Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes (II/III)

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.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes (I/III)

The dry leaves seemed to whisper as they rustled in the faint wind that night. The crescent moon loomed over the old willow tree in the middle of the abandoned graveyard. Stirred by a sudden gust of wind, a loose branch fell to the ground, into a heap of autumn leaves, startling the four figures searching for traces of the unknown on this cold October night. Nonetheless, they carried on their way deeper into the darkness, light from a flashlight their only guide.

Eli was against the idea from the start, but he didn’t say anything. He was sure Dwight and Jonah would make his life hell if he didn’t go. Though his teeth jittered every step of the way, he pressed on, aware of the glances the other two boys were sending his way. He knew they were waiting for the right opportunity to scare him. But this time things would be different. Eli was not going to let a silly jump scare get him this time. Further motivating him to stay strong was the presence of Hannah. The girl he liked for a long time, the one with flowing black hair, was as excited as Jonah and Dwight to be visiting a graveyard in the dead of night. A chill went down Eli’s spine, his throat making a loud gulping sound as he swallowed down his anxiety. Lucky for him, the others didn’t seem to notice.

After walking for what felt like hours, they reached the far edge of the graveyard. Beyond the balding willow tree and a crooked little fence was a dense forest, where everything was pitch black. The howl of the cold wind and the rustling leaves were the only thing coming out of that onyx abyss. The land beyond felt dead. The chill felt so strong that Eli’s senses became dulled, to the point that he felt like his body was not his own, and the paralyzing fear was being experienced by someone standing next to him who happened to look exactly like him. This feeling of detachment came to an abrupt end when Dwight cleared a pile of leaves near the willow tree and cast the light of his flashlight at it, revealing an ornate circle, adorned in strange markings, etched in the remnants of the pavement. Eli’s heart sank violently, nearly destroying his larynx as it fell.

Oh hell no,” he whispered. Dwight chuckled, seeing the distress on Eli’s face and motioned something at Jonah. To Eli’s horror, he pulled out a Ouija board out of his backpack. “Are you fucking serious?”

What, you didn’t know this was here?” Hannah snickered. The sound pierced Eli’s heart, the betrayal stinging like a thousand cuts. “You’ve lived here all your life and you’ve never heard of the witch’s circle?”

Of course I have, but I never would have expected you guys would be stupid enough to come here. This thing is dangerous!”

Right,” Jonah said as he rubbed the nape of his neck. “That was just our plan, Eli – bring you here and play with a Ouija board so a witch comes and eats your ass up so that we can finally have peace.” He laughed his hyena laugh, the piercings on his lips gleaming like fangs in the flashlight. “Relax, bro. It’s just a game.”

And no chickening out like last time,” Dwight said as he set up the board on the ground. He shook a bit and zipped up his hoodie. “It’s just a game, man. Don’t be a party pooper.”

You could have warned me,” Eli said.

Like you’d come then,” Hannah giggled and crouched near the board. “C’mon, it’s getting cold.”

It’s all bogus, he told himself. There’s no witch, and you can’t communicate with the dead. So just chill out and roll with it. And with that, he crouched by the board and put his right hand on the pointer. The other hands soon joined his, their skin cold from the October winds, the eyes of the teen fixed on the glass magnifying the letter “A”. For a few tense minutes, nothing happened. Eli felt cold sweat on his forehead, his breathing was becoming faster. “Why isn’t it moving?” he whispered.

We need to ask a question first,” Hannah said. “Let’s begin with something simple.” She glanced at the boys and then back at the board. “Hi! What is your name?”

The pointer jittered and Eli’s heart made a summersault. Someone was moving it, but he was sure it wasn’t him. The others looked just as surprised, but Eli still tried to convince himself it was one of them anyway.

H-E-L-L-O C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N O-F M-A-N, the pointer indicated the letters one by one, with Jonah reading every letter out loud and later saying the words he could make out. “Wow,” he said under his breath. M-Y N-A-M-E I-S P-A-I-M-O-N.

Is that the name of the witch?” Dwight asked, his eyes darting from Jonah to Hannah.

I don’t think so…” Hannah’s voice trembled slightly. “I, uh… It doesn’t sound like a name I’ve heard.”

I have,” Jonah said, his face pale. “There’s this book I’ve been reading through some time ago, and uh… and it had names of demons in it.”

Shut up!” Eli heaved, his breath shallow and erratic. He let go of the pointer. “I’m out. This is too much for me.” The others only stared at him with their mouths agape. “What are you looking at?”

Eli, your...” Hannah whispered and pointed to her forehead. Eli touched placed his hand where she pointed on his own head – it felt sticky. His knees shook as he extended his hand and gaze upon his palm – covered in thick black blood. With a click, the pointer moved again, even though hands were touching it. Everyone was too busy trying to catch Eli. He didn’t even notice when he began to faint, but it happened in an instant. His vision went dark and he heard a loud thud. It wasn’t until he woke up the next morning that he realized it was him falling that made that noise.