Eleven-year-old Allison along with Karen, her park ranger mother discover a strange forest while searching for their lost dog. The two come upon a split in the trail they are following and must choose between taking “The Trail More Traveled” or “The Trail Less Traveled”. Through a rebellious act, Allison and her mother are separated and the young girl ventures down the less traveled trail. Aided by a nearsighted, vegetarian owl, a four-foot-long nightcrawler afraid of the dark, and a firefly that lost its flash, the four continue their search and find themselves in a land controlled by a sinister presence, known only as Beelzebat.
The story is based on Matthew 7:14. “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (NLT) Allison discovers it is dangerous whenever she leaves the trail she is on.
Targeted Age Group:: 10-15
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Our book was first produced as a stage musical my wife and I wrote in 2003 under the title of 'The Trail Less Traveled." It was then reformatted and produced as a radio broadcast the following year. The story has always been dear to our heart, so we decided to expand the tale and put it in book form. It was published on November 27th, 2020
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I (Tom) have an extensive background as a stage manager in my native New York and founded "The Meat and Potatoes Children's Theater." Through the many years of being on and behind the stage of several successful musicals for children I learned 1) Kids like to be frightened in a safe environment. 2) Children like funny, flawed, characters with quirky traits. In our book, our central character, Allison, shares her adventure with a nearsighted vegetarian owl, a four foot long by two-foot wide nightcrawler worm afraid of the dark and a firefly that lost its ability to flash. The three find themselves in a land controlled by a sinister presence known as Beelzebat.
1) The Lost Pup.
Parable approaches the distant tree with caution. Though he is only two years old, fourteen in dog years, he knows the importance of being careful. He learned that lesson as a puppy when the cat next door scratched his face.
As the crickets begin to sing their twilight songs, he looks up and sees the last rays of sunlight glistening through the many trees around him. The night is quickly
The trail he has been following veers off to the left, but the inquisitive hound is more interested in the strange, muffled sounds off the path to his right. He crouches low
to the ground, well hidden in the overgrown vegetation around him. “It’s always wise to be cautious, especially at nighttime,” he remembers being told.
With each step, the sounds which caught his attention half a mile back grow louder. Though a muffle at first, he now suspects it’s a voice coming from the large oak tree in the clearing before him. Parable, the name he was given before arriving home from the Humane Society, strains to make sense out of what he believes is a cry for help. He inches closer, careful not to step out into the open space. “Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it never hurt a dog,” he proudly ponders.
At last, near a vine-covered boulder almost twice his size, he can understand the shaky high-pitched call. Over and over it repeats, “It’s getting dark; I’m getting scared!
It’s getting dark; I’m getting scared! It’s getting dark; I’m getting scared!”
Suddenly a light, bright as bright can be, illuminates the mighty tree. It flashes on and off. Parable, momentarily blinded, turns his head and takes a step backward. As his
eyes adjust to the strange pulsating glow before him, the source of the radiance becomes clear. It is a firefly, no larger than any other, as fireflies go, but emitting light more
radiant than usual. Immediately, the cries for comfort are silenced amidst the relief provided by the electric-charged insect. Parable gathers his composure and resumes his
slow creep toward the curious sight.
Upon reaching the edge of the clearing, Parable can finally see the other tenant in the tree. There on a branch high above the twigs rests a large, red worm. It is three, no, four foot in length; larger than large, as worms go. If his length isn’t impressive enough, he is also half as wide around and looks more like a chubby snake than a worm. His eyes are a dark blue, though swollen from the tears shed only a short instant ago. They are the same color as the Chicago Cubs baseball cap he wears backward on his head.
Scattered about the nearby branches are books; thirty, no, forty, both hardcover and paperbacks. The site resembles a library after a tornado.
Just then, the dog steps on a stick which cracks with a loud snap. “Who’s there?” screams the large invertebrate. Parable, not one for heroics, remains silent. He decides
it’s time to tip-paw his way home and quietly turns back onto the rough trail which got him here.
A wind begins to blow. Not so strong at first; more of a breeze as breezes go. As if on cue, all the crickets fall silent. The birds stop singing their evening songs. A
peculiar sense of danger wells up inside the curious hound. He knows this feeling well, as he experiences it every time a fire truck or ambulance roars by.
The breeze blows faster, gusting to and fro. Parable’s walk turns into a trot. He is anxious to get home. Suddenly, the rustle of bushes ahead of him frightens the canine.
He stops, though the wind continues to pick up speed. The only sound he can hear is the noise from air rushing through the trees and bushes all around him. Parable loses his sense of direction and takes off, but not toward home. He hurries down the trail with leaves and branches scratching his body and runs out from the protection of the trail toward the brightly lit tree.
The worm sees him running by and warns, “Hey, where are you going? Don’t go that way!” but Parable can’t hear him over the whirlwind. He speeds by as fast as he
can, crashing into two old signs mounted between a cluster of large rocks. Dazed, he picks himself up and continues on his way with no time to read what the signs say.
The strange airstream is chasing him. Whichever way he turns, the current follows. If that isn’t terrifying enough, the wind starts to speak in a loud echo saying, “I
AM THE GREAT FEAR BY SIGHT, THE FLYING RULER OF THE NIGHT.” It is followed by an eerie laugh that fades out as the dog flees the area.
Parable spies some thick brush ahead and has a thought. “If only I can make it there, then I can hide.” He dashes away putting some distance between himself and
whatever is behind him. “Almost there”, he utters in dog language. “Almost there”, he barks. “ALMOST THERE”, he whines, but just before reaching the safety of the brush, a
net springs up and lifts him high off the ground. Parable whimpers. He is helplessly ensnared in the trap and more afraid than he has ever been before. His hind legs stick
out through the net’s webbing above the rest of his body. His face is pushed against it as well with gravity forcing him to look down at the ground below.
The wind maintains its whirl around the scene throwing bits of leaves, dirt, and debris onto him. Once again, the voice from the current speaks, “I GOT YOU NOW. YOU CAN’T GO FREE. NOW, MY DUNGEON YOU WILL SEE.” A low pitch sound follows, which aches Parable’s ears. The last thing the canine hears before he blacks out is a
sinister laugh swirling around him.
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