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   Chapter 9 No.9

The Adventures of Larson and Garrett - The Sleeping Tree By AaronDennis Characters: 5223

Updated: 2017-12-28 12:04


Cautiously, the boy took more steps, broke through the lower branches of younger pines, and found himself walking steadily up a slight incline onto the barren hilltop. An old, grayed tree protruded from the center of the hill. It was a squat tree that looked a little like a person; two, long, gnarled limbs resembled arms growing out of the thing's sides.

Once Larson was but a few feet from the creature, he knew the end was near. The reaper had led him to an untimely demise. It slowly reached clawed limbs for the lad, but before scooping him up, Larson hurled the burning torch, envisioning a flaming reprisal.

As it sailed through the air, the orange light glowed over the aged wood, giving it a malevolent orange tint. It struck the trunk with a dull, clunky sound. Then, the torch rested at the reaper's exposed roots. It did not catch fire as Larson had assumed.

Suddenly, he was twelve feet off the ground. Rough, wooden fingers gripped him painfully on his sides. The tree squeezed the air form the boy, leaned its trunk back, opened a nightmarish maw, and dropped the boy. He closed his eyes, fearing the worst, hating himself for his blunder, praying that his brother and father might forgive him for pretending to be a hero.

Something struck his flank. Abruptly, painfully, he landed on something hard and felt dirt on his face.

"You idiot! What are you doin'?" Largo howled.

With a great gasp, Larson opened his eyes. His brother had found him and caught him before he dropped into oblivion. Nyomi was also there with a flaming arrow

thanks to you."

"Thanks to us, " Larson sobbed. "You saved me. That monster was going to eat me because I wanted to play hero."

"You didn't play hero, Larson, " Nyomi whispered, and she held the brothers to her bosom. "You are a hero."

"Maybe, we're all heroes, " Largo said and started to laugh. "Flotsam certainly will rejoice at the mention of our names."

"But what about the kids, " Larson asked.

They all grew quiet. They stared at the remnants of flaming wood. The kids were dead. There was no bringing them back.

"They're gone, Larson, " Largo said. "It's a sad fact; life can be brutal, but it's up to people, good, strong people, to stop evil in its tracks."

"We must remember those who die, " Nyomi said in reverie. She then looked from the burning stump to the brothers. "But we can't surrender to travesty. At least, the town is safe now…let's hurry back."

As they started their return trip—a weary trudge—Larson had an insight. "You were going to Pallisade, " he exclaimed. "How did you know to find me?"

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