Disclaimer: X-Factor Investigations belongs to Marvel Comics, its creators and writers etc. The are not mine.
"The Power of Three Wishes"
Jamie used to think that estate sales only appealed to a certain segment of the population; namely females but then the might just be his own mind-set at work because such an event might attract men, too. And who was he to quibble over that, anyway?
The big house was one of those old brick and mortar brownstones that were popular back in the heyday of New York back when expos seemed to happen on a weekly basis.
He would not even have considered going along if the owner of the old house had not been murdered under mysterious circumstances. Of course, in their line of work, this type of case usually fell into the category of the level of how mysterious it really was.
Otherwise this case could just as well have been left to the authorities.
However, just the other day a woman named Sybil Preston, daughter of the woman who had run the household staff, had come to their office frantic and insistent that ‘something’ was out to get her boss; his perspective on the case had altered.
He and Terry had managed to acquire the report from the New York PD and the coroner’s office, saying that the deceased had seemingly died in his office, strangled but with no markings on his body. The man, Roger Burkhart had been a wealthy entrepreneur and philanthropist, but with no wife and no children. The bulk of his estate was now being put up for sale by the bank.
In the back of his mind Jamie thought ‘The only reason we’re involved is because the cops have no leads, nor do they have a motive.’
Seemingly reading his thoughts, although while she was capable of doing so M normally made it a practice to stay out of her friends and teammates minds, said. “It is entirely possible that they motive may have been as simple as someone after him for his money.”
“That’s too easy,” Jamie replied. ”Besides that woman who worked for Burkhart who came to us and insisted that we look into the murder of her boss, was not faking that something had been out to get him.”
Monet and Layla exchanged significant glances and looked to where Layla stood with her neck craned up and up at the star-sprinkled sky overhead. “If you would care to remember the axiom of the renowned Sherlock Holmes, ‘then you would know that once you have eliminated all the probable causes….”
“We know, we know. “ Terry sighed. “Whatever remains, however, improbable, must be the truth.”
Monet tossed her head back. “I get it, really I do.”
At that moment Longshot arrived his blond hair slight disheveled and the lines of his smooth brown creased into lines of puzzlement. In his hands he carried a battered old oil lamp that had obviously seen better days.
Its handle was carved with delicate scroll-work in a language that Jamie did not recognize.
“What did you find?” he asked.
“That’s just it,” replied Longshot with a sigh. “When I first attempted to get a read off of this item, all I got for my efforts was a headache. So I tried again, this time the read was stronger but it was as if too magnetic fields were pressing against one another.”
“It was as if the secondary one was there to resist my effort to push past it,” Longshot replied.
“Have the others found anything else inside the house?” Monet asked.
“I haven’t checked yet, “ Jamie replied as he reached into the pockets of his coat and pulled out his cell-phone.
After a few beeps Rictor picked up on his end of the line. “Anything, Ric?”
Muffled by distance and a little bit of static Rictor replied. “This place is like a museum, a collector’s dream, but other than that and the fact that the police have the room where the guy, uh, suffered his untimely demise, no, nothing really.”
“Put Star on the line,” Jamie said.
“Madrox,” Shatterstar said. “If you wish to inquire about the status of our investigation, the answer, I am afraid, is still in the negative.
“All right, you guys come out of there and we’ll head back.”
“Copy,” Shatterstar replied and then hit the end call button on the phone.
Jamie said to Longshot, “So far that’s our only lead and if it’s giving off some kind of vibe that’s blocking your power, then it might be our only lead. Bring it with you and we’ll take another look at it.”
Back at the office Rictor decided he’d use the computer to trace the origin of the oil lamp and see if he could find the make or manufacturer. Monet who had waited until he was on-line took it upon herself to examine the scroll-work carved along its handle. “It’s Arabic. We’re talking really old-fashioned Arabic.”
“What does it say,” Rictor asked.
“My Arabic is rusty, “Monet admitted with a shrug and a smile moue curving the lines of her ruby-painted lips, “however, with that said, as near as I can make it out. “Be careful what you wish for.”
“Madre de Dios!” Rictor exclaimed. “You have gotta be kidding me!”
“There’s more to it than that, It also says that if one does not heed the warning or thinks to find a loophole in the deal,” Monet squinted at the tiny characters in order to see them better and then raised the oil lamp up to the light hanging from the ceiling, “Dire things shall surely come upon thee.”:
“What kind of dire things?” Rictor asked in spite of himself.
“Well, we know that Burkhart is dead, “ Monet replied acerbically. “That seems pretty dire to me.”
“Okay, okay,” Rictor said. “You got me there. We should tell Madrox.”
“Tell me what?”
“That I’ve found a warning on the lamp, “Monet said as Jamie came into the office and straddled the chair of his desk. “It’s essentially along the lines of a caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware. Or in this case, the collector.”
“Lovely, “ Jamie replied, “So where does that leave us.”
Layla came in and said. “Don’t open it. I’ve had the chance to talk over that energy block that Longshot said he experienced earlier and what Monet discovered only confirmed my initial theory.”
“Which is?" Jamie prompted. In the back of his mind he thought, ‘I love her but one can only take enigmatic girl so long before you gotta push a little.’
“The lamp is much like the one in the old tales of Aladdin.”
“No effing way,” Rictor scoffed.
“I’m afraid so. If we or anyone else were to rub or attempt to open we’d end releasing the genii inside.”
“Who knows, maybe it’s the friendly kind of genie who will grant us three wished.” Monet mused.
“Yeah, but maybe,” Rictor remarked. “It certainly didn’t do that old guy any good.”
“It’s entirely possible he violated the terms of the contract, “Layla replied.
“Could be, could be,” Jamie remarked thoughtfully as he rocked back and forth in his chair, for a moment unmindful of his precarious perch as he thought the matter over. “But where does that leave us. From what both Layla and Monet have said, I’m not inclined to go tampering with this thing, genie or no genie.”
At that moment the lamp began to vibrate on its own as whatever motive forces controlled it sensed that it was under discussion. It rattled on the table, hopped and skipped a few paces and then tipped over onto the floor even as those gathered in the room watched.
“What the hell?”
“Quick, grab a blanket or something and smother it,” Layla shouted.
Before anyone could act on her advice, the lid jolted off and a cloud of greyish silver smoke wafted from the lamp, growing in size with each passing minute.
“It’s a little late for that, Layla,” Monet said under her breath.
The cloud grew in size until it was about four feet tall, but broad as a barrel along its width. The genie, if that was truly what it was, not quite solid executed a bow from its waist and a hand to its forehead.
“Greetings, gentle beings, I am Ozge the Genie, how may I be of service to you this fine day?”
“Somehow I was expecting, oh I don’t know something a little more dramatic. I mean, if this guy was responsible for Burkhart’s death, why would offer anyone else the same deal.”
Ozge scowled. “I was in the lamp, enjoying a mild repast of figs and honey cakes and I could not help overhearing your debate.”
“Great, great, just great,” Jamie sighed. “You do realize that under the circumstances you are the only suspect in an unsolved homicide.”
“Oh, that. As the young lady, “ Ozge pointed over at Layla,” has discerned Burkhart violated the terms of the contract.”
“How so,” Jamie asked.
“He got greedy.”
“You mean he wanted more than the allotted three wishes?”
“Yes,” However, for the price of securing my freedom from this lamp, I could offer you the same deal.”
“Thanks, but not thanks,” Jamie replied. “I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.”
“I assure you, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“Yeah, that’s just thing, that’s what I’m afraid of,” Jamie replied.
“I agree,” Rictor said. “I mean, what’s the power of a wish worth anyway?”
“Quite a lot young man,” Ozge replied with a shrewd glance in Rictor’s general direction. “And besides aren’t you a bit young to be so cynical?”
“Oh, piss off!” Rictor exclaimed.
“Yes, well, do I have any other takers? The genie spread out his arms in a wide expansive gesture, “How about that nice young man who attempted to see inside of my dwelling place?”
“Longshot. No way, although I can’t speak for him, I am reasonably certain that he would not go for it.” Jamie said. “So, no deal. But the problem remains of what we do with him.”
“We could ship him back to the Orient.” Monet stated quietly “The lamp can’t weigh more than seven, eight pounds at the max.”
Ozge stared aghast at her. “You would ship over-seas?”
“All right, let’s got down to the nitty-gritty, Mr. Anselm, you admitted to being complicit in the death of Mr. Burkhart, that’ a confession right there. I don’t know if we can just let you off.”
“The laws of the temporal world do not apply to such as me.”
“We try to turn you over to the authorities, or lock you up and you just what, poof, in a puff of smoke, or what?”
“Something like that.” Anselm replied.
“I guess our part of the investigation is over, but how do we tell that to Miss Preston?” Monet asked.
“In our usual roundabout way,” Jamie sighed and then jolted to his feet nearly upsetting himself in the process and stalked over to where Ozge stood and locked his gaze with that of the genie and grabbed his chin.
“Let me make this perfectly clear, because I don’t want any misunderstandings later,” Jamie stated. “The deal is you leave town, in whichever manner, shape or form you want, but you leave us and that nice young lady alone!”
Ozge seemed a bit taken aback at being thus addressed but managed to nod. “Yes, yes, I understand. We have ourselves a deal, but no wishes, for any of your team? Not even one?”
“No wishes,” those gathered in the office said almost simultaneously.
“Then I shall bid you a fond farewell.” And with that the genie Ozge disappeared in a puff of smoke and the last any of them saw of him was a gossamer-thin hand reaching out of the ether to grasp his battered oil-lamp by the handles and then disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared.
“That was weird, well, weird is relative around here,” Jamie remarked to no one in particular.
“I’m just glad it’s over,” Rictor replied.
“Agreed,” Monet seconded.