Human beings are simple, mostly. When we walk into a crowd of people, we usually never take the time to differentiate an individual from the herd. This is not our fault, for perhaps some people simply cannot be segmented away from the seas of people that push by you every day. But while you’re wading through that lifelong sea, perhaps someone will catch your eye: a beautiful woman or maybe someone dressed funny. You notice physical differences. You likely never notice mental differences.

Jackson was one of these mental abnormalities, though it was unlikely you would ever notice. No one had ever noticed, and you aren’t special enough to have noticed. Even if by some off-chance you, the reader, were special, you probably would never give Jackson a second look. Jackson was a simpleton, and thus everyone he knew simply called him Jax. It had always been this way and Jax had never thought to ponder why he only earned one syllable from his peers, despite being assigned two at birth. Of course, he hadn’t thought to ponder; one-syllable people hardly ever stop to wonder about anything. So what was it that made Jax a ripple in a still sea? Well, Jax had a thick skull. This of course makes sense as his brain size was nothing to write home about. But nevertheless, he sought superiority, to be more than his peers. He fancied himself a cut above the rest. This special arrogance is the kind you would see in a boy who gives sarcastic quips when the teacher asks the class a question, and, predictably, Jax had been that way during his youth.

Now, Jax drove his average car to his average job where he made an average wage, and he did so with a stiff upper lip. Jax knew that any day now, he would have that miraculous idea that would rocket him into a world of fame and fortune. He knew something big was coming for him because he was such a unique and important man. And despite how hard the universe tried to push Jax into irrelevancy, no matter how poor the hand he was dealt was, Jax would not allow it. He kept on pushing. You see, something broke Jax from his trance of normalcy that day during that drive to work. It was a new building on the side of the road. Amongst the standard and boring grocery shops and fast food chains he saw everyday and yet never noticed stood a new building. He had never seen it before, but he had never looked for it before, either. It was a small antiques shop with a sign on top that read “Cheap Magical Historical Treasures!”

It must’ve always been there, Jax thought to himself in that moment, but this didn’t stop the notion from nagging him throughout his workday. He sat there in his cubicle and he wondered how he could’ve possibly missed that building before. After all, it was made of wood! The rest of them were made of stone! Surely he would’ve noticed it before; it must be new, he concluded. And so, on his drive home from his average job, Jax would stop in that store and pick out a genie lamp. There was an assortment of items, from fine jewels to trinkets and bones Jax couldn’t identify. There was also a genie lamp. Of course, he picked the genie lamp. Everyone recognizes a genie lamp when they see one. It was cheap, too.

“Do you know how to work that thing?” the man behind the counter asked after he purchased the shiny golden lamp.

“Of course I do! What am I, an imbecile?” Jax barked at the man, already on his way out of the store. The man did, in fact, think just that.

Jax had seen the movies, and he wanted his three wishes. He had his doubts that the lamp would work, of course, but he thought why not give it a shot? If anything, it would look nice on the bookshelf full of books he hadn’t gotten around to reading. He took the lamp inside and rubbed it without hesitation. And a genie certainly did appear. It was everything Jax had expected: a blue-grey cloud of billowing smoke that took the form of a muscular man’s head and torso. The genie wore golden robes and his skin was a dull blue. He was bald and held a golden balance in one hand and a curved sword in the other. Jax gleamed with excitement at the sight of the genie and immediately began to speak.

“For my first wish, I would like infinite money! For my second, infinite fame! Then finally, I would like to be devilishly—“

Jax was cut off by the genie’s deep and uproarious laughter, the kind of laughter that fills every inch of the room and invades your skull, making you wonder what could have possible been so funny. Jax did not wonder about anything, but immediately took offense to the genie’s egregious laughter.

“Dammit! What’s so funny, blue man?” Jax questioned.

“All you humans are the same,” the genie boomed, a mischievous smile creeping across his face. “You all think you get three wishes! Tell me, where on Earth did you get that idea?”

Jax didn’t hesitate, his agitation growing, perhaps this was why the lamp was so cheap. “Everyone knows you get three wishes! Now I freed you, so I think I should get some kind of reward!”

The genie just laughed again. “Freed me? What a childish idea.” The genies smile faded and he looked at Jax. “I’ll grant you a wish, but only if you answer my riddle correctly.” A hint of mischief remained in the genie’s eyes as he paused for a moment before continuing. “However, if you answer wrong, I’ll turn you into a woollyback.”

It was at the use of the word “woollyback” that Jax noticed the genie’s accent. He couldn’t place it, but he didn’t know what a woollyback was, so it stood out to him. Probably something foreign. Of course, he didn’t need to ask, as he had the utmost confidence in his ability to answer the genie’s riddle correctly.

“Yes, fine,” Jax said, standing tall. He, of course, planned to wish for infinite wishes; a brilliant idea, if he did say so himself.

The genie smiled. “All right, then,” he said, “I am going to list a number of traits and then ask ‘What am I?’ If you can correctly identify what I am, I will grant you your wish. Do you understand?”

Jax nodded.

“Good,” the genie smiled again and began his riddle: “I crash against the wall but the wall doesn’t budge. I have infinite knowledge and yet know nothing. I climb and I climb but I get no higher. I advance towards the end without ever moving. What am I?”

Jax couldn’t hide his excitement. He beamed. The gleam in his eyes visibly upset the genie. The notion that Jax could’ve possibly figured out the riddle already bewildered the genie, but the look in his eyes was so confident and full of glee that it seemed he must have the answer.

“What are you…” Jax begun. This time, he was the one wearing the smile.

“Yes, what am I? Do you know it or not?” The genie’s agitation grew with his anticipation of Jax’s answer.

“Well…” said Jax, enjoying every second of the genie’s frustration.

“WELL, WHAT?!? WHAT AM I?!?” the genie boomed.

“YOU’RE A FAGGOT FOR NOT GIVING ME MY THREE WISHES!!!” Jackson responded in a moment of pure ecstasy.

The genie roared in anger and raised the balance in his hand. A blue-grey cloud of smoke once more enveloped the room, and when it had cleared, there was nothing left, nothing except for a sheep, grinning as much as a sheep could.