Chicken bones and cranberries

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In the pet hole

Jack and Lisa clung to each other, shaking with fear on the bottom of the dark and damp pet hole. The rotting leaves gave warmth, which made it easier for the children to survive the cold night in the forest.
In the morning the Forest Stomper came with a rabbit that wiggled in his right hand. The monster growled and thumped his chest with the left hand. Then, in one quick motion, he tore the rabbit’s head off and squeezed the poor critter’s blood into his mouth. He let out a louder growl and threw the lifeless rabbit’s body into the pit. Lisa, who loved the animals more than anything, screamed and began to cry. That seemed to make the Forest Stomper angry. He started to bark and stomp his feet. “Quiet, Lisa, you are making him mad,” whispered Jack.
The Forest Stomper disappeared for a moment. When he came back, there was a dead quail in his hand. “Do not act scared now, or he will get mad again,” warned Jack, who realized that the monster meant to feed them.
Just as Jack expected, the Forest Stomper threw the bird to the children. “Pretend that you are eating it,” Jack whispered to his sister. The children sat down and started making loud eating sounds. Jack pretended to belch and carefully smudged some of the rabbit’s blood around his mouth.
The Forest Stomper squatted down by the pit, looking at the children watchfully. The pit was a bit too dark and deep for him to see exactly what was happening on its bottom, so, Jack’s trick with the rabbit worked rather well.
The Forest Stomper got very excited. He ran away and soon came back with another quail; it went into the pit just like the first one. The children again pretended to be eating the raw meat. The Forest Stomper began to hum something under his nose. “He is singing…” Lisa whispered, amazed. “Jack, let’s sing too!” The children began to sing. The Forest Stomper lowered himself closer to the pit and listened very attentively. Suddenly, he got up and disappeared again, but not for very long. He came back with a rope, tied a knot on one of its ends, and then threw it into the pit. “I will go first, to see what he means,” bravely said Jack, and climbed out of the pit.
The Forest Stomper tied Jack’s feet together, so the boy could not escape, and then he pulled out Lisa. Once the children were out of the pit and had their feet tied securely, the Forest Stomper began to hum again, as if he was telling them to sing another song.
The scared children sang one song after another and the monster seemed to enjoy their singing very much. He was sitting near the children, nodding his head to the melody, his horrible face almost showed emotion.
After a little while, the Forest Stomper became drowsy, he yawned and rubbed his eyes. The children looked at each other and began to sing their favorite lullaby. The soothing melody worked a wonder; the monster began to grow weary. At first, he tried making himself comfortable right under the bush he was sitting by, but changed his mind, got up and grabbed the children. He carried the two into his stinking lair covered with moss and put them onto a stack of smelly animal pelts. Then the monster rolled a large rock to the entrance to prevent the children from escaping, fell onto a heap of rags and almost immediately began to snore.
It was dark in the lair, except for a thin lonely ray of sunlight that was coming from a small opening between the rock and the entrance. When the children’s eye got used to the darkness, they began to look around the lair, hoping to find something that could help them escape.
The Forest Stomper was not one of the tidy kinds. His lair was filthy with bones, meat pieces, and other leftovers of the monstrous bloody meals. In the middle of the lair there was a large garbage pile that contained things of very disturbing nature. The horrified children could see what looked like human remains: a couple of cracked skulls and a leather boot with a yellow bone sticking out it.
To their great joy, the children found their backpacks; the Forest Stomper had those pulled out of the swamp. Unfortunately, most of the things inside the backpacks were irretrievably spoiled. The matches got soaked, and no matter, how hard Jack tried, he could not light one. The food was also ruined; all but a small jar of strawberry jam in Lisa’s backpack.
“Lisa, I just got the best idea ever!” whispered Jack when they finished eating the jam. “What is it, Jack?” asked Lisa, a little excited. “Watch…” the boy broke the glass jar with a large rock, and used a sharp piece to cut the rope that his feet were tied with. In just a few minutes Jack freed his sister as well.
The children looked at the beast; he snored as if nothing was happening in his lair. “But how are we going to get out?” asked Lisa. “The rock is way too heavy for us to move by ourselves.” “Let’s think,” replied Jack, his mind racing. He carefully crawled closer to the lonely ray of sunlight that was streaming into the cave. The boy gathered some dry leaves and weeds into a pile, and then positioned a round piece of glass from the broken jar into the ray of sunlight, right above the leaves. In just a couple of minutes the sun ray, intensified by the piece of glass, ignited the dry leaves and they began to smoke. Jack added a few little twigs to the pile, and soon the little yellow ribbons of fire began flickering above it. “This is our chance, Lisa,” said the boy, as the flames started to spread quickly inside the lair and bitter smoke filled the air that was foul enough without it.
The Forest Stomper sniffed the air in his sleep. He woke up, shook his hideous head, and let out an awful growl. Then, he jumped up to avoid the spreading fire, yelled, when he stepped on the flames and got burned, and finally, pushed open the giant rock that blocked the exit.
Lisa and Jack forgot how hungry, exhausted and dizzy from breathing the poisonous smoke they were and darted out of the cave, passing the Forest Stomper, who was trying to pull a bear’s skin out of the fire. The monster roared and ran after the children, but, lucky for them, his feet got tangled, and the Forest Stomper fell crushing down. That made the escape a lot easier for the children, as they got a bit of an advantage.
The monster rushed after Jack and Lisa; he followed them very closely, the children could almost feel his horrid hot breath on their back. However, the luck was on their side. A fortunate accident brought them to a mountain river that was streaming downhill. The river seemed dangerously deep and fast. The children stopped, hesitant to jump in. The Forest Stomper roared victoriously, and just before he made what could have been his final leap in this chase, Lisa jumped into the river, pulling her brother along. The bubbling river swallowed the children and spit them back out on the surface. Struggling with the current, Jack and Lisa began to swim to the other shore.
The Forest Stomper wailed and thumped his chest in anger. He was very afraid of water.

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