Roy has just finished his homework, when he overhears a phone conversation between his parents. Trace Middle School has decided to take no disciplinary action against Dana Matherson, because his injuries were severe enough to provoke a lawsuit. Roy leaves the house and rides his bike to the spot where he first saw the running boy. He retraces his steps to the stand of Australian pine trees where he saw the boy disappear. On foot, he begins to search the woods and finds a series of charred rocks encircling a layer of ashes - a campfire. Then, he finds three plastic garbage bags. One holds everyday trash, a second holds a stack of boy’s clothing (with no socks or shoes). The third one isn’t full so Roy unties it and dumps it out. At first, he thinks it’s a pile of thick brown ropes, but then he realizes it’s a pile of cottonmouth water moccasin snakes, which are highly poisonous. He struggles to remain motionless as they uncurl at his feet. Then, he hears a voice speak out from the thicket behind him, telling him not to move.
As he stands there in fear, Roy remembers the time he went on a field trip with his class in Montana and sneaked away from the group in hopes of surprising them. Instead, he ran into a grizzly bear. Just as with the snakes, Roy had stood absolutely still, and eventually, the bear had moved away. Now with the snakes, Roy is advised to step slowly backwards by the voice on the count of three. Roy does so, but the person behind the voice grabs him, ties him up, and puts a hood over his head.
Roy tells the boy that he hasn’t come to hassle him, but the boy insists that he has to leave. He leads Roy out of his area while admitting that any other kid would probably have wet his pants. Roy tells him as they walk that he had seen lots of snakes where he used to live. However, Roy wonders why the snakes the boy caught had blue sparkles on their tails. He says that they’re going to a party and guides Roy back to the golf course. He asks the boy his name, but all the kid will say is that they call him Mullet Fingers. He won’t tell Roy if he lives out there either. He warns him instead that, if he turns around before he’s counted to fifty, he’ll end up with a cottonmouth in his bed. Roy does what he’s told, takes off the hood, and runs for his bike. He pedals off as fast as he can, but not because he’s afraid. “He isn’t frightened and he isn’t discouraged. He’s more excited than ever.”
Two ideas of importance stand out in this chapter: one, Roy is unjustly punished while his attacker is not so that the school can avoid a lawsuit; two, Roy makes contact with a boy he finds too interesting to ignore. In the process, he discovers a world that is much more interesting than anything he’s experienced yet. The reader senses that Roy will not give up until he finds out the truth behind the running boy. Life has become exciting at last.