Megs, Sandhya and Rohan were walking down the road when they heard a voice calling out to them.

“Heellloooo! Hellloooo! Haven't seen you guys in my shop for a long time,” said the man from the ‘weird' shop. “I have a new smart assistant. You must meet him.” So saying he walked off.

They arrived at the shop, to find it the same — dark, cold and crowded with stuff.

“Hey look at this!” exclaimed Megs as she spotted a rather fat doll on the counter. He was dressed in red trousers that came short above his ankles and a tight yellow t-shirt that refused to cover his round belly. He was bare feet, but on his head he wore a rather stylish beret. He wore spectacles too. Megs picked him up to show him to her friends.

“Put me down,” came a rather gruff angry voice. It was the doll. Megs was so shocked she almost dropped him. Sandhya and Rohan stared open mouthed. The doll was talking!

“And why creatures in my shop?” asked the doll. “If no purpose, leave.”

“That is so rude!” said Sandhya. She was turning around to leave when she tripped on a ruffled rug and sprawled out on the floor.

The fat doll began to laugh. It was a loud, raucous, screaming kind of laughter. He laughed and laughed and his pink chubby cheeks became purple and blue tears fell from his eyes. He laughed and he laughed. Wide-eyed with fear and the maniacal laughter echoing in their heads, the three of them tried to tip-toe out of the shop. But just as they reached the doorway they tripped on the rug and all three of them were on the floor. They could not even figure out how the rug had got to the door!

Just then they heard a faint ‘psst psst' from somewhere under the counter. The fat doll was screaming louder now and more blue tears were pouring out down his fat purple cheeks.

Under the counter they saw a dice. Just an ordinary dice. They inched their way closer and the dice rolled off. Every time they got close to the dice it rolled a little further, until finally they found themselves in a little room. It seemed to be covered from wall to wall with rather colourful numbered tiles. The dice rolled on to one of the squares and Rohan was pulled forward. The dice rolled again and Megs got on to the coloured tiles. The third time the dice rolled it was Sandhya's turn. Every time the diced rolled one of them moved forward. Suddenly they heard Megs shouting, “Snake! Snake!” they saw her scrambling away in haste. Then immediately afterwards, Megs went shooting up a ladder. It was all rather bizarre.

“Oh my goodness, I think we are playing Snakes and Ladders,” said Megs. The other two could only nod before they hurried out of the way of snakes with open mouths or were forced to climb steep ladders.

They had been so busy with the game that they did not realise that the doll had stopped laughing and was at the door watching them.

“Boy! Boy! faster, faster, faster…” He began to clap his hands.

“Oh shut up fatty in red,” shouted Sandhya, as she battled a large snake.

Megs was halfway up a ladder and was panting hard. “Hey purpleface. You enjoying this? When we are done, you are in for it.”

Once again the doll began to laugh. Every time he laughed the dice rolled faster Then, mysteriously the dice stopped. The three of them were stuck. The snake and the ladders all became quiet. The fat doll stopped laughing and the blue tears stopped rolling down his cheek.

“Woo hoo! Anyone here?” they heard a soft cooing voice from the front of the shop. The fat doll shuffled and rolled his eyes. Then in a high pitched sweet voice almost mimicking the voice he answered, “Heylloo, will be with you in a minute.” He traipsed out and the three of them followed. The old man was back behind the counter and a lady was talking to him.

“I want a nice doll for my grand daughter. It's her birthday tomorrow.” She turned around and spotted the fat doll in red trousers. “Oh he is so sweet. This is just what I wanted. How much? How much?” She was shivering in excitement.

The old man was in shock, he couldn't talk. “But..but..” he stuttered.

The doll said, “No sale, no sale. Me assist.”

“Oh so sweet. He can talk. His name is Messist!” She threw a couple of hundred rupee notes on the counter and before the old man could recover, she ran away with the fat doll.

They could hear him screaming and this time they were sure he was not laughing.