from the stories that there's always catches in the wishing game. There was this story we did in English with Miss Rogers in Year 8, 'The Monkey's Paw', about this old couple and they've got this magic monkey's paw that gives three wishes. So, the first thing they wish for is two hundred squid, and they get it, but only as compensation, cause their son's got mangled up and killed in the machinery at the factory where he works. So then the woman wishes their son was alive again. And the next thing they hear is this kind of ghastly slithering sound coming up the path, and they realise he's come back to life but he's still all mangled up from the machinery. So then they've got to use the last wish to make him peacefully dead again.
You get the point. The first wish goes wrong and you need another wish to put it right, then that wish goes wrong, so you need another one to put that one right, and so it goes until you run out of wishes. OK, it didn't seem likely that a million wishes would run out before I'd got everything I wanted. But why take a chance? I remembered Delaney in maths going on about infinity. Why not have an infinite number of wishes?
So I was like, 'I wish for an infinite number of wishes.'
The genie looked a bit surprised. He frowned at me. 'Infinite?'
I go, 'Yeah. Is that OK? Can you do it?'
He was like, 'Of course I can do it!' A bit snappy. 'I can grant any wish, provided it's not logically contradictory.'
I wasn't too sure what he meant by this, so I let it go. I was like, 'Well, that's what I want. An infinite number of wishes.'
'Are you sure that is what you want? No one has ever asked for an infinite number of wishes before.'
'Maybe no one's ever really thought it through like me.'
I just didn't see how I could go wrong. Not with an infinite number of wishes.
'Very well,' goes the genie. 'The wishes are yours. To make a wish, simply utter it aloud.'
And then he starts to go kinda fuzzy at the edges. He turns back into a cloud of black smoke. The cloud gets smaller and disappears into the spout of the lamp. And there I am, standing in the attic on my own, wondering if it was all a dream. Or maybe I'd gone crazy. Turned into a nutcase. A loony. Barking mad. Completely insane. Let me out of this padded cell or I'll set my genie on you.
Well, there was a simple way to find out.
So I go, 'I wish for a sausage sandwich.'
And the next second, there it was. Hot in my hand. I bit into it. White bread, succulent sausage, with onions and ketchup and mustard in, just how I like it.
So, with my mouth still full, I was like, 'I wish Natalie Forbes was madly in love with me.'
Right away, my phone went off.