*Beep Bee-* I turned off the alarm in my sleep as I looked around myself. A white ceiling, comfy beds and my husband lying on my left. I stretched my arms to fully wake up before grabbing a rubber band from my table and tying my long hair. I looked at the clock, 6 A.M. I made my way to the kitchen while turning on the T.V in the living room.
I started preparing for breakfast.
6:15: all preparations were done and I proceeded towards the room opposite mine.
“Mia, wake up. It’s time for school,” I woke up my daughter who refused at first, but with a little force, I got her on her feet and on the way to the bathroom, despite still being half asleep.
Going back to the kitchen, Dakio had also woken up and headed towards the bathroom, while I started cooking. By 6:40, everyone was at the table having breakfast. And by 7 A.M, the school bus came and I sent Mia to school, and Dakio enjoyed his morning coffee while watching news and texting.
“Please drink your coffee with peace.”
“No can do. You know how annoying Joe can be if I don’t reply to him instantly.”
“*Sigh* sometimes I feel like you are married to Joe and not me.”
“If that were the case, I would rather be doing cases with him all night instead of coming home.” I giggled at his words. He got up and I grabbed his coat and fixed his tie.
“Well, don’t try to annoy Officer Joe that much.”
“No promises. I’m off.” With that, he left for work and I was alone with the thoughts of what to prepare for lunch.
This has been my peaceful routine for the last 5 years. Since Dakio got me out and we got married. My life has changed since then. Unlike my past, I started smiling more, instead of getting annoyed at my problems. My life got even more beautiful when I had my daughter, Mia. When I first held her, Dad’s words rang in my mind, “Daughters are a gift from God.” I finally understood what he meant. I finally felt that I had been forgiven. I finally felt that I could be loved again.
It was a Sunday morning, and unlike other days, it was a day for others to relax. For a housewife like me, I had a slightly more packed day due to everyone being at home. But it was more than welcome. In fact, being free on regular days just made me bored. Mia just played around the house but Dakio felt like he had forgotten to relax. He was constantly on his phone, texting his police partner Joe. I had been waiting for him to stop but he had been at it for more than two hours. I finally lost my patience.
“Could you please stop working? It's Sunday.”
“You and I both know that no one here wants to relax more than me,” he replied without even looking at me.
“Is it such an important case?”
“Yes. There’s a chance a serial killer is in town. And I want to find him as soon as possible.”
I understood the urgency of his matter but he had been too occupied with his work for the past few days. It was high time he took a break.
“But it’s Sunday. And you are not going to do any work on Sunday,” I said, taking his phone from him.
“No buts. It’s a Sunday and working today is banned,” I swayed my finger in front of him. He pouted like a teenager in his rebellious phase. “Geez, you take work so seriously.”
“It’s not that. It’s just that I don’t feel that my family is safe with such a criminal Intel. It is my duty to protect them. That is why I need to catch him as soon as possible.”
His words made me really happy. But that did not mean that it was only his job. There were other aspects of his life too. “Well, you are the one who says there is no reason to be impatient. A hour or few of rest is never bad. So take it easy for today.” It reminded me of how we first met. He used to be so carefree and didn’t care if the case got held up for a night or two. But now that he had his own family to support, he had become much more responsible. I kind of felt like thanking him for all his efforts. “I know. How about I make your favorite dishes today. It’s been a while since you requested something. And Mia has been spoiled too much.”
“If you say so,” he said and fell into deep thought before finally requesting his palette tonight.
“Good, I’ll head for shopping. Why don’t you play with Mia in the meantime?”
“Sounds good,” and he headed towards Mia.
“Daddy, you want to play with me?” Mia asked innocently, making space for her father in her little circle of stuffed friends.
While the father and daughter were enjoying themselves, I took a bag and left the house. It had been a while since I had prepared something specially for Dakio. So I wanted to be extra precise and perfect. I went to every store in Kanjou to buy the best ingredients possible.
By the time I came home, the sun had already set.
“I’m late, I’m late. I should start preparing for dinner. I am home!” I announced as soon as I opened the door, but to my surprise the door wasn’t locked. It was already slightly open.
A wave of rusty smell hit me the moment I opened the door. A chill of extreme fear ran through my spine. I slowly entered the house.
“Dakio,” I called out to my husband but got no response. Slowly, I advanced towards the living room. I took a peek inside the room from the hallway. Splotches of red blood were splashed all around the room. On the sofa sat Dakio, with his chest full of holes and blood seeping out from them.
My legs instantly lost power. And the bag of groceries that I was holding fell straight down. I could not believe what I was seeing. It felt like a bad dream. I ran towards his body. “Dakio! Dakio. Speak to me Dakio,” I shook his body just to see one little response. But his body was limp and showed no signs of life. “No! No! No! This can’t be happening. You can’t just leave me like this.” my emotions were exploding in the form of tears. But my mourning was cut short when I remembered that there was one other person in this house.
“Mia! Mia, where are you?” but once again there was no response. I headed towards her room. As I came closer to the doors, there were weird sounds that kept growing louder and louder. *Tap Tap Tap* as if two things were hitting against each other.
I entered the room in a swift motion while shouting her name, “Mia,” and what I saw was probably the most scaring thing I ever saw in my life.
A man with disheveled hair, wearing a suit and mask covered in blood, stood at the end of the room. My daughter caught in his hands as he moved his hips rhythmically against hers. He had noticed me the moment I entered and immediately aimed a gun at me.
“What the hell are you doing to her!?” Mia’s eyes showed no signs of life. She wasn’t even crying or making any kinds of sounds. Just tears formed streams over her face.
“Yua!” the person shouted my name at me. And as soon as he did, I immediately recognized who that was.
“Mr.Ika,” the worst nightmare of my past had now come not only to haunt me but my whole family. “Just what do you think you are doing?”
“What you made me do,” he began in a chill frightening tone, “Do you know how much I needed you? But you couldn’t even become a good tool. So, I had to relieve my stress some other way by killing people. And then I killed everyone who tried to catch me. And I was especially happy when I came to know that cockroach Chieki was on me. I could finally kill him. But do you know what happened when I came here?” his voice immediately became loud as he started shouting, “I saw his pictures with you and this brat as your offspring. You were nothing more than a whore. This child is obviously a demon. And I have done nothing wrong. If you want to blame someone, blame yourself because it is all your fault.”
“You are crazy,” I steeled my resolve as I had heard more than enough of his inhuman talk. “Get away from my daughter,” I jumped at him without caring about the gun he had pointed at me. As soon as I moved, he pulled the trigger.
*Click* but no bullet came out. “F*ck,” he shouted as he attempted to smash the gun against my head while throwing away Mia. I ducked and caught her. While he, without wasting any time, ran away. Chasing after him was important, but even important was to check on Mia. She still had a pulse and was breathing weakly.
“I am sorry, Mia. I am sorry my child,” I just kept crying as I dialed for an ambulance.
I took her to the district hospital as fast as I could. They gave her the basic treatment in the ambulance but she needed a full treatment to actually recover. I spent the longest 30 minutes in the hospital’s waiting room when the doctors came out.
“How is she, Doctor?” I asked as soon as I saw the doctor come out of the examination room. His troubled expression did not inspire much confidence.
“Mrs.Chieki. I will be honest with you. Your daughter is in critical condition. Getting assaulted so violently at her age did not only leave unrepairable physical injuries, but also severe mental dysfunction as well.”
“What does that mean? Will she recover or not?”
“Her brain is unresponsive right now. And it is even inhibiting her body’s natural recovery. She is in a state of coma right now. And there isn’t much hope of recovery.”
“No way,” all of the energy left my body.
“Please be strong. We will still do whatever I can,” the doctor patted my back before walking away.
For almost eight months I had been running around all over the country in order to find some sort of cure for Mia. But it bore no fruit. On the other hand, Mia’s condition had been deteriorating day by day. The doctors had given up on her and asked me to put her out of her misery. But I begged them not to do that. I was willing to pay whatever fees they wanted to let her stay in a private room with all the equipment. They ultimately agreed, but it was obvious that they did not expect her to live much longer anyways. In fact, the max they anticipated was one day.
So, there I was, sitting right beside my daughter covered with pipes and wires. Her breathing was slow and the monitor showed that her pulse had halved. I placed my hand over her head. My heart ached with every beat seeing her in that condition. There was complete silence except for the *Beep Beep* of the monitor and the *Tick Tock* of the clock.
“Mia. The doctors say that you won’t be here till tomorrow. But don’t worry. Mama will find you a cure, ok. And you will be back to normal before you know it,” I talked to her like this whenever I had the chance. But that night kept me feeling especially sad.
“Mama misses you. And daddy,” tears came to my eyes as he pressed my forehead against the bed’s railing. In my head there was only one question, “(Why was this happening to me? Was my punishment still not over? Was I still destined to only hurt others around me?)”
And in that moment I heard someone talk to me, “(Do you think I am a curse.)”
I immediately lifted up my head to inspect the source of that voice. But there was no one there. It was just a voice in my head. The voice of Mia talking to me.
“Of course not. You were nothing but a gift to me.”
“(Then why did you call yourself a curse.)” Those words struck my heart as if making me painfully realize what was happening. It was still my punishment for what I did to my parents. By having the same happen to me. For the first time, I realized what Mom and Dad felt when I did what I did. Something I would’ve never understood had I stayed at the brothel.
*Beeeep* and then all of a sudden, the monitor’s beep became longer. Her vitals were dropping rapidly. And in my mind there was only one line floating, “(Please think of me as dead to you.)” What I had said to my parents, I now realized how damaging it was for them. How much I had hurt them. Finally, I was going through the same pain I had caused them. But didn’t that mean that I could be truly sorry now.
“I am sorry. I am so sorry,” I joined my hands and started crying uncontrollably, “Please God. I was wrong. I learnt my lesson. I had never asked you for anything. Please just don’t take my daughter from me. She is the only one I have left. Please, I beg you!” but the begging fell on nothing but thin air. As the beeping continued and finally *Beeeeeeeeeeep* the ECG fell flat. Exactly when *Tick Tock Click* the clock struck midnight and her one day was over and then, *Boom* a loud explosion shook the sky.
It was as if time had stopped. The noise of the heart monitor halted. The light that illuminated the sky gathered in front of me in the form of a person wearing a robe that covered his whole body.
“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 words escaped his mouth.
“Are you God?” I was just awestruck at the sight before me.
“God? No, I am what you call a Jinn. Someone who can fulfill your wishes,” just as he said that, I wasted no time in presenting my wish.
“Please can you fulfill my wish and heal my daughter,” I joined my hands together in front of him.
“No need to be hasty. Listen to the rules first. For the ten wishes you have, you cannot ask for anything that involves you or any other wisher like you. And once you make your last wish, you’ll die.”
“But Mia doesn’t involve me. I don’t want anything, just heal Mia,” I kept repeating the same lines and it was clear that Jinn wanted me to give a different answer. Seeing how persistent I was, he finally decided to address my demand first.
“I am sorry I can’t fulfill your wish.”
My heart sank anew at his words, “Why?”
“Because wishing is a characteristic of the living. But that human, unfortunately, is already at the door to the afterlife. Ready to pass on.”
“Please, can’t you do anything I beg you,” I bowed in front of him and kept pleading until he finally responded.
“I guess you are fortunate, for I, Auz, the Shinigami himself has come to grant your wish that only I can.”
“You mean you will heal her,” I finally saw a ray of hope.
“Not exactly. You human beings come into this Earth with your own fixed time. And once that time is up, you leave this world. I am someone who can control that time,” he looked towards Mia, “That human there has less than a second of time left. But I can tell this was not the total time she came with. Someone stole her time from her.”
I knew full well who he was talking about. “The best I can do is keep her stuck in that very little time I have left. But if you want to see her alive again, you need to give back her time.”
“By taking it back from the one who stole it. Kill him and take back her time. Or kill other people. Even if their times are incompatible with hers, if you have enough, I can probably replenish her time.”
“No, I won’t kill anyone other than the one responsible.”
“I see. Remember, that you cannot use a wish to kill someone and take their times. Wishes are anomalies in this world and altering someone’s time is way too easy. Hence they don’t count. You have to do it yourself.”
“I got it.”
“Lastly, as I told you, there are other wishers besides you. This is a wish game, in which the last wisher standing wins, even if you are not playing the games the others are. And they will come to get you.”
“No matter who stands in my way, I will eliminate them,” I firmed my resolve.
“Good,” he raised his hand and the blue light emitting from him turned into a scythe. He stretched the concave side of the blade behind my head and then pulled me towards him with extreme force. As I fell towards him, his hand stopped me by piercing into my chest.
"I, Aux the fourth Jinn, form a life pact with you, Yua Chieki and participate in this wish game under the title of ‘The Shinigami'."
I opened my eyes to something hard pressing against my forehead. It took me a moment to figure out that it was the steering wheel of my car.
“When did I fall asleep,” I mumbled to myself.
“(About 15 minutes ago,)” a voice from inside me replied. My memory was foggy as my mind was waking up to remember what I was doing here.
And when I finally did, “Auz, why didn’t you wake me up?” I asked my Jinn why he didn’t prevent me from sleeping.
“(You have been pushing yourself too much. I thought you could use a rest.)”
“I appreciate the concern, but what if I had missed him by now.” That’s right. I had come here on a tip that Ika would be here. Since the past four months, I had searched everywhere. I started from the brothel, but apparently even Mr.Kotha had no solid records. His sketch was basically useless to the police. And no one had any idea what sort of company he owned. But I had received a tip from Mr.Joe, my husband’s friend, who was helping me find Ika, that he was going to be at a place called junkyard. Hence, I came here.
But now, I was worried I might have missed him. And just when disappointment started to sink in, a figure appeared in my line of sight. Thin scrawny body, wearing that same damned suit of his. Even though he appeared in the background with countless other people, I had recognized him instantly.
“He’s here,” I said to Auz. Ah, how long I had waited for this moment. And finally, it was before me. With my blood boiling, I got out of the car.