The intriguing and interesting sounds of India surrounded Dexter as he took his afternoon stroll. Ever since he had moved out here three years ago, he had had a leisurely walk around the markets once a day, clearing his head and opening his mind. Each day he tried something new, whether it be a strange new food or an unfamiliar style of dance.

Dexter prided himself in his charm and good looks. According to Tanya, Dexter's beautiful model girlfriend, he had something about him that made him attractive to anyone. Protruding cheekbones, pouty lips a shade too dark and curly ebony hair, Dexter wasn't sure what it was but it had worked for Tanya and this he was proud of.

Out of the corner of his eye Dexter noticed a distressed old man, frantically turning round and round as if he was looking for a way out. But a way out of what, exactly? 'This is not normal behaviour!' thought Dexter to himself and, messing up his tousled hair, he went to see what was wrong.

Dexter wasn't the most fluent speaker of the language he had been using for the past three years, but, after a considerable amount of time spent trying to decipher this weird man's rapid talking, Dexter had worked out what he was trying to say (although it still didn't really make sense). This man (whom Dexter suspected was mentally ill) was going on about some 'monkey's paw' that had the power to grant the holder three wishes. Most of the time the man kept shouting "its evil! It's evil, get it away!", but Dexter persisted, patiently listening to the old man's tale. Suppressing the urge to explode with laughter, the perplexed Dexter took the shrivelled mummified paw that was thrust into his chest and watched the old fruitcake rush off out of sight.

As he sauntered home, meandering through the busy streets of India, Dexter smiled. He felt as free as a bird. He had no-one to tell him what to do, no-one to define how he would live his life, whereas that unfortunate old man was not even free from his own mind!

Tanya was waiting for him when he returned home, her long auburn hair floating as she laid the table. Mouth-watering aromas filled the room and made Dexter's taste buds dance.

Over dinner, Dexter told of his encounter with the madman at the market. A smirk played on his lips as he did so, the memory still fresh in his mind. Only Tanya wasn't smiling. In fact she looked panic-stricken!

"Whatever is the matter?" Dexter inquired.

Tanya told him the tale of Mr and Mrs White, her soft voice shaky with dread. They had been an elderly couple who live in England long ago. The monkey paw was bestowed upon their family, and inflicted nothing but pain and misfortune.

"They had a choice, Dex" she whispered, her voice now punctuated with deep breaths "they chose to use the monkeys paw and they suffered the consequences."

When Dexter asked what the consequences were, Tanya just shook her head. Apparently she could not bring herself to say them aloud. Dexter knew then that he should change the subject and they continued their dinner without mention of the paw or its powers.

Later that night, just as the last shreds of sunlight disappeared completely from the sky, a heavy blanket of darkness enveloping the apartment, Dexter held the paw absent-mindedly as he and Tanya lay sprawled across the sofa.

"I wish that I didn't have such a beautiful girlfriend, it makes me look ugly!" Dexter murmured playfully, making Tanya giggle.

But Dexter's happy mood had just run off and left him. As he spoke, the hideous paw had squirmed, he was sure of it. The thought made him sick to the stomach.

"Well," Tanya sighed, her sweet breath falling over Dexter as she spoke "I'm off for a nice relaxing bath before bed" Kissing him on the cheek, she gracefully swept from the room, her long hair floating behind her. Dexter sighed at her natural pulchritude.

Hoping that sleep would bring sanctuary from his whirlwind mind, Dexter fell asleep on the sofa. Tossing and turning, he slept uneasily, the thought that the monkeys paw actually worked tormenting his worried head all night, disturbing his rest.

He awoke around six the next morning to a silent house. Assuming that his girlfriend had already left for the day, he ambled into the bathroom for a wash and a shave.

However, the sight that met him was not the one he expected. The smells of the bath were lingering in the air, not as nice as they smelt last night. The water was now cold, he could tell that, as her lips had gone blue. Her blank, unseeing eyes seemed to follow him as he moved further in to the room. Her gorgeous hair floated on the lifeless water as she lay, cold and still, in the bath she fell asleep in.

Dexter cried all day and received call-upon-call from Tanya's friends.

"Sorry for your loss" consoled one.

"Anything we can do" promised another.

It was this point that Dexter realised the sheer scale of destruction that one object can do.

The funeral came and went and Dexter began to feel lonelier than he had felt his entire life. Suddenly, he had an idea. Picking up the wretched little paw, he closed his eyes and wished for Tanya.

Just then, Dexter heard the creaking of floorboards upstairs. Taking two at a time, he bounded up the stairs, but, to his dismay, all that awaited him was an empty bedroom. Still the creaking continued.

All night doors were opening and closing, floors creaking and cupboards banging. It was in his sleep that the voices began.

Petrified, terrified, apprehensive, Dexter awoke with a start.

"Dexter..." the voice breathed "why did you do this?"

His heart was beating like a thousand drums. Footsteps began up the stairs.

"I will make you pay for what you have done!" The voiced teased.

His eyes scanned the room hurriedly as the footsteps grew louder and louder, closer and closer.

"Come and play!" The voice was getting louder, too.

Trembling, he reached out, scrambling for the one thing that could end his terror...

They found him the next morning, lying on his bed, clutching a rotten, shrivelled paw, soaked of sweat. The house was eerily quiet, a creepy breeze blowing as they took him away. His heart just stopped but no-one; no-one that is living that is, knows exactly why.