Pt. 1 - The Lamp

Plano, Texas- Year 2017

The sun was setting as she made her way home. The streetlamps began to flicker on as the darkness slowly set in and her heart began to pound more quickly. It got dark fast there in the city. Soon, the only light came from the white-blue light streetlamps spread along the side of the road, and the only noises were the slapping of her sneakers on the pavement and the distant sirens and barking dogs that were the nightly melody that she had grown up with yet had never grown accustomed to. Suddenly, the trail of light ended and she froze. A busted transformer had left an entire block of lights out, and so ahead of her stretched what seemed like an endless darkness. She shivered in the humid air, a fear rising up in her. She wasn't scared of the dark, but of the things that her imagination told her hid in it. Taking a shaking breath, she stepped out from her refuge under the streetlamp and hurried along in a strait line toward the distant dot of light. With each step, she imagined some unseen predator watching her. In her mind's eye, she saw the horrible, twisted faces of the tormented, wide bulging eyes staring, hands grabbing at her ankles- she screamed as she toppled to the hard ground, scraping her elbows and kicking at her unknown captor- a metallic clinking was heard as something skid across the pavement.

"Huh?!"

It was just a- what WAS it, she wondered. Crawling across the ground, she felt out with her hands in every direction until she found the object and held it up to her face. She couldn't see it. She considered just throwing it back on the ground, but decided that she wanted to know what it was. Curiosity stronger than fear now, she made her way to the light...

...

She was now home and in her room. The object, she had discovered, had been a beat-up, foul-smelling lava-lamp. She figured that it must have been around thirty years old- from the seventies. Her mother had told her to throw it away, but she could not bring herself to. It was actually kind of cool to have found it, and she thought that it would have been a shame to throw it away after it had lasted this long. Though her mom had already gone to bed and her father hadn't yet returned from work, she remained awake, staring at it on her dresser.

"What's you're story?" she asked it in wonder. After a few moments, she sighed. "I really need to get you cleaned up if I'm going to keep you," she said, rising heavily from her bed and picking it up. She took it to the bathroom and flipped on the light. Taking soap and a washcloth from the pantry, she set the lamp in the sink and let warm water run over it for a moment, then, lathering soap onto the washcloth, began to scrub...

She dropped the the washcloth and lamp in shock into and fell back against the wall as a magenta smoke rose from the top of the lamp. She stood staring, mouth agape, as the smoke became thicker and thicker, then a figure rose from it.

"Wha- Who-??" She broke off.

"Haha! I'm out!" it shouted, its back to her. It was a man!

"Amanda...?" her mother called sleepily from her bedroom, "are you okay?"

The figure jumped at the noise, spinning toward the door. She noticed with shock that he had no legs, but instead hovered in midair.

In a state of shock, she replied shakily, "Y-yeah, mom." She trembled against the wall. Whatever this guy was, she wasn't about to put her mother in danger.

The man turned to her, his eyebrows raised, and smiled his pearly-white teeth at her. He was very good-looking. "Amanda, is it?" he asked.

She nodded mutely, glancing at the door and hoping her mother wouldn't wake up again, though she probably wouldn't. She was a pretty heavy sleeper.

"Well, Amanda, I am: Norm!" From nowhere, a giant neon sign reading "NORM" appeared in a puff of smoke, and the man raised his hands dramatically. "And you get three wishes!"

She blinked hard, then opened her eyes and stared at the strange scene.

For a few moments, he held his pose. She continued to stare, back still against the wall. He lowered his hands and frowned.

"Hello?" he said, snapping his fingers in front of her face. "Anybody home?"

"Wishes...?" she asked dazedly.

"Hey, you catch on quick!" he said, pointing at her. She knew he was being sarcastic.

She looked at him for a second, then to the lamp. An expression of realization came over her. "Okay... I'm going to... just... go to bed now..." She made her way dizzily toward the door, only to be blocked by Norm.

"What?! That's it?? Don't you have any stupid, pointless wishes you'd like to make?" he asked, his hands in the air again.

"Hallucinations don't grant wishes, Mr. Norm-the-hallucination. Especially hallucinations caused by left-over hippie drugs," she said matter-of-factly, pointing to the lamp.

"I get it," he said, smiling again. "You don't believe me. Try me, kid. Make a wish!"

"I don't believe you? Wow, you catch on quick!" she threw back. Then she sighed, turning away. "No thanks, hallucination. I don't believe in wishes, anyway." Then, she opened the door and walked out.

Norm followed. "Don't believe in wishes?! What're you, nuts?!"

She climbed into bed. "Judging by the way I just saw a genie pop out of a lava-lamp, I'd say so. Goodnight. Don't be here in the morning."