the pearl


One day, in their fanmail, the band *NSync received a very strange gift.

It was wrapped in a large amount of very old tissue paper, and only came with a note that said "This will prove useful to you."

Their assistant in charge of fanmail opened the package to reveal...

A mummified monkey's paw.

She shrieked and dropped it, as you would, and promptly informed one of the many security guards.

Word spread throughout their record company and, eventually, even reached the boys themselves.

"Dude," they said, somewhat collectively and yet individually.

Lance was first on the scene. He half-remembered reading a story once — something about a guy and a paw and some wishes — and promptly picked up the paw, closing his eyes and saying, "I wish I was on a spaceship."

By this time, the other guys had arrived. Once they heard that, they started laughing. A lot. And then some more. Justin was even on the floor.

Lance scowled, but perked up as his phone rang. "Yeah?" he said. "Huh. Yeah. Of course. Oh definitely. Yeah, I'll be there ASAP. Thank you. Bye!"

Everyone looked at Lance as he slowly hung up the phone. Lance looked down at the monkey's paw and grinned.

"Well?" Joey finally said, unable to take the suspense.

Lance looked up, realizing there were others in the room. "Oh. This production company wants me for their new reality TV show. Something about celebrities on a space station...."

Chris blinked a few times. "So you're going into space."

Lance smiled. "Yeah."

"On a space ship."

Lance grinned. "Yeah."

"For real."

Lance's grin could have illuminated Orlando. "Yeah."

Joey looked at the monkey's paw. "Keep that fucking thing out of my sight," he said, and walked out of the room.

Chris looked at the monkey's paw too. "Yeah, that's pretty damn creepy. I'm with Joey on this." He walked out of the room too, but with a little less dramatic flair than Joey did.

Justin and JC looked at each other, then at Lance, and then at the paw.

"Dude," all three said.

"Dude, I should make the next wish!" Justin said, grabbing at the paw.

"No way, dude! Me!" JC said, grabbing it as well.

"No way, damnit! It's my paw!" Lance shouted.

All three tugged the paw. A slow crackling noise was faintly heard under the shouting, and then a loud crack. The three men separated forcefully, each holding a tiny piece of what could have been a mummified monkey's paw.

"Fuck, look what you did!" Lance shouted. "You broke it!"

"Nuh-huh," Justin replied. "You broke it."

"Shit!" JC stared down at his portion of monkey finger and palm that he held. "Do you think it still works?"

Lance and Justin both looked down at their pieces. "I don't know," Justin said. "Make a wish."

"No, you make a wish."

"Scared it'll backfire?"


Justin sighed and held up his monkey paw piece. "Fine." He closed his eyes tightly. "I wish I was a superstar."

"You are a superstar, dumbass," Lance said under his breath.

"Bigger than that, dipshit. I'm gonna be bigger than Jesus!"

They stood there, tense, for ten minutes, then frowned. "Nothing's happened," Lance said. "Jayce, you do it."

JC stared at the piece of dead primate in his hand, then squeezed his eyes tightly for a few seconds. He opened them up, and looked up at both of them.

"Well?" Lance asked. "You gonna make a wish?"

"I did," JC said.

"I didn't hear it."

JC gave Justin a look. "Unlike some people, I didn't feel the need to tell the world..."

Justin snorted. "Whatever, dude."

They waited another ten minutes, each of them looking at their piece of monkey's paw, neither of them able to look at each other.

Finally, Lance sighed and put his piece back into the box. "I think you two broke it."

"That fucking sucks, man!" Justin said, throwing his piece into the box. "Why do you get a fucking wish and we get dicked?"

"Because you broke it," JC snapped back. He looked at his piece of monkey's paw one last time, then sighed and tossed it in. "We could've had world peace and great abs and...and...other cool stuff, but want to be fucking famous!"

"Fuck you, man! At least I..." Justin trailed off as he opened the door. "Um. Yo." He looked back at the guys. "Did either of you come with monks?"


Justin held open the door. In front of them stood two guys in monk outfits, carrying incense, holy water, and a picture from Justin's tour book in a gold frame.

"No, I think those are yours," Lance said, looking at them. He waved. "Hey."

The monks nodded silently.

"Oh. Vow of silence. That's okay, Justin will do enough talking for all of you."

"Hey!" Justin yelled. "What the hell is this?"

"I guess you got your wish," Lance said, slapping him on the back. "Bigger than Jesus."

Justin stared at them at shock, and Lance and JC left the room. Walking through the hall, Lance turned to JC. "So Justin's the new God, I'm going into space..." He looked at JC critically. "What did you wish for?"

JC pulled out a pocket mirror and looked at himself. "Does my hair look better to you?"


Six Months Later.

In the middle of his 10 o'clock visitation period, Justin's cell rang. Justin looked heavenward, and answered it. "Reverend Timberlake," he said.

"Dude, this sucks!" Lance said.

"Dude, I know!"

"No, dude, I'm positive what is going to happen to me sucks more."

"No way! You don't know what's happening to me!"

"Oh yeah?" Lance rustled a sheet of paper. "Listen to this: 'I'm In A Celebrity Space Station: Get Me Out Of Here! is a novel idea to the reality show. Ten celebrities are transported up into space and, each week, one of them is unceremoniously shown to the airlock. Do they have a shuttle home? Do they have a spacesuit? Do they have nothing? That's up to the viewers! Tune in each week!'" There was some more rustling. "Dude! They're gonna fucking throw me out of an airlock!"

"Oh yeah?" Justin said back. He took another gulp of the ceremonial 40-ounce. "Guess what I have to do tomorrow?"

"It's not getting thrown out of an airlock!"

"It's worse." Justin shooed his supplicants out of the room and hunched over the phone. "They're crucifying me tomorrow!"


"They're sticking me on a goddamn cross! I mean, okay, I got them to, y'know, not nail me to it, or kill me, but, still! Cross! Me!"

Justin waited for a minute, but all he could hear was Lance's laughing.

"Fuck you, man," he finally said. His call waiting beeped. "I'm taking this other call." He hung up on Lance and switched to the other call. "Yo?"

"It's totally fucked up, man! We should've never wished on that paw, man! This is all wrong!"

Justin blinked. "Jayce?"

"It's all wrong! Oh fuck, man, what am I gonna do?"

Justin paused. "Dude, calm down. Tell me what's going on."

On the other end of the line, JC clutched the phone nervously as another strand of hair fell onto his lap.

This Real Person story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at