"A Cartoon Story"
by John Pirillo
"Stuff it!" Johnnie told the Genie hovering over Aladdin's lamp. "I am not going to build you a duplex inside that ugly thing."
The Genie waxed his long mustaches with wet fingers he had just dipped in wax and gave Johnnie a loathsome smile. "It's the deal. Either you build me the duplex, or I vanish your girlfriends for the next thousand years!"
"You can't do that!" He screamed at the ugly being who pretended to be a nice man. "You're friggin' crazy!"
"No. I am just...me."
The Genie vanished into his ugly lamp and it shook around a bit.
Cartoon glanced at Johnnie, where he stood in the antiquities store, still stunned by what had happened. "You can't let him do that to Koomay and Laurie."
"I won't, but I just don't get it. I never touched any comic book with a genie in it. Never. Not in this life or any other!" He exclaimed angrily, his face flushed with anger.
"Maybe." Cartoon said soothingly. "But are you absolutely certain?"
Johnnie gave her a scrutinizing look. "You're up to something."
"Always." She said with the glint of a smile on her lips.
"From the day you tricked me in to rescuing you as a young girl in that high rise fire, you've been manipulating me."
He started to explode again, and then caught himself. "Okay. Mostly for the better, but you've never once....once explained the rules of this power I've been given."
Cartoon picked up the lamp.
"Ouch! Don't be so rough!" The Genie cried out from inside.
The Shop Owner glanced over at the two arguing, and then came over. "Is there a problem?"
He said it to Cartoon, thinking that Johnnie was abusing her. He hated abusive people. His father had been abusive to his mother and he was ready to knock anyone down if they even hinted at such. He stood over Johnnie by a good foot. He was an extremely tall man, and there was something oddly familiar about him, though he couldn't place it at the time.
"No problem. We'll take this lamp. Just a bit of a disagreement as to...how." She said with an amused look on her face.
Johnnie was stewing with anger at the way he was being manipulated, but inside of himself he knew it wasn't what it appeared to be. It never was. He just hated always being on the wrong end of the eight ball.
"Yeah. How much?"
The Shop Owner gave him a blank look.
"I said we'd take it." Johnnie said again, starting to lose his temper. He really needed to learn how to meditate. The stress was starting to really scramble his brain and his temperament.
"Take what, sir?"
Johnnie gestured to the lamp in Cartoon's hand. The Shop Owner looked that way. "She does have lovely hands, but you don't need my permission to take them."
He laughed, thinking his joke was quite amusing.
Johnnie slouched on the sofa, his brains scrambling to figure out what had just happened in that old store. He could clearly see the lamp. It would shake every once in awhile on the coffee table and he could even hear the Genie taking a shower. Taking a shower! Of all the ungodly things to do inside a lamp.
"I can't build a duplex." Johnnie muttered angrily to himself.
He felt a pair of arms slip around his neck, and Cartoon nuzzles his right ear. "Sure you can."
She came around and sat next to him, sliding against his right shoulder with the warmth of her glowing body. She usually dimmed the glow in public, otherwise people would wise up, or be extremely frightened, but sometimes she'd let it all hang out, like when they were battling zombies, werewolves and vampires.
"What's really eating you?" She asked finally, after giving him a chance to say it for himself.
He slowly turned to look into her eyes. "Rules."
"You're stubborn, Johnnie. You know that, don't you?"
She smiled. "When I need to be."
"Rules!" He asked again, more firmly.
She got up and began pacing the small living room. "When you saved me, you allowed your genetics to blend with my own, with my universe. All the laws that is true there are now latent within you."
"You mean you can turn into any cartoon character you want?" He asked, a bit surprised at her answer.
"No." She answered sadly. "For some reason it only works one direction. You can become us, but we can never become you."
"Why do you think that is?"
"Our ancestors when they first slipped into that universe were like yours. Desperate and hunted by creatures from your worst nightmares."
"Very." She answered. "We figured out a way to open a doorway between the universes. At first we were frightened when our bodies became light bodies, but then we got used to it. And as we did, we learned to blend with the other cartoon beings that dwelled within the realms."
"Superman, Batman, Daffy Duck...?"
She laughed. "No, silly. Those are your creations. Not ours. The cartoon world has rules just like your own and those who lived there before us were a kind and loving race. They never knew violence or despair. They welcomed us with open arms and hearts."
Johnnie held a hand up. "So how come every time I draw upon your world's energies everything gets so..."
"Screwed up?" She answered with a giggle.
"Yeah that too."
She gave him a somber look, her eyes piercing his own with a stare he hadn't seen before. For a moment he felt like he stood on the precipice of Eternity, everything gone around him, but the vastness of the Universe, and then that strange feeling vanished, replaced by the warmth and security of her closeness and her voice.
"We don't control Creation, anymore than you here of Earth can. Its rules align with a Higher Source."
Johnnie rolled his eyes, but accepted her words for the moment, until he could consider the better. "Well, time to get to work, I guess."
He stood up and headed for the front door.
He turned back. His face lit up. "Oh, my God! I know why I recognized that Shop Owner. He's the same man who I met as a child when my parents went shopping in his store. At the time I didn't think anything of the illustrated book he pressed into my hands. When my parents weren't listening he said. I can still hear them as clear as day, someday this will be important to you. Remember that."
At that given moment the magic lamp began to shake and smoke. Cartoon stood up and hurriedly backed away from it. Johnnie put an arm around her shoulders.
"I remember now, Cartoon. I remember."
The Genie hissed out of the lantern in a huge cloud of magical dust, each fist clenching a gigantic scimitar. "Prepare for battle!"
Johnnie turned to Cartoon. "Ain't it always the same? Teen finds cartoon, cartoon finds boy, everything becomes all crazy and there's battles and cries of despair and the hero has to save the day."
Cartoon laughed. "Come on, Hero. Afraid of a little adventure?"
"Not this time." Johnnie said, waving a hand. A gigantic scimitar shone in his left fist. His clothing turned into silk garments with a bow over his right shoulder and a loop of rope at his waist, caught in a red sash.
"Lead on, Genie!"
The Genie gave Johnnie a fierce look. "You will build my duplex!"
"Okay. Okay. If you say so. So what's the problem?"
At that same moment the front door vanished and they were staring into another world where giant demons were storming a palace. Civilians were screaming and running for their lives.
"Gotcha!" Johnnie said, and then he and Cartoon ran through the door opening and vanished into the world of the Genie.
The Genie roared behind them, and charged through like a gigantic diesel engine truck blasting its horn. It soared past Johnnie and lit into the first swarm of giant demons. "For Baghdad and the Nile! It cried.
"Ah, that's so corny!" Johnnie sighed as he and Cartoon rushed the same swarm.
Cartoon didn't have time to answer, because Johnnie had to hack at a giant demon that was about to clobber them with a mace the size of a small SUV.
Such was the life of a Comic Book Commando!