The next morning, he couldn’t go to school. After the doctor inspected him, it appeared that he had suffered a mild concussion and sprained his knee. Though he was glad that he wouldn’t have to go to school for several days because of it, the pain was something that made Eli wish he had just stayed unconscious. But then he remembered the nightmares.
In the dreams, he was running through a gray, empty field. At first everything was unnervingly quiet – even his footsteps made no sound, causing him to question whether he was actually running instead of floating. But then there was sound, and he wished it had come back to being silent. Still no footsteps, just trumpets. Trumpet sounds, more and more of them as he ran further, forming a dissonant soundscape that felt like they were assaulting his brain with their sheer volume. The same dream repeated over and over again through the night, and each time he would get closer to his goal, which appeared to be someone riding some kind of animal. He always tripped near the end of the dream, causing him to wake up and clutch his knee in pain.
Jonah would come and visit him regularly to tell him what had been covered in class and what the homework was. He told him that after Eli collapsed on the cemetery they all rushed him to his house. No one seemed to remember the Ouija board pointer moving on its own. Eli dismissed that memory as a result of his concussion. Still, Eli found it odd that only Jonah seemed concerned enough to come visit him.
“Oh, those two have just been busy lately,” Eli reassured him as he shook his long bangs out of his eyes.
“They’ve taken up some extracurricular stuff but they said they want it to be a secret, so hell if I know what that’s about. They’re still pretty worried about you. I’m sure they’ll come visit you once they have more time.”
“That’s okay,” Eli said with a smile. “So this is all the stuff you covered today?”
“Yep. And here’s your algebra homework.” Jonah handed him a file that looked disturbingly thick.
“Jesus Christ, that’s huge.”
“Yeah, but it’s due next week, so don’t sweat it. Oh, but the teach said the stuff in there will be on the test.”
“Awesome.” Eli scowled as he scanned the pages. He put the file on his desk and adjusted his leg in bed. “So, you got time? I’m bored as hell. We could play a game or something.”
“Sorry, man. I gotta go. I promised these guys I’d show them that place…”
“You mean, the place where this happened?” Eli pointed at his forehead and then his knee. Jonah slowly nodded. “Wow. Let me know who’s next to bust their head open.”
“Ha ha. It’s not my fault you got too scared to function.” Jonah glanced at his phone. “Right, it’s about time I left. See you tomorrow, I guess?”
“Yeah, see you.” For a few minutes after Jonah left, Eli sat on the bed, gazing at the ceiling. With nothing better to do, he grabbed his algebra homework and started filling it in. After ten minutes, his mind began to wander, and soon he found himself in the gray space yet again. This time around, he woke up as soon as the trumpets sounded. When he opened his eyes, he noticed that it was already dark out. He turned on his desk light and his heart sank. His homework was filled with his own handwriting, and yet he was sure that he hadn’t written it.
Greetings, Eli. I have come to serve you. Tell me your wishes, and they shall be granted.
“What the hell?” Eli had never heard of people writing in their sleep, but no other explanation made sense. The thought calmed him down a bit. He scoffed: “Yeah, right. Like my homework is haunted by some wish-granting genie.”
To his horror, his hand started moving on its own. In jerky motions, it held his pen tightly, even though he tried to resist it, and scribbled down another sentence.
I am no genie, and yet your wishes shall be granted.
“Mom! Dad! Help!” Eli shouted, but there was no response. Then he remembered that they would be out that night. He was left all alone with whatever was guiding his hand.
There is no need to fear, child. I am on your side. Simply tell me what you wish, and you shall receive.
“Why should I believe you?” At that moment, memories of that fateful night came back. Eli remembered how Jonah mentioned demons. He felt cold sweat on his back. “Wait, you’re not a demon, are you? You’re here to tempt me with wishes and take my soul?”
Your soul is safe, his hand wrote. My only task is to grant your wishes. I ask for nothing in return for that. I grant your wish, simply, and you must live with your granted wish.
“There’s no way you can make that happen.” And there’s no way I can risk it. I know how these things work. The genie uses my precise wording to make my wish into something bad.
I would never do that, the hand responded to his thoughts. I will do all in my power to ensure what you wish is given to you. I am bound to serve you, Eli.
“I don’t believe you.” Eli’s heart was beating fast. He wasn’t sure he could take this much longer.
So you don’t. But what’s the harm in trying?
There was something tempting about that. Eli was always afraid of such things, but the very possibility of this being real gave him goosebumps – the good kind. If I wish for something small, I don’t think there really is a possibility that he can turn it against me, Eli thought. “Fine, have it your way. I wish my homework would just do itself.”
Your wish has been heard.
Eli felt that he finally regained control of his hand. Confident that he still had time until next week to finish his homework even if the demon lied to him, he put away his homework. The pain in his knee felt stronger and his head hurt again, blurring his vision. He took some painkillers and lied down. “Now here’s something I really wish for,” he said in a whisper as he slowly drifted away into the land of dreams. “I wish I felt better. So I can leave this prison and just… see her again.”
To his immense surprise, he woke to find that his leg did not hurt anymore, and his vision was good as new. “No way…” he whispered as he stood up on his own two legs for the first time since the accident. He ran up to the desk and glanced through the homework file – all the answers had been filled out. Eli couldn’t help but snicker. With a demon at his side, he felt he could do anything.