Jon got back in his room to find Sarah holding the stone.
"Sarah... don't," he began, wanting to scream in shock and fear, but maintaining the image of calm. "Um, can I have that, stone?" Was she actually here to steal it all along? Jon wondered. Was this all a trick, asking for help studying? Did she see us this afternoon? Shit shit shit shit!
"Sure. Did you want to wish for something?" Sarah asked without the tiniest bit of apparent worry, as she stood up, walked to him and handed it to him, and then affectionately stroked his hair as she strutted around him.
Jon was speechless. His heart was still beating at least 3 times per second. There was so much to unpack here. One, she knew what the stone did. Two, did that mean she was in his home to steal it? But it couldn't be, because three, she just gave it back to him without a fuss! And 4, she was, loose, normally, maybe, flirtatious, but in a bad way, manipulative, but now, she really didn't seem the same. What could it mean?!
"Sarah... you, you know, what it does..."
"Of course I know what it does. You told us. Oh. Oh no. That little thing I just did changed history? No, it couldn't be, it should be so minor. Maybe I should have waited until you and Karyn were in the room. I just thought, it's embarrassing, and well, what harm could it do, and if you were out of the room, you two shouldn't even notice anyway, I was hoping everything would be the same and, well, but maybe something else changed as a result. Where is she anyway?"
"I... what... Karyn, isn't, here? I don't think... it must have changed, history, because I have no idea what's going on. What the hell did you wish for?!"
"Take a guess," Sarah said coyly.
"I wouldn't, have any idea where to begin." Jon's mind reeled at the possibilities. "For the love of all that is sane in the universe, Sarah, just tell me what you wished for!"
"It's embarrassing..." she said, looking away. "You're sure you can't tell?"
"Absolutely postively absotively posolutely please, I need to know what foundations of reality have just been bashed with a wrecking ball into a pile of debris right beneath my feet!"
"Fiiiiinnnneee...." Sarah huffed. "I wished for blonde hair and big breasts like Karyn. I mean, I wanted a little privacy about it, I didn't expect the Spanish inquisition. Dun dun dunnn, NOBODY expects the Spanish inquisition!"
"What? WHAT?!!" Jon stammered.
"I said NOBODY expects the Spanish..."
"I heard what you said! But I meant about the blonde hair and big boobs. You've always had... oh, my, god. Of course I would think that. Even though it's memories over years and years and years. Oh holy poop on a stick. So this is what it's like to have my memory changed with the rest. As far as I know, you've always looked like this."
"Well that was the idea, that you wouldn't notice, because it's embarrassing to admit I had wished for that, after chastising Karyn over doing it, I know it's hypocritical, but she obviously liked it, and I thought, what the hell, what's the harm. But I probably maybe shouldn't have done it while you two were out of the room you think?"
"Yes! I mean, Karyn isn't even here!"
"Yes! As far as I know, she's in her own house!"
"Oh. Damn. So it changed, hmmm, butterfly effect, or something. I thought the changes to my appearance would be all that was different. But in this alternate version, the 3 of us weren't all here to experiment with the stone and share ideas on how to use the stone?"
"Well maybe you should tell me what happened from your perspective, and I'll tell you what happened from mine."
"Ok, first of all, from my perspective," Jon began, "in my memories, I never told you about the stone."
"What? You mean you told Karyn but not me?"
"Really? Well honestly I'm a bit hurt. Or was that what you were doing here? Like I wasn't available at the time you showed Karyn and you were only showing me now."
"No! As far as I know, you just came to my front door asking to study! Except maybe it was a ruse to steal the stone. Except maybe it wasn't if that's just what I think after it changed history."
"Oh. Well at least we're still best friends, I thought for a moment that had changed," Sarah said.
Jon stood there with his mouth open.
"We're not best friends are we."
"N... I mean... are... no." Jon settled on.
"But, still good friends?"
"No. Really, no. Enemies, really."
"Well that's just awful!" Sarah said sadly. "But me and Karyn are still good friends, right?"
"No, she hates your guts. Me, I have, don't be offended, but I have, a negative opinion about you, but not strongly, but she actually hates you."
"Fuck! What did I do? Maybe I should wish you to remember my reality instead?"
"No, I don't want my mind, all the memories of my whole life, to be rewritten!"
"Isn't that what just happened already? I'd just be fixing your memories."
"Holy shit..." Jon said. "I have to call Karyn."
A few moments later he had called her and she had answered.
"Karyn, you're not going to believe this, but, well, Sarah is, um, in my room... yes, Sarah McMillan.... no Karyn, I'm not thinking with my dick.... no Karyn... Karyn.. KARYN! Stop it! We have a situation. She made a wish that went wrong... no you don't understand. We can't trust our memories. She's supposed to be our friend."
"with benefits..." Sarah said, loud enough for Karyn to hear over the phone.
"Right into my room, right now?" Jon asked into the phone. "All right." He picked up the stone. "I wish Karyn was in my room."
Jon and Sarah looked away as the teleportation was accomplished.
"Oh my," Sarah said with a smile.
"So it was a trap! She hasn't changed at all!" Karyn screamed, covering up her naked body as best as she could.
"Karyn, calm down! She didn't do this. I just wished you into my room like you asked, I, guess I should have wished you would be in my room fully clothed..."
Sarah was holding back the giggles. Karyn fumed at Sarah. Until Sarah took her by surprise and hugged her.
"I love you Karyn, and I always will. Even if you don't remember," Sarah said, hugging around her. "Also I can't get over how hot you are. I was wrong before. But then I did it to myself too, so I shouldn't be one to criticize anyway."
Karyn was stunned at first, and then reluctantly hugged around Sarah as Sarah embraced around her.
"Eeee! Now we both have big boobs. This is going to make things so much fun, I can barely believe it!" Sarah said happily.
"What the hell is going on here!" Karyn said in exasperation.
"It's nice to see you getting along," Jon said in a smile.
"What happened?!" Karyn asked.
Jon sat on the wall after class, nervously holding the box and swinging his legs. It was the first day of school after spring break and had been one of the most stressful he'd ever endured. He hadn't dared carry the box around with him all day in case he misplaced it or someone thought they might borrow it, and that meant leaving it in his locker. That turned out to be an even worse plan - he was on the edge of his seat throughout every lesson, worrying that someone would break into his locker and take the box. It was irrational anxiety and Jon knew it: the lockers were all well-protected with combination locks, and it was vastly unlikely that anyone would ever keep anything in there which was particularly valuable. Plus it was a good school; everyone was pretty honest in general and they'd only had a very few incidents of theft in all the time he'd been there.
He was waiting for Karyn and Sarah, his best friends of longer than he'd care to mention. In fact, he'd been waiting to talk to them for over a week, but never had there been a time they both were available together, and he didn't want to play favorites. Not with something as important as this.
Finally, he spotted them both strolling towards him across the yard. Karyn was wearing her usual get-up of scruffy old slacks and her favourite worn old green jumper. Her short red hair was in its normal unruly state and she displayed her quirky grin as she spotted me slouched on the wall. The overall effect, I thought, was pretty cute. I'd always thought she was cute, but we'd never been more than friends. There are some friendships you just don't want to complicate. Sarah, she was wearing shorts and a t-shirt with a MC Escher art on it. She was being her usual silly and overly affectionate self, holding hands with Karyn. Karyn looked like she maybe wanted to escape, but Sarah was impossible not to love. She just had this way of wearing people down. At first she sometimes came off as a slut with her touchy feely behavior, but actually she was just this naive innocent thing.
When they finally reached him, they both leapt up onto the wall with somewhat more ease than Jon had managed earlier.
"Hey, Jon-boy! How's it going? Good break?" Karyn said.
"Hi Jonnnn," Sarah said flirtatiously.
Jon grinned sheepishly. "Was okay. You two?" he asked.
Karyn shrugged, "You know, same-old, same-old. There's only so many snowy mountain peaks you can gaze at in wonder in a lifetime. I might have to give the old spring break tradition a miss next year and just hang out with you two."
"I've been volunteering at the animal shelter. I am on a sacred mission to pet every kitty in the world," Sarah said playfully.
I grinned. "Thanks for reminding me that I'm an unambitious useless couch potato."
"So nothing of interest to report while I was away?" Karyn asked.
"My grandfather died." Jon stated matter-of-factly.
Karyn's face fell, while Sarah looked more serious suddenly. "My condolences," Sarah said without missing a beat.
"Sorry to hear that. I know you were close. What happened? He wasn't all that old, was he? I thought he was off on one of his expeditions just a few months ago," Karyn asked.
Jon shrugged slightly. "Heart attack, apparently."
Karyn frowned, as Sarah was giving Jon a shoulder massage from behind.
Jon took a deep breath and took the plunge. "That's because I'm not convinced he's actually dead."
"I presume we're not talking adolescent denial here," Karyn asked, with a raised eyebrow. "I mean, how can they diagnose a heart attack with no body?"
"Oh, there was a body, I'm just not sure it was him." Jon realized he was probably giving them images of mutilated corpses or worse, but was genuinely nervous about what he was about to show them.
"What, you can't identify him after a heart attack?" Sarah said.
"Well it's because of this." Jon interrupted, holding up the box. It was fairly unimpressive, about one inch by four and an inch deep, made of plain dark wood with a few obscure markings carved into it.
"What is it?" Karyn asked, intrigued. Jon thought he was probably playing up the cloak-and-dagger stuff too much, but it was quite mysterious, after all.
"It's my inheritance." He opened up the box. Inside was a rather crumpled piece of paper and a rather unusual, if plain-looking, stone. The stone was slightly metallic, rather like haematite, but with a reddish hue to its surface, rounded, flattish and about an inch across. "Read the note," he instructed them. Sarah started reading it out loud for the group:
If you are reading this, it means I have passed on. Do not mourn my leaving; although we shall no longer be able to spend time together, be happy knowing that where I am now is just a new start and a different perspective than before and that I shall just look at it as my next great adventure.
The stone you find in this box is my legacy to you. Treat it with care, it does not look much, but has immense power. I have entrusted it to you, as my favourite grandson and friend, to be its keeper and guardian now that I am gone.
I found the stone on my latest expedition to South America and I believe it to be of Incan origin. How it works, or where it came from beyond that, I have no idea. All I can tell you is how it works and trust you to use it wisely.
Bear with me on this next bit; I know it sounds fantastic, but trust me when I tell you that I am telling the truth. All I say is real and it will not take much experimentation for you to prove it.
While holding the stone against your flesh (I recommend just holding it in your hand as the simplest approach), simply use the words 'I wish' followed by whatever it is you want the stone to do. There is no limit to the number of times you can do this, as far as I can divine, but beware for the words of a wish can be reinterpreted but not changed once the breath is over. The stone has great power, but is not unlimited. Changes made will be as if it has always been so, apart from for those within earshot of the wish or out of the range of influence of the stone. This range I estimate at several miles, but I fear I have not been able to determine an exact figure.
I must go now. Use the gift I have given you wisely, and think of me often.
Your friend, always,
Sarah finished reading the note and shook her head. "You really had me tricked. That's as bad as that stupid rex and rita saurus thing."
"Never mind. A scam put on kids in the 1980s, tricked them into thinking that real dinosaur eggs were found and were going to be hatching at a certain time, and they tuned in and it was a bunch of muppets that were unveiled in some attempt to get kids to read more."
"Hmph," Jon said, annoyed that she didn't give the tiniest bit of consideration it might be real. But they both would know soon enough. "See that branch?" He indicated a piece of wood that had fallen off one of the nearby trees. He grasped the stone in his hand. "I wish the bark on that branch was blue."
Jon was used to the sensation by now; it was like momentarily getting something in your eye, forcing you to be unable to look at the object the wish was affecting. Karyn and Sarah were both obviously a little taken aback by the strange sensation.
"Hey, weird, it was like..." Karyn said, then she caught sight of the branch. Which was bright blue. "Holy shit!"
"Impressive, huh?" Jon said, as Sarah poked at it.
"My god, it really works!?" Karyn was agape.
"So not a muppet dinosaur," Sarah said.
"Wanna see the scary part?" Jon grasped the stone again and wished for the branch to be red.
"Why didn't it work?" asked Karyn, looking puzzled.
"Because it was contradictory to a previous wish. Basically, you can't undo wishes, which is what makes this thing so scary to me."
"Be careful what you wish for," Sarah said in a serious campfire voice.
"There is, however, some room for movement: I wish the branch was very dark blue." The sensation was felt by all three of them again and when they looked, the branch was indeed a dark, almost black blue, which was a lot more innocuous than the bright blue it had been moments ago. "So, you see I was able to make a new wish which didn't contradict the old one and have it work. The branch is still blue. However, if I was to try and move the branch back to its previous brighter blue, that would fail as it contradicts the latest wish."
Karyn was clearly astounded, while Sarah pondered.
"This is great. Scary but great. We can have lots of fun with this," Karyn said.
"I'm not so sure," Sarah said. "I think anything we do with it should be carefully considered a long time in advance. Plenty of time to think about it."
"I was thinking of just locking it away and throwing away the key," Jon said.
"You can't be serious. You have the most amazing discovery ever, and you want to lock it away. How about this: how about we try it out for a while and if anything disastrous happens or looks like happening, then we'll decide to put it somewhere safe." Karyn said.
Jon and Sarah looked at each other. It seemed unusual for Karyn to be such a loose cannon but fire too could be tamed.
"Okay. We don't wish for anything drastic though," Jon said. "We'll have a little fun and nothing more. Agreed?"
"I think we should have a rule that we don't do anything without a unanimous agreement between the 3 of us with a one-week lead-in time to consider it."
"I can't believe you of all people are being such a party pooper Sarah. You seem so fun-loving but you always have to be so darned responsible. I wish you were more impulsive."
Sarah twitched. "See that right there! It's a good thing you weren't holding the damn thing when you said that! You could have changed my whole personality!"
"Oh. Well, I won't do anything like that again. I just have to be careful about using the w-word," Karyn rebuffed. "But come on, can I have a go?"
Jon made for handing over the stone.
"Jon!" Sarah said.
"Do you trust her Sarah?" Jon asked.
"...yeah. I guess so. Just be careful." Sarah said.
Karyn held up the stone, passing it from hand to hand, feeling its smoothness. The first thing she tried was wishing the branch back to light blue, with no success as predicted. She was just contemplating changing the colour of her shoes to better match her old slacks when we were interrupted by a high-pitched laugh.
Miriam Myling, head cheerleader and class-A bitch, was wandering across the yard followed by her usual entourage of drooling, overmuscled football players and other assorted testosterone-fueled flunkies.
Karyn was unimpressed. "Can you explain to me why men are so shallow? Everyone knows that Myling is a total bitch and yet, because she has blond hair and big tits, every guy in the school spends half his life dribbling down her cleavage."
"Karyn!" Sarah chided. "Stop that! Jesus, sometimes you make me ashamed of being a woman, you know that? You know sexism works both ways? Jesus Christ, right to Jon's face too, what the fuck is wrong with you!"
Karyn looked down. "Well you know what? I wish I had long blond hair and big boobs and maybe then I'd get some of the attention."
"The fuck!" Sarah said. The three all felt once again as if they had something in their eyes, or so it seemed.
Jon and Sarah knew pretty much what to expect when they looked back, but it was still weird.
"You! The hell! Right when we trusted you, you go do something impulsive and stupid!" Sarah snarled.
"Don't call me stupid you bitch!" Karyn snarled back.
"Right when you said all men were like this and looking at them with contempt, you wish for boobs because I guess you want those guys you have such contempt for to pay attention to you. How is that something a smart person would do?" Sarah said, rage in her eyes.
"Ladies, come on," Jon said.
"Oh come on Jon, stop being such a doormat, you need to put people in their place when they deserve it or they'll walk all over you and turn into Miriam Mylings themselves," Sarah said.
Jon looked over at Karyn. To be honest, the breasts weren't really noticeable. Karyn always wore her favourite baggy green sweater and Jon was really pretty much in the dark as to her bust size before the wish, but presumably they hadn't counted as 'big', at least in her mind. The hair, however, was a different story. It was not only light blond and lying gently across her shoulders, but more shockingly, perfectly straight. It was not, in Jon's opinion, a look which suited her.
"Well I'll bet you think I look good like this." Karyn said, turning to Jon.
"I can't believe you did that, Karyn," Jon said, feeling more able to express how aghast he was at Sarah's influence. "You changed something so major, just like that."
"Yeah, well, how long should I ponder an improvement?" Karyn shot back.
"What do you think Sarah, am I hot?"
"Yeah, smokin' babe," Sarah said sarcastically. "Especially with the hair that is so, so wrong."
"Sarah's right, Karyn. This is why I wanted to lock this thing away." Jon sighed.
"So you're both against me?!" Karyn asked in disbelief.
"Karyn, it's not we're against you, but I think we weren't expecting you to, do something like that! What if you regret it later in life!"
Karyn shrugged and then looked disconcerted at the new things obviously going on in her bra. "Maybe it was, hasty. At least I didn't wish..." She realized she was still holding the stone. "Never mind. You're probably right. Here, take this thing back before I mess up some more." Jon took the stone and put it back in the box, out of harm's way.
"We could make some more wishes to try damage limitation." Jon noted.
"No. At least not yet. Why are you two so dead-set against it. At least give it a chance! What if we make more wishes for supposed damage control and I decide I like it better this way? Isn't the argument the same as the one you had for why I shouldn't have done that in the first place? Let me go home and sleep on it - on my back - and decide what's best." With that she was up off the wall and walking away. "Meet me here again tomorrow," she called back before she disappeared around the corner.
Jon and Sarah looked at each other. Jon looked down at the box and shoved it in his pocket. He decided that tomorrow he was going to leave it at home, well-hidden from his Mom. He figured it was less likely to cause more trouble if it was less directly accessible.
"What do you think Sarah?"
"I still love you both, but sometimes she makes it hard."
"The trio of terror, forever," Jon said, pressing his forehead against Sarah's. Their silly nickname for the three of them.
Sarah scritched his hair and said "I'm going home for now Jon-boy. Let's all three of us meet at your house for studying tonight. I've got some crap on the first day if you can believe it."
"Yeah me too," Jon said. "I'll call Karyn, smooth things over with her for you. I wish she could be more reasonable sometimes."
He looked around the now deserted yard and decided it was time to slope off home.
"Holy shit," Karyn said. "That's what happened originally, and we just had our memories rewritten? That's so fucked up."
The three of them all flinched, as they heard the doorbell downstairs ring. They all filed downstairs and got the door. An unfamiliar face stood before them. Unfamiliar to all but one of them at least. She was a girl Jon and Karyn had seen around, but they didn't know her well. She was a transfer student and she hadn't been in any of their classes.
Sarah's mouth hung open. "Miriam Myling? What, are you doing here?"