My heart is breaking. I'm finally introduced to the character Pipkin, and like I feared, he's not in tip top shape.
The chapter begins with the door of the house opening, and Pipkin steps out ever so slowly, hand clutching his side, and not even dressed in a Halloween costume.
The boys can tell something is wrong, but they all act as if everything is normal. Pipkin tries to do the same, valiantly putting on a good show. He asks if everyone is ready to go out, and when they ask if he's okay, he ignores them. He insists that he's fine, and promises that he'll join them later at "the place of the Haunts."
Finally, to get them to leave, he shouts, "On your marks. Get set. Go!" Being boys, they can't resist some healthy competition and they sprint off into the distance. Already missing their friend, they look behind as they run, and this is where we hear the most ominous words:
The night swallowed him.The boys finally forget about Pipkin for a little while, and enjoy their Halloween night in the typical fashion. They go door to door collecting candy, stuffing the sweet goodness into their mouths. But trick-or-treating is only fun for so long. These boys need adventure, not bubblegum.
But all the people who met them at doors looked like candy factory duplicates of their own mothers and fathers. It was like never leaving home. Too much kindness flashed from every window and every portal. What they wanted was to hear dragons belch in basements and banged castle doors.So with their tummies full but their spirits empty, they ran to the edge of the town, marked by a deep ravine.
The ravine, filled with varieties of night sounds, lurkings of black-ink stream and creek, lingerings of autumns that rolled over in fire and bronze and died a thousand years ago... calling Come Come Come and if you do you'll stay forever, forever, drip, forever, rustle, run, rush, whisper, and never go, never go go go...The boys pause for just a moment, and it's obvious that this moment is crucial. Do they stay safely behind with the adults passing out sickeningly sweet sweets? Or do they press on into the night with all of its uncertain possibilities? Obviously there wouldn't be a story if they stayed back, and these boys are desperately in need of a story.
Tom Skelton is the first to run down into the dark ravine. He knows where Pipkin wants them to go. And what wouldn't these boys do for their champion friend?
Where they had been was empty. The town was left behind to suffer itself with sweetness.