This story is by Kenneth Tan and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
He walked through people, wearing a black suit, carrying a leather bag. Nobody saw him but me. The man smirked as if he knew that I could saw him and stopped before a church. He took out a scroll, browsed it, grinned at me and moved his hand in a way hinting me to follow.
Hesitantly, I followed him.
He led me to the churchyard where there was no one.
“Who are you?”
He turned to me. “Hello, Jason. I’m Cane Isanelf, a wish-granting agent. I grant a human wish. Any wish, but with one condition.”
“A day of a human life.”
“Human life?” I widened my eyes.
“Yes, a day of a human life can lighten a house in my world, Elfwood for a day. Humans make lots of wishes, their wishes are our source of energy. Then, we convert a tiny amount of energy to grant a human wish. For every wish we granted, we receive a commission.”
“This is outrageous! This is human life! How about a day of your life to be exchanged?”
He gazed at me, his yellow eyes blazing. “Boy, it’s just a day! Who are you to question me? Do you think humans deserved that? Do humans value other beings’ life even to their own kind?”
No word came from me. I knew how true his words were.
“There are many agents who just grant any wish to get high commission and to be promoted. They granted every single wish without considering its worthiness – the wish of the slacker, the unethical and the corrupt.”
“I never grant such unworthy wish.”
“Okay. But, why can I see you?”
“That’s because I need your help. Every agent has to achieve a target of 60 wishes each month. I failed to achieve the target many months already. This is my last month before I will be degraded into an inferior being.”
“Then, you need to work hard!”
“I do work hard. Selfless wish is difficult to find.”
“Why don’t you ask help from your own kind?”
“They won’t help. All of them think only of wealth and gain. They fight for wealth disregard of others and will only help if there’s a gain. My world has been corrupted.” Cane lowered his head.
I gazed into his eyes and it told me the truth. He was really desperate. “Cane, I’m sorry. I don’t know your world so corrupted.”
“I envy you, Jason. Your world still has selfless people.”
“Cane, I will help you to grant wishes.”
Cane raised his head, smiling.
I paused to think. “Today’s the first day. We go different places and grant at least 2 wishes every day. By the end of this month, you can reach your target. Every evening, we share our progress here. How about it?”
“Jason, it’s not easy to find a selfless wish.”
“Cane, there’s always hope if we keep fighting.”
“Okay. Looks like I chose the right person.”
Thus, Cane shared his scroll to me and taught me how to grant a wish. Every day, we granted at least 2 wishes as we planned. We find wishes from many different locations – church, temple and wishing well. Some days, we were able to find wish – the most were 5 wishes, some days none.
This was the thirtieth day, the last day. I strode to the churchyard. I saw Cane there. He looked at me, despaired.
“Cane, how many wishes have we granted?”
Cane sighed. “58 wishes.”
“That’s two more wish.”
Cane’s eyes were teary, he had lost all hope.
“No worry. There’s still time. Let’s find together.”
He held me by my shoulder as we trod into the church. For hours, many came and made wishes, but there was no selfless wish.
I looked at my watch. 11:40 pm. “What? Twenty minutes more.” I turned to Cane.
“Just two more. Tomorrow I will be a lesser being.”
Then, an old man came in.
I felt a vile grin at Cain’s face.
Once the old man finished, Cane read the old man’s name from the scroll. “Jonathan Kwenston, I hereby grant your wish.”
The old man’s body as he dropped dead as his soul came out and soon disintegrated into sparkling stars which dissolved into thin air.
“What the…” I dropped my jaw, shocked by what had just happened.
He kept his scroll in his bag and smiled as if he hadn’t done anything terrible.
I gazed at Cane and felt my heart burning. “Cane! What have you done? I thought you only grant selfless wish? ”
“Jason, it was a selfless wish.”
He spoke. “Actually, that man could only live until tomorrow. I can see his name and time of death. His grandchild was diagnosed with the final stage of cancer and have only a few months left. He wished his grandchild can live until her ripe old age. And so, I granted his wish. His wish was selfless and of true love.”
“I’m sorry, Cane.”
“Just one more wish.” Cane muttered.
I looked at my watch. “Now, just ten minutes more. How are we going to find the last wish?”
I looked at Cane’s eyes. The first time I met him, he was desperate for help. All the days he looked as if he have gained hope. Now, Cane looked even more desperate.
“Jason, thank you very much for all these days. You are selfless. You have been such a good friend. I won’t regret to have met you. I will remember you forever.” Cane’s eyes were teary as he spoke.
“I’m pleased to have you as a friend too, Cane.”
I drew my brows. “Why did I never think of that?”
Cane gazed at me. “Think what?”
“Cane, I want to make a wish.”
“Alright.” Cane smiled as if he had regained hope. He took out his scroll and begun writing my name.
Clasping my palm, I spoke. “I wish that every being in Elfwood is loving and selfless.”