Part 1 -- Stranger in the Forest
It was an early Saturday evening in the Finster backyard. Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, Dil, and Kimi were playing Soccer. Their parents watched from lounge chairs on the porch, cheering their kids on. The kids were practising for the big soccer game on Monday. Tommy, Chuckie, and Dil were on one team while Kimi, Lil, and Phil played the opposing team.
Monday was the day of the final game of soccer season. Everyone was practising for it. Since the team's goalie was out sick, Chuckie was chosen to replace him.
Chuckie stood in front of a plastic hockey net acting as goalie. Whenever someone on the other team kicked the ball, Chuckie would cower on the grass, run off to the side, or any other movement to avoid coming into contact with the ball.
Kimi kicked another ball into the net, scoring yet another goal for her team.
"Another win for Kimi, Phil and Lil!" cheered Chas.
"That's my girl" said a proud Kira. "If only her father up in heaven could see how she's growing up with so much energy and vigor, just like her father."
Chuckie stood up from the grass. He had let his team down again.
"Chuckie, how are you going to win the game if you're keep running away from the ball?" asked Kimi.
"I can't help it!" said Chuckie. "What if the ball hits me and it hurts?"
"That's ok son" said Chas. "Just keep your eye on the ball. You can touch it with your hands unlike the other players!"
"Yeah, then he'll drop it into the net" taunted Phil in the other goal post.
Another game started.
"Just do what dad says Chuckie!" said Kimi. "Keep your eye on the ball!"
"Ok" said Chuckie as he braced himself. "I'm ready!"
Stu dropped the ball between Tommy and Kimi who stood in the center. Kimi kicked it to Lil. Tommy tried to intercept but Lil passed it to Kimi. Kimi kicked the ball at the goal post.
This time, Chuckie didn't run from the ball. He stood at his post, ready to catch the ball. He missed. Unfortunately, the ball didn't miss either. It hit Chuckie in the stomach, knocking him down before sailing into the net. Chas stood and rushed over to his son. The other grownups followed.
"I don't feel so good" moaned Chuckie. "My tummy hurts."
Tommy, Phil, Lil, and Dil joined the other grownups. Kimi stood still in her place, frozen with shock, her mouth slightly open with shock.
Chas helped Chuckie up and brought him into the house. Everyone else turned to Kimi.
Kimi slowly covered her open mouth with her hands. She turned away.
A little later, as the sun neared the end of its descent into the late afternoon sky, Kimi sat on the front steps of her house.
"What have I done?" she said to herself.
The door opened. Out came Chas and Kira.
Kira turned her head to her mother and stepfather. Then she turned away.
"Please...leave me alone" she said.
Chas and Kira sat beside Kimi.
"Kimi...it's not your fault" said Kira.
"It's not normal for a young girl to be so strong" said Chas.
"We know you didn't mean to hurt your brother" said Kira. "Things like this happen everyday."
Kimi stood and began to walk forward.
"There's only one thing I can do to make sure this never happens again" she said.
"What's that?" asked Chas as he and Kira stood.
Kimi turned her head to her parents.
"I'm going to..."
She turned her head back forward and began to run.
"Kimi!" cried Kira. "Come back! Running away won't solve anything!"
But Kimi did not slow down or even turn back. She continued to run until she was out of sight.
She ran into the forest just as night fell. An owl hooted in a tree watching Kimi as she ran. Wolves howled in the distance. Kimi kept on running, not even turning back.
Suddenly, something appeared in front of her, forcing her to skid to a stop. Standing before her, was a man dressed in black with oily skin and brown hair on his head. Terrified, Kimi turned and ran in the opposite direction. She turned to check if the man was following her. He wasn't.
Kimi turned her head forward just before crashing into a tree branch, knocking her down flat and unconcious.
Meanwhile, at the Finster's home, Kira picked up the phone and called the police.
"Hello police, my daughter has run off and I'm worried about her."
"Don't worry ma'am" said the officer. "Just give us your address and we'll send one of our best men over."
"Thank you" said Kira. She proceded to give the officer her address.
Meanwhile, back in the forest, the mysterious stranger dragged Kimi by her arms to a campsite near a pitched tent, and a campfire. Then he set her down on the side of a rock and waited.
Kimi awoke a few minutes later. The area under her nose felt wet. She wiped the area under her nose and noticed her finger had blood on it. A shadow seemed to cover her body. She turned her head around and upward.
Behind her stood the man, looking down at her.
"You really must be careful where you're going" he said.
"So...I guess you're not going to hurt me" said Kimi.
She noticed that her surroundings had changed. She was standing on the banks near a river. A railroad bridge spanned across the river.
"These woods can be pretty scary at night" said Kimi. "I'm sure glad I ran into a grownup."
The man turned and sat near the campfire. He began to use a knife to open up a can of beans.
"It's going to work out real good" he said. "You can be my hostage."
"Cool!" said Kimi. "But just for tonight because I have church in the morning."
The man laughed as he lifted the lid off the can of beans.
"You ain't going to church. We'll catch the midnight train!"
"Really?" asked Kimi. "We'd better stop at my house first and tell my parents or else they'll worry. Plus I'll need to take some clothes to wear and toysto play with so I don't get bored."
"Put a sock in it" said the man. "You're giving me a headache."
"I just have one more question" she said.
"What?" asked the frusterated man.
"What does a hostage have to do?"
"Then why do you need one?"
"In case the cops show up?"
"What's the cops?" asked Kimi.
"They're people who lock you in jail for something you did wrong."
"Something we did wrong? Well then I guess I'm in deep trouble."
"Did you do something wrong?"
"Why don't you tell me about it little lady?"
"Ok" said Kimi. "Me and my step-brother and my friends were practising for the big soccer game on Monday. I kicked the ball, and it hit my brother in the tummy."
"That's understandable" said the man. "But you can't go to jail for that."
"Have you ever done something wrong?"
"Yes" said the man after a little hesitation. "When I was 16, I quit school and jumped aboard the train with a packed suitcase to travel across the nation. Since I didn't graduate from school, I couldn't find a job because back in those days, people preferred school graduates to join the work force. So I became a thief. I robbed banks, burglarized homes without the owners knowing, and pawning the items off for money, all at night."
"You're a robber?"
"Yes. I'm a thief. Once I had earned enough money selling stolen products and robbing banks, I hopped a train here to the forest and lived here for twenty years."
"Why do you steal?"
"Well I gotta feed myself to survive. I also got to buy the clothes that I wear to keep warm during the winter."
"What if you have to go to the bathroom?"
"There's an outhouse in the forest around here."
"Where is it? I have to go to the bathroom."
"It's over there" said the man pointing in a certain direction.
"Thanks" said Kimi as she stood and walked off in the direction that the man had pointed.
At that very moment back at the Finster house, Officer Bonds was questioning the grownups and the kids about the incidents earlier that evening.
"She accidentally hit Chuckie with a soccer ball, felt bad about it, and took off" said Tommy.
"I see" said Bonds as he wrote notes in his notepad.
Chuckie's tummyache had healed and he was able to climb out of bed and come downstairs.
"Feeling better Chuckie?" asked Chas.
"Yes" said Chuckie.
"So you're the boy your sister accidentally hit" said Bonds.
"Hey" said Chuckie. "Where's Kimi?"
"She ran away from home" said Kira.
"First I lost my mother!" said Chuckie. "Now I've lost my sister!"
"Don't worry Chuckie" said Chas. "We'll find her and bring her home."
"Anything could have happened to her" said Didi. "She could have even been kidnapped."
"I suppose somebody found her" said Drew. "And I'm sure he or she will bring her home."
Bonds closed his notepad and walked to the door.
"I'll make my report to the station" he said. "If she doesn't come back by
tomorrow morning, call me again."He opened the door and closed it.
"What will we do Chas?" asked Kira. "What if Kimi never comes home?"
"Don't worry" said Chas. "She'll come back."
"I hope so" said Chuckie.
Meanwhile, back in the forest, Kimi finished her duty in the outhouse and returned to the campfire.
"You must be hungry" said the man as he dished himself some beans into a bowl. He also dished some beans into another bowl. He handed it to Kimi.
"Thanks" said Kimi. "I haven't eaten since suppertime."
They quickly finished their meal.
"What brings you to the forest?" asked the man as he dished up some more beans and handed them to Kimi.
"I ran away from home" said Kimi.
"Running away from home never solves anything" said the man. "Look at me. I ran away from home when I was sixteen and I became a criminal. If I had stayed in school, I would have graduated and earned some money the legal way."
"If you keep taking trains" said Kimi as she finished her beans. "You'll just be running away from everything. Don't you even like living here?"
Just then, a train horn was heard as a train crossed the railroad bridge.
"Oh well" said the man. "I missed the train, but I like it here."
"You know" said Kimi. "I think I've made a mistake in running away. I love my mommy, step-brother, and step-father. And besides, they must be worried sick about me."
The man finished his beans.
"I got an idea" he said. "Why don't I take you home right now?"
"Ok" said Kimi.
Half an hour later, Kimi and the man stood before the Finster's front door.
Kimi threw open the door and ran in.
"Mom! Dad! I'm home!"
Chas and Kira stood from the couch where they had sat watching tv.
Kimi ran to her parents. Kira and Chas embraced her.
"Welcome home Kimi" said Chas.
Kira shook hands with the man.
"Thank you for bringing our daughter home" she said. "How can we ever thank you?"
"Don't mention it" said the man. "I don't need anything as repayment."
Suddenly, the door burst open. In came three police officers. They grabbed the man and handcuffed him.
"Hey what's going on?" asked Chas.
One of the officers began to speak.
"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say could be used against you in a court of law."
"What's going on? What are you doing?" asked Kira.
"This will only take a minute madame" said the officer. The three officers led the man outside to their car.
"Kimi, do you know what happened?" asked Kira.
Kimi was about to say yes, but then she stopped and shook her head.
Chuckie came downstairs from his room.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"The cops took my new friend away!" said Kimi.
"Kimi, it's getting late. You should go to bed now. Tomorrow, we can talk about this" said Kira.
Kimi sighed. "Yes mom."
Part 2 -- Race against Time
The next morning, the Finsters called a family meeting with their friends.
"We know that last night, Kimi ran away. Then around 12:30 a.m., she returned" said Kira. "The man she was with was arrested for some strange reason."
"Maybe the police thought he kidnapped Kimi" suggested Betty.
"But he didn't!" protested Kimi.
"If that's what Kimi says, that's what I believe!" said Tommy.
"Me too!" said Chuckie.
"That goes for me too!" said Lil.
"And me!" said Phil.
Chas came in, carrying the morning paper.
"Kimi, you'd better take a look at this" he said. "That man who brought you home, he's on trial this morning for bank robbery, burglarly, and kidnapping."
"What?!" cried Kimi. She stood and grabbed the paper and read it.
"Oh no!" she said. "The cops think he kidnapped me."
Kimi was right. The newspaper article read:
"Last night, around 12:30a.m, police arrested an unidentified suspect who was wanted all over the state for bank robbery, burglary, and the kidnapping of Kimi Watannabe Finster. His trial is to be held at 8:00 a.m today. If convicted, he could face a possible life in prison sentence."
"He's wanted all over the state?" asked Didi.
"Yes" sighed Kimi.
"Why would they want more crooks in this state?" asked Angelica.(rimshot)
"I guess people will be going to the trial instead of going to church" said Howard.
"Kimi, is your friend really a crook?" asked Chas.
All eyes were on Kimi. She opened her mouth to speak, but stopped and nodded her head.
"Kimi, why didn't you tell us your new friend was a criminal?" asked Kira.
"Mom you don't understand!" said Kimi. "He only steals to survive. He never finished school and he ran away from home at age sixteen."
"Oh dear" said Drew. "He does have a good reason to steal. But if convicted, he'll spend the rest of his life in prison for burglary, bank robbery, and kidnapping."
"They can't do that!" said Kimi. "He didn't kidnap me!"
"We got to do something!" said Charlotte. "We cannot let the police convict a man of a kidnapping he didn't commit!"
"Let's go to the courthouse!" said Chas.
"I'll get the keys to the car" said Stu.
"No!" said Kimi as she stood.
"What?!" gasped everybody.
"You're all going to have to stay here" said Kimi. "This is something I have to do myself!"
Chas and Kira looked at each other. Then, they turned back to Kimi.
"Alright Kimi" said Chas.
Kimi turned and ran out of the living room and out the front door. She began to run out into the street, when she heard her step-father's voice.
"Kimi, wait up!"
She turned and saw her step-father with her bike.
"You're not going to get there fast enough on foot" he said.
With a smile, Kimi hopped onto her bike, put on her helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads.
"Do you really have to do this?" asked Angelica.
Kimi turned to everybody. "I have to!" she said. "He's my friend! And I'm going to put a stop to that trial."
"Be careful" said Kira.
Kimi turned to the street with a frown of determination. She put her feet to the pedals and began to ride off to the courthouse as fast as she could.
Everybody ran out to the street and turned in the direction Kimi was riding.
"Go Kimi go!" exclaimed Chuckie.
"Hurry!" cried Phil.
"You can do it Kimi!" exclaimed Lil.
The sun slowly rose higher into the sky, brightening the morning sky with the pinkness of dawn. Kimi rode as fast as she could down the street.
Meanwhile, at the courthouse, Kimi's friend was put on the witness stand before a large group of people seated in two columns of a dozen rows of chairs.
"We have here an unidentified man who is charged with kidnapping, burglary,
and bank robbery. What should we do with him?" the prosecutor asked the witnesses.
"Give him community service!" suggested a man.
"Lock him in jail and throw away the key!" exclaimed a young woman.
"String him up!" shouted an elderly woman.
"Silence!" ordered the judge.
The crowd was silenced.
"Prosecutor, this man has been charged with bank robbery, burglary, and kidnapping. Only after a fair trial leading to his conviction will justice be achieved. But if he's found not guilty, we'll have to set him free. We do not want to send an innocent man to jail. That would be a real tragedy."
"He's guilty!" shouted the prosecutor.
The crowd cheered in protest. They agreed with the prosecutor.
"Order in the court!" ordered the judge as he banged his gavel on the table.
Meanwhile, back on the street, Kimi rode her bike as fast as she could down the street. She came to a steep hill which rolled down to the street below. Cars drove through the streets, until the light turned red.
"Now's my chance!" said Kimi. She put the pedal to the metal and rode down the hill as fast as she could, through the street and between the cars, just as the light turned green and the cars began driving again.
"Phew!" said Kimi as she wiped her forehead. "That was close!"
She turned her head forward and rode as fast as she could through the streets. People watched from the sidewalk as she rode down the street like a race car.
"That girl sure can ride!" said a young man to his wife.
Back at the courthouse, the prosecutor, like all other prosecutors began to fire questions at Kimi's friend, demanding answers.
"Is it true that you robbed banks at night?"
Kimi's friend hesitated.
"Yes" he sighed lowering his head. "It's true."
"He confessed!" gasped a man.
"String him up!" shouted the eldery lady. The crowd thought was a good idea and yelled in protest.
"Order in the court!" said the judge gaveling on his desk.
Back in the streets, Kimi rode faster and faster.
Back at the courthouse, Kimi's friend confessed to burglary.
There were even more gasps.
"Ahhhh, so you admit it" said the prosecutor.
"String him up!" shouted the same elderly lady.
"Silence!" ordered the judge.
Back in the streets, Kimi rode faster and faster, amazing the witnesses.
"What energy she has!" said a young woman to her husband.
Back in the courthouse, the prosecutor fired the final question at Kimi's friend.
"And did you kidnap Kimi Watannabe Finster?"
"No" said Kimi's friend.
"You deny such a thing?!"
"Yes!" said Kimi's friend. "I did not kidnap Kimi!"
"He's lying your honour!" said the prosecutor.
"Order in the court!"
Back in the streets, Kimi spotted the courthouse just up ahead.
"I'm almost there!" she told herself.
Back in the courthouse, the jury was beginning to make their deliberation.
"Members of the jury" said the prosecutor. "You now have a job to do. You decide if this monster is guilty of kidnapping. It is your duty to make sure he is taken off the streets for life."
The jury stood and walked into the deliberation room.
Kimi began to slow down as she approached the courthouse.
Suddenly, a cat walked onto the street.
Kimi screamed and swerved to avoid it, and crashing her bike into the garbage cans near the courthouse, sending her flying onto the sidewalk.
A young couple rushed up to her.
"You ok little girl?" asked the man.
Kimi stood. "I don't have time! This is an emergency!"
She ran past the couple and ran along the sidewalk, throwing off her knee pads, elbow pads, and helmet. She ran up the stairs to the courthouse doors.
She stood before the courthouse doors. There was only one thing left to do.
"This is it!" she told herself.
Back in the courthouse, the jury returned to the courtroom.
"We find the defendant on the charge of kidnapping....."
Outside the courtroom doors, Kimi stood before the doors. Just then, she heard a voice.
A spirit appeared before Kimi. Kimi seemed to recognize him.
"Kimi, I am your father. Set your feelings forth Kimi, there's a force deep down inside you. Use it! Use your force Kimi!"
The spirit faded.
Kimi turned to the doors. Her lips became a frown of determination.
"Of course! Use the force!" she said. She ran forth at the doors.
Back in the courtroom, the verdict was read.
The crowd cheered.
"Order in the court!" shouted the judge.
The crowd stopped cheering. They had smiles of triumph on their faces.
"Young man, you have been found guilty of all three charges of burglary, bank robbery, and kidnapping. Therefore, it is the decision of this court, that you will spend the rest of your life in..."
Suddenly, the courtroom doors burst open.
"Nooo!" cried Kimi as she burst into the courtroom and down the corridor.
The crowd gasped as they turned their faces as Kimi charged down the corridor, towards the judge.
"Kimi?!" exclaimed her suprised friend. "You're here?"
Kimi ran faster and faster through the corridor towards the judge.
"Leave him alone!" she exclaimed. "Stop this trial!"
"Stop that child!" shouted the prosecutor.
No one stood from their seats to stop Kimi.
"Then I'll stop you myself you little brat!" said the prosecutor.
He stood at the front of the corridor.
"You're not gonna get past me kid!"
Kimi leaped to the floor in a dive and slid on the floor under the suprised prosecutor's legs, until she stopped at the the desk where the judge sat. She stood up.
"Mr. Judge guy, you're pressing a false charge against this man!"
"Huh?" gasped the crowd.
"What do you mean?" asked the judge.
"There was no kidnapping" said Kimi.
"That's a lie!" shouted the prosecutor! "This monster has been found guilty of all charges!"
"Put a sock in it!" said Kimi turning her head to the prosecutor.
"Your honour!" shouted the prosecutor. "This girl spoke out against me!"
"Silence" said the judge. "Kimi says this man is not guilty of kidnapping. She just may be telling the truth."
He turned to Kimi. "Please continue Kimi."
"You're too late Kimi!" said the prosecutor. "This man has been found guilty!
You are a liar!"
Furious, the judge pounded his gavel on his desk.
"Men! Take him away!"
Two security officers grabbed the prosecutor and dragged him away.
A little later, Kimi finished telling her story to the judge.
"So you ran away from home and this man found you?" asked the judge.
"Yes" said Kimi. "And he brought me home."
The judge turned to Kimi's friend.
"Is that true young man?"
"Every word of it" said the man.
"Well, the man's a hero then!" said the judge.
"But that doesn't mean he can go free after being convicted of bank robbery and burglary!" said a woman in the crowd.
"Order in the court!" said the judge.
"I hope you'll go easy on him Mr. Judge guy" said Kimi. "He's just a poor man without a job who ran away from home and never finished school."
The judge hesitated. Finally he spoke.
"Normally, the law cannot be sympathized by the words of another human being.
But since you had the courage to come here young lady and clear this man of kidnapping, that charge against him, is dropped."
He turned to Kimi's friend.
"Since you helped this girl return home, I'll only give you 500 hours of community service. We'll see to it that you get a job and earn some money to help yourself."
"Thank you your honour" said the man.
"But there's one thing we don't know" said the judge. "What's your name?"
"One thing's for certain" said Kimi's friend. "My name does have something to do with my past career as a thief."
"What's your name?" asked the judge.
When everyone finished laughing, the judge pounded his gavel on his desk.
Part 3 -- Thank You Kimi
That night, another paper was published. Kimi's picture was on the front cover. She was a hero.
Kira hugged her daughter. "I'm so proud of you Kimi" she said.
"Ah, it was nothing mom" said Kimi.
Everyone was at the Finster's household for a celebration, including Robin Banks.
"I propose a toast to our two guests of honour!" said Stu raising his wine glass. "To Kimi and Robin Banks."
Everyone raised their glasses.
"How's everything going Robin?" asked Kira.
"Great!" said Robin. "I finally took a decent bath and now I look like a new man. I'm doing community service and I'm even going to get paid for it!"
"I'm proud of you Robin" said Kimi.
"I have you to thank Kimi" said Robin.
"Hey Robin, do you think you can come to our soccer game tomorrow?" asked Kimi.
"I'll try" said Robin.
The next afternoon, at the big soccer game, the score was tied 3-3. Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, Dil, and Kimi were playing against the McNulties and two other boys. There was one minute left in the game.
The referee dropped the ball between Tommy and Timmy. Tommy intercepted it and passed it to Phil. Phil was about to pass to Lil, but Timmy intercepted it and kicked it at the goal post to where Chuckie stood.
This time, Chuckie caught the ball.
"Big save Chuckie!" exclaimed the coach. "We'll get them in the last minute!"
Chuckie kicked the ball to Lil. She passed it to Kimi.
Just then, Kimi heard her mother's voice.
"Kimi! Look who just came!"
Kimi turned her head.
Robin Banks walked onto the field to watch the game, just as he had promised.
"Score one for me Kimi!" he said.
"And one for your dad up in heaven!" said Kira.
Kimi turned back to the field with a look of determination on her face. She ran down the field with the ball with only ten seconds left in the game.
All eyes were on Kimi as she ran down the field towards the opposing team's goal net. The McNulties tried to stop her, but they were unsuccessful.
Everyone held their breath as Kimi delivered a mighty kick to the goalie net.
The ball sailed through the air, and into the net.
The crowd cheered. Kimi had scored the winning goal.
Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Dil picked up Kimi and carried her across the field.
"Kimi! Kimi!" the crowd repeatedly chanted.
Kimi felt as if she was in a victory parade. She never could have been happier. She was a born soccer player.
That night, there was a big celebration at the Finster household.
"Congratulations!" said Stu. "You kids did great! Especially you Kimi!"
"Thanks" said Kimi.
"Well I'd better be going now" said Robin. "I got a date at the disco with a childhood friend of mine and another day to prepare for."
"Thanks for bringing me home Saturday night Robin" said Kimi.
"No Kimi" said Robin. "Thank you, for helping me earn a better life."
Kimi waved goodbye to Robin as he walked out the door, and through the streets into the night under the stars and moon.
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