"Who cares?" Collin interrupted. "It doesn't smell any worse than the boy's locker room after P.E. Come on," he said, marching toward a clearing in the ferns, "let's see if we can find a way out of here."

It seemed as if they had walked for hours through slippery green grass and over moss and vine-covered trees lying on the ground. Perspiration dripped from Morgan's forehead, down her neck and back. She'd never felt so warm and sticky. She'd read stories about the jungle and the deepest, darkest parts of the rain forest. But here there wasn't any rain to wash the gunk off her body. Only fog and steam rising from the ground or from more puddles of thick, stinky, bubbling and oozing slime.

They pushed through tall, broad-leafed ferns, skirted around trees that looked like hairy monsters. and fought off flying insects the size of rats.

Off in the distance thunder rumbled and lightning brightened the sky. Morgan jumped at every noise, at everything that touched her skin, and she remembered the way the slithering snakes had wrapped about her legs when they were in the void, and she remembered that mean, threatening voice, and knew it was coming closer and closer, that it wanted to get them.

Morgan bumped into Courtney's back when her friend came to an abrupt halt in the middle of a clearing. "Y' know what?" Courtney said. "I don't think we're in the Everglades. Everything's too big."

"You've never been in a swamp, Court," Collin said. "Things are supposed to be bigger."

"When was the last time you saw bugs two feet long?" Courtney asked. "Or ferns as big as trees?

"Or eyes staring at you through the bushes?" Morgan added, remembering one of the scary things she'd been trying to forget.

 
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