Timothy Burton was a boy of no use. He was so useless that his aunt called him A Great Big Handful O’ Nothing. A peculiar green moth, his trusted friend, had made a good snug home in his doorknob. Every few days, Timothy, with messy hair and a face lined with grime, would track mud all over his house bringing her muddy insects to eat. Every time the ants in his walls attacked his caterpillar, he would withhold their snacks for two whole weeks.
Whenever Timothy heard his aunt trudging up the stairs, he would climb onto his window-sill and pretend to be invisible. He dreaded and dreaded the Tasks he was handed. He would either get out of their clutches by falling asleep, or by running as fast as he could to the nearest train station, zipping vigilantly through the traffic. He would climb onto the first train pulling out, breathlessly asking for a ticket to Mount Doom, even though he had no money.
The conductor, Toffy, was not Timothy’s friend. He would immediately ring up his aunt and tattle, inviting her to box his ears. Timothy saw his ear becoming twice the size of his fists if his aunt kept pulling it the way she did. She would jerk him by his arms, clip him upside the ear, and Scream.
He once made a ladder out of shoeboxes all the way from his basement to his Wise Friend Scruffy’s terrace, and nearly broke his neck the first time he tried to use it. His Idiot Friend had convinced him he’d strengthened it with magic.
Everyone always thought Timothy was trapped in his world. No one could ever look at him too long; he always stared back so steadfastly that they would hurry and look at their shoes.
He would be locked up in his room most of the time, minding his own business. He’d be tearing his hair out over the monsters in his closet and running around stopping spidery bats from unscrewing his fan, when all of a sudden his blasted aunt would push open the door, allow daylight in, and make his world disappear. All in a second, he would be left alone, in an empty white room with stark white walls.
He hated it, so much that he took every chance he could get to escape to the cinema, or to the bookstore, or to Scruffy’s house. All his teachers said he had rabbit in his blood.
Timothy’s hands had star-shaped markings on them, and the bats whispered that they’d been left as a symbol of a Great Upcoming Day. No one knew what the day was, or when it was going to come, but rumour spread that it was going to bring all of Timothy’s Giant Book Friends to life.
The Giant Book, Timothy’s best friend, was a magical thing. Every time he opened it, he found it very easy to do nothing, and go nowhere. He would switch on a yellow lamp, settle into a tall stool just a smidge too high, and pore over his book until his eyelids started to droop. He would often loll over and fall asleep right there, trapped in his head just like everyone said, and wake up with great reluctance the next day to run from Tasks all over again.