The Wishing Stone
by Tegon Maus
The last time we used it was at the hospital the morning she died.
On that day, all three of us made a silent wish, certain the others had wished the same. Kate died that afternoon and I never thought about it again. It was the last time I believed in magic, in love or… in the existence of God… and then, after three miserable, lonely years… the unthinkable, a second chance… Warwick.
Excerpt – The Wishing Stone
In the middle of the room stood a large machine of some sort. Six large, blue cylinders, with thick cables and several hoses protruding out of their tops, made up the bulk of the apparatus. At the bottom, each narrowed almost to a point, terminating in a black plastic square. A rainbow of braided wire, jutted out of one side of the square before being taped to the side of each cylinder. The wires trailed along the thicker cable until they connected to the back of a dull aluminum box. More cables, attached to a computer, were tied to the opposite side of the aluminum box. Below the cylinders was a flat, slanted table.
Roger stood with his hands in his pockets, shoulders slumped, staring at the contrivance.
“I’m sorry, my friend,” Digby said softly, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. “I fixed it.”
“Got it to work at last then?” Roger asked. His voice held a sorrowful tone.
“I wish it had been in time,” Digby said, patting him.
I didn’t understand what was going on. What was this machine? What did it do?
“It looks… complicated,” I offered trying to think of the right thing to say.
“It was Roger’s design. Digby finished it when Kate went into the hospital for the last time,” Marcie answered, coming to my rescue.
“What does it do?” I asked, running a curious hand over the metal cylinders.
“It doesn’t do anything… it makes,” Digby said, lightly slapping my hand away from the apparatus.
“My mistake… what does it make?”
“Skin,” he returned.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Skin,” he repeated.
“Skin like…” I couldn’t think of the right words to convey my curiosity.
“Yes, skin… people skin… like yours, like mine, like hers,” he said with disinterest, pointing at Marcie.
“Well, not like my skin,” Marcie countered.
“Oh, you’re right. I hadn’t thought about that… wouldn’t that be interesting. Yes?” Digby exclaimed, covering his mouth with his fingers. He stood for a moment looking to the ceiling, his fingers drumming over his half open mouth.
I was raised pretty much the same as everyone else… devoted mother, strict father and all the imaginary friends I could conjure. Not that I wasn’t friendly, I just wasn’t “people orientated”. Maybe I lived in my head way more than I should have, maybe not. I liked machines more than people, at least I did until I met my wife. The first thing I can remember writing was for her. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was about… something about dust bunnies under the bed and monsters in my closet. It must have been pretty good because she married me shortly after that. I spent a good number of years after inventing games and prototypes for a variety of ideas before I got back to writing. It wasn’t a deliberate conscious thought it was more of a stepping stone. My wife and I had joined a dream interpret group and we were encouraged to write down our dreams as they occurred. “Be as detailed as you can,” we were told. I was thrilled. If there is one thing I enjoy it’s making people believe me and I like to exaggerate. Not a big exaggeration or an outright lie mine you, just a little step out of sync, just enough so you couldn’t be sure if it were true or not. When I write, I always write with the effort of “it could happen” very much in mind and nothing, I guarantee you, nothing, makes me happier.