The Genie and the Mouse

Looking back on it, it seems a little strange to make up a fictional character like that, but it didn't at the time. Anthia and I had enjoyed getting to know each other, and we had enjoyed the tension of not knowing where our friendship would go. We talked about it, and we seemed to agree that this would be a friendship but not a romance. At least intellectually I entered into the agreement, but I suppose I didn't want to completely let go of that delightful tension quite so soon. Looking back, I realise that my behaviour was that of a man who was not completely resigned to the ruling. Otherwise, my conversation would not have returned several times to the fictional "superior man". This was a man who was like me, but was different in one key respect: he had the power to seduce Anthia.

He became a point of reference, and seemed to intrude into the conversation often. Instead of saying "Excuse me" if I inadvertantly blocked Anthia's path, I would say "Ah! The superior man wouldn't have done that!" It was silly really, but no harm.

It was a nice time. It must have been round about that time when I had the strange dream.

I awoke with a start. There was a noise in the room coming from near the foot of the bed. I turned on the light to find a Genie standing at the end of my bed. "Do not be startled", he said. "I am the Omniscient Genie. I have a couple of people in this district that I am to grant a wish to. I have come to you first. You may make one wish and it will be granted."

I had to think quickly. You hear so many stories about people who are granted a wish and then get it wrong in some way. What should I wish for? For money? No. That would be a waste of a wish. Surely I could be cleverer than that. "Well, if you are an omniscient Genie, you will know about the conversation that Anthia and I had about the 'Superior Man'".

"I know about that." said the Genie, and spoke about it a little, so I knew he was omniscient.

My choice of wish was obvious. "My wish is, that you grant me the attributes of that Superior Man."

The trouble is, said the Genie, that in that conversation, you and Anthia did not specify the Superior Man fully."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

The Genie seemed to enjoy the detail of the explanation. "You and Anthia only thought about a very limited scope of things. That part is easy. It only requires a reprogramming of your grey matter. A mere trifle. If you want to be a Superior Man though, perhaps you should think about being superior in other ways as well."

"Such as?" I asked.

"For a start" (The Genie was really getting into his stride now. I could see that he enjoyed the creative aspects of his work) ... "for a start if you want to be a Superior Man, perhaps you should be superior physically."

"How?" I asked.

"A little taller." The Genie looked at me with a critical eye. "A superior man would not have stepped in front of a car and lost some of his femur all those years ago. A full head of hair goes without saying. Your hair used to be fair. No need to change that. No need for your beard to have gone grey. We could replace that fat stomach with a rippling muscular flat one. A bit more muscle in the arms and legs.... You know... that sort of thing."

"So these are the physical changes that you think should go with the specified superior man attributes?"

The Genie was very firm. "I think you should select these changes. I advise you very strongly to select these changes."

This Genie was talking radical changes! This required serious thought. If I took up the Genie's ideas, I would look completely different. My friends, my family ... they wouldn't know me. I quickly realized that I didn't want the physical changes that the Genie was suggesting.

"No. Don't change me physically. Just do the changes to my grey matter that you say are required so that I will become the 'Superior Man' as described in my discussion with Anthia."

"Are you sure about this?" asked the Genie. I told him that I was.

"Just remember, you specified it!" he quipped. There was a bright flash with associated smoke such as you see when a photographer uses an old fashioned magnesium flash in an old movie. The Genie strode out of the room and I heard the front door open and then slam shut. I remember thinking that I expected the Genie to just vapourize, or walk through the wall. I didn't expect him to have to use the door.

I got out of bed in a hurry. I didn't feel any different, but I was confident that I was now a Superior Man. Looking back on it, I think that the confidence was a large part of it. I dressed quickly, locked the house and jumped into the car. I resolved to put this superiority to the test immediately. I drove around to Anthia's place as quickly as I could. Just as I approached her house, I was unnerved to see the form of a large man stepping out from the shadows. It was the Genie! What was he doing here? Somehow I was so preoccupied by this unexpected sight that I drove past the driveway. I stopped the car about thirty metres down the road. I was just about to get out of the car when another car pulled up right behind me. I got out of the car, and discovered that the other car was a white Subaru just like mine. When the headlights were extinguished, I could see better. The number plate was the same as mine! The driver's door opened and a tall man stepped out. He had a thick crop of fair hair, and a beard just like mine. The street light is bright there, and I could see him well. His beard was a ginger colour with no grey in it. He was bigger than me, and looked very fit and trim. He didn't seem to notice me at all, but turned and strode up the footpath with perfectly symmetrical strides.

I couldn't match his pace, but I set out up the footpath towards Anthia's place. When the man reached the little gate, he leaped over it into Anthia's front yard. He strode up to the house, leaped up the steps to the porch. As he approached the front door, it was opened for him from the inside as if he were expected. He stepped inside, and the door closed.

I awoke with a start. There was a noise in the room coming from near the foot of the bed. I switched on the light, and a mouse scampered into the wardrobe.