And now we'd come across the remains of another, smaller vessel. In fact, this was the third such hull we'd come across, and the hair on my nape stood straight up. SOmething unnatural waited in these woods. An hour ago we'd heard a brief, terrifing sound. LIke men screaming, then instantly cut off. We'd stared at each other, but the three of us hadn't been able to voice what we were all thinking.
Our crew had fallen victim to whatever monster lay in wait for us.
A stream burbled up ahead, and I ran toward it, my parched mouth watering. Daniel followed, limping, but eager for a drink.
We collapsed at the edge of the stream, nearly dunking ourselves in the process of pressing our lips to the flowing water. It was sweet and cold, soothing the bruises and busted lip I'd been nursing.
I looked up, flipping my wet, tangled braid away from my face.
"Mal?" I called.
Daniel looked up, fear in his eyes. He called out the crew member's name, but there was no response. Only deathly quiet.
"Answer us, dammit!" His voice was rough and hoarse. When a branch snapped back the way we came, he took off into the forest again. I was on my knees instantly. "No, Dan! Stop!"
My cries fell onto deaf ears. Just as I regained my feet, his crashing noise stopped, and I heard a low moan, cut off sharply. Then more silence. The kind that throbs in your ears and makes you beg for the smallest creak or whistle of wind.
I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and waited.