New Story Whale Bedtime Story: Part 26 The Beast of the Forest
A collision course for trouble…
Christmas is just around the corner and so is the finale of The Beast of the Forest.
If you have some catching up to do, here’s a link to the full series:
Make sure to subscribe to never miss a new story:
Also, share the gift of free stories!
Now, Merry Christmas and please enjoy today’s new chapter!
Jimmy, Leo, and Henry were trapped on the shore between parent and child. There was nowhere for them to go; they needed to create a new option. Time was running out. They stood in the way of a deadly force: a parent who thought their child was in danger. The adult beast across the stream wasn’t showing any signs of mellowing.
Leo was scrambling for an idea, for a way out. Run? Back slowly away? Fight?
Just moments earlier, the alarm bell of the beast’s booming roar had triggered a slightly different reaction with each ear it touched.
The reaction from Jimmy’s dad was immediate. He and the townsfolk were poised at the edge of the opening where the bandits had their trap. His head whipped in the direction of the sound, back towards the stream, potentially back towards where the little ones had been told to stay back.
The townsfolk made a rough little huddle.
“We’ll deal with them later,” said Jimmy’s dad about the bandits.
The instincts of all of the mums and dads and aunties and uncles were perfectly in sync. They needed to go towards the danger. It didn’t matter how loud the roar was. It didn’t matter how fierce the beast was. None of that mattered. They had their children to protect. It were as if a magnet had been initiated in each of them, drawing them towards that horrible guttural roar.
They set off back the way they came, rushing through the forest, weaving between the trees.
Up in the trees just nearby, the head bandit, Arthur, had felt a similar magnetic pull the moment he heard the beast’s roar, although for very different reasons. Instantly, he too was drawn to the danger.
“Get the net,” he said to the older bandit up in the tree with him.
He then turned to the next tree along where the bandit twins were set up. The twins were already looking Arthur’s way, desperate for direction.
Arthur nodded towards them and they instantly knew what it meant: get ready.
Before Arthur could climb down out of his tree, he caught a glimpse of movement at the edge of the treeline. He saw the huddle of bodies that had been tucked away behind the trees, only just barely visible. He briefly paused. He wondered who they might be. With the life he had lived, there could be a thousand different groups after him.
Before Arthur could act, the huddle of people suddenly disbanded and retreated. Their sudden movement didn’t seem to have anything to do with Arthur. They too were heading towards the roar.
For the children that had been directed to stay back, the beast’s roar had been much louder still. They could feel it in their bones and in their bellies. For many of them, the sound filled them with a deep horror that they had never felt before in their entire lives. The situation crossed into something that many of them now realised that they had not truly prepared themselves for. Some of them crumbled instantly into panic, some were just stupefied, too terrified to show emotion.
The minding pumpkin farmers snapped into a new wakefulness. They jumped up and started shushing the kids who were making too much noise. They didn’t know how close the beast was. They needed to be as quiet as possible.
The minders managed to wrangle the kids together and get them to be quiet. They then realised that something was off – a certain loud boy was missing.
“Where’s Jimmy?” asked one of the pumpkin farmers.
The kids looked among themselves. They didn’t have an answer.
That was when they realised it wasn’t just Jimmy who was missing. Cal and Frank weren’t there either…
Earlier, before the roar…
When Cal and Frank realised that Jimmy had snuck off, they looked to the empty spot where Jimmy had been sitting and then looked to each other. They were in instant unspoken agreement.
Just as Jimmy had done moments earlier, Cal and Frank shuffled their way around the tree trunk and then rose to their feet once they were out of view from everyone.
Cal had experience tracking rabbits on his family’s apple farm. He was good at reading the ground for clues and suggestions of movement. Jimmy wasn’t as nimble or light-footed as a rabbit and his trail was easy to spot. All they had to do was follow it.
They paced after him, following the footsteps and disturbances left in his wake. He couldn’t have gotten far. They had to be closing in on him.
They could hear the stream just nearby. Their track was veering towards the treeline.
Suddenly, they saw Jimmy up ahead of them -- only a glimpse of him at first. They saw him standing by the treeline just short of the stream. He was standing completely still. There was something off about him, something about the rigid way he was standing, like a scarecrow unable to move.
He was facing something beside him, but Cal and Frank couldn’t see what it was. They readjusted and then they saw the silhouette of the animal beside him, like the outline of a prowling wolf but with a long snake-like tail. It was the beast.
In that moment the beast made a lunge at Jimmy and knocked him to the ground. Cal and Frank couldn’t see anything now. They quickly scrambled through the last stretch of forest to the treeline to see what had happened. As they got there, they looked through the trees to find a full scene of action down by the stream. Jimmy on the ground with the beast standing over him, then two more men and two more beasts down by the water – one of those beasts far bigger and fiercer than the others, belonging to a whole new realm of terror.
That was when the roar erupted.
Cal and Frank immediately ducked back behind the trees.
Cal turned to Frank. “We need to go get the others.”
Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned for the conclusion!