“What the hell is that?” Jane asked, a look of pure disgust marring her otherwise beautiful features.
“Yeah, dude. What the hell?” Greg added.
“You’re kidding me, right?” Luke asked. “This thing is awesome!”
“No, Luke. That thing is vile. Now what the hell is it?” Jane scrambled around to stand behind the couch as Luke placed his latest find on the coffee table.
“It’s a Baboon leg lamp.” He grinned from ear to ear.
“Like, made from an actual Baboon leg?” Jane stared at him in horror.
“Yes! Isn’t it amazing?”
“No.” Greg said. “It should be on some show, like taxidermy gone wild or terrible taxidermy. That thing is just too weird.”
“It’s giving me the willies, Luke. Take it back.” Jane demanded.
Luke stared at them. “You guys really don’t like it? You’re not just bullshitting me?”
“No. I really don’t like it.” Jane and Greg said in unison.
“Fine. But the store’s closed now. I’ll have to take it back tomorrow.”
“It can’t stay here.” Jane was staring at it, revulsion etched on her face. “Seriously, I don’t want to look at it.”
“I’ll keep it in my room.”
“That’s fine. Just don’t expect me to stay in your room tonight.” Jane headed down the hall to her room.
Luke looked at Greg, who was still staring at the lamp, his Xbox game completely forgotten.
“Not sure what you were thinking there, bro. This one’s strange even for you.”
Luke had the reputation of being a little odd. Usually Jane didn’t mind the weird stuff he brought home. He couldn’t understand why she was so repulsed by the lamp. When he’d seen it as his favorite shop, Eccentricities, he couldn’t resist it. He didn’t usually go in for dead animal art, but this lamp had spoken to him. He put the lamp in his room and went back into the kitchen. Jane had already started making dinner and he slipped his arms around her from behind.
“I’m sorry, babe. I didn’t know it would upset you so much. I’ll take it back first thing tomorrow.”
Jane turned in his arms and snuggled against him. “Thank you.”
“Any idea why it freaks you out so bad?”
Jane looked up at him. “You’re probably going to think this is silly, but do you remember that story- The Monkey’s Paw? It reminds me of that. A dead shriveled monkey’s paw.”
Luke chuckled. “It’s not shriveled. Whoever did the taxidermy didn’t do a bad job.”
Jane pulled away. “Whatever. Just get rid of it. And for the love of Bob, don’t make any wishes on it.”
That night he pulled out the lamp. Jane had made him put it in the closet because it was freaking her out so badly. Luke studied it. Really, the taxidermy was well done. The leg looked alive, as if it had just walked right off the baboon. For a brief moment he wondered how one went about getting a severed baboon leg. He thought about how Jane had compared it to the monkey paw in that story. Honestly, he only vaguely remembered the story anyway. She was the English major, he was the Zoologist. He chuckled about her admonition about wishing on it. But, what the hell, it was worth a shot, right?
He held the lamp, closed his eyes and wished for the one thing he wanted that he hadn’t gotten so far. He wished to see
Africa. He’d been in love with Africa since he could remember. He gobbled up nature programs and documentaries about the continent. He’d studied the animals and culture. Someday, he was going to visit there. He set the lamp back inside the closet. Then he went to Jane’s room and crawled in beside her.
“It’s in the closet?” she asked.
“Yes, Jane. The lamp can’t get you.”
“It’s not funny, you jerk! There’s something wrong with that lamp.” She turned over and faced away from him. He lay there on his back until he drifted off.
The next thing he knew he was racing across the African plains in pursuit of a small wounded antelope. He could smell the earth, the blood, the heat. His veins were throbbing with the blood coursing through him and his mind was full of the thrill of the hunt. He realized he was loping more than running. An odd two legged lope, using the knuckles of his hands to help propel him forward. He looked sideways and saw that he was part of a troop of baboons. Then his mind went back to the hunt.
As they drew in on their prey, his excitement mounted, as did that of the rest of his troop. The antelope fell and they sprang onto it, ripping it with their teeth, tearing at it with claws. Then, danger. Another troop of baboons was approaching. Luke stood up and raced towards them. He and their leader circled one another, yawning widely to show off their sharp teeth. He flicked his eyelids at the other baboon, aggressively. But the other didn’t back down. He flew at him with a shriek of rage and there were more teeth and claws, ripping, tearing. He was soaked in the blood of his challenger. He was victorious!
Luke awoke abruptly. The first thing he realized was that he was on the floor. The second was that he felt wet and sticky. His heart pounding in his chest, he stood and flicked on the light. Jane’s room was soaked in blood and so was Luke. Jane’s body lay in the center of the bed, ripped open and lifeless. Greg’s body lay beside the bed, also lifeless. Both looked like they’d been attacked by a wild animal. Luke moaned and slid down the wall, putting his head in his hands. He shook with horror, unable to believe the scene before him. Suddenly he remembered the moral of The Monkey’s Paw. Be careful what you wish for. His screams rent the night.
Hope you enjoyed it. And remember- be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.