“We could give Grim to Old Abe for a while,” Slops said.
“Are you crazy?”
“It was just a -”
“I heard he – eats children.”
“He doesn’t,” Slops said. “I met him.”
“I went there.”
“It’s haunted. Nobody goes there. You’re a liar.”
“Old Abe is weird but he’s alright. Leif likes him.”
Carmen wondered how you could tell with gillywigs.
“I’ll show you what he gave me,” Slops said. “But you can’t tell anyone. I’m not even meant to be telling you.” He got down on his hands and knees and tunnelled under his bed, emerging triumphantly with what looked like a brownish stick.
“What’s that?” Carmen said.
Slops didn’t answer. Instead, he blew into the end of the stick. There was a low, haunting note that sent shivers up Carmen’s spine. It was like the call of a lost bird in a wood.
“Let me see it.”
Slops handed it over. Carmen felt a chill as she touched it. It was smooth and coffee-coloured, and obviously very old.
“I think it’s made of bone,” Slops said.
Carmen suddenly didn’t want to hold it any more. She handed it back to him. “I don’t like it,” she said. “Why’d he give it to you?”
Slops shrugged. “Knows I like music I guess.”
“Did he know that?”
Carmen saw it dawn on his face that he had told Old Abe nothing of the sort. “I don’t like it,” she said again.
“You’re just jealous.”