is there a device that enables me to text to another device within a close range free of charge
When cell phones hit the market in a big way several companies tried to market such a device. I don't think any are available today though. You can try sending texts through email though if you have access to the Internet.
I think google has some kind of phone service that is free but I'm not sure about it. Or you could just pass a person a handwritten note like your parents probably did :)