Just Run

Olly Coward
Just Run Olivia's favorite book is The Name of This Book Is a Secret. Her favorite color is blue. For fun, she likes drawing and swimming.

“Were they just walking through? But why would they walk through? They were walking in the direction of the dark forest. Everyone who went in the forest never came back.”

Not so long ago there was a poor girl in a village. The village was located in the kingdom of Chanistia. There was a girl in the village, her name was Jasmine. She had red hair like fire and blue eyes like the sparkling ocean. Although she had beauty, she didn’t have kindness. The only reason why she was mean is because she had lived in a poor village for so long. She wished for riches but she knew they would never come. Jasmine always wished  to meet the queen but she knew she would never get to, just like she would never get riches. She worked in the fields day and night. Her hands were bleeding and had large blisters on them.                                                                                              

One night, when Jasmine was lying on a pile of hay (her makeshift bed), she heard a sound outside. Pitter patter, pitter patter. Then, the sound suddenly stopped. Then it started again. It sounded like heavy pairs of footsteps pounding on the dry soil. She was startled. She didn’t dare take a peek out the window, but why not? She crept out of the pile of hay and took a peek out the window. What she saw made a cold creepy chill climb up her back.

Savage-looking men and women came marching into the poor little village. They were covered in dirt and wearing scraps of deer skin and boar skin. They looked like barbarians but were very skinny, like they had not eaten in days. Still, the looked strong enough to invade a poor village like Jasmine’s. But were they even going to invade the village? Were they just walking through? But why would they walk through? They were walking in the direction of the dark forest. Everyone who went in the forest never came back.

Jasmine got so scared she didn’t even think about her parents and to save them, or of her dog, and her sister, she didn’t care, she just ran and ran. She ran through the kitchen and grabbed her water bottle and some food and ran. She didn’t care where she was going or how she was going to get there. And that was the biggest mistake of her life.

***

“Just run. Just run. Just run. Run,” Jasmine said, determined to keep on running although her legs felt like jello that sat in the sun for too long. She ran past skinny trees with no leaves. She ran and ran and ran until she found a house. The house was very skinny and tall. It was made out of black bricks with no windows with one small door. The door had a shiny brass handle and it was made out of wood. The wood was painted grey. Jasmine had heard of the fairytale Hansel and Gretel, so she did not dare to knock on the door. She walked around the house, studying it. It looked very old with cobwebs scattered all over it.  She sat next to a nearby tree and opened her bag that she packed full of food and water. Suddenly, she heard a screaming noise from the house. She was very scared. Then she ran away. Then she heard another screaming noise from the house. Someone was yelling for help. “I shouldn’t be worrying about other people now,” she said. “I just have to worry about saving the village. I need to think of my plan,” she muttered.

Then she thought, But what if that person was me? I would go help them. But that person isn’t me so I don’t care. Anyways why am I even thinking about saving the village or a random girl. I don’t know, I feel like I have changed. But… if I save her then I can mock her and tease her about how stupid it is to be captured. It’s a deal! She ran to the house and didn’t even think about knocking. She opened the door and peered inside. All she saw was darkness. She couldn’t see a thing.

“Damn it, I should have brought a lantern,” she said. She decided to walk inside with her hands outstretched so she wouldn’t bump into anything. As soon as she walked two steps, her hands felt something slimy and sticky. She was disgusted, and also startled. “Ew, what is this?” she said. When her eyes adjusted to the light, she saw what it was. It was a girl that was cut in half. She screamed so loud that someone could hear it from miles away. The screaming continued.

Someone screamed, “Help, help! They’re gonna kill me!” This was too scary for Jasmine. She ran out of the house. But what if that person is going to die? I have to save her, she thought. So she went inside again and felt around with her hands, hoping not to touch anything slimy again. Finally, she reached a wall. She touched it and she moved to the side. She felt a hand railing. She slowly made her way upstairs. Each step she took, the staircase creaked. It seemed like no one had walked up this staircase for years.

“Then who could have been trying to kill the poor girl up there?” she whispered. When she got upstairs, she kept on walking, then felt a doorknob. The doorknob was covered in layers of dust. “No one must have touched it for a long time,” she said. “Who could have been screaming?” But before she could open the doorknob, this white cloud puffed through the door.

“Hahaha, you fell for my trick! Everyone falls for my trick! Now I will stab you to death.” said the white cloud. Jasmine was too scared to scream. She wasn’t sure what would happen next, but she would probably be cut in half just like the girl downstairs. She should have never come into this house.

This must be what happens when you try to help save someone, she thought. That made her even more mad and angry and frustrated. She didn’t feel scared anymore, she just felt mad. This is what happens when you run away from home and try to save the village all by yourself when you’re only fifteen years old. She put her hands out and tried to grab the ghost, but she knew she would fail. But she didn’t fail. She succeeded in grabbing the ghost.

The ghost screamed a high pitched scream, “Aaaaah! What, did you touch that girl downstairs?” screamed the ghost.

“Ugh, yes, indeed I did,” Jasmine said. “It was disgusting. Did you do that?”

“Do what?” said the ghost.

“Cut her in half.”

The ghost said, “Yes, I did.”

“Why, though?” said Jasmine.

“Because that’s what ghosts do,” said the ghost. The ghost slipped out of Jasmine’s hands, grabbed the knife on the table, and tried to cut Jasmine in half. “Just one quick stab,” said the ghost. “That’s all I need.”

“Well, you won’t get it!” said Jasmine. She grabbed the knife and ran downstairs.

“You think you can get out that easy?” said the ghost.

“Oh, yes I can,” said Jasmine. The ghost paused. Then, a gust of wind shot out and blew Jasmine back. She fell down the stairs. The doors closed behind her. Then she tried to stab the knife at the ghost, but the ghost was too fast. He moved away quick. He flew through the door of the house. “He locked me in here!” Jasmine screamed. “How sneaky!”

Then, the ghost said, “Really? You think you can’t go through the door?” the ghost said.

“Of course I can’t,” said Jasmine. “I’m not a ghost like you are! I’m not dead.”

“Oh,” the ghost said. “I didn’t know you didn’t know.”

“Didn’t know what?” said Jasmine.

”Never mind,” said the ghost, ”I guess you don’t know.”
”Whatever,” said Jasmine. She used the knife to try to break the door down, but she failed; she only made a couple of little dents in the door. Then, finally, she tried one more stab and the door fell right over. But the ghost was not there.

”Ugh! How could I have let him get away?” said Jasmine. Where did he go? she thought. Her head hurt and she felt dizzy. She stumbled over to the tree where her bag was and lied down. I need to think of a plan, she thought, But why would I want to think of a plan? I don’t want to save that dirty little village of mine, but I have all my memories there. I should save it. I´ll just save the village.

How about I go to the queen and ask her for some soldiers? she thought, She would never let me. But the queen is a kindhearted person. She would definitely let me take her soldiers to defend the village! I’m too tired to decide right now. I´ll decide in the morning.

Then, Jasmine thought: Where should I sleep? The dark forest is way too dangerous to sleep in. I should find a safer place to sleep. I could climb on a tree and sleep on it; nobody would find me there! So Jasmine climbed the tallest tree she could find and lied down. Then, she got up again. This tree is not sturdy enough. I need to find a tall tree with a sturdier branch.

She climbed down the tree and climbed up another tree next to it. On that tree, she found a perfect branch. Her eyes felt heavy, and she closed them. ”Finally,” she said, “Time to rest after a big day of fighting ghosts.” The tree felt comfortable, even if it wasn’t her regular haypile back in the village. She missed her village so much.

Then, she fell into a deep sleep. She dreamt about her saving her village. In her dream, she travelled to the queen and her for soldiers to help fight the invaders; the queen happily obliged. ”Of course you can take my soldiers to save the village!” said the queen.

Suddenly, Jasmine woke up to the sound of birds chirping. The birds were squawking their miserable songs of the dark forest. She wearily sat up and opened her eyes. What she saw was definitely not the same part of the dark forest she had been in. She wasn’t on the edge of the dark forest, but rather in the dead center, where the goblins’ cave was. She wasn’t on her branch anymore; she was in a goblin cart covered by a net.

”Ahhhh! Where am I?” Jasmine screamed.

”You’re in the goblin cave,” said the goblin pulling the cart, ”We’re gonna eat you once we get you into our cave and put you in our cauldron.”

”How could you get me down from that tree branch?” Jasmine asked.

”Ropes,” answered the goblin, ”That’s why you have that bruise on your arm.”

Jasmine looked at her arm. ”There’s nothing there!”

”It’s the other arm,” said the goblin.

Then, Jasmine looked at her other arm. It was bleeding, blistered, and had bruises all over it. “That’s not just a bruise,” Jasmine said, ”That’s a full-on cut! So you cut people up and just put them in a cauldron to eat them? Really? That’s what you do?”

”Yep. That’s what we do,” said the goblin, “Every single day.”

”Goblins are mean and cruel,” said Jasmine.

”You’re no prize either, lady.”

”Geez, thanks,” said Jasmine sarcastically.

For the rest of the ride, Jasmine was quiet. She was too busy forming her plan. She kept on picking up little sticks, little pieces of straw, and leaves from the floor. ”What are you doing, little girl?” asked the goblin.

”Nothing,” she said, ”I’m just cleaning the path.”

When the little cart finally made it inside the cave, Jasmine was ready. She put the leaves and the straw inside her bag. ”Give me that bag,” said the goblin.

Ugh, why did I do that? thought Jasmine, I’m such an idiot! Jasmine gave the goblin her bag and the goblin shoved her into her cell, locking the door. How can I ever get my bag back? Jasmine thought. Then, it hit her. ”May I please have some food from my bag?” she cooed, ”I’m just a poor little village girl and I haven’t eaten in days!”

”That’s what everyone says. You’re not getting a clip to pick the lock on the door from your bag.”

”I’m not getting a clip,” said Jasmine, “All I want is some food. My food is wrapped up in the little pouch in my bag wrapped up in a silver cloth.”

”Alright, fine.” The goblin was too dumb to understand. Thankfully, Jasmine put her plan and her food within the silver pouch. Jasmine pretended to eat her food, but also got out her plan and stuffed it within her pockets. Then, the goblin said: ”At 5:00 pm, I will take you out of your cell, and you will be eaten.”

Mmmm, he thought, She will be so good and juicy. I have not eaten in days!

Finally, it was 5:00 p.m. The goblin unlocked the cell and grabbed Jasmine. He pushed her down the hall, taking one left and one right. Then, they got to the very skinny corridor and had to squeeze through it. When they got to the cauldron room, all of the goblins were there, licking their lips.

Then, the goblin said: ”Everybody, leave! She has to take off her clothes before she gets into the pot. Nobody wants to eat clothes!”

”Ewww! Clothes,” the goblins said as they left. But Jasmine didn’t change. She put the doll that looked like her and was made of leaves and straw into the pot and entered the skinny corridor.

”I’m ready!” she called, and then she ran and ran and ran out of the goblin cave, never to return again. She ran and ran and ran to the edge of the dark forest, all the way to the snowy mountains of Chanistia. These were going to be some very cold travels.

Jasmine ran and ran and ran until she found a cold mountain. Thankfully she had brought her winter clothes. She put on her long pants and put on her furry winter coat. “I’m ready,” Jasmine said, “to climb this mountain.”

She started to run up the mountain, but slipped back down. This is gonna be hard, she thought. She sunk her feet into the soft snow and then sunk her arms into the snow, too. Although it felt cold, she had to keep climbing. She started climbing up the mountain, sinking her arms and her legs into the snow. Finally, she made it almost halfway up the mountain.

Jasmine kept on climbing and climbing until her fingers felt so numb. So numb she thought she had frostbite. She kept climbing and climbing until she looked at her hands again. They looked purple. Oh my gosh, she thought, I do have frostbite. Even though she had frostbite, she still kept climbing, determined to get to the queen. For some reason the frostbite didn’t hurt … at … all.

Weird, she thought, Maybe I don’t have frostbite after all. Jasmine kept on climbing until she reached the top of the mountain. Finally, I made it! she thought, But now I have to go all the way back down the mountain again.

She hiked in the freezing cold snow for a couple of more minutes, and then she made it to the other side of the mountain. Maybe I could just sled down, she thought, But that would be dangerous. Jasmine slowly climbed down the mountain backwards, sinking her feet into the snow, just like how she climbed up the mountain.

Suddenly, a pile of snow fell from the top of the mountain and came tumbling down towards her. The snow fell on Jasmine’s face and made her stumble backwards. She fell over backwards and slid down the snowy mountain. “Oof!” she said when her head hit a chunk of ice at the bottom of the mountain.

Jasmine slowly stood up and stumbled back. She looked around and noticed that she was in the middle of a village. It was small, but noticeably more wealthy than Jasmine’s own village. She remembered that she stole some coins from the goblins, so she grabbed the gold coins and ran to the nearest house. She knocked on the door and a friendly-looking woman appeared. “Hello, child! Why did you knock on my door?”

“I knocked on your door because I haven’t eaten in days. May I please buy some food?”

“No, sorry. There is a different house down the block. That is the grocery store. You can buy some food there.” The woman slammed the door in Jasmine’s face.

Jasmine went to the house down the block, just like the woman said. She opened the door. “What are you doing here?” said the man, “Knock first before you enter! This is a private house, not a grocery store!”

“Excuse me, then. Where can you find the grocery store?”

“There is no grocery store in this town,” said the man, “Now get the hell out of my house!”

Jasmine checked the next five houses, but everybody shooed her out. “Ugh,” Jasmine said in despair, “Will anything go my way?” She slumped down in a pile of snow leaning against a house.

Suddenly, she heard a shrill voice. “Hello, child! Would you like to have some food at my house?”

“Finally,” Jasmine answered back, “A nice and willing person! I’ll be glad to eat some food at your house!”

“Okay,” said the woman, “I’ll open the door.”

When the door opened, Jasmine walked inside, and all she saw was an old lady sitting in her rocking chair. There was nobody by the door. “Oh, hello,” said the old woman in the same shrill voice, “Would you like something to eat?”
“Uh, yes. That’s what I came here for,” said Jasmine.

“Okay! Then sit in this chair, and I will cook you some food.” The old woman went into another room and slammed the door. Jasmine heard some cackling from the other room. Suddenly, the old woman swung open the door and magically turned the chair into a hot cauldron, boiling with water.

“Ahaha!” said the old woman, now dressed as a witch, “You didn’t even know I was a witch! Such a foolish child.” The witch laughed once more. “Hahaha! You will make a nice human cake for my son’s birthday party!”

Jasmine tried to get out of the cauldron, but she was stuck. She then noticed that she had chains on her wrists and ankles. “Hahaha! You think you will get out?” said the witch, “You are more foolish than normal children!”

“Actually, I’m not,” said Jasmine, “The ghost tried to kill me, and I escaped. The goblins tried to eat me, and I escaped. I can easily escape from you!” Jasmine got a clip from her fiery red hair and secretly picked the locks from under the boiling hot water. When the witch was in the other room, getting her spices and ingredients for the yummy cake, Jasmine emerged from the boiling hot water and ran outside. She ran and ran and ran and didn’t stop. She ran out of the village and into the forest. Then, she kept on running. She ran and ran and ran and ran. Soon enough, she made it out of the forest.

Finally, she stopped running. Jasmine was breathing really hard. I’ve been running from a ghost, a goblin, and a witch, and the only thing that helped me was to run, she thought. Then she looked up. She saw a large mountain, but what she saw on top of the mountain was amazing. Finally, she gasped, I made it. On the mountain there was a humongous crystal castle. It had big golden doors and many windows. There were four soldiers guarding the golden doors. They wore shiny silver armour and had bronze swords. She climbed up the mountain as fast as she could, gripping each little rock and pushing herself up. She was so excited; she couldn’t wait to meet the queen. This had been her dream for years.

When she made it up the mountain, she ran up to the golden doors and asked the soldiers, “I need to see the Queen. Can you let me in?”

Both the guards said “NO,” in a booming voice at the same time. “Only royalty may enter,” said the guards.

“But invaders have taken over my village,” Jasmine said, “May I please ask for help?”

“NO” said the guards again, in the same loud booming voice.

“Ugh” said Jasmine in despair, and she walked away. “Just open the doors!” she screamed, getting very mad. The guard ignored her. She started kicking the guards foot, but finally she gave up. She sat under the nearest tree under the shade and lay down.

“How hard is it to get in?” she yelled. Then she sat up, and she thought of an idea. Maybe I could go through the moat, and go through the gate and into the castle, she thought. “Okay, bye-bye!” she said to the guards. Jasmine did her best job to clean up her clothes to look nice for the queen. Then she walked around to the back of the castle. She took three deep breaths and then said, One . . . Two . . . Three . . . GO! And jumped into the moat.

She swam straight through the icky moat until she touched a gate. She was skinny enough to swim through the gate bars. She squeezed through and finally got to the surface. She was huffing and puffing. When she looked up, she saw she was inside the castle. She was in a fountain! She got out of the fountain dripping wet. She saw guards in the same shiny silver armour and servants, some in aprons, others in suits. She also saw a spiral staircase up to the mezzanine. Everyone stared at her.

“What are you doing here young lady?” asked the guards.

“We need to get you cleaned up,” said the servants.

“How did you even get here?” asked some others.

Jasmine ignored them. She ran up the spiral staircase searching for the Queen’s room. Then she ran back down the staircase.

“Um excuse me, but do you know where the Queen is?” she asked the servants.

“She’s in the throne room,” said the servants. Then the guards turned around.

“Don’t just stand there!” said a guard to the others. Then all of the guards ran up the staircase chasing Jasmine, but Jasmine was too fast. She slipped right out of their reach. Jasmine ran and ran and ran up another spiral staircase to the third floor. She ran to the other side of the floor and found a big silver door with brass handles. She knocked on the door and waited for an answer, the guards at her heels. The guards didn’t dare run anymore now that they were at the Queen’s throne room. Then, the Queen opened the door to the throne room.

She had so much makeup on she looked like a doll. She had cherry red lips and a poofy lavender dress with ruffles all over it. She wore baby blue high heels with crystal hearts all over them. The dress had long fluffy sleeves covered in ruffles of lace. She had sharp blue eyes and a stern look. Her cheeks were pink just like her shiny earrings.

“Hello, why are you here?” asked the Queen in a strong British accent. “And you just interrupted me, how rude. Also, why are you so dirty? Only royalty can step foot in this castle.” Jasmine could tell that it would be hard to persuade the Queen to lend her some soldiers for her village.

“Excuse me,” asked Jasmine, “I’m here because invaders invaded my poor little village.”

“What is your village called?” asked the Queen.

“Panadel,” said Jasmine.

“I’ve never even heard of it!” said the Queen.

“It’s a poor village next to the dark forest,” said Jasmine.

“A poor village next to the dark forest? Why would I help such a poor little village like Panadel? I only help rich villages become richer!” she laughed. “Okay, send her out!” she said to the guards. “It’s not worth it to help poor little villages like Panadel.” The guards grabbed her arms and shoved her out.

“Never come back,” the guards said. “You are a disgrace to Chanistia.”

Jasmine lay on the ground. She didn’t know what to do. Jasmine had been through all of this for nothing. The queen had just said ‘no.’ Should she go back? Should she stay here? What should she do? If I go back, maybe I can save the village myself, Jasmine thought, No, that would be impossible. I’m just a normal girl.

“All that for nothing,” she said, “I’ll just go back. Then, they’ll capture me and I won’t have to worry about anything ever again.” She started climbing down the mountain and ran through the forest, the snowy village, and then climbed the snowy mountains and slid down. Then, she ran through the dark forest and all the way to the village. When she saw the village, she was surprised.

She saw the invaders wearing deerskin and whipping the villagers if they did not do their work. Jasmine was outraged. How could the invaders come in and force them to work? Jasmine couldn’t just go back and give up! She had to think of a plan! She couldn’t give up now! Jasmine thought and thought and thought. She didn’t know what to do. What if the plan failed? What if she got killed? There were so many questions!

I’m gonna think of a plan that nobody will notice, said Jasmine, Maybe I will kill the invaders off one by one. But how will I kill them? A bow and arrow? My village is too poor to have bows and arrows!

I can make a bow and arrow, she thought, using wood and string from the forest. Jasmine cut down branches from trees using a small knife she found. She collected old cobwebs from dead spiders and braided them all together to make a strong string. Finally, her bow and all of her arrows were completed. While she was making the bow and arrows, she saw all the invaders and counted all of them. She made arrows for each invader and five extra if she missed.

She climbed a tree and sat on it. Every day, she would kill two invaders, starting now. She put an arrow on her bow. Jasmine was very, very good at aiming. Finally, she found her target, who was a young man. He had long brown hair and wore a boarskin around his body. Then, she let go of the arrow. The arrow shot through the sky and finally fell down and hit him. The arrow speared through his chest, and he collapsed to the floor. Jasmine quickly climbed down the tree and ran to the man. She slipped him away so that none of the invaders would notice. She dug a large hole and stuck him inside.

Every single day, this continued. After the fourth day, she had already lost nine arrows. Day after day, this continued. Nobody noticed, until the last day. There were only two more invaders to kill. “Where did everybody else go?” one of them said to the other.

Jasmine had gotten so good at aiming that while the two invaders were standing next to each other, Jasmine had shot two arrows at the same time; one headed for one of the invaders, while the other headed towards the other. They both died at the exact same time and fell to the ground. Jasmine dragged both of them into the forest and buried them with everybody else.

All of the villagers cheered. “Yay! Jasmine saved the day!” But then, they stopped. Jasmine slid down the tree and came into the village. “Why did you stop cheering? What happened?”

A single villager stepped forward. “We are so sorry for your loss,” she told her.

“What loss?” Jasmine asked.

“Your parents,” she said.

“Oh no…” Jasmine whispered.

“I’m sorry,” said the villager, “The invaders would not let them look for you, but they did so anyway. Eventually, the invaders killed them.”

“Oh my gosh,” said Jasmine, “My parents! I should never have left them!” Jasmine cried and cried and cried. She hated the invaders so much. “I should never have run away,” she said, “I should have protected my parents.”

Two days passed; then, two more after that, and two more after that. Jasmine was still crying. She didn’t even get to say goodbye to her parents. They were just… gone. When she was cleaning out the house one day, she found a letter in her father’s desk drawer.

It said: ‘To Jasmine, I love you’ on the front. Jasmine opened up the letter.

Dear Jasmine,

I should have told you long ago. It is hard to explain everything in one letter, though. You are actually half fairy. I didn’t tell you before because we thought you would tell everyone and you would be in grave danger, because people would force you to grant them wishes and keep you captive just like they did to me. That also might explain why you can do magical things.

Love,

Your father.

Jasmine was scared. She didn’t even know if it was true. Was it a prank? Was her father really a fairy? Was Jasmine a fairy? Was this true? Jasmine remembered what the ghost said. “Really? You mean you don’t know that you can go through the door?” the ghost had said.

Also, the frostbite didn’t hurt much, Jasmine remembered, I guess I am a fairy!

Jasmine would keep her village safe now. She would find it more resources. And she would teach them how to defend the village so no more invaders would ever come back.

Jasmine had lost her impulse to be rude and mean, but now, after her journey and the death of her parents, she had learned to never give up. To always keep trying, even if so many bad things and setbacks happened.

Jasmine looked out at her poor village and thought of how she could change it to make it safer. Jasmine put down the letter and for the first time she felt safe.

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