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New Story Whale Bedtime Story! Part 23: The Beast of the Forest
As evening looms, the forest is full of action and movement...
In today’s story, The Beast of the Forest continues!
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Without further ado, here is Part 23 in The Beast of the Forest!
As evening loomed, the forest was full of action and movement. Humans and beasts alike moved and shifted among the trees on their different journeys. At any moment, paths might cross. It was just a matter of time…
So this was it, one of those rare moments in life in which the sound of a snapped twig can change absolutely everything.
Jimmy’s dad ducked back behind the tree and looked to the group of townsfolk holding off just behind him. He saw the anticipation in their fearful eyes. He simply nodded. They all knew what it meant.
Jimmy’s dad turn back towards the bandits’ opening in the forest. He checked the trees that surrounded the leaf-covered trap in the middle.
He was counting up the bandits, searching for Leo. According to Jimmy, there would be six people in total in the group. Jimmy had assured him that Leo would be absolutely unmistakeable.
So there were two in the first tree… neither of them could be Leo… he kept looking… there were two more in another tree… no sign of Leo there either… where were the last two?
Maybe Leo was able to escape, thought Jimmy’s dad to himself. Maybe they weren’t going to have to get involved after all.
Jimmy’s mum made her way over to him.
“What is it?” she asked.
“There should be six of them,” he said. “Jimmy said there should be six. And Leo isn’t here. Something’s happened.”
“What do we do?” she asked.
He turned back towards the opening in the forest, looking up towards the bandits in their trees.
“I don’t know,” he said.
Jimmy and the rest of the kids were hunkered down back near the stream — tucked into the forest, just out of view from the rushing body of water itself. They were all sitting under the trees, except for Jimmy, who was pacing back and forth.
They all looked off into the forest in the direction that the adults had marched off.
The sun was setting. The forest was glowing.
Jimmy was running calculations in his head. In his mind, he was mapping the journey the adults were making. They would likely be arriving at the bandits’ opening around now. They could already be there.
As he looked into the stagnant forest before him, he imagined what might be happening out there. Any second now, if not already, the action would all be kicking off.
Jimmy was quietly livid. He thought he should be there too. He wanted to be in the action. He wanted to help and to do his part.
He walked over to one of the adults who had stayed behind to guard them, not that the adult would have been able to do a whole lot to protect them. The couple of adults who stayed behind were a pair of elderly pumpkin farmers who wouldn’t be chasing anyone down anytime soon.
“We should be in there helping them,” said Jimmy to one of the farmers. “We can help. We should help.”
“Just settle down and wait,” said the farmer.
Jimmy scrunched up his face like a brat and turned his back on them, walking back to the other kids.
“Cowards,” Jimmy muttered to himself.
While Jimmy’s dad was waiting by the opening and Jimmy was back by the water, Leo was somewhere else again…
Leo was with the second-in-command bandit, Henry, walking through the forest to fetch some fresh water for all of the other bandits.
A few moments earlier, Leo had noticed something peculiar. As he and Henry had been walked through the forest towards the stream, he had caught the sound of a small flock of red robins being scared away. Shortly following the sound, he had looked up and, sure enough, saw the flock of birds flying away above the canopy of the trees.
There was something about the way they had startled that made Leo curious. Those birds must have seen something they weren’t used to seeing. The beast? Or maybe people?
Leo looked to his left to the source of where he had first heard the red robins squawking. There wasn’t any signs of movement. The forest was unflinching. He looked ahead again. Henry was walking just behind him and Leo didn’t want any extra pairs of searching eyes. Given the situation, a potential hidden detail was valuable. And even though Leo didn’t actually spot any movement, something still didn’t sit right with him.
He lightened his steps and listened in. The forest had been his home for years. He knew its sounds and smells. He would know if he heard something that wasn’t meant to be there. His ears were as attuned as a skittish rodent.
He listened closely. There was a long dragging moment of quiet — only the sounds of his own steps, those of Henry behind him, and the rustle of water in the distance.
Suddenly, a sound broke the stillness — the sound of a snapped twig. To Leo’s keen ear, it was like a sudden snap of thunder, although to anyone else it would have went totally unnoticed.
Sure enough, it was coming from the same direction as the birds before.
Leo turned his head for a glimpse. He looked for a while, focusing in. Far away in the distance, in between the trees, he caught sight of someone, a person. There was a whole group of them.
Immediately, he looked ahead again, not wanting to draw Henry’s attention to the trees.
He couldn’t imagine who it could be. Perhaps some hopeful knights in pursuit of the bandits. Perhaps more bandits. It didn’t even occur to him that it could be his very own rescue party.
Whoever it was, if there was going to be trouble, Leo didn’t want to interrupt it. Suddenly, he was feeling a resurgence of hope. Trouble meant chaos, and maybe, just maybe, chaos meant a chance to escape.
And yet there was even more activity in the forest that day. Beyond the bandits and Leo, beyond the fractured townsfolk, there were beasts out there somewhere among the trees…
Thanks so much for reading! I hope you have a fantastic rest of your week!