The ghosts. This time, there was no doubt about it. They had found her again. And they were gathering fast, ranging down the slope in ever-paler shades of gray, eyes blank, mouths open. Remember, they’re not solid, Jemma muttered under her breath, not real. But then the hissing began, growing into a thin, wordless keening. Her earlier bravado about simply walking through them seemed to slide off her like mud from a greased pig. She picked up the rats and dropped them into her pockets, then turned and clambered back up the rocks.
Her legs quickly grew weak. She felt dizzy from hunger. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw the phantoms gaining on her, their moans and wails growing louder every second, along with Noodle and Pie’s squeals. The ground leveled out again, and she picked up speed. But so did the phantoms. She veered to the left; they followed. To the right; still, they kept closing in. A gust of wind blew through the canopy of trees above, their leaves rustling a familiar refrain: Sweet thirteen . . . And still the gray figures were gaining on her, their cries filling the misty air.
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