I never spoke to anyone about the incident. It was easier that way, despite how vividly I still remember that day. Some nights I would dream about being back in that tunnel again, lost and alone, the dead bodies of Dave and Amanda pulling me into the tunnel, accusing me of being a coward and a selfish bastard.
"All for a wish," they would repeat again and again in those dreams, as their skeletal fingers clawed at me, ripping into my flesh as I tried to escape.
Days soon became months and months became years. Despite the occasional nightmares, I have come to accept that that fateful day may have been a figment of my imagination, my memories of that day no more than a side-effect of the car crash. It was the easier truth to digest, the easier reality to live in. After all, if no one besides myself experience the reality, surely it must have been all in my head.
Until today, that is. As I stood before my study desk at home, a brown envelope lying discreetly on it.
There was no return address, no stamp, only my handwritten name on the front. Thinking it was some contract from my work that needs signing, I tore open the seal and numerous A5 sized papers dropped out from the envelope. Each of them had a chunk of text printed on them. Curious, I picked up the top most one and began reading it, and the first sentence jumped at me.
"It was supposed to be an ordinary road trip with my buddy Dave, his girlfriend Cecelia and her colleague Amanda..."
I began to look through the other papers, as a fear began to build inside me. Each of them contained a note that I had written back in the tunnel. 11.45pm 12.16am. 1.00pm. 18 notes with 18 different time stamp. Each in my own words. Exactly how I had typed them in my phone. I thought they had disappeared, erased together with the existence of Dave, a figment of my imagination, but holding them in my hands, despite how much I wanted to believe that Dave, Amanda and the tunnel had been nothing but a bad dream, they were not.
There was another paper behind the notes, folded in half, in another colour. I flipped it, and scrawled across the paper were two sentences. The first sentence looked faded, with a strikethrough going through it. While the second sentence looked fresher, as if just written recently. They both looked something like below:
Hajat anda akan ditunaikan.
Hajat anda telah ditunaikan.
I tried pronouncing the first sentence aloud, hoping that perhaps it would give some clue. As the words slowly rolled off my tongue, I felt a strange of deja vu, as if I have heard the sentence before. I repeated myself louder, slower.
It was then when it struck me. A phone that I thought was not working had repeated the sentence to me, from a memory that was supposed to have been a dream.
Feeling genuinely freaked out by now, I copied both the sentences into Google translate, something that I had wanted to do back then, hoping that they would turned out to be just gibberish and doesn't make any sense. How wrong I was.
Your wish will be fulfilled.
Your wish has been fulfilled.
My head began to suddenly throb, and like a switch turned on, I started remembering. First in blur, sketchy snapshots, but over the time they became clearer. Memories of what happened one night earlier. The night before we drove into the tunnel. There were the three of us, sitting by a beach bar, enjoying a few rounds of drinks to celebrate our trip. Me, Dave and Cecilia. Amanda had said that drinking was boring and went off to her own adventure. I, on the other hand, ended up being the unwitting third well, regretting my choice of following Dave and Cecilia.
It started out normal, of course, just friends chatting with each other, talking about our trip. But as the drinks flowed, the conversation slowed. Dave’s hand was slowly caressing Cecilia’s back, and before long they were in each other’s arms, just letting their passion take over.
I remember walking away, in my drunken state, feeling slightly bitter and annoyed. There was jealousy mixed together in it as well. The image of Dave’s tongue in Cecilia’s mouth kept replaying in my mind. When I first found that Dave was with Cecilia, I told myself that he was my buddy, and I cannot do anything to betray him.
But it was not easy, suppressing any feelings that I still had for Cecilia while trying to be a decent friend. After all Cecilia was the reason I agreed to join this trip in the first place. I wished that Dave never existed, that it was me who was with Cecilia instead. It was petty of me, in hindsight, but alcohol has a way of messing with your feelings.
I continued my lone walk along the beach, unsure of my destination, until I saw a small wooden hut about half of my height, nestled under a coconut tree, no larger than a dinner table in size. Lights danced within. It look strange, how a lone hut stood at the beach.
My curiosity piqued, I walked closer towards the hut, and found a black statue perched in the middle of it, flanked by several burning candles. The statue wore a wreath of flowers, two of its eight hands clasped together as if it was praying. As I was studying the statue, a voice startled me from behind.
"It's a deity that's supposed to grant out wishes." I turned around to see an old man smiling at me, dressed in a white top, his legs wrapped around in a traditional looking cloth. "Any... wishes?" I replied to that old man in my slurred speech.
"Yes, any wishes. It's very effective, our people come here all the time to pray. You can pray to the god to grant your wish too. Only for 10 dollars." The old man's smile never disappeared.
Great, a tourist trap, I remember thinking. Still, my hand removed a 10 dollar note from my pocket, and handed it to the old man, the image of Dave and Cecilia still playing in my mind. "If it's as effective as you said it would be, I wish for Dave to disappear and Cecelia to be mine!"
The old man smiled even wider, nodding his head, and handed me a note with a sentence on it telling me that my wish will be fulfilled. The exact same note that was now on the table, the only difference was that there was one new sentence there.
Dave and Cecilia found my passed out by the beach, and dragged me back to the hotel. I woke up the next morning with a hungover, the events of the previous night completely forgotten.
Until today. The revelation made me sick. Dave has always existed. Amanda too. They were never a figment of my imagination, as much as I wanted them to be. And I had killed them, unknowingly.
Because I made a drunken wish to a stupid statue thinking it was a tourist trap. Who then, delivered all these notes to me? And why the need for a sudden reminder?
A sense of dread overwhelmed me. Fearing the worst, I quickly reached into my pocket. The phone fumbled in my hands as I took it out, my fingers clumsily searching for Cecelia's number. The call went through, and the familiar dial tone gave me a temporary comfort. After about a few seconds, the familiar voice of my wife answered.
"Hey baby, how are you?"
"How goes the shopping trip with our daughter?"
"Okay, great, that's good to hear. Can't wait to see you both tonight. Tell Jessie daddy loves her."
Before I could end the call however, the line was abruptly cut, but did not went dead. Instead, it was replaced by another call. My screen showed that I was on a call with unknown. I tried to hang up the call, pressing the red button and even the power button, but the call remained. From unknown.
Hands shaking, I put the phone close to my ears. "Hello?"
The voice at the end of the phone sent a chill down my spine.
“Hello Tim, I hope you’ve received our letter.” It has been three years since I last heard it, but there was no mistaking the voice. Dave. But raspier, drier. Each of his word was punctuated with heavy breathing.
"What... what do you want?" I managed to blurt out, my voice obviously trembling.
"Oh, just wanted to see how you're doing with your wish. Quite the happy ending, eh? A wedding with your high school crush and a daughter too!" another voice crooned. It was Amanda. Plus our boss here wanted to ask for a favour, for his services, you know."
"Boss? Favour?" I continued to stammer. Out of nowhere, a familiar stench made its way to my nose. The smell of decaying flesh.
Dave's voice came back on. "Yes, Tim. Our boss. The guy who runs this place. The guy whom you asked a wish from. The guy whom you gave our souls to. Him. Given how your well your wish has turned out, my boss has come to collect the remainder of his payment."
My head was spinning by now, "Wait, what payment?"
"Another soul, Tim. Your daughter's." It was neither Dave's or Amanda's voice now. I could feel his creepy smile through the phone. The old man by the beach. "You only asked to be with Cecilia, removal of Dave and I gave you that. But you never asked for the safety of any of your children. So here I am. You don't think that 10 paltry dollars is enough, right?"
"Dear Tim, I'm afraid that there's always a catch in asking for a wish. Else there's no point granting a wish, isn't it." Laughter from all three of them.
No, there's got to be a way I pleaded. I begged. "Anything," I told them. I am willing to do anything that doesn't involve giving my daughter away.
More laughter. Evil, maniacal laughter that shook the insides of me. Then, Dave responded. "Oh you're so cute, Tim. If only you were this brave when we were escaping. But no,you chose the selfish path instead. Running away, leaving me to die."
Post all the notes online. Let the world know of my misdeeds. Of my cowardly actions. Tell the world of the wish-granter by the beach. Those were the conditions given by them.
So here am I, posting these notes online to wherever I could find, to let the world know of Dave's and Amanda's story, of what a coward I have been, in hopes that it would be enough to appease them to spare Jessie. To honour the memories and existence of two persons that I had erased, due to one toxic mistake.
And should you ever need a wish to come true badly, you know where to find the wish-granter. Just be prepared for the consequence that awaits you should you decide to seek it out.