Idle hands, goes the saying, are the devil’s playground. Playgrounds are full of children, normally. Children, it might be argued, are the very definition of idle. So it should be no surprise to us, though it is rather peculiar, that a child should be the cause of great trouble.
The town of Pleasant Springs, idyllic and picturesque – quaint, even – could not have foreseen its doom when the nights bore sweet dreams and the flowers of spring were in bloom.
But the nights, they’ve grown eerie and never-quite-cheery, for the town hall’s with corpses festooned. The nightly rubenesques in their dresses paraded, dancing their bloated arabesques, to the tune of the call of the loon.
Lil Tommy, just seven, was toying outside, in the plaza near the town’s center. Through the air came the smell of the pies and the cakes, and the shops signed with ‘do not enter’.
To this Tommy thought ‘Bah!’, let them keep all their sweets, I will find my own way to be king. And swiftly he strode to the field’s very middle, the place of the old witches’ ring.
In the firefly-glow of the old field’s lawn Lil’ Tommy set down a few trinkets. Of the farmers he took token of promise, innocuous they’d thought Tommy’s game. In a circle, arranged, in a curious array lay the old buttons of old man Rickets, and the buttons of Pie Lady Donna, and the buttons of his teach Ms. Lane, everybody in town have given Tommy a button, a token, a promise thought tame. Even Mayor Hopstocket the man with the lockets of golden hair some called insane.
And the buttons had blood of pigeons and rabbits and foxes and ducks and dogs. And of cats and of lizards that lived through a blizzard only to be squashed like frogs (the blood of which also covered the buttons).
It was all quite singular, most peculiar indeed, that the smell of rot and sulphur should invade the sweet breeze.
And the darkness took form and it stood there ‘fore Tommy, who dwarfish did look in its shadow. But he called for a reason and called well he did, for the Devil ‘fore Tommy would do all he bid, but for only the souls of the people in town. The souls of the mild-mannered wicked and foul. All humans, said Satan, are tainted in truth. All women and men, even dogs, forsooth!
So there Lil’ Tommy did pledge to old scratch the souls of the women and men of Pleasant Springs. And pleasant no longer were any o’ the springs, for what ran through them after you’d rather not swim in.
For pies and for cakes and for candies galore,
For toys and for summer-like days evermore,
Did sell, Lil’ Tommy, the souls of the town
And now and forever he sits on that ground
On that very field, chubby and round
Without friends, without, cheer, but with nothing to fear,
Yet content with the sweets that he holds so dear.