Fish and Chips (Ch10)

With an unblinking* stare, the man walked forward with the knife pointing at me.

‘No, please,’ I pleaded. `I have a wife and a family….’ I thrashed* my legs, aiming kicks towards him, trying to stop him from coming closer.

`Don’t struggle*,’ he said. `I can make it hurt – or not.’

I was desperate. It was a life and death situation. Afterwards, I felt ashamed*, but at the time I meant every word. ‘Kill him! Kill him!’ I shouted and looked at George. ‘He’s got nothing to live for. Don’t kill me. Kill him! I won’t tell. Just let me go!’

The man took one step more then stopped. My heart jumped. ‘He’s got no one,’ I said, almost whispering, ‘No one will miss him. Kill him but not me. Just let me go. You’ll never see me again.’ As I spoke, I glanced at George. His face said that he had heard my betrayal* but was struggling to believe it.

`You should get better friends,’ said the shopkeeper, changing his angle of attack and moving towards George. The knife rose up. I closed my eyes.

Then there was a small cry, the clatter* of steel and a dull* thump.

What had happened? I opened my eyes. The shopkeeper had slipped – or had George tripped him? I didn’t know and it didn’t matter: the shopkeeper had fallen and the knife, unbelievably, had bounced out of his hand was now lying inches from my foot. I curled my left leg, trapped the knife under my shoe and dragged it towards me. As I did so, I glanced at the shopkeeper. He groaned slightly and rolled over in our direction. His eyes, unfocused and blinking, looked around.

I had seconds: get the knife or die.



unblinking* - not opening and closing

thrashed* - moved violently

struggle* – fight against

ashamed*- embarrassed

betrayal* – disloyalty, bad faith, treachery

clatter* – loud noise, especially because hard objects smash together

dull* - not sharp, not distinct

Fish and Chips (Ch9)

‘There was another one,’ said George.

‘Another what? What do you mean?’ I asked.

George twisted his head and stared at me. `There was another man here before you. When I woke up, he was next to me – tied to the pipe – just like we are.’ George swallowed hard. `Then the shopkeeper came in with his knife and…’ He shook his head and swallowed again. `After the shopkeeper killed him, he dragged* his body through to the next room…and I could hear him chopping… it went on forever. Then it stopped and he walked past the door. He had a bucket in his hand…He put the contents into a mixer. He was making something. It was food…’

I shook my head. I didn’t want to hear any more. I thought about the sausages I had eaten and their hot, fatty insides. My stomach lurched*. Desperately, I pulled and twisted at the rope, but it was useless. It bit into my skin and I could feel my own hot blood run down my fingers.

Just then, the shopkeeper appeared at the door.

‘Why are you doing this?’ I screamed.

The man just stood and stared.

‘Don’t do it. Don’t do it, please!’ I was wailing now. ‘Don’t kill me. Please, don’t do it!’

‘Shut up!’ the shopkeeper snapped.

I stopped talking, but tears continued to run down my face. I glanced at George. He was shaking his head and mumbling*. I looked at the shopkeeper. His eyebrows rose up; and, like a bad magician, he brought out a knife from behind his back. As he waved it slowly in front of his face, light from the other room danced on its bright blade. He smiled.

‘So,’ he said, ‘who’s first?’

© EFLshorts


dragged* – pulled in order to move something heavy

lurched* - moved suddenly and unsteadily

mumbling* – talking indistinctly

Fish and Chips (Ch8)

I kept my voice low.

‘How did you get here?’ I asked George quietly.

‘I was going to Leicester…I was thumbing a lift*.’ George started to cough. `It was late. A car came and stopped. It was him. I got in and that’s the last I remember. I woke up here.’

`Do you know me?’ I asked.

‘Yes, you work for that homeless place…’ George started to cough again. He turned his head as he did so. I felt spittle land on my face, and I jerked* away, repulsed*. This time George couldn’t stop coughing.

The door opened across the room and the man appeared in the doorway. George kept on coughing. The man said nothing as he approached. His eyes were in deep shadow, but his narrow mouth was as thin and tight as a paper cut.

‘He’s not well,’ I said, ‘he needs a doctor.’

The man turned his head and stared at me.

George was struggling to breathe. The man leaned forward, grabbed George by the hair and stared into his face. George coughed and spit* covered the man’s face. He staggered backwards and stumbled into a metal shelf. A big plastic bottle fell and bounced on the stone floor.

The man was furious. He wiped his face and stared at his hand. His chest heaved and I could see him grind his teeth. He stood abruptly*, ran across the room and flung open the door. I could hear his heavy footsteps as he climbed the stairs to his rooms above; then the sound of running water.

George finally stopped coughing. I turned and looked at him. He stared back at me, his beard covered in spit, his eyes full of tears. I didn’t know which one I hated more: George or the man who had kidnapped us.



thumbing a lift* - signalling to a driver that you want them to take you somewhere

jerked* - moved, pulled suddenly

repulsed* – disgusted

spit* - the water in one’s mouth

abruptly* - suddenly

Fish and Chips (Ch7)

What was that noise? It was a roaring sound like a motorboat and it filled my head…I tried to open my eyes. Everything was blurred*. My head hurt. Where was I? What happened? And what was that smell? It was something familiar, something unpleasant. I wrinkled my nose and tried to shake the pain from my head. The room spun around. I stopped moving my head. I wanted to hold it in my hands, but I couldn’t. My hands were tied behind my back! Slowly, I remembered: the Christmas party, my car, the shop, the man behind the counter…

A cold, metal drainpipe dug into my spine*. I was tightly tied to it. The smell? He sat beside me, also tied to the drainpipe. I could feel him and smell him. His breathing was heavy and ragged*. I twisted my neck and leaned forwards as far as I could so that I could see his face. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I knew this man. His name was George. He often came into town and was a regular at the soup kitchen* on Hayek Street.

‘George?’ I whispered, ‘are you okay?’

There was silence for a while and then, `Yes.’

`What’s happening? What’s going on?’

`Talk quietly,’ warned George. `He’s in the next room.’



blurred* - not sharp

spine* – backbone

ragged* - not regular

soup kitchen* - a place that offers free food

Fish and Chips (Chapter 6)

The sausages were good. Delicious* in fact. I ate them quickly and enjoyed the hot, greasy* food. I felt better and my face glowed red. But while I ate, the man on the other side of the small room watched my every move. We were surrounded by boxes and bags of potatoes. The room smelled of wet soil. But at least it was warm.

I put the last chip in my mouth, screwed the newspaper into a ball and dropped it into the bin next to me. ‘Well, thanks for the food,’ I said. ‘I should be going. I need to find a phone.’ I stood up.

‘Wait,’ he said. ‘You can use my mobile if you want. It’s charging.’

‘That would be great. I need to call a garage and my wife. She must be worried.’

‘It’s through here,’ the man said, walking to the other door and opening it just a little. He stood back and gestured* that I should go through.

I stepped past him and put my hand on the door, ready to push it fully open. And that’s when he hit me. One moment, I was standing; the next, I was on the ground. As I lay there, stunned*, a kick struck me in the face. Then another.

After that, everything went black.



Delicious* – good tasting

greasy* – fatty, oily

gestured*- moved hands in order to signal something

stunned*- knocked out, half-conscious

Fish and Chips (Ch5)

‘It’s…No, you can’t. It’s not working,’ he said.

It sounded like a lie to me, but what could I do? It was his phone, and it was his choice. The noise of the bubbling fat filled the silence. I shivered*. What a way to spend Christmas….‘Okay. In that case, can I buy something to eat?’

‘Nothing’s ready.’

I could feel myself getting angry. ‘I can wait,’ I said, the words as cold as the night outside.

We stared at one another. Then he gave a long sigh, released the door handle and moved to the fryer. Snatching* up a long, metal spoon, he stirred the contents of the fryer. Then, with his other hand, he raised a basket of fried food, shook it, and plunged it back into the swirling fat. He did this three or four times, paying me no attention at all.

‘Do you have any fish?’

He looked up, surprised. Had he forgotten I was there? He stared at me. In his eyes, there was a question. But instead of asking it, he continued to stare. Then, as suddenly as he looked up, his eyes found the metal spoon. He thrust it into the oil again and again; and as he did so, his face relaxed and he looked strangely happy.

‘There’s no fish,’ he said, his words slow and deliberate*.

‘Well, what do you have?’


‘How much?’

He looked up and gave a thin smile. `Two pounds,’ he said, ‘and you can eat it in the back, if you like. There’s a fire in there.’



shivered* – shook because of the cold

Snatching* - picking up quickly

deliberate* - with careful thought, planned

Fish and Chips (Ch4)

I walked to the counter*. The activity in the shop surprised me. Why was the fryer on at this time? It was after one o’clock in the morning. Did the cook have insomnia*? And where was the cook? It was strange. I thought about leaving again. I had no right to be there. But the clouds of hot steam from the fryer smelt delicious. They smelt of hot, evaporated fat. I couldn’t see the contents of the fryer, but I could hear the bubbling oil in it. Pictures formed in my head: lots and lots of chips slowly turning brown. My stomach rumbled again. Behind the fryer, there was a door. It was open, but only a little. It was probably white, but the light from the fryer gave everything in the shop a warm, orange colour.

‘Hello?’ I said quietly – too quietly. The sound of the bubbling fat drowned my question.

‘Hello,’ I called again.

I thought I heard something, perhaps voices.

Suddenly, a head appeared. It looked in my direction and disappeared. A moment later, the door half-opened, and a tall, thin man slid out. He immediately pulled the door shut. He faced me; but behind his back, he held onto the door handle. I couldn’t see his face well – it was mostly in shadow – but he looked annoyed*.

‘Merry Christmas,’ I said. When he said nothing, I continued. ‘I am sorry, but the front door was open and…’

‘What do you want?’ he asked aggressively*.

I needed to call a garage or a repair service, and I needed to speak to Helen and reassure her. I ignored his aggressiveness. ‘My car stopped a few miles away. I think it ran out of petrol. I tried to call a garage from the phone across the street, but…’

‘What do you want?’ he asked again.

‘I’d like to use your phone. If you don’t mind.’ What was this guy’s problem? Asking to use his phone wasn’t such a big deal*, surely?



counter* – place in a shop where customers are served

insomnia* – the inability to sleep

annoyed* - angry, irritated

aggressively* - very forcefully, in a way that suggests someone is going to attack

a big deal* – an important thing

Fish and Chips (Ch3)

The mist began to clear. With the help of a few orange streetlights, buildings, gardens, hedges and cars appeared. I was in a village. Not much of a village, but a village all the same. The road that I was standing on bisected* it. I guessed there were about ten or twelve buildings in total. Although it wasn’t very late, there wasn’t a single light in any of them. Stranger still, I noticed that there were no Christmas trees, no coloured lights, no decorations* at all. ‘Did they forget it’s Christmas time?’ I wondered.

In the silence, the complete stillness, my breathing sounded loud.

I checked my mobile again. Unbelievable! Now, I was out of battery* I looked around and saw an old phone box on the corner. My footsteps echoed as I walked down the road. I swung the phone box door open and picked up the receiver. I wanted to hear Helen’s voice, and I wanted to call a garage. But the phone line was dead. I dropped the phone. As I swung open the door again, a flicker of light caught my eye. It was down a lane just to my right.

I walked over to the lane, but stopped. The light was coming, I guessed, from the back of the shop next to me. I looked up. Though it was not switched on, I could read the unlit letters in the shop’s sign. `Fish and Chips’ it said. My stomach grumbled*. I was hungry. I stared through the front window. The shop looked empty. I went up to the door and pushed. I expected it to be locked. Instead, there was a gentle ‘Ting’ as a small bell rang above my head and the door swung open.



bisected*- cut in half

decorations*- adornments, things that beautify (esp. Christmas decorations)

out of battery* – there was no more power, the battery was flat

flicker - an unsteady light, light that shows briefly

grumbled*- made an angry sound, complained

Fish and Chips (Ch2)

I switched off my car’s headlights, opened the door and got out. The air felt heavy, wet, cold. I could feel it on my face and in my throat. I shivered and pulled on a jacket. I pressed the button on my keyring. The lights on my car flashed* and the car made a loud ‘beep’. The sound seemed very loud. It was too quiet, too still. I stood listening for a moment, hoping to hear another car. But there was nothing, not even a wind. I started walking but stopped. Did I imagine it? Was there a noise? I stood and stared into the blackness. ‘Hello?’ My voice sounded small and afraid. I waited. My heart beat faster.


I started walking again, my footsteps loud on the road. Every now and again, I turned and looked behind. The car was gone, swallowed. Ahead, I could see nothing.

I don’t know how long I walked for. Perhaps twenty minutes or half an hour. I looked at my watch. It was now 12.10 pm. ‘Merry Christmas,’ I muttered* to myself and thought about my wife. Right now, she was sitting at home watching the clock, worrying.

Was there a town nearby? Was there a phone? How long should I walk before giving up? I didn’t want to spend the night in my car, but I didn’t want to get lost either. I thought about my job. I was a fundraiser for ‘Roof’, a charity for the homeless. It always made me furious when I thought about the human cost of homelessness. The homeless had no homes for many reasons, but there were so many young homeless people. How could society be so uncaring? Why did it turn its back on them? What future did they have?

Of course, sleeping in a car was nothing compared to sleeping outside in winter, but I still didn’t want to do it. I decided to walk a thousand paces more, and then turn back. I watched my feet and counted my steps out loud. ‘One hundred and thirty one, one hundred and thirty two…’

Then I walked into something very hard. For a moment, I was stunned. I staggered back and fell. I looked up. A lamppost. Its faint, yellow light was only just visible in the thick mist. I looked around and saw the outline of other things too – some houses, some cars, a post box. I was in a village. I got up. My hands were bleeding, and they stung. I pressed them together, as though I was about to pray, and blew on them.

Perhaps now I could find a telephone or a taxi – something or someone – to get me home to Helen.


*flashed - shone briefly

*muttered – said in a low, unclear voice

*fundraiser – someone whose job is to raise cash for a charity

*charity - an organisation that relies on (cash) gifts in order to help others

*homeless – without a home

*furious – very angry

*turn its back – ignore

*stunned – surprised, knocked into a semi-conscious state

Fish and Chips (Chapter 1)

I drove slowly. The mist in front of me was like a great white wave, and my car was like a ship, slowly pushing through it. My car’s headlights reached out, but not far. I could see hedges. Their dark leaves guided me along this narrow, country road. I was anxious*. At any moment, another car could come along. But there were no other cars. Not one. Where was I? When I left my manager’s party thirty minutes ago, the air was clear. ‘I can get home in twenty minutes,’ I thought. But then the mist came down, and now I was lost.

I turned up the heater and leaned forward in my seat. Perhaps a town or village was round the next corner. I hoped so. I looked at my petrol gauge*. I needed petrol – quickly. I thought about my new job – my first after university – Mr Harkness, and his party. ‘I have a Christmas Eve party every year for the staff,’ Mr Harkness told me. ‘Enjoy yourself, lad.’ I did. The room was warm, the people from my work were friendly, and the food was good. But at 10pm, I decided to leave. Helen, my wife, was pregnant* and alone in our house. Mr Harkness understood. He walked me to the front door. ‘Is Helen’s morning sickness* still as bad?’ he asked. I told him it wasn’t. ‘Well, give my love to her,’ he said. I promised I would.

There was a CD player in the car, but I needed to concentrate*. My hands held the steering wheel tightly. I took a deep breath and tried to relax. Suddenly, the car hesitated*, jumped forward, hesitated again; then died. I was out of petrol. I was miles from nowhere and I was out of petrol. I dropped my head onto the steering wheel. I felt angry. ‘But that isn’t going to help,’ I told myself. I took out my phone from my pocket. No signal*.

An original story by


anxious* - worried

petrol gauge* –  instrument that shows how much petrol there is

pregnant* – will have a child soon

morning sickness* - nausea and vomiting that pregnant women often experience in the morning

concentrate* - focus

hesitated* - delay, move uncertainly 

No signal* - the phone cannot locate a mobile phone service provider

Final chapter of The Monkey’s Paw

Mr White sat and waited. A *candle burned in the corner of the room. Mrs White looked out the window. But nothing happened. ‘The wish didn’t come true,’ thought Mr White, and he felt glad. Then the candle spluttered and went out. In the darkness, Mr White slowly walked over to his bed and got in. After some time, his wife came and sat on the bed. They didn’t speak. Both heard the ticking of the clock downstairs. It was a windy night, and the house made other noises too: the stairs *squeaked and the gate *banged outside. After some time, Mr White got out of bed. His wife sat silently. She stared into the dark. Mr White found some *matches. He lit one and went back downstairs for a candle.

The wind still howled outside. At the bottom of the stairs, the match went out. Mr White tried to light another. Then he heard it. At first, he thought it was the wind. But it was a knock, a soft knock: the sound of *knuckles against wood. *Terror flooded through Mr White’s body. He dropped the matches on the floor. He stared at the door. The knock came again. This time, he turned and ran up the stairs to his room. He closed the bedroom door, but there was another knock from downstairs.

‘What is that?’ Mrs White cried.

‘Nothing,’ said the old man.

Another knock. This time, it was loud and heavy.

`It’s Herbert,’ said Mrs White. ‘It’s him!’ She ran to the bedroom door, but Mr White stood in front of her. He took her by the arm and held her. ‘What are you going to do?’ he shouted.

‘It’s my boy. It’s Herbert,’ she cried. `I forgot the cemetery was two miles away. Why are you holding me? Let me go, I must open the door.’

`No please,’ *begged Mr White, ‘don’t let it in!’

‘Are you afraid of your own son?’ screamed Mrs White. ‘Let me go. I’m coming Herbert… I’m coming.’

There was another knock, and then another and another. The old woman broke free of her husband and ran down the stairs. He called after her, but she didn’t stop. He followed her and heard the first *bolt on the door start to open. ‘Come quick,’ his wife cried, `I cannot free the second bolt. It is too high.’

But Mr White did not come to help her. He wanted to find the monkey’s paw. He wanted to find it before the thing outside got in. More knocks at the door: long, slow and loud. Mr White looked up and saw his wife put a chair against the door and stand on it. His wife began to pull at the second bolt; but at the same moment, Mr White found the monkey’s paw, and he made his last wish.

Suddenly, the knocking stopped. Mr White heard the bolt slide, the chair go back and the front door open. Then the cold wind howled, and so did his wife. He ran to the door.

Outside, there was nothing but a quiet, empty street.

Adaptation by


*candle – a long stick of wax

*squeaked – a high-pitched sound

*banged – hit together nosily

*matches – thin pieces of wood for lighting fires

*knuckles – the bony part of the fist

*terror – great fear

*begged – pleaded

*bolt – a large, metal pin that is used to stop a door from opening

Thank you, 40,000 times!

To all the people who have read our blog since it began in Feb 2012, we’d like to say ‘Thank you’. 40,000 views and counting…

Our adaptation of The Monkey’s Paw (Ch6)

In a big cemetery* two miles from their house, Mr and Mrs White buried* their son. Then they came back to their house, their hearts heavy with sadness*. Their son was dead. It all happened so quickly. Mr Mrs White could not think of life without Herbert. The days passed, long, lonely and silent. They did not speak to each other. There was nothing to talk about.

About two weeks after Herbert’s death, Mr White woke up in bed. It was the middle of the night. He put out his hand… his wife was not there. It was dark in the room, but he could hear the sound of his wife’s crying hear him. He lay and listened.

‘Come back to bed,’ he said after a while. ‘It’s cold.’

‘It is colder for Herbert,’ said his wife.

Mr White’s eyes were heavy with sleep, and he soon fell asleep again. But then a long cry from his wife awoke him again.

‘The paw,’ she cried, ‘the monkey’s paw!’

Mr White sat up in bed. ‘What? What is the matter?’

Mrs White came out of the darkness of the room. Her eyes were wild* and staring. `I want the paw,’ she said. `Where is it?’

`Downstairs in the cupboard,’ said Mr White. ‘Why?’

Mrs White laughed and cried at the same time. ‘We have two more!’

`Two more of what?’ Mr White asked.

‘Two wishes,’ said Mrs White. ‘We have two more wishes!’

`Was one not enough? ` Mr White said angrily.

‘You don’t understand,’ cried Mrs White. ‘We can use the paw. Go and get it and we can wish for our boy to be alive again.’

Mr White stared at his wife. ‘Are you mad*?’ he asked.

‘Get it,’ cried Mrs White, ‘get it quickly and wish…Herbert’s life depends on it.’

‘Get back into bed,’ said Mr White. ‘You don’t know what you are saying.’

But Mrs White continued. `The first wish came true,’ she said, her eyes full of tears. `Why not the second? Go and get it and make a wish!’

‘Herbert died more than ten days ago,’ said Mr White, his voice shaking. ‘We cannot wish for this…’

‘Bring him back,’ said Mrs White. ‘Bring my boy back.’

Slowly, Mr White got out of bed. He went downstairs and into the kitchen. Then, he opened the cupboard and looked in. The monkey’s paw was still there. The wind howled outside and in the dark Mr White became afraid. His body went cold and his legs shook. With the paw in his hand, he went back upstairs and into the bedroom.

His wife sat on the bed waiting. She watched him closely from mad eyes. Mr White was afraid of his own wife.

‘Make a wish,’ Mrs White cried in a strong voice. ‘Bring my boy back. Do it.’

‘I can’t,’ said Mr White. ‘I…’

‘Do it!’ cried Mrs White.

Slowly, Mr White held up his right hand and began to say the words…`I wish my son alive again.’

Adapted by


*cemetery – a place where dead bodies are put under the ground, a burial place

*buried – put under the ground

*sadness – unhappiness

*wild – unthinking, without reason, without restraint

*mad – crazy

Adaptation of The Monkey’s Paw (Ch5) – A classic supernatural tale

Mrs White welcomed the stranger into the house. The man did not look happy. He stood silently and Mr and Mrs White waited quietly for him to speak.

After a while the man started. ‘I’m from…’ he said but stopped. He looked at the floor and moved his feet. He started again. ‘I’m from Maw and Meggins… the factory in town…’

Mr and Mrs White recognized this name immediately. Their son, Herbert worked at Maw and Meggins.

‘Is there something wrong?’ Mrs White asked suddenly. ‘Did something happen to Herbert? What is it? Tell me.’

‘Please, dear,’ said Mr White. ‘Sit down for a moment. We do not know anything yet. Perhaps this man has good news for us.’ Mr White looked at the man, but the man looked sad. ‘I’m sorry,’ the man said. ‘I have bad news. Your son is badly hurt, but he is not in any pain.’

Mrs White started to speak: `Thank God for that. Thank…’ she said, but then she stopped and looked at her husband. His face was very sad. Suddenly, she understood. Her mouth dropped open, but no noise came out. Mr White slowly reached out and took his wife’s hand.

`Herbert…fell into the machinery,’ said the man in a low voice.

`Fell into the machinery,’ Mr White repeated quietly. He squeezed his wife’s hand and looked out of the window. No one spoke and a heavy silence fell over the room. Mr White held his wife’s hand tightly. When he spoke again, his voice was weak. ‘He was our only child,’ he said. ‘Our poor, poor boy.’

The man nodded and walked to the window. `Maw and Meggins want me to tell you…’ He stopped. The next words were difficult for him to say. `Well, they are very, very sorry.’

There was no reply. The old woman’s face was white and the old man’s eyes were red and tearful. But the man had to continue. `Maw and Meggins want you to know…that they are not to blame for the accident, but…they will pay money to you – as compensation.’

The old man stood up. He looked afraid. `How much money?’ he asked.

`Two hundred pounds,’ the man from Maw and Meggins said.

Mrs White screamed and a moment later, she fell onto the floor.

adapted by


welcomed – said hello, greeted

immediately – at once, without delay

pain – discomfort, uneasiness

machinery – machines for producing goods

tearful – full of tears

compensation – money award to someone when there has been an accident

The Monkey’s Paw (Ch4) – an adaptation of the classic supernatural tale

Next morning, it was sunny. Mr White laughed at himself. ‘Why was I so afraid last night? he wondered. He sat at the kitchen table and ate his breakfast. The sun shone through the window and everything seemed well. He looked at the monkey’s paw and shook his head.

Mrs White came into the room. She looked at the monkey’s paw too. ‘All soldiers are the same,’ she said. ‘They have lots of stories, but none of them are true.’

‘Perhaps it is true,’ said Herbert to his father. ‘Perhaps the money is going to drop on your head from the sky.’ Herbert laughed but Mr White did not.

‘Sergeant Major Morris believed* the story. And the paw moved in my hand. I felt it,’ said Mr White.

Herbert stood up. ‘ Well, I have to go to work. But when the money comes, don’t spend it all. Please wait until I get back home,’ he said with a smile.

Mr White shook his head.

Mrs White laughed and followed her son to the front door. Herbert opened the door and said goodbye. Mrs White watched her only child walk down the path and go off to work.

She closed the door and sat back down at the table with her husband. `Herbert likes joking*,’ she said.

‘Yes,’ said her husband, ‘he does.’


Later that day, there was a knock at the door. It was the postman. Mrs White took the letters from him and looked at them. There was a bill. Mrs White sighed. She showed it to Mr White. ‘We don’t have any money to pay it,’ she said.

‘The paw moved in my hand last night. I felt it,’ said Mr White.

‘Perhaps you made a mistake…’ suggested Mrs White.

‘No!’ said Mr White. ‘It…’ Mr White stopped talking and looked at his wife. ‘What’s the matter?’

Mrs White did not reply. She looked out the kitchen window and Mr White looked too. They watched a man outside their house. The man walked past their house and stopped; then he came back. Then he walked away again. Then he stopped, shook his head and returned. Three times he did all of this and Mr and Mrs White watched him do it. Finally, he walked away, stopped suddenly, opened the garden gate*, and walked up the garden path.

A moment later, there was a knock at the door.

Mrs White stood up and went to the door.

Adaption by


*believed – thought something was true

*joking – saying something funny

*gate – entrance

The Monkey’s Paw (Ch3): Our adaptation of the classic supernatural tale

Sergeant Major Morris finished his stories and his supper*. It was time for him to leave and catch his train. They all said goodnight, and Mr White closed the door behind his friend.

‘I wonder*…’ said Herbert. ‘Is the story about the monkey’s paw is true?’

Mr White said nothing.

`Did you give him some money for the little paw?’ Mrs White asked.

‘A little,’ said Mr White. `He didn’t want anything. He told me to throw* the paw away.’

`Well,’ said Herbert with a smile, `we are going to be rich, famous and happy. Wish to be a king* father!’

Mr White took the monkey’s paw out of his pocket and looked at it. ‘I have everything that I want,’ he said, looking at his family with love. ‘Even kings don’t have that.’

`What about buying the house?’ Herbert said excitedly. `We only need two hundred pounds.’

`Now that is a good idea,’ said Mr White and smiled at his wife. He held the monkey’s paw up high in his right hand. `I wish for two hundred pounds,’ he said; but suddenly he cried out and dropped the paw. His wife and son ran to him.

‘It moved!’ he said, looking at the paw. It was now on the floor. ‘It moved in my hand.’

‘Well,’ said Herbert, `I don’t see any money.’ He picked up the monkey’s paw and put it on the table.

`Did you really feel that?’ asked Mrs White.

Mr White shook his head. Now, he was not so sure. `Never mind*, no one was hurt. I am old and I get afraid easily.’

They sat by the fire and stared at the flames*. The wind outside grew stronger and the windows shook. No one spoke. Finally, Mr and Mrs White got up and went to bed.

‘Goodnight,’ said Herbert. `Perhaps the money is in a big bag in the middle of your bed,’ he said and laughed. His parents heard him, but they said nothing.

Alone, Herbert sat and stared* into the fire. At first, he felt good: the room was warm and the fire was bright, but then he began to see faces, faces in the fire. He watched. At first, the faces were not frightening, but then the faces began to change. The last face was so terrible he nearly cried out. He got up quickly from his chair and put a hand on the table. By accident, he touched the little paw. This time, he cried out.


supper*- a small evening meal

wonder* – feel curious about, want to know more about

throw* - move something through the air with force

king* – male ruler

Never mind* - forget about it, don’t worry

flames* - fire

stared*- kept his eyes on, didn’t look away

Adaptation of The Monkey’s Paw (Ch2)

Sergeant major Morris took a slow drink from his cup; then he put a hand inside his pocket. ‘Look at it,’ he said. On his hand was a small, dry, little paw*. It was very old.

Herbert took it from the sergeant major and looked at it closely. He gave it to his father. ‘What is special about it?’ Herbert asked. He put it on the table. It did not feel very nice.

‘A strange old man put a spell* on it,’ Sergeant major Morris told them. ‘The spell gave three different people three wishes* each.’

‘What is bad about that?’ Mr White asked. ‘Sounds good to me!’

‘Wishes are dangerous,’ said Morris. Suddenly, he looked afraid.

‘Did you have three wishes?’ Herbert asked.

‘Yes,’ said Morris. His face went white and his hand shook. He took a drink from his cup.

‘Did the wishes come true?’ Herbert asked excitedly.

‘Yes,’ said Morris quietly.

‘Did anyone else ask for three wishes?’ Herbert went on.

‘The first owner of the paw had his three wishes,’ Morris told him. ‘I don’t know his first two wishes – but his last one was for death.’

All the people in the room went quiet. The wind outside howled*.

‘I don’t understand,’ said Mr White. ‘Why do you keep it?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Morris, and shook his head. ‘I thought about selling it, but nobody wants to buy it. They think it is a fairy story*. Some want to try it first and then buy.’ He picked up the paw and looked at it. Suddenly he threw it on the fire.

Mr White cried out and took it out the fire before it burned.

‘Better to let it burn,’ said Morris.

‘Can I have it?’ asked Mr White suddenly.

‘The fire is the best place for it,’ said Morris.

Mr White shook his head and smiled. He put the monkey’s paw in his pocket. `You worry too much. How do you do it? How do you make a wish?’

‘You hold it in your right hand and make the wish, but I must tell you of the danger.’

‘It sounds like a fairy story to me,’ said Mrs White and stood up.

Herbert and Mr White laughed. Mr White took it from his pocket again. Morris got hold of his arm and looked him in the eye. ‘I warn you… wish for something good.’

Adaption by


paw* = an animal’s foot

spell* = words that have magical power

wishes* = a hope or a desire

howled* = blew hard and made a noise

fairy story* = a tale, a fictional story

The Monkey’s Paw (Ch1): An adaptation of W W Jacob’s classic supernatural story by EFLShorts

The night was cold and wet. But in the small living room of Laburnam Villa, a fire burned brightly and a father and son played chess*. The father was a good player, but the son was better. His wife watched them play and warmed her hands in front of the fire.

‘Listen to that wind outside,’ said Mr White.

‘I can hear it,’ said Herbert, his son. He looked at the chess pieces and moved one of the pieces. ‘Check*!’ he said.

It’s bad weather out there,’ said Mr White. He wanted to distract* his son, but it didn’t work.

Checkmate*,’ said Herbert and smiled.

‘This is the worst thing about living far away from town,’ said Mr White. ‘Almost no-one wants to come this far on a stormy night.’ He was angry because he lost the game.

‘Perhaps you can win the next game,’ said Mrs White.

Mr White looked up quickly and saw his wife and son smile at each other. He smiled to himself.

Suddenly, there was a noise outside. His wife turned.

‘It’s him,’ said Mr White. He stood up and unlocked* the door. Dead leaves blew across the floor. Then a tall man walked into the small room.

‘Sergeant Major Morris,’ said Mr White.

‘Good evening,’ said the sergeant major and shook hands with Mr White, Herbert and Mrs White. Mrs White gave him a chair and sergeant major Morris sat down beside the fire. She made tea, and the sergeant major drank it slowly. He watched the fire and enjoyed its heat. When he finished the tea, he started to talk. The little family sat and listened carefully. They wanted to know all about their visitor. He spoke of different countries, great adventures and strange people.

‘Twenty-one years of travel,’ said the sergeant major. ‘When I left, I was a young man…’

‘I want to go to India,’ said Mr White, ‘and see the country. It is very beautiful, I think.’

‘Better to stay at home,’ said the sergeant major, and he shook his head.

‘Tell that story again,’ said Mr White. ‘Tell the story about the monkey’s paw.’

The sergeant major said nothing, but his face was serious*.

‘The monkey’s paw?’ said Mrs White. ‘That sounds interesting.’

The sergeant major looked into the fire.

Mrs White took his cup and put more tea in it.

‘Very well,’ said the sergeant major after some time. ‘You want to hear the story of the monkey’s paw, so here it is…’

Adapted from a story by W W Jacobs by


*chess – a board game

*check - a position in chess in which the opponent’s king is under direct attack

*distract – take away someone’s focus or attention

*checkmate - the capture of the opponent’s king

*unlocked - to open (a door) with a key

*serious – not laughing, thinking carefully


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