Into the Woods
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by R.R. Smythe
Category: Young Adult/Fantasy CK2S Kwips and Kritiques Recommended Read
Description: Callum McClure's family and village are under siege from an unknown foe. Villagers by the droves are falling into a mysterious sleep, a coma, from which they are unable to wake. Callum and his school mates are in a race against time to discover why and how their parents are unconscious. Odd natural disasters are occurring everywhere, and then, there are the trees? In each sleeper's room, roots grow wild out of the closet, and wrap the comatose in a root sarcophagus. On each sleeper's closet door glows a message--Stand--See--Remember--Choose. Will Callum and his mates solve the riddle in time to free their parents, or will they be forever banned to the place known only as The NetherWood?
eBook Publisher: Highland Press/Pandora, 2007 2007
eBookwise Release Date: April 2007
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [147 KB]
Reading time: 86-121 min.
"What a beautifully inspiring story. This tale takes you back into time and to a place where curses and folklore were well known. From curses to centaurs, this story is full of excitement and adventures. This author touches on what humans are doing to themselves and shows our children what could happen if they do not abide by rules. A truly remarkable story."--Wateena, Coffeetime Romance
"Into the Woods is a fairytale, really, because it has a strong message wrapped in a riveting, wonderful story. If you like mystery, thrills, adventure, magic, and romance, you'll find it in this wonderful Young Adult novel. I highly recommend this book to readers of any age. You won't be sorry you bought it!"--Jacquie Rogers, Author
Finlay's mother sat at the kitchen table. Her hair, normally shiny, framed her face like two stringy, unwashed curtains. Also splattered about her shift were the bits of several meals in a polka dot pattern. It seemed since his pa had gone to sleep ... well mother had gone to sleep with him.
At least her mind appeared gone, judging by the state of the place.
Two of his three sisters clung to Mother's legs under the table. She didn't seem to notice. Her facial expression remained dazed even as one of the girls began to remove his mother's shoe.
Father lay in his bedroom. Finlay found the third triplet snuggled in beside him on the bed.
"Annabelle, come away from Papa," Finlay said again for probably the fifth time since arriving home.
"It is useless boy," his mother said. "She won't leave his side. I have tried."
Braden Baird didn't stir despite the tiny wisp of a girl climbing to and fro across his chest. Huge hands--'farmer's hands' his ma called them--hung limply at his sides. For Finlay to see his normally strapping, boisterous father subdued in such a way was horrid.
Finlay realized he must act. He'd lost two parents in a single blow. His mother didn't appear to be caring for his sisters properly, and the thoughts of returning to school ... he stopped his imagination with its countless variations of death for his tiny sisters. The triplets needed vigilant supervision. Describing the girls as rambunctious was an understatement. Finlay knew well the dangers of their lands for curious three year olds--a deep well or a trampling by bulls. Or his personal favorite, death by pitchfork.
He'd barely given a thought to the roots. He knew from Callum what to expect, and there they were in all their twisted glory, crawling from the closet, lying on the floor, like spiraled centipedes.
Shouts from the kitchen pulled his attention from his father. The two girls under the table were screaming--pulling each other's hair. One twisted a fistful of the other's in her sticky hand.
Striding to the table to extract them from one another, Finlay exploded.
"Mother! How long since the girls have eaten? I know you are sad--we all are--but they are wee girls!"
Her face crumpled in on itself when she whispered, "I know Finlay ... it is just ... your father..."
He covered her hand with his. "I know, Ma, I..."
The words died on his lips as more girlish screams erupted--this time from the bedroom.
The redwood roots from the closet had formed a bound wooden net, and crept across the floor toward his father and sister. The scratching raised gooseflesh all over Finlay's body. Long fingernails on a wooden coffin flitted through his mind, unbidden.
"Annabelle--come to me!" screamed Finlay. His tiny sister snuggled closer to his father. "Papa can't help you! Come here, girl!" Panic raised his voice to unnaturally high tones.
Lightning flashed inside their house, the vibration of thunder rumbled so close, plate's exploded, shards flying everywhere. The storm churned so dark, it disoriented Finlay.
Wrenching an ax from its stand, he chopped a path through the center of the root-net, heading for the bed.
Lightning flashed again, and a purple flame shot from the air and seared the closet--an invisible hand, writing on the door.
He registered the word--Choose.
"Oh yeah, I'll choose!" he roared into the wind, wading through the water that now poured from the ceiling in a deluge. "I choose for you to die!" With the words, he sliced through the sarcophagus that cocooned his father and sister. Annabelle screamed from between the twisted bars as they attempted to re-weave themselves. Her tiny hands reached out to her brother, giving up on protecting her father.
Lifting the tiny girl to him, Finlay felt the sting of tears for the first time today. "Get on my back!" he yelled to her. Finlay reached through the gap in the unsealed roots. Tugging at his father's body, he panicked. Some force held his father fast to the bed, something stronger than Finlay, despite his massive width and girth.
A root unwound itself and snapped in the air at his arm, leaving a huge purple welt in its wake. It repeatedly lashed through the air at Finlay, like a whip, until he reluctantly withdrew his hands from the sarcophagus.
The root coffin grew, brambles uniting one to another, then it sealed.
At the exact moment, the storm in the room abated, and water poured out the cottage door.
Leaning over the sarcophagus, Finlay's tears flowed freely. Movement in the window above the bed caught his eye.
Walking to the window, he gasped for the first time in his life.
In the time it took to cross the room to fight off the roots, a mammoth redwood tree had grown to a height of twenty feet outside the window ... like a malediction.