Message In A Bottle
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The following is a transcript of a handwritten letter found in a 20-ounce glass beverage container, found near Lake [REDACTED] in southwest Wisconsin. Signs of struggle were evident, and upon closer examination, several fragments of human bones were discovered nearby, badly charred.

"In the name of God, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful, I offer you my greetings and my profoundest gratitude, O my liberator. I pray you, read what is written here, and understand.

"Firstly, know that what you hold is no simple sheet of paper. I have assumed this form to attract your attention, for my natural shape is imperceptible to the eyes of man. I apologize most profusely for my duplicity, but I have heard that your people tell stories of messages in bottles. Allow me to relay my pitiful tale.

"My name is Ahmed bin Yusuf Abdul Hakim. I am an Ifrit, a fire spirit, of the Jinn. It occurs to me that, in this age and this place, word of my people may have escaped your ears, honored one. Know that it was Allah, the Creator and the Shaper of forms, who fashioned my people from smokeless flame, even before He sculpted the first man from the blessed clay, and that our people are as brothers in his eyes.

"I am a stranger to these cold lands; those of my tribe are folk of the desert, and of the caverns beneath the sands. My lineage is old and proud, known to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, but I myself am young and, I must confess, foolish. Thus it was that I was tricked.

"Some months ago, I was wandering the desert night, as my folk are wont to do, when I heard a voice on the wind, calling my name. I followed it for many leagues, on foot and in the air - for Allah the most Generous has gifted my people with wings, and we are able fliers - but could find it nowhere. I was confounded, but the voice offered guidance, and told me to dive beneath the sands. I obeyed, plunging downward through sand and stone alike. Suddenly all grew dark and cold, and I found myself in a human dwelling not far from here.

"And I saw the source of the voice, who wore the shape of a beautiful woman. She had summoned me from afar, drawing me to her bedchamber with secret sigils and diagrams, with which she then entrapped me in a bottle, the same bottle you have found, O my savior. At first I thought that she had summoned me to be her husband, for as you may know it is not forbidden for our peoples to intermarry. Such was not to be my fortune, for although she was lovely in appearance, she was an evil woman of much malign intent, and desired only my power, to assist her in wicked deeds. My good heart compelled me to refuse, and she grew very angry.

"She resorted to threats, but we of the Ifrit are clever folk, and so at each turn I reminded her that to harm me she would be forced to open the bottle, and in so doing, set me free. Her temper raged like a storm, but after many nights she grew quieter and more calm. And here I hoped, in my foolishness, that she would finally release me. Indeed she wished to be rid of me, but alas, so too did she wish to make me suffer. She cast me into the lake, telling me as she did so that the bottle would be trapped in the ice, and would eventually shatter, and that I would die in the cold waters. And she abandoned me to my fate.

"May Allah preserve her, for it is Allah, the Preserver, who has saved me. As my captor predicted, this bottle was trapped beneath the ice of the lake. And yet, as I floated and prayed in that abyss of frozen fear, I saw the stirrings of great fishes below me. And as the fishes swam and cavorted throughout the long winter, the ice did not entrap me further, and when spring came, I remained alive. And yet, I had grown weak from my months of solitude and starvation. When this vessel washed up on the shore, I had but a spark of my fire left, for the winter in your lands is cold indeed. I could do no more than assume this form, as a final act of desperation. As paper I will not die, but neither have I the strength to return to my true form, for now the fire has left me.

"Thus I pray you, return to me my essence. Any source of flame will serve; I know your people are most ingenious and have devised many marvels for this purpose since the days of flint and steel. Simply set this paper alight, and I will be free. You will not see the joy of my liberation, for as I have said, my people are not easily seen by human eyes. Nor does the human form appear clearly to us, truly. But I will shower upon you such blessings as are mine to give, O my savior.

"If you wish to know the full scope of my generosity, write your full name upon the reverse side of this paper, prior to burning. I will return exactly one year thence, having recovered my strength, to grant your heart's desire and to hound your enemies. In the name of God, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful, it shall be so."

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