Monkey Paws

“And it will grant anything I wish?” the boy asked.

The demon nodded. “Aye sir, that it will do, anything your heart desires, the Bowl will provide. You only have to say out loud what it is you truly want, and it shall be yours.”

The boy turned the bowl over, examining its underside, and tapped the base with his fingernail. It made a dull soft thud. Nothing out of the ordinary as far as he could tell, just an ordinary clay bowl, like any of thousands he could buy in the city markets.

The demon smiled. “But be warned, sir, make your choice with care. There is always a price to pay.”

“Anything at all?” the boy asked again, a shade of uncertainty in his eyes as he turned the bowl face up again.


“I’ve heard of bargains like this before,” the boy said. “There’s always a catch, isn’t there? Some kind of unforeseen consequences, a terrible prices to be paid for messing with things a man was not does meant to understand. Magic isn’t a toy for a child to play with. It is a dangerous, poisonous thing.”

The demon smiled again, but said nothing.

The boy held the bowl up to the light, as if by examining it closely once more, he might discover some secret he had missed every other time he had looked at it. It was covered in strange abstract patterns, swirling lines and dots arranged in patterns he could not recognise, whose meaning he could not tell, if they had any meaning at all.

“I wish I knew what to do,” the boy said.

“No! Wait! You can’t–” said the demon.

The boy smiled, raised his arm above his head, and threw the bowl to the ground with all the force he could find. It struck the floor with an ungodly howl, and cracked into a host of sharp dark shards. The demon screamed, and scrambled across the room, frantically trying to gather up the shards, which turned to dust just before he reached them. The demon let out single pitiful sob, and then he too turned to dust before the boy’s eyes.

“Well, that was simpler than I expected,” the boy said.