It was undeserving of being described in words. Millions of twinkling, multicolor streaks daubed the dark canvas of the night sky. My mind was clotted up with all these agitating thoughts and all of a sudden, it vaporized. The countless stars racing through the atmosphere skimmed the troubles off my mind. Those feelings of fear and disgust that I felt when I reached home and saw my father had returned. If there was one person that I truly detested, it would be him. And before long, I found myself running out of the house to the park. And as always, Hoshi no Machi’s nighttime view, coupled with the meteor shower, did not fail to soothe me.
“(If you wish on countless shooting stars, wouldn’t that confirm that your wish will be fulfilled for sure?)” I don’t know from where, but Taisho’s words appeared. They were pointless, unauthentic, totally fictional words and yet they urged me to get on my feet. Because what if there was one in a million, or even one in a billion chance, that through some stroke of linked events and coincidences, it actually gets fulfilled, then I, “I wish!” words escaped my mouth in the most desperate fashion possible and then,
*BOOM* The sky was lit up by an explosion as if triggered by my words. At the same, it was as if my brain stopped working. My heart failed to beat, my muscles failed to move and I felt petrified. All I could do was look at the fragments scattered all over the sky.
And it occurred to me a beat later that one of those pieces was falling in my direction. But, as it is with astronomical objects, the human eye is unable to calculate their courses accurately. And so, all I could do was hope that it would pass over me to crash somewhere beyond. But as I suspected, it headed straight towards me. Running was futile with something this gigantic. I crossed my arms in front of me to brace for what was to come.
It was as if time had stopped. The explosion that should’ve obliterated me was instead enveloping me. Before my eyes, the inferno took the form of a boy.
“I heard your wish, human. I acknowledge the cry of your heart. In exchange for your life, I shall grant any wish your heart desires, so long as it doesn’t affect you or your brethren.” These robotic words escaped his mouth and after that, “So, what do you say, human?” it said in an entirely different and casual tone, as if the words he said before were said by a different person.
I was confused. My mind was overflowing with questions. I had to take it one thing at a time.
“What are you?” so I started with the most basic query.
“Let’s see,” he said, “You humans refer to us with different words like spectres, genies, ghosts and so on. But we are actually beings that inhabit between the earth and the sky called ‘Jinn’. And my name is Dee.”
The Jinn’s introduction was rather polite in contrast to the flames raging all around us. But even though the tone of his voice did change to express himself, his words felt dead, emotionless.
“And what are you doing here?”.
“Well, because I heard you,” he said calmly.
“(Heard me?)” I was lost for an instance and then it hit me. “(No way.)” And the Jinn continued, “Yes, and not just you, I heard the wishes of countless wavering hearts. But yours was the most interesting. So, I decided to give you a chance.”
“ I think ‘offer’ would be a more suitable word.. And I have already stated that offer before. I shall grant you any 10 wishes in exchange for your life. But you can’t ask for anything that directly affects you or others like you.”
He explained his offer with a certain grandeur and I replied with equal enthusiasm, “That’s lame.”
“What? You can’t deal with some terms and conditions, and here I thought humans in this age were used to those.”
“The ‘directly affecting me’ part is not great either, but the real problem I have is with the one before. What do you mean in exchange for my life?”
“Just as it sounds. Once you have made your last wish, you’ll die.”
“I thought so.”
“I refuse. No thanks. No matter how my life is, I don’t plan on dying soon. Especially not at the mercy of a creature like you.”
I made my point clear quite forcefully that the Jinn Dee stopped talking for a moment. When he opened his mouth again, his voice was barely audible, “Who do you think you are? You are just a human.” And then he addressed me rigorously, “I take it back. It is not an offer. It is a compulsion.”
In an instant, he came right in front of me. Before I could respond, my chest was stabbed.
"I, Dee the eleventh Jinn, form a life pact with you, Negai Hoshino and participate in this wish game under the title of 'The Jack of all Trades'." His voice was cold. And it was the last thing I heard before my brain gave up, as if my soul departed. Maybe I was dead.
“Ah!!” I woke up with a scream and jolted into a sitting position. I was sweating hard indeed, but the sweat alone could not justify my condition. I was completely drenched. I looked around frantically to comprehend the sudden change in scenery. All I saw was the dark water of the lake, a few feet away under the reflection of stars and a collapsed bridge beyond it.
“Hey, you are alive,” I heard a familiar voice and the floating boy clad in a fiery dress appeared from under the water. I have to admit, it was weird to see fire pass through water and nothing happening at all.
It took me a moment to realize that all that I saw was a dream of my past and my memories were back. In fact, they were so clear that it was frightening. It was like ‘if you lost your memories due to a near death experience, having a near death experience again will bring them back.
“Where’s Weinstein?” I asked Dee to confirm the current situation. And with a short “good, you did not forget,” and a sigh of relief, he replied, “His soul departed for hell, but the crushed body is over there” and he pointed towards the other side of the lake. I could see red and blue lights flashing as well as a huge crowd. On looking closely, I could also spot the yellow ‘do not cross’ tape. On the other hand, when I turned around, there were a relatively few bystanders also looking at the scene curiously.
“So, how do you feel?” Dee asked. He wasn’t asking about my physical health. Now that I had killed a person, I was a murderer. And I had killed a wisher, so I was officially a part of the wish game.
“You know what, I remembered everything as well.”
“Oh, isn’t that great,” Dee looked honestly relieved.
“You do know that means I remember that you forced all of this on me.”
“And? Are you telling me that you still want to back down?” His question made me think over all the events that had just unfolded. The thrill, the uncertainty, the adrenaline, the chills and that indescribable euphoria when you come out on top.
“I have to admit it felt incredible.”
A large grin appeared on his face,”So?” he demanded a clear answer.
“So, I guess I am on board. I’ll take part in this wish game of yours.”