The last thing Kaylee wants to do is participate in a childish scavenger hunt—especially inside the abandoned retirement home on the edge of town. When she finds a bruised, deaf boy hiding inside one of the rooms, she vows to lead him to safety . . . only to discover the front doors are now padlocked, and her friends are nowhere to be found. Kaylee is about to learn that not everything that goes ‘bump in the night’ is imaginary, and sometimes there are worse things to fear than ghosts.
The room door banged open, and I jumped to my feet as Wren stumbled inside with one hand clutched around her wrist. Her face was white as chalk, and I grabbed her arm as she lowered herself to the floor with a cry.
“It hurts, Kaylee,” she said, her voice almost a moan. “It hurts so bad . . .”
“What happened?” My eyes were fixed on the red scarf she was holding around her wrist, and it wasn’t until I took the flashlight from under her arm that I realized it wasn’t a scarf—it was a tattered rag. And it was soaked in blood.
“Tell me what happened,” I said, fighting to keep my voice steady.
She lifted the rag and I stifled a cry when I saw a gash of red. It immediately began to pool with fresh blood and she clamped the rag back around it.
“Keep pressure on it, right?” Her eyes began to shine. “That’s what they tell you to do? And keep it raised into the air?”
I tried to answer, but nothing came out. Her head thumped the wall as she leaned back. Strands of hair were plastered across her forehead with sweat.
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Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering for his oldest daughter’s volleyball team, or chilling on the PlayStation 4 with his thirteen-year-old. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only seven places in the world UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.