The Monster Shop
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)
On Kay's sixth birthday, his parents took him to the Monster Shop to buy him a
monster, because they'd promised him one and all the other kids had theirs.
The Monster Shop was just
behind the Vampire Guild, and as they walked past it, a vampire came shambling
up to them.
"Bleed you," it offered,
"No, thanks," Kay's dad
said shortly, and tightened his grip on Kay's hand.
"Just a little blood,"
the vampire suggested. Its teeth were long and stained with clots. "It'll do
"My husband said we
aren't interested," Kay's mother snapped, and tightened her grip on his other
hand. "Please leave us alone."
"Or we'll call the
Stakeholders," Kay's dad threatened.
"All right, all right." Blinking nervously, the vampire stepped back. "I was just trying tohelp."
Kay looked back at it once. It was looking after them forlornly, and he felt
very sorry for it.
"Why didn't we give it a
little blood, mum?" he asked. "It would have made it happy."
"You should never talk to
a vampire," Kay's mum replied, staring down at him. "Never, ever, forget that."
Kay noticed that she
hadn't answered his question at all, but he knew from the tone of her voice
that to ask again would mean trouble. And he did so want a
monster of his very own.
Then they were outside
the Monster Shop and he had other things to think about.
The Monster Shop was
surrounded by drifting mists, which glowed one moment red, another green, and
the next yellow or purple, so that one never really knew what it looked like.
All Kay could see were the drifting letters of the name, which came out and in
of the mist in thick, curling letters. He was very proud that he could read it.
"Now, Kay," his mum told
him for at least the seventh time, "remember this. You can look around,
but we're going to decide the monster you'll get. If we say
no, it means no. Do you understand?"
"Yes," Kay said
reluctantly. He could hear intriguing noises from inside the Shop, whistles and
hoots and strange warbles. "What if I don't like it?"
"Well, that's too bad
then," his dad said. "In that case I think you'll just have to manage without a
"That's not fair," Kay
replied. "Everyone else has a monster."
"Well, you aren't
everyone else, my lad," his father told him. "You're you. And we didn't
have monsters, growing up, your mother and I."
They passed between huge
carved pillars which constantly twisted and writhed, and through metal studded
doors which swung open at their approach with a flourish of trumpets.
"So cheesy," Kay's mum
muttered, loud enough for him to hear.
"It's for the kids," his
dad replied. They entered and Kay's mouth dropped open.
"Wow," he said.
Monsters were everywhere.
They crawled and hopped and slithered and flew. Tiny ones scuttled and
scurried, big heavy ones stomped and slithered, a particularly huge one in a
corner didn't move at all except for breathing holes opening and closing. They
were blue and grey and orange and yellow and colours in between. One, which
looked like a star with many long twisty legs, came rolling round and round and
round like a wheel and nudged up against Kay's legs.
"Wow," he repeated,
looking down at the monster. It was lavender in colour and had brown eyes at
the end of each leg, which looked up into his face solemnly. "Mum, dad, look at
"I am not for sale," the
monster said. It blinked all its eyes at once. "In fact, this is only the
display section. The merchandise is through the far door."
"You talk?" Kay's dad
"Yes, of course," the
monster said. Its legs twisted and writhed and rubbed together, and Kay
realised that it was using them to make its voice. "I am, actually, one of the
staff. An assistant manager, to be precise."
[ Continue to page 2 ]