Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chapter Fifty-Two

Like the rest of the castle, the upstairs landing remains dark, empty, destroyed. Pinocchio looks around.

“Father?” he calls once more. His voice trembles.

He knows - but he doesn’t know how he knows - that his destination must lie beyond the closed door at the end of the hallway. The scariest door. The largest door. That is the one he must open.

He tiptoes closer, although he’s not quite sure why - whatever dwells behind the door has surely heard his voice. As he reaches up to grab the doorknob, a baritone voice emerges from the darkness:

“Ah-ah-ah, I wouldn’t open that if I were you.”

A small flare of fire - a candle is lit - and a candelabra gasps at the visitor. “Sacre bleu! It is a small wooden boy.”

Pinocchio smiles. A talking candlestick! Surely Gepetto is nearby.

It subtly hops away from the forbidden door, and Pinocchio follows.

“Hello,” he says. “I’m looking for my father. Gepetto.”

“Well... I am fairly certain he is not here,” says the Candelabra. It eyes Pinocchio carefully, checking for any distinguishing traits. “Unless you are one of mine.” It chuckles. “In which case, I would say the family resemblance is, how shall we say? Not so good.”

“But, but the Lion said...” begins Pinocchio.

“I am sorry, young monsieur,” says the Candelabra, and it continues to lead the boy toward the staircase, “but there is no Gepetto here. I have never heard the name. Now you must go. I fear you may have already disturbed the Master.”

“The Master?” Pinocchio casts a hopeful eye at the bedroom door. It has to be Gepetto. “Did he make you, too? He made me!”

The Candelabra shakes its head, casting odd, flickering shadows. “I am afraid not, young monsieur. Now truly...” its attention is diverted by scurrying sounds from downstairs - the rest of the staff seems restless this day. “You must go.”

Confused, Pinocchio stops walking. Was the Lion mistaken? But how could he be wrong? And there’s that ever-important lesson he’d learned from the Lion: not everyone could be trusted. Would that include talking candlesticks?

There have already been so many tests - all of which Pinocchio is quite sure he’s failed - along his journey. This must be another one. And his many mistakes had cost him his father, his conscience, the Little Pig. Just about everything.

And somehow he knows - without quite knowing how he knows - that the right decision will cause Gepetto to appear. But if he is wrong, his father will be whisked even further away.

The Blue Fairy told him he must be brave, truthful and unselfish in order to be a real boy. She never said what he must do to find his father. And the Lion has taught him, time and time again, that he simply isn’t suited toward making the right choice.

Should he listen to the Candelabra, a stranger? Or disobey and see for himself?

“Maybe... I’d better... check,” decides Pinocchio. The choice is made. And before the Candelabra can protest, they hear the click and creak of an opening door.

But it isn’t the scariest door, the largest door, the Forbidden Door of the Master.

It comes from the great hall downstairs.

Someone has entered the castle.