he Darkness wrapped its dense black tentacles around Courtney, Morgan, and Collin, slithering up their legs, around their chests. In one big gulp it swallowed them. Great gusts of wind whooshed around them in the cavernous dark, catching at their hair, their clothes, Collin's backpack.
Collin tightened his fingers around Courtney's and Morgan's hands as shivers of fear rippled up his spine.
What was happening? The nightmare should be ending, but it felt as if they were back at the beginning, when the three had first been dragged into their battle with the Dark.
They'd answered each question the best they could, so why wasn't the unseen thing letting them go?
A streak of lightning crackled through The Darkness, followed by another and another and another. With each flash, Collin could see the wide-eyed panic in Courtney's and Morgan's faces. He wished he could do or say something to make the horror go away, to ease their worry, but he was just as scared as his sister and their friend.
In the distance, thunder crashed as more veins of lightning ripped across the sky. This time Collin saw more than Courtney's and Morgan's terrified looks. He also saw the faint silhouette of a tractor and a bus. He saw a grain silo and telephone poles, things that reminded him of . . . of home!
Were they finally back in Kinetic, California? Were they back in their own time?
Another flash of lightning pierced the Dark, silhouetting a huge oak tree standing not more than thirty feet away. Then a brilliant burst of white light knocked Collin, Courtney and Morgan to the ground. With a deafening crack, lightning slammed into the center of the old tree.
Chunks of smoking wood and red and white sparks flew all around them in a deadly barrage. With an agonizing tearing sound, the massive old oak broke in half. One side toppled to the earth with a crash that shook the ground beneath the dazed children.