The Scariest Night in Troll Forest
by Don Arthur Torgersen

Some storytellers say that the best tales about trolls and gnomes are told in Troll Forest. That’s where Tamtammy MacTroll lives, the famous blue-nosed troll who is Laird-O’-The-Forest.
It was on a summer afternoon when a group of kids prepared to take a hike in Troll Forest. There they were: Ross, Dana, Barbara, Kari, and Drummer putting on backpacks in front of Jane’s country home. They tied their shoelaces and made sure their canteens were filled with lemonade.
When the kids reached the edge of Troll Forest, they stopped to talk with Gail Granger the forest ranger who was riding a horse.
She told the young backpackers, "Make sure to follow Painted Tree Trail. It’s well marked and will lead you safely back home.
"But don’t go down the old troll trail. No! No! It’s risky. Strange things happen on that trail and you might get lost. You never know what kind of trouble you’ll meet.
"And be sure to leave the forest before it gets dark. It’s easy to lose you way in the dark, and even the shadows have eyes."
The young hikers skipped off into the forest. Painted Tree Trail was easy to follow because the trees along the trail were marked with yellow rings around the trunks.
As they hiked along, they started to sing one of those funny songs they learned at scout camp:

There once was a troll who lived on a knoll,
O Ho!…O Ho!
There once was a troll who lived on a knoll,
When he fell asleep he’d roll, roll, roll
Down the knoll, O Ho!
And thump, bump, bump his nose, O Ho! . . .

The happy campers reached a fork in the trail. Painted Tree Trail went to the left, but the old troll trail branched off to the right.
"Hey! Follow me down this trail," said Ross. I know a shortcut."
"No way!" said Drummer. "I want to get home before dark. If you get lost on that old trail, you’ll be sorry."
"But I know all the shortcuts," bragged Ross, "and I never get lost."
The young hikers split into two groups. Jane and Kari stayed with Drummer on painted tree trail which was familiar and safe. But Ross, Dana, and Barbara wanted to blaze new trails and see what interesting adventures lay in store for them on the other side of Fearsome Creek. And so the three daring explorers hiked off on the old trail they were not supposed to take.
At first, they had to cross an old wooden bridge that spanned Fearsome Creek’s deep ravine. What they didn’t know was that a troll—a gruff and grumpy troll—was sitting in the shadows under the bridge, listening to their footsteps.
"Harumpf!" growled the troll. "Three kids crossing the bridge. It’s just like the time I sat under a bridge and listened to the clip-clop-clop of the three Billy Goats Gruff.
"I wanted to eat them for breakfast, but the big guy, that big bad billy goat with the long horns smashed me to smithereens. Not many people know that trolls have a way of pulling themselves back together again. So here I am sitting under another bridge. Harumpf!"