Genna, Dan, Yarri and the cat travel the moonroad the old woman told them to seek.
We had barely caught our breaths than the cat said, “And now Coldfall,” and something in my heart contracted at the sight of the red sparks that spun around him, brightening and tightening until they coalesced into a terrifying spiral.
“I don’t want to,” Yarri whispered. Dan clutched my hand, and I grabbed Yarri’s arm, and I dragged the three of us forward and into that spiral before the road could slide away from us. And before I lost my courage.
Things moved around us as we fell. Creatures, shadows, glowing eyes that stared at us in bodiless pairs. Broken people, twisted animals. Monsters. They slid past us or dropped behind us as we raced by, and some of them opened mouths and screamed without sound, and others reached out to try to grab us, though their hands slid through us as if either they or we were made of nothing but smoke.
And some saw us and laughed, and even though I could no more hear the laughter than the screams, it was somehow worse. It was as if they knew—absolutely knew—what was about to happen to us.
I yearned for wings, or a way off the road. I wished Dan still had Papa’s sword.
I tried to breathe, but my terror clogged my throat. Hands grasping, and eyes staring, and shadows wrapping themselves around the three of us and trying to slip inside, as if they wanted our bodies to wear like coats.
We crashed out of the road, all three of us feeling filthy and ill-used, and the cat landed in a heap on us, hissing and spitting and with his claws out.
“Up, quickly,” he said. “The old woman said this was the way, though I didn’t want to believe her. This way, though, nothing good lies between her and what we seek.” He got to his feet, and stared over my shoulder, and puffed himself to twice his size.
“Run,” he whispered.
We did not look behind us. I could feel something there. Something big. Wet-mouthed. Hungry. I could hear the moist noises of its movement. I got to my feet and bolted after the cat that streaked away from us, and Dan followed me, and I hoped that Yarri followed him. I could not hear her when she ran, so I did not know, and I feared that if I looked behind to check on her, I’d see the thing making those wet, crunching, smacking sounds….and then Dan passed me and Yarri shot past Dan and I was the one at the back.