It was Monday after school and Kat called her best friend, Carter, on the phone. “I think I’ve got a project for us.” The two twelve-year-old friends grew up together in the country. Their favorite activity was exploring and adventure.
“Well, hello to you too.”
“Oh sorry, I’m a bit excited about my idea.” Kat lowered her voice and said, “Let’s meet at Three Rocks so we can talk about it. I don’t want my mom to hear.”
“I can’t do it now. My dad has me cleaning the garage. It’ll take me at least another hour to finish.”
With a sigh of disappointment Kat said, “I don’t want to wait around for an hour while you do chores. This is too exciting.”
“So, what are you saying? Are you going to start the project without me? You know, you could come and help me get done faster and then we could move on to the fun stuff together.”
There was a long pause at the other end of the phone. Finally, Kat sighed and said, “I guess so. If it gets you done faster then it’s worth it. I’ll be right over.”
Kat hung up the phone and ran for the front door; however, before she made it out of the house, her mother yelled, “Catherine… Where do you think you’re going in such a hurry?”
Kat ran her fingers through her long red hair and said “Um… I was going over to help Carter clean his garage.”
“Well, if you have so much energy and time on your hands that you can do other people’s chores, then I have a few things you can do to help me. You can clean all the windows inside and out.”
Kat rolled her green eyes and whined, “But mom, I was just going to help Carter so he would get finished faster and we could do something fun.”
“You heard me; now get busy.”
It took Kat exactly one hour to finish the windows and then the phone rang. Kat answered it. It was Carter. “What happened to you?”
Kat explained about the windows and then suggested that if he was done with his chores that they meet and talk about the project before it got too late.
Later, standing by three very large round rocks lined up in a row, Kat told the blond haired, blue-eyed boy, “Look across the road at the Kravins’ house. Have you noticed that it’s been quiet over there for over a week now? They’ve lived in that green and white cabin for as long as I can remember. I usually see them a couple times a week working in their yard. But, look at it. The lawn hasn‘t been mowed. Their car is still in their driveway, but you can see in their windows that no one is home. Has anyone told you that they are away on a trip? I haven’t heard anything.”
Carter scratched his head and shrugged. “No, I can’t say that I have. I never paid much attention to them. They must be in their 80s or something.”
“What difference does that make?” Kat asked with scorn.
“Hey, don’t get upset. I didn’t mean any disrespect. It’s just that I don’t usually have much in common with older folks, unless they are my grandparents.” Quickly changing the subject, Carter asked, “What do you think happened to them?”
“That’s what we need to find out.”
“Should we ask around and see if anyone knows if they are visiting relatives?” Carter suggested.
“I already did that. I asked everyone that lives around here, and no one has heard a thing. Based on people’s attitudes, no one seems to care. It’s up to us to find out what’s happened to them.”
“All right then, let’s go up to the front door and knock.” Carter said as he headed toward the house.
“What good is that going to do? It’s obvious they’re not home,” Kat protested as she hurried to catch up with the boy.
Once they stepped onto the front porch, Carter knocked. When there was no answer, he pressed the doorbell. When there was still no answer, he tried the door and found it locked. “Let’s go around back and see if there is a way into the house.”
There was no fence to keep people out or pets in; however, the weeds that grew in the back of the house were at least two feet over the children’s heads. “This is crazy,” Carter said as he struggled to fight his way through long, thin grass like plants. Some areas were so dense that it was impossible to penetrate. Other areas were too dense to see through but not too dense to walk through. Eventually, it became clear to the friends that the area was a blind maze. They were being guided to a specific area. It turned out that that area was not the back door of the house.
Eventually the children found themselves in a circular clearing about the size of a swimming pool. The ground was covered with the grass plants bent over and flattened. “It’s a crop circle,” Carter said.
“You mean like UFOs? Come on, Carter, be serious, this is spooky stuff.”
“Yes it is but so are crop circles. Don’t worry, Kat. I don’t think UFOs are involved here. This is more like Dead Forest kind of stuff.”
Suddenly, a dark figure with a hood covered face, stepped out into the clearing. A whispery voice said, “It is time for you two to go back. What is happening here is none of your concern.”
“Where are the Kravins?” Kat demanded. “What have you done with them?”
The strange individual turned to Kat, and all she could see inside the hood were two glowing, yellow eyes with pupils shaped like a cat‘s. “Go back!” the whispery voice commanded. Then the dark figure turned and disappeared into the tall grass.
As soon as the figure disappeared, a rustling sound came from the children’s feet. “Kat, the grass is starting to move.”
“It’s standing up again to erase the clearing. We have to find the Kravins; they’re obviously in serious trouble.”
Carter nodded and said, “I have to agree with you on that one. Let’s try to follow that stranger.”
“Ouch. Hey! Carter, this grass stuff is starting to wrap around my ankles and wrists. When I pull free it cuts into my skin.”
“Yah, me too! If we don‘t get moving, the grass will keep wrapping around us and trap us, but if we speed up to move through it, it will cut us up as we pull free. I have an idea. Let’s try moving back the way we came. I thought so. If we move back, the grass will let us pass. If we move forward, it will attack us.”
“What are we going to do? We cannot just leave and doom the Kravins to whatever’s happening to them. We have to find a way through this.”
“I’m open to suggestions,” the boy said with a shrug.
“I don’t know. You always have an idea, Carter. Are you telling me that you are licked?”
“Well, we can’t set the stuff on fire; it won’t burn because it is too green. Besides, it would burn us with it. We don’t have a machete to cut a path. It looks like our only option is to go back. Sometimes you just have to accept your limitations. We’re only human, and there are some things that just cannot be done.”
“I’m not going back!” Kat said with a stern look and then crossed her arms defiantly.
“Okay then, what’s your idea?”
“I know that sometimes we have to accept our limitations, but seriously, we haven’t tried everything yet.” Kat took a moment and surveyed their surroundings with a thoughtful look on her lightly freckled face. Then she did something odd. She started moving into the grass walking backwards. Surprisingly, the grass did not attack her.
“Kat, you’re a genius! What gave you the idea to walk backward?”
“You’re not the only one who reads bumper stickers. I saw one once that said, ‘Never give up.’ I figured it’s just grass; how smart can it be? I don’t think it knows how to deal with the unexpected. As long as we walk backwards, it will think we’re going the way we’re facing, not the way we’re moving.”
The partners continued to make progress through the strange maze. “I have to admit, I was ready to give up. That was a nice piece of work figuring out how to beat this grass.”
Kat was just about to say something clever when they found themselves in another clearing. This time the clearing was very large with a cabin in the center of it.
“Look Kat, that cabin is just like one of the seven cabins we found in the dead forest. Maybe the Kravins are in there.”
The partners ran for the cabin and looking in the doorway, they saw a strange sight. The Kravins were tied up in chairs on opposite sides of a table that was covered with fresh delicious foods and drinks. There were fruits, roasted meats, cheeses, and more.
The two elderly people were very close to the table with enough play in the rope that they could bend forward and almost touch the food with their tongues. They were exhausted, weeping in frustration, and suffering nasty rope burns from their struggles to reach the food.
The partners rushed forward, picked up knives that were on the table, and cut the old couple free. Mr. and Mrs. Kravin were so exhausted from their ordeal that they could barely move their arms.
“Here, let us help you,” Kat said as she began feeding Mrs. Kravin.”
“I’ll help Mr. Kravin,” said Carter.
Once they got a bit of strength back, Mr. Kravin said, “The evil one said that we would starve to death because no one would care enough for a couple of old people to bother looking for us. But you kids came. You were the only ones in the community that cared enough to come for us. Why did you?”
Carter said, “I’m ashamed to say that it wasn’t my idea, it was Kat’s. She was concerned when she hadn’t seen you for several days, and no one seemed to know where you were.”
“Thank you, child, and thank you both for caring enough. We will tell everyone that we were sick, hungry, imprisoned, and you visited us, fed us, and set us free.”
This story was based on the main characters from the novel, Beyond the Dead Forest. This book can be purchesed from most online bookstores. fantasy, action adventure, religion and spirituality, children, kids, young adult, action, horror, christian, values, church, spooky, thrilling, teaching story, Sunday school, children's church, camp story, home schooling