ourtney was afraid to move. She looked at her toes, at feet that should be standing on solid ground, but there was nothing beneath her shoes. If she moved, would she fall? And if she fell, where would she go? There was nothing below her. Nothing above her, either -- not even the bright blue sky. "Where are we?" she whispered to Morgan and Collin. "I don't know about you guys, but I can't see a thing."

"It's like looking straight into a burning light bulb," Morgan said, squinting her eyes, "or into the sun."

"And it's quiet," Collin added, turning in a complete circle as he surveyed his surroundings. "It's weird. Too weird."

Thunder rolled around the emptiness, a great rumble that started out low and slow and rose to a long, resounding boom.

The light flickered.

Dim.

Bright.

Dimmer.

Brighter.

A shiver of ice cold fear streaked up Courtney's spine, and she rubbed the goosebumps that rose on her arms. Morgan's trembling fingers clutched at her hand, and Courtney reached for her brother, pulling him into a huddle as a swirl of hot air circled around them.

"What's going on?" Courtney cried out, but her words were swept up in the wind.

Her ponytail slapped at her ears and stung her cheeks and eyes as it gyrated about. Morgan's hair twisted in a frenzy above her head. And the gust caught at Collin's backpack, its powerful force tugging, pulling, trying to tear him away from his sister and friend.

Morgan gripped Collin's shirt. Courtney's fingers tightened around his arm. They couldn't let go. They had to stay close -- real close. Three against . . . three against this thing was so much better than one.

 
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