The Ability

The Ability

A Story by Pullin

A normal man discovers (quite by accident) that he has the ability to conjure up anything he wants and at any time. The story follows his experiences with 'The Ability', and the ethical issues surroun


I can’t exactly remember how old I was when I first discovered my ability; I only remember it as one of the uncategorical moments in the timeless film strip that makes up one’s memories of childhood. It’s one of those few memories one has that particularly stand out with photographic detail and rich colour. As far as I can work out, I must have been around 7 or 8 years old �" the time of year I can’t remember, not that it’s really necessary. Whether I had used the ability before yet been completely ignorant to it is up for discussion, but I certainly have no recollection of the ability before that day. Surely I would remember using it before, especially as one wishes and wants many things in the early years of their lives, so you would think I would have identified it before then. However, as I have no really early memories of the ability, I must conclude that it was on that miscellaneous day when I was around 7 or 8 that I was gifted with the power of instant demand and receival.

Whether the ability lay dormant in me for those first years of my life, or whether I gained or earned it for reasons unknown, I will never find out. What we have to do is remember that those details are relatively immaterial. The Ability is the only important thing.

Back to ‘The Miscellaneous Day’ though, I recall it vividly with exact detail and, although the phrase is greatly clichéd, I remember it almost as if it happened yesterday. It’s funny to think that such a potentially powerful ability was first discovered with something so mundane and frankly ridiculous. I was sitting down to dinner with my Mother, Father and two elder sisters �" we were having cold beef leftovers from the roast meal the previous day. I remember that the beige meat was incredibly dry, hard to chew and - most importantly - completely devoid of any credible flavour (hardly haute cuisine, but fine dining was an art seemingly lost in my family). After the first mouthful and the lengthy chewing process that commenced, I remember at that moment squeezing my eyes tightly shut, scrunching my tiny hands into fists and wishing more than anything else in the world that I had a bottle of tomato sauce at my junking. Suddenly, there in my hand was a chilled plastic bottle of said sauce, which had quite simply materialised out of thin air. I do not remember there being any sensation of the flavoursome condiment entering my hand; it just appeared without making an impression on any of my senses (especially not ‘Sight’, as I have already explained how my eyes were closed at the time). I took this unprecedented and unexpected occurrence with mild indifference, whereas an older person’s brain would have melted with sheer disbelief, I merely proceeded to open the lid and lather copious amounts of the tomato dressing onto my insipid meat. I don’t exactly remember what happened directly after the sudden appearance of the sauce bottle, but I am certain no one questioned its arrival. In fact, I’m sure nobody even noticed; the rest of my family were too busy chewing or hiding pieces of anaemic comestible to worry about a phantom bottle of red purée that had made its actualisation into my left metacarpus.

You are now probably wondering what the meaning of all this is. After all, why should I waste your time explaining about my frankly miraculous ability if it is apparently only limited to something as mundane as a container of creamy rouge seasoning? Fear not, mine reader, for there is still many an incredible (and entertaining) occurrence to be told!

My wife often asks me when I next used the ability. Like I said, I didn’t view the event with great significance at the time, so I am not sure exactly when I next used it. Presumably I was some years older, perhaps a teenager of 13 or 14. It would seem I suddenly remembered the moment for no apparent reason (divine intervention???) and looked back on the incident with a curiosity I had not previously possessed, possibly thinking questions such as, “How the bloody hell did I make a bottle of sauce appear from nowhere?”

I seem to remember wondering whether the whole event was some kind of vivid hallucination courtesy of the vapid cow slices. I was soon to discover that this was not the case! This is where the more concrete memories take hold, as I remember nonchalantly walking upstairs to my bedroom and blockading the door by means of a chair under the door handle. Looking back, this was an irrelevant practice. After all, it wasn’t as if I was doing anything particularly sinful or unlawful, I was only trying to make a bottle of sauce appear. I reasoned that the sauce bottle was the best place to start in the testing of my ability, just in case it really was the extent of my glorious power. I remember sitting cross legged on the floor, screwing my eyes up tight and scrunching my hands into fists, the same as I had done all those years earlier. I wholly focused my brain on a mental picture of a sauce bottle and concentrated so hard it hurt. I remember (quite unnecessarily it turns out) chanting “Sauce, SAUCE, SAUCE!” before opening my eyes with a glittering expectation. And, lo and behold, there was a bottle of delicious scarlet ketchup sitting on the green carpet in front of me, glinting in the sunshine that was streaming through the window. This time it had not appeared in my hand, so there was a slight difference to the previous occurrence, but this seems irrelevant when you consider that on TWO SEPARATE OCCASIONS I had materialised tangible objects out of nowt.

I laughed with power, for I knew that the ability was real! However, was the limit of this miraculous power really just bottles of blended tomatoes (that could easily be bought for next to nothing at any good supermarket)? I knew that I would have to try the power on something else, something that wasn’t food related.

Looking around the room for inspiration I saw my little piggy bank, lying on its side and bereft of any actual money. The empty piggy bank, it gave me more than enough inspiration! With this power, I could get whatever I wanted! I could get loads of money! And with money I could buy a lot of nice things! Screwing my eyes shut and scrunching my hands into fists I focused my mind on a huge suitcase full of money. I did the silly chanting again (luckily, I have now found out that the childish chanting isn’t actually a factor in making the ability work). Again, I opened my eyes with a wonderful expectation and was greatly rewarded! There in front of me was the suitcase, exactly as I had pictured it in my mind’s eye. I quickly undid the buckles and threw it open; to be met by the site of thousands of neatly ordered £100 notes. I laughed with glee and hastily pushed the suitcase under my bed. Of course, this now brings me onto a deeper side of my power (more importantly how I use it and how indeed it should be used). Most people would use this ability at their folly, and would be incredibly greedy in what they wished for. But me? No! I am a wiser head. I was very quick to work out the potential difficulties that surround this marvellous ability. One of the most important (if not the most important) things is the suspicion of other people. After all, nobody would blame my mother had she been surprised I suddenly came downstairs with a suitcase containing thousands of pounds. I sat in my room the entire day, considering the possibilities, the things I could and couldn’t do with my ability. Of course, I could go to a defunct field and wish for a huge mansion to appear there, paired with a garage full of expensive cars, but people would get suspicious. After all, the local people would wonder why an enormous mansion had suddenly appeared overnight, and friends and family would also enquire why I was suddenly a multi-millionaire. It was with a depressing realisation I understood that there was a limit as to how I could use my ability, and what I could use it on.

I reluctantly decided against the bigger things I’d want: a car, a mansion, a supermodel wife, for if these things suddenly appeared out of nowhere people would start to question, and I wanted to avoid all awkward difficulties.

Instead, I used the ability on just small things every now and then. I avoided using it on a daily basis, for I feared I would become greedy in what I wanted. Nope, just small things once or twice a week: a bag of crisps, a particular book I’d want and once even a new pair of socks. I’m sure a lot of you reading will wonder why I used the ability on such boring things, but I’m not prepared to go into all those explanations again! Looking back, I don’t regret anything I used the power to get! And I’m glad I never used it frivolously, for I would no doubt have become some kind of big-headed prat.

You may also be wondering what I did with the suitcase full of money under my bed. Well, as unbelievable as it may seem to some people, I gave it ALL away to various charities. I spread the money (which must have equated to at least £1,000,000) evenly over many charities, and I felt very good for it! And anyway, if I’d wanted any more money I could have simply used the ability to get some!

But then this poses an even bigger question, this time a question of morality! If I have the power to get an infinite amount of money whenever I want, then surely I could easily wish for £100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 and give it to a charity of my choice? I could, very easily in fact. But this takes us back to the earlier point �" people would be suspicious that one person has £100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 in their possession! I would very gladly give that amount of money to any charity, I really would! But it’s because I have to protect myself that I cannot.

I enjoyed my teenage years with the ability, especially when I become an adult! It was great! A beer here, a beer there, do you need to borrow any money mate? Sure, here’s £25. I was the popular guy, all the lads and lasses wanted to know me. Was this thanks to the ability? Probably not. But did I/do I care whether it was that or not? No! After all, I never told anyone about my ability, so why should it have anything to do with people wanting to be my friend?


But was the ability my friend? I observed that in the months and years after I had been using the ability more freely than I had done in my teenage years, each time I used it the result always felt a bit disappointing. I still got what I wanted, but it always felt a bit underwhelming, almost as if the ability itself was dying down. I’m afraid I cannot cite any examples; instead it is more something that you’d have to witness and experience first-hand in order to get a full understanding of what I mean. Hopefully you do have some understanding of what I mean, and that you can empathise accordingly! But even worse, sometimes it felt as if the ability was working against me!

The worst experience was when I was around 25 and sleeping over at my then girlfriend’s house (I say ‘then girlfriend’ because we’re married now, but she was my girlfriend then. I would have written ‘sleeping over at my wife’s house’ but I couldn’t be bothered to write an explanation as to how this was before we were married. Ok?). I remember having a most terrible nightmare in which I was lying incarcerated on a metal table, my arms and legs tied down with thick, strong straps. I remember calling out for help, but there was no answer. Suddenly, a huge black spider started crawling up my naked body (I forgot to say I was naked). I’m sweating at the memory of this horrible dream, but luckily I awoke just before the huge monster reached my face. I sat up in bed breathing heavily and was much relieved to find out that the whole event was only a figment of my imagination. That proved to be the whole problem as well…

As I looked down at the covers, I saw this black blob sitting motionless on the pristine white sheets. I strained my eyes in the dark and was confused momentarily, until the black blob began to crawl towards me. It was then I realised that it was the same spider I had just seen in my dream! It was only a few inches away from my bare chest when I jumped out of bed, brushed the HUGE spider onto the floor with my hand (with my hand! Eugh!) and whacked it into the great big web in the sky with the help of a nearby slipper. There was no chance of it surviving.

Strangely, it wasn’t until about a week later I considered the possibility of my power having some part to play in the whole nightmarish event. I considered that it might be taking some form of revenge on me for having used it so freely in the last few years. It was then I decided to use the ability a lot more sparingly, to the extent at which I only used it twice more that year! I’m glad I took the decision to use the ability infrequently; it made it exciting again. It was a treat which I enjoyed more now that I seldom used it. It also came in very handy for big events in my life: getting an engagement ring for my then girlfriend/current wife, replacing the carburettor for my car, making lunch, getting a 42 inch TV(!) and, of course, endless bottles of tomato sauce. It was no longer viewed in my consciousness as an ordinary part of my being.

BUT, believe it or not, there are still more questions to be asked about the ability (or one at least). Is the ability limited to conjuring up tangible objects, or can it be used to engineer real life events? I am still amazed how long it took me to consider this possibility. I have strenuously explained why I never used my ability to wish up a huge mansion somewhere or other, but could I use the ability to engineer real life in some way so that I could get a mansion? For example, if I were to use the ability to win the lottery, then nobody would question why I suddenly had the ownership of a gargantuan house, with pool and Ferrari.

At this exciting new prospect, I decided to try it out immediately. I went straight out to the nearest corner shop and bought a lottery ticket, picking the numbers completely at random. When I returned home, I sat down in my favourite armchair and began the process as normal. Screwing my eyes tightly shut and scrunching my hands into fists, I focused in my mind a picture of my numbers coming up on the lottery and subsequently focused on an image of my laughing face. When I finished, I could hardly sit down to anything with excitement. Funny how I should be so excited at the prospect of winning so much money when I could potentially wish up a lot more money whenever I pleased. Looking back, I suppose I was more excited at the prospect of a whole new angle of my ability, rather than the money I could have won. Could have. When the time came for the picking of the numbers on TV, I was more than a little disappointed when every single number was completely different to the ones I had chosen. I was greatly put out by this because I was really looking forward to using this great new power. With power like that…I could have been like a God…

Never mind, perhaps it is best that power such as that is limited to The Almighty.

It made for an interesting experiment though; and at least I can draw the conclusion that the ability really is limited to tangible objects, rather than fabricated events. I was disappointed, but I could take solace from the fact that I knew I was more important than everyone else.

BUT ONCE AGAIN, this leads us onto another interesting point! Now knowing that the ability only extends to tangible objects, does this mean I can conjure up things that already exist? Let me explain; say I was in a restaurant and I saw somebody on a nearby table eating a meal that looks most palatable. Would it be possible for me to get his meal using the ability? On reflection, this isn’t really the best example. I mean, why go to a restaurant and conjure up a meal for free? The staff would wonder why a meal suddenly appeared out of thin air. No, a better example is if I saw somebody reading a book on a train and I thought “That looks like a most appealing book. I need it.” Could I then use the ability to teleport the book out of their hand and into mine? Could I screw my eyes tightly shut and scrunch my hands into fists and wish for that book to be in my hands? Surely it works by the same principles. I wish for something, I get it. If I wish for that specific book, then it will appear for me. Of course, the person I technically robbed would wonder why their book had suddenly disappeared, but that wouldn’t matter!

More importantly, when I first gave thought to this idea that I could wish for objects that were already there I realised that it was completely ridiculous! After all, going back to the (equally ridiculous) train-book idea, if I saw somebody with a book I’d like, I could simply wish for my own version without having to rob anyone!

Another element was that the theory didn’t actually work when put into practice.


Nevertheless, I still recognise it as a special power, a great marvellous wonderful awe-inspiring ability, of which I am the only person on Earth possess. Or am I?

I have only shared my power with a select few friends and family members. I have never broadcast it publicly, until now! And the reason I am doing so is to simply find out…is there anybody else like me? Does anybody have the power to get whatever they want, as I do? Are there only a select few of us? Are we chosen specifically on our morals and views, or is it randomly vested onto people? Are there people that have the ability, but don’t realise? That is what I am trying to find out. Am I alone? Or are there others? Maybe everyone possesses the ability, but it takes time and practice to make it work. Who knows…who knows…? All I know is, it’s bloody great!        

© 2013 Pullin

Author's Note

Some people may argue that this isn't science fiction, but then most of JG Ballards Short Stories come under fire for "not being science fiction" (not that I'm comparing myself to the great man!)
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!

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Added on August 28, 2013
Last Updated on August 28, 2013
Tags: Science, Fiction, Ability, Sauce, Humorous, Money, Ethical



Hereford, Herefordshire, United Kingdom

I love Science Fiction! My favourite writers are: JG Ballard Nigel Kneale Robert Holmes more..