The Hobgoblin of the Redwoods

BOOK: The Hobgoblin of the Redwoods
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The Hobgoblin of the Redwoods
A Young Adult Mystery

Trevor Scott

SALVO PRESS
An Imprint of Start Publishing LLC
New York, New York

Also by Trevor Scott

Fractured State (A Novella)

The Nature of Man

Discernment

Way of the Sword

Drifting Back

Fatal Network (Jake Adams #1)

Extreme Faction (Jake Adams #2)

The Dolomite Solution (Jake Adams #3)

Vital Force (Jake Adams #4)

Rise of the Order (Jake Adams #5)

The Cold Edge (Jake Adams #6)

Without Options (Jake Adams #7)

Boom Town

Burst of Sound

Hypershot

Global Shot

Strong Conviction

The Dawn of Midnight

This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious and not intended to represent real people or places.

THE HOBGOBLIN OF THE REDWOODS
© 2012 by Trevor Scott.
This edition of
THE HOBGOBLIN OF THE REDWOODS
© 2013 by Salvo Press.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief excerpts in critical reviews or articles. All inquiries should be addressed to Salvo Press, 609 Greenwich Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10014.

Published by Salvo Press,
an imprint of Start Publishing LLC
New York, New York

Please visit us on the web at
www.start-media.com

Cover iStock Photo of Redwood by Jim Parkin.

ISBN: 978-1-62793-444-2

1

I always wanted to see the Redwoods. I heard there was one up in the national park you could drive your car right through.

I'm Ben Ward. Although I live in San Francisco, I had never gone any farther north than Napa, that's a town a short distance away where they grow a lot of grapes for wine. My mom and dad always took trips to southern California so we could sit in the sun. They figured we got enough rain and clouds all year long, and to go to the Redwoods would mean more of the same.

But this year was different.

I didn't tell you this, but I have a sister who is two years younger than me. Sara is ten as of last week. I probably didn't mention her because she can be a real pain.

Anyway, we were supposed to spend the summer with our mom in Tampa, but she has a new husband and decided to go somewhere in France. She's a wine critic, so when she's not drinking wine she's traveling to different places to study wine making. Her new husband is a rich golfer who can afford all kinds of wine.

I know what you're thinking. What about your dad? Why do you have to go anywhere? Why not just stay with your dad in San Francisco? These are all good questions.

My dad is a commercial fisherman. So, he also travels a lot. On a normal day, which we don't have very often, he gets up in the dark, kisses us both on the head before he leaves, and heads out the door with a big container of coffee. He doesn't get back home until dark. A lady next door, Mrs. Jenkins, watches us before school, and usually cooks us dinner after we get home. Dad only sees us in the evening to make sure we get our homework done.

Most of the time me and my sister hang out, ride our bikes around the neighborhood, rent a video down the block, or play computer games.

I know, I still haven't said why my dad can't watch us this summer. Well, the fishing was really bad this year. Dad says it has something to do with the ocean being too warm. So, he has to bring his boat to Alaska this summer.

I begged dad to bring me along to Alaska, but he said I wasn't old enough. And, he said I had to keep track of my little sister while he's away.

You've probably heard this a hundred times on T.V., where the dad says the kid is the man now and he needs to step up and be strong. He should have known better than to pull that on me, because, as I told him, if I'm the man now, then why couldn't I go along on the boat to Alaska?

Gotcha!

“Because.”

That's all he said. Sometimes parents don't make sense. They go round and round with arguments that have nothing to do with reality. Or at least nothing to do with the real world.

Maybe he did want me to take care of my stupid sister, Sara. Maybe he was afraid I'd fall off his boat and end up as shark bait. I guess sometimes you just have to accept “because.”

So, let me get back on track here. The Redwoods. How did me and my dumb sister end up in the Redwoods?

My dad's sister Danielle works up in Redwood National Park as a tree hugger. Those are my dad's actual words. “She's a tree hugger.”

I had no idea you could actually make money hugging trees. And, it must have been an important job, because Aunt Danielle has a master's degree in something called zoology. I know what you're thinking. There are no zoos in the Redwoods. Zoos are in big cities like San Diego. But I looked up zoology last year. It has nothing to do with zoos. It's really the study of animals. Go figure.

So we were off to stay with my Aunt Danielle the first week of June, as soon as school let out. Did I mention something that is very important, that me and my sister had never actually met my Aunt Danielle? You see, she had spent a whole bunch of years studying wolves in northern Minnesota, and only took the job in the Redwoods last January. You would think my dad would have called Aunt Danielle a wolf hugger instead of a tree hugger.

Let me get back to the story. Me and my sister were stuck with an aunt we didn't know, who would probably try to make us hug huge Redwoods all summer.

Little did I know at the time that we were about to go on an adventure that could end our lives.

2

I asked my dad if we could at least take the boat from San Francisco to Eureka. That's a town up in northern California pretty close to the Redwoods.

He still had that “because” thing working for him. Instead, he drove us north to Eureka while his crew met him there with the boat.

My Aunt Danielle met us in Eureka in her big pickup truck, and, after an uncomfortable greeting, my dad gave us a kiss, told us to be good, and took off to sea.

I'll admit right now that it was a scary moment. My mom was in France drinking wine, and now my dad was steaming out into the fog on his fishing boat toward Alaska.

But I did have the Redwoods to look forward to, and that's what kept me going. Sara was really emotional. I even saw a few tears in her eyes.

We had to really climb up into Aunt Danielle's truck, since it had big, wide tires. She slung our bags into the back end and I wondered what would happen if it started to rain.

“What are you crying about?” I asked Sara.

“I'm not crying,” she yelled.

“Oh, so that water in your eyes is from the salt air?”

“Right!”

I caught my aunt smirk. Maybe she wasn't going to be too bad.

We drove along the freeway, the tires making it almost impossible to talk, until we reached the dinky town of Orick, California.

Did I mention the fog? My aunt said that on a clear day, about once a month, you could actually see the ocean on that drive from Eureka to Orick. I wasn't sure if she was being a smart aleck, but I had a feeling she was. Now I knew where that came from in me.

My dad was always so serious. Maybe that's because he worked so hard, and when he wasn't catching fish there wasn't much to joke about.

I had never seen so many trees in my twelve years on Earth.

“Aunt Danielle,” I said, “the trees go all the way to the sky.” This wasn't entirely true. I think the sky had actually come down to the trees.

“Ben, please call me Danielle,” she said. “If you put aunt in front of it, I start to feel really old.”

I had to admit she didn't look very old. She had long, blonde hair, just like my sister Sara, that was pulled back into a ponytail, which she had pulled through the back hole on her baseball cap. She didn't look like the women in San Francisco. She had no make-up on, but that wasn't a bad thing. Mom wore so much make-up it took her hours just to get ready to go to Burger King.

“Okay, aunt...I mean, Danielle,” I said.

My sister rolled her eyes. Did I mention that she can be such a pain?

Next we drove down a bumpy dirt road for about a mile until we reached a house barely visible in the thick forest. It was a little one-story log cabin, and the first thing I noticed was the roof. Almost the entire thing was covered in moss.

When I jumped down from the truck, I stepped back quickly with the sight of the wolf.

It was huge. Its tongue was hanging out of its mouth and its curved tail swished back and forth.

I couldn't move.

“Ben, help me down,” my sister said. Then she must have seen the wolf. “Oh. Is that wild?”

By now Danielle was around the front of the truck and stooped down to hug the beast, which slopped its tongue all over her face.

“Guys. This is Lucky,” she said, rubbing the animal briskly about its mane.

“Is that a wolf?” Sara asked, pulling her feet back up into the truck.

Danielle smiled. “Maybe a little bit,” she said. “When I got him as a pup in Minnesota, the owner told me the father was half wolf.”

“That would make Lucky a quarter,” Sara said proudly.

Danielle raised her brows. “That's right. You're pretty smart for ten.”

“Yeah,” I said. “She's pretty smart for a girl.” I laughed out loud, but my aunt wasn't amused. She simply helped my sister out of the truck and set her down next to the wolf-dog. I was still not too sure about the animal. It looked way too wild to even pet.

Lucky moved its head to lick my sister's face, and the motion knocked Sara to the ground. Wimp.

Sara got up and brushed herself off. “He's so strong.”

“Yeah, but he's a pussy-cat,” Danielle said, giving her dog a huge hug. “Come on, let's get you two settled in. It'll be night soon and we don't want the Hobgoblin to get you.” She pulled our suitcases out of the back and headed toward the front door, Lucky right at her side.

I was gonna let it go, but I just couldn't do it. Did I tell you I'm a curious type? My dad says I'm just like a cat. If a door is closed, I have to find out what's on the other side. And if my strange aunt mentions a Hobgoblin, whatever that is, I gotta know what she's talkin' about.

“Danielle,” I said, running up behind her. “What's this Hobgoblin thing?”

She stopped dead in her tracks without turning around, our suitcases still in each hand. “Did I say Hobgoblin?” she asked. Before I could answer, she said, “I'm sorry to bring that up. Never mind.”

Whenever someone says “never mind,” I like to inform them that that won't be a problem. Because I “never mind” anything they say. Especially when it's just “because.”

But this Hobgoblin really got me thinking. Wasn't that something like the boogie man? I had a feeling I was about to find out.

3

My Aunt Danielle showed us her house, giving us the quick tour. My sister would be staying in Danielle's room on a futon, and I would be in a second bedroom on a little girly bed that Danielle said was hers as a child. In fact, there were initials carved into the headboard where she said my dad had tried to get her in trouble.

Anyway, I'll admit right now that I was very tired from the trip. Danielle told us to get unpacked while she cooked dinner. So I unpacked but then crawled onto the bed, just for a second, looking up at stickers of stars and constellations on the ceiling, when I guess I fell asleep.

The next thing I remembered was waking up in my bed for the summer, the room was completely dark, and I heard movement near the window.

Then a shadow scooted across the wall. I sat up straight, unsure what to do.

Then there's clicking on the wooden floor. I turned my head quickly.

Bam!

I'm thrown against the wall, smashing my head with a great bang. Then there's a heavy ball of weight on top of me. I struggled to get up, my head aching from hitting the wall.

I felt slime all over my face.

“The Hobgoblin,” I screamed.

I thrashed my arms out, trying to escape its hold on me, but I couldn't move.

Suddenly, the door swung in and the overhead light flicked on, which would have blinded me, but my eyes were closed.

Then there's laughter.

I finally opened my eyes to find the deadly wolf-dog, Lucky, planted on my chest, his tongue wagging inches from my own mouth. And my sister and aunt standing in the doorway almost falling over in laughter. How humiliating.

“The Hobgoblin,” Sara mocked. “Oh, it's killing me. The Hobgoblin is killing me.” She laughed even harder, holding her stomach.

My aunt gave a little whistle and Lucky sprang from me and ran to her, sitting at her side, its tail swishing across the floor.

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