Man the Crab

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3.

The following day’s work arrived far too quickly, and Alan’s mind was by no means on the job. He didn’t bother with cleaning the kitchen properly after service; instead he hurried to the supermarket, where he acquired the necessary ingredients for Man’s meal.

It was yet another miserable Cornish day, so Alan was sure the beach would be empty again, and much to his delight he found that it was. He hurried to the usual spot at the usual time and waited by the shore. Man the crab emerged from the water soon afterwards and looked expectantly at Alan, who took out a plate and napkin from his bag and presented the bruschetta neatly on the sand.

“Very good,” said Man as he prepared to feast. He made short work of the meal, and after picking the remaining crumbs from the plate he slumped back on the sand and gave a satisfactory burp. “Delicious,” he said, “the Italians do it best, don’t you think?” He dabbed his mouth with the napkin, which was quite tricky with claws. He then put the napkin on the plate and looked up at Alan. “I suppose you want your reward now,” he said.

“Indeed I do,” replied Alan, who was sitting cross-legged and leaning forward eagerly. He was hoping the reward would be worth more than the money he’d spent on all that food. Man stood straight, as straight as a crab can stand, and raised his claws in the air.

“Your reward, O Alan of the Scrumptious Grub,” he bellowed theatrically, “shall be anything you desire from this world or the other world.”

Alan sat aghast; the few quid he had spent on food now seemed to him worthwhile. Man continued, this time in a more informal tone.

“You have one day to decide; return tomorrow.” Man the crab winked at Alan, and with two clicks of his claws he vanished. Alan remained still and bewildered for a moment, before making his way slowly home. When he was half way up the beach he heard a voice, a distant voice that seemed to be traveling with the wind.

“Bring a chicken burger,” it said.

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