When Quasimodo found the old lamp in a junk bin in the bell tower, he didn’t think much of it. He had plenty of lanterns already, and he had daylight longer than anyone else in the city, being so high up. But looking at it in the fading light, he thought that he could maybe use it to make miniature bells. He had wooden ones already, but metal ones would look and sound more like his real ones.
But first he needed to polish it.
He’d started to rub it on his shirt when there was a loud bang, several showers of sparks, and a lot of smoke.
Also, a blue man.
That was important.
“Good grief!” said the blue man, apparently ignoring him and wide-eyed stare. “Do you know how long I’ve been in there? Yeah, couple hundred years isn’t so bad compared to a few thousand, but man, do you know what it does to your back? Seriously, now, look at this!” He showed Quasi a back much more crooked than his own – one that curved in and out like ripples in a pool of water. “Hold on a sec,” instructed the blue man, reaching backwards to grasp his heels. And then he was floating in the air, spinning in a circle like a wheel, and by the time he touched back down, his back perfectly straight, Quasi was staring at him, his mouth open in pure, unadulterated shock as he crossed himself over and over.
“Whatsa matter?” asked the man. “Honestly, you’d think you’d never seen a genie before!”
“A genie. You know, hocus pocus, three wishes, all your wildest dreams coming true?”
“N-n-no, I’ve never seen one before.” Something occurred to him. “You mean, like witchcraft?”
“Witches?” snorted the genie, assuming the appearance of a woman with a pointed hat. “Pal, witches try to be as good as me.”
“You’re not… you’re not a demon, then?”
“Naaaah. Sure, some people think I might be, but then, depends on the genie, doesn’t it? I knew this one guy-”
“Wait. You said three wishes. I get three wishes?”
“Well, sure, with a few provisos.”
“Provisos! Limits, limitations, things I cannot do! FOR EXAMPLE!” the genie turned into an executioner. “I can’t kill anybody! Also,” here he turned into another woman, with thick, black hair, “I can’t make anybody fall in love with anyone else! And,” he turned into a corpse, “No resurrections! Dead people are dead! And finally, you only get THREE wishes,” he said, splitting into three selves. “No more than that! No switching wishes, no extra wishes, and absolutely NO REFUNDS!”
“Indeed,” said the genie, looking a bit smug. “So, who am I working for? What’s your name, kid?”
“Q-Q-Quasimodo,” he said.
“So, Quasi – can I call you Quasi? – what’s your first wish?”
Quasi ran his fingers through his hair. He had an idea, but Frollo… “Gee, I don’t know. What would you wish for?”
The genie frowned. “Do you really wanna know?”
“Oh, yes, I would.”
The genie sighed. “What every genie wants, I guess. Freedom. Make my own decisions, fulfill my own wishes… that would be paradise. But it’s never gonna happen, so I might as well forget it.”
“’Cause the only way I get out is if my master – that’s you – wishes it so. And who wants to have only two wishes? No one, that’s who.” He sat – or rather, floated – in a disgusted heap on the floor.
Quasi sat down beside him. “I could wish you free. I really only have one wish.”
“That’s a first.”
“But if I wished it – he’d be so angry with me.”
“My master, Frollo.”
“Seems like I’m not the only one who’s trapped.”
“Oh, no!” said Quasi, rushing to defend his master. “He’s a very kind man. He’s taken care of me since I was a baby! He keeps me up here for my own protection. I’m a monster, you see.”
The genie frowned. “You’re a what?”
“I’m a monster. Look at me! I’m deformed, and ugly, and, and, and a monster.”
“Quasi, I’m looking at you and I don’t see anything monsterlike. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of monsters in this world. Thisis a monster,” he said as he changed into something with a lot of arms and teeth, “and Quasi, you most definitely are not one. Sure, you’re not a raging stud,” he changed to look like one of the new guardsmen, “but you are not a monster.”
“Is he the guy who told you that?”
“Then he’s stupid.”
This had never occurred to Quasi before. He’d had it drummed into him that he was different, that he was wretched, that no one but Frollo could ever love anyone so hideous and horrifying. Now here was a man – a blue man – claiming that not only were his greatest dreams within reach, but Frollo was wrong about him. And if Frollo was wrong about him, maybe... maybe he was wrong about the rest of the world, too.
In that moment, he almost turned back. He seriously considered taking the magical thing and turning it in to Frollo for exorcism. But then he heard the people below him. Here he was, spending his entire life watching instead of living, and now he was turning down his one chance at seeing what it would be truly like to live as one of them?
And he wouldn’t be gone that long. He’d just see the festival, maybe admire some of the sights or – God forbid! – see a gypsy caravan, and then he’d go back.
But he needed a way to prevent Frollo from recognizing him. And he knew just how to do that.
"Call me Genie, kid."
"Genie, can you make me attractive?”
Genie laughed. “Can I? Can I? The only question here, pal, is how much?”
“Oh, well, not that much. Just… I want to look normal.”
“Really?” asked Genie incredulously. “No rippling pectorals, no luscious locks, no frills, bells, or whistles?” Each statement was punctuated by more illusions.
Quasi shook his head. “Nope.”
Genie gave an exaggerated, long-suffering sigh. “Fine. One perfectly normal human coming right up!” He cracked his knuckles, wiggled his fingers, and blew a stream of sparks and smoke from his hands.