I searched the whole fifteen floors of the building with Myra beside me, but couldn’t find a single sign of Ika there. No one had seen him coming in either and no matter how you looked at it, it was a normal apartment complex. I could see no reason for him to be here.
Myra looked just as disappointed as I felt. She was the one that led me to the building, claiming that she had seen Ika going in here. But I did not blame her, because a criminal like him wasn’t just going to sit around and wait for me to catch him.
With frustration spreading in my chest, I came out of the building. But what I saw made my mind go numb for a second.
The gray building that I had entered was right before me.
“Wait, that is the building he went in,” Myra exclaimed. I looked up at the building I just came out of and it was a completely different building now. It was nothing like the one I entered.
I had no idea what had happened, but there was a new hope. I ran inside the building. All over the place, there were sick and dazed people sitting and lying around. It was clear that they were addicts. And this place had just the right atmosphere that would suit a sick person like Ika. Although there was no point asking them about anything.
I just dashed upstairs, trying to observe each and every floor as much as I could. Until I saw a familiar face in one dark corner.
“Negai!” he looked towards me as soon as my voice reached him. His face looked terrified.
“Where the hell were you guys?”
“What do you mean?”
“I followed you people in here but you were not here. But that creepy guy with the mask was.”
His words caused a chain reaction inside of me. “He was here? Where is he now?” I grabbed Negai and practically forced the answers out.
“I don’t know. He ran away. I was just trying to save myself.” I released him and looked around. There was blood on the floor. But when I looked at Negai, he wasn’t hurt. “(Did that mean he left a clue?)”
Without wasting any more time, I rushed outside. I asked every person whether they had seen him or not. But despite my efforts, I could not find him. I was so close. So, damn close and I blew it.
“Damn it!” I punched the wall of the convenience store as hard as I could. I had come back to my car and Myra and Negai stood beside me, flabbergasted at my sudden rage.
“Yua, are you alright,” Myra asked worriedly. I realized I had stepped too far.
“I am sorry. It’s just that, catching that guy is very important to me.”
“So important that it made you rampage like a little kid,” Negai gave his straight faced honest comments which made me laugh.
“Yes. You see,” but I couldn’t maintain a smile saying this, “that man killed my husband.”
“I lost my composure in front of kids, how immature,” I just stood leaning against my car. After hearing my cause, Myra dragged Negai with him saying that they would buy drinks. Honestly, she felt more mature than me to give me privacy at a time like this.
“(I don’t blame you. It was very important for you,)” he comforted me in his calm voice.
“Yes but let’s think about it calmly now. Auz, what building do you remember us entering?”
“So you remember the same as me. And so does Myra. Means that we couldn’t have gotten into the wrong building.”
“But Negai went into the other building. Probably because he was falling behind. And by the time he entered a building, their appearance had gone back to normal. But the real question is, what made them switch their appearances in the first place.”
“(I think we know the answer to that.)”
“Yup. It couldn’t have been anything but a wish. But does that mean that monster Ika is a wisher?”
“(Now now, Yua. No need to get ahead of yourself. Assess the situation calmly,)” as always, Auz stopped me before I went into my own fantasy world.
“Right,” I took a deep breath, “There was blood in that building which is necessary for making a wish. It was a little too much, but a psycho like Ika, I could see slashing himself for no reason.”
“(But these are still deductions. In a wish game, you should rely on nothing but solid proof.)”
“Yup, which is why I am going to use this,” I picked up an empty can that was thrown on the streets. “Let’s do an experiment.”
I took out the knife I used to carry and cut my finger just enough to draw blood. “I wish this can would crush itself when it comes into a ten metre radius of a wisher,” I said, but there was no response.
“No good, huh?”
“I guess it still involves other wishers fairly directly.” I thought over my wish again and then opened my mouth, “I wish this can would crush itself when it comes into a ten metre radius of a Jinn,” and instantly the hooded reaper appeared.
“Wish accepted. Bound.” he declared.
“I knew it. Wishers may not be allowed but the rules say nothing about JInns.”
“And if it is any sensible Jinn,” Auz went back inside me, “(he would stay hidden inside his wisher. We find the Jinn, we find the wisher. That was actually a very good wish.)” Auz complimented me.
And with that, I set off to make one more quick round of the whole neighborhood. But to my disappointment, the can had no reaction at all. Once again disappointed, I returned back to my car.
“I guess he is no wisher after all,” I said sulkingly.
“(You should be glad that is not the case.)”
“Yua, we are back.” I heard Myra’s voice as she and Negai came with a load of drinks. I guess she wanted to justify taking so much time when she was just giving me some privacy. What I noticed was Negai’s hand all bandaged up.
“(Did he hurt himself when buying drinks?)”
*Crush* and all of a sudden the can crushed itself. I instantly noted my surroundings. There were five metre thick walls on my left and back, about five metres away. And I only had my car on the right. The only people in my ten metre radius were Negai and Myra.
As soon as I reached home I jumped into bed. My head was exploding. There was just so much to process. I just wanted to sleep to calm myself down.
“(Yua what are you doing?)” Auz began to question my actions.
“I am trying to sleep.”
“(Sleeping won’t make your problems disappear. It is best if we face them as they come.)” Auz talked some sense into me.
“Yeah, but you saw it too, right? The can crushed itself when Negai and Myra brought us our drinks,” I protested to justify being upset..
“(Yes, and like it or not, one of them is a wisher,)” he laid it down bare. He was right after all. And after recollecting my thoughts, I agreed to think it through instead of pushing it to the back.
“It is most probably the one that we had spotted just when the game started. At the Hoshi no machi bridge. The Jinn that was there immersing himself in water.”
“(He was the eleventh Jinn, the Jack of All Trades,)” Auz explained to me about the JInn as he had once before as well.
“Since then, we have been part of many bizarre incidents that were most likely caused by him and his host,” I had suspected that there was a wisher in Tokyo for a long time. Especially due to the Jinn we saw and the bizarre events that kept happening one after another. “But we don’t know anything else about him.”
“(Unfortunately not. It’s his first time participating in a wish game. Not only do we not know anything about his ability, we don’t even know the name of his secondary wish.)”
“And his host is one of those tw-” but I forgot to speak when suddenly my brain started connecting a weirdly large amount of dots.
“(What is it?)” Naturally Auz inspected my sudden silence. And I began laying down the things I had just noticed.
“When we met Negai for the first time, wasn’t it at the Hoshi no Machi bridge?”
“(Yeah. We saved him from drowning because he was on the bridge when it collapsed.)”
“We had naturally assumed that he just got caught up in between that wisher’s wish. But the second time, when we suspected, he targeted us.”
“(During that construction site collapse.)”
“Negai was present there too. Once again, caught up in the accident.”
“(I see. Do you think it is a pattern?)”
“I have to be more thorough. What about the third time? The whole ad thing.”
“(The ad had Sood, the tenth Jinn’s name in it. So, it was clearly someone other than Jack.)”
“Yeah, but we ordered that cake and what we received was just a time and place about a month from that time. It almost felt like a trap.”
“(Yeah, but just a few days later.)”
“The CEO of that company died. But still, there was one person working at his company that time.”
“*Sigh* This can’t be coincidence, right?”
“(Let’s keep analyzing. When we went to the place mentioned on the cake, no one came here.)”
“It could’ve been because the tenth wisher was already dead. But,”
“Do you remember, on that exact date, what happened during the day.”
“(Negai’s school took him on a hilarious camping trip to Kanjou.)”
“Yeah but the original destination was,”
“Which is right next to Mangetsu lake, our meet up point.”
It was still hard for me to believe. But clearly, all the evidence was pointing in his direction. But I still needed that one decisive push. I got up and opened my closet to retrieve an item. A smartphone with a few cracks on the screen.
“(Isn’t that the phone we found at the construction site scene when we investigated after dropping everyone at the hospital.)”
“Yup. I am pretty sure the police wouldn’t have gotten anywhere with it because it was the work of a wish. But I am pretty damn sure that this belongs to the wisher in question.”
I powered it on. I hadn’t really touched it after checking that it worked. There was still some battery left. I closed my eyes and remembered that one scene from a certain cat cafe. “(Don’t worry, I know his password.)” I could recall Myra’s voice. “(-the fact that you use the same password with every phone-)”
I looked at the screen. It required a 6-digit PIN. This was the final test. I input the numbers from my memory.
My heart almost jumped out when I input the last number and the phone unlocked.
“(This settles it.)”
“The eleventh wisher, the Jack of All trades, is Negai Hoshino.” Now my head started boiling with anger. “I honestly liked that kid so much but he was just a sly fox. Trying to take me down. Now that I think about it, he was the only one who didn’t follow us into the complex. Obviously because he was the one that wished them to look like each other. That bastard was having fun toying with me. Trying to keep Ika within my reach and yet out of it. And I am sure that he knows where Ika is right now.”
“(So what now?)”
“What now is that I know how much of an overnthinker that guy is. Thinks that he can plan everything so carefully. But I have shared years of my life with such a person. I know exactly how to trip him using this phone.” I explained but Auz only remained silent. “Is something the matter, Auz?”
“(No, I was just thinking that it never ceases to amaze me that how instantly you humans can turn affection into hatred.)”