Excerpt from
by Richard Lee Byers

Rattles and the Sergeant Major proceeded to the door to the master bedroom. The stuffed snake twisted into another spiral so the wooden soldier could climb up and reach the knob. The door swung silently inward, revealing a big canopy bed with two motionless bodies pressed together, front to back. Carter's father had his arm around his wife's waist. A shaft of silvery moonlight, steaming through the window, shone palely on the slender woman's tousled golden hair.

Fascinated by the sight of the grownups lying together so peacefully, Rattles crawled to the bed, raised his head high, and slithered onto the quilt. Carter's mother murmured, but the toy could see that she wasn't waking up.

Though they were no doubt upset that their son was angry with them, on the most fundamental level, they looked happy. How easy it would be to end that happiness! Rattles's teeth ached. A drop of venom oozed from his mouth and fell smoking onto the covers.

The shaft of moonlight died, plunging the room into deeper darkness. Rattles felt as if the moon had looked away to give him license to do whatever he wanted. He crawled toward the head of the bed.

THE TALE OF THE TERRIBLE TOYS is a Minstrel Book from Pocket Books. Visit Minstrel Books on th World Wide Web at: http://www.SimonSaysKids.com

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