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The Ghost Town
Dan and Johnny discover the town of Old Cross, when they are chased by a bear. After spending a night there they are rescued.Chapter 1: The Ghost Town
It was a beautiful, sunny day in the small town of Cross, Montana. And right so, for 12 year old Daniel Evensen and his best friend Johnny Elwood were trampling through the forest that bordered Cross, from the north with a beautiful scene of the mountains in the backdrop.
Daniel was excited to be outside and exploring. You see, he had just moved from Rosholt Wisconsin to Cross Montana, a few weeks before and was still getting to know the area.
As the boys walked through the woods, they talked and laughed about random stuff. Basically anything that came to mind was talked about. The football season, fishing, camping, wrestling, Bible Club and writing were topics they loved to talk about.
Suddenly Johnny stopped and drew his arm across Dan’s chest as to halt him.
“What is it?” asked Dan and he stopped and listened.
“We’re being followed.” Said Johnny.
Before Dan could argue back, a bear, bigger than any they had ever seen burst through the woods, it’s eyes full of rage.
Dan and Johnny both knew the drill for black and brown bear. Stay still or run. The problem? They couldn’t remember which bear belonged to what.
They ran and the bear followed suit, hot on their heels. Soon Johnny, who had taken a five foot lead, stopped, only to be crashed into by Daniel. The two boys rolled down a hill and into a bramble patch.
It soon dawned on Dan that that was the reason that Johnny had stopped. Meanwhile, the bear took one look at his quarry and decided that they were not worth the effort and resorted to eating berries.
Dan in the meantime, stood dumbfounded as he took a look at what laid before him. Before him lay what appeared to be an old abandoned mining town from the 1930’s.
“This is bad. I don’t think we’re supposed to be here. I think that we have better be going.” argued Johnny, but Dan made his case before Johnny could do anything.
“Uh, Johnny, you want to take a look around? We’re in a valley. See? The only way that we’ll be able to get out of here is up the hill that we came. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to face the wrath of the that bear. Besides, we didn’t have ghost towns back in Rosholt. Let’s have a look around.”
And so they did. The town was empty. To the south, right in front of them, was the main street of the town. It was a long narrow street bordered on both sides by stores and apartments that bore telltale signs of neglect. Dotting the streets were two or three cars which Dan knew to be a 1930 Chevy Impala and a 1929 Chevy Coupe.
As the duo made their way deeper into the town, checking out the old stores and buildings like any normal person would, they lost track of the time and soon realized that it was 5:00. The sun was beginning to set. Despair soon set into the minds of Dan and Johnny until Johnny had an idea.
“I have an idea. The depot station. Depot stations always have maps. We have to be somewhere near Cross.”
Johnny led Dan to the depot station and together with the help of an old kerosene lamp, discovered that they were in the town of. . . Cross? It made sense now. They were in Old Cross, the town south of Cross that had been shut down since the Great Depression. No one really payed any attention to it.
According to their findings, the railroad went north and discontinued three miles from town. Dan did the math and found that Cross was six miles away, approximately a two hours hike. If they started out now they would be sure to get lost in the night and possibly attacked by wild animals. It would be best to wait out the night here.
The boys decided to head back to the Hotel Main a few doors down and bunk up there. First, they needed supper. They parted ways and went to look for food.
Dan found his way to the grocery store (of course) and found three onions, two bottles of still carbonated soda and a box of cookies. (Gee, I wonder if they are still any good?)
Johnny on the other hand got lost and found his way to an apple and pear tree, right next to the church. After picking eight apples and six pears he decided to meet that their rendezvous site; the hotel.
Dan had not yet come back, so Johnny lit the fire in the fireplace and set out the meal on one of the tables and waited for Dan who came very shortly after seen the smoke in the sky. Together, they said their prayers and dove into their meal. Surprisingly, the food still tasted fresh.
After the boy’s had finished their food and were stuffed, Dan made a suggestion to his friend.
“Since we are staying here for the night, we might as bunk up in one of the rooms. Just so that we don’t appear as a pair of hobos, we might as well sign our names into the guest log.
As soon as they had been signed in, they took two keys and checked out their accommodations.
Dan was in room 5 while Johnny was in room 6. Both rooms were comfortable, though not shabby.
The nights sleep was relaxing. In the morning Dan got up to visit a pond that he had seen to wash his face and hands.
As Dan dunked his head into the water, a sound that resembled his Dad’s Trail Blazer.
Dripping wet, Dan got up and started towards the sound. He got to the Church, to see his dad standing at the steps. Next to him, was a man that Dan knew well. It was Johnny’s dad.
Dan ran and got Johnny up and after proving to him that their parents were actually there, the two boys headed home. On the way back, they told their dad’s about what had happened. They then began to question them.
“How did you guys find us. That was a needle in a haystack chore for you.” exclaimed Johnny.
“Well, based on where you guys told you were going, we knew well enough to search a five mile radius from Cross. Last night, someone reported seeing smoke come from the old town, so we decided to check it out. We thought that you guys might have set the town on fire.”
Replied Johnny’s father James Elwood.
Something that had been bothering Dan suddenly began to click.
“Dad, is this town surrounded by a valley by any chance?”
“Yeah son, why?” asked Bob Evensen, perplexed.
“Had Johnny and I not hit that cliff, would we have ever known about that town?”
“You guys? Probably not. We knew about the town. I don’t think that we would have wanted you guys to know about it anyways.”
“Why not? It’s not like we’d burn it down.” stated Johnny.
“I wouldn’t expect you to, but someone else would.” The rest of the way was driven home in silence.