A burst of laughter echoed around the void. The light stopped flickering and burned steady and intense as laughter rang out again. Louder. Louder. So loud that Courtney wanted to clasp her hands over her ears to drown out the deafening noise, but she refused to loosen the bond she'd formed with Morgan and Collin. They couldn't drift apart. Staying together might be the only way they could remain safe from the insanity going on around them.

Another clap of thunder. The light dimmed.

Another burst of laughter. The light brightened.

Thunder exploded again and again. Blackness oozed through minuscule pores in the light beneath their feet and snarled like dozens of gyrating snakes about their ankles, dragging them down, down, down through the emptiness.

Collin, Morgan and Courtney struggled, reaching for anything -- and nothing -- to keep from being sucked into oblivion, but their efforts were useless against the turbulent darkness.

Again the thunder boomed and a deep, resonant voice rolled around them. You are mine. At last.

Laughter echoed here, there, and everywhere. The void where they were held captive grew brighter. Long, limber fingers of iridescent light that looked like liquid glass filled with swirling rainbows of color slid from the nothingness overhead and wrapped around their shoulders and arms. Stay away from them!

Courtney shuddered at the words, at the voice. It wasn't the same voice she'd heard when the thunder roared. No. This voice was low and slow with a touch of laughter, a whisper caught in a gale of wind that spun around her and her friends like a mighty, invisible tornado.

 
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