Joe grabbed him by his shirt collar. “Where is it? Where did it go?”
“What do you mean?”
“There was— There was something—”
As Joe tried to force the words out, Adam noticed three long scratches on his upper left arm. He helped him up and the two raced out of the house.
Adli was the last to reach the door. He paused and hurried back inside. He returned to the room, glanced at the shelf where he’d left the book, grabbed it and rushed out of there as quickly as he could.
Sweat trickled down his forehead as he made his way through the jungle.
“Adam! Joe!” he shouted.
A shadow moved on his right.
He dashed behind a tree and squeezed himself in-between the roots. He closed his eyes, jaw trembling at the snapping of a twig.
The shadow was clear in sight. It crept up behind his tree, gradually making its way to him—and then it was gone.
He stood on his wobbly legs and looked out into the open.
Something hard struck him in the head. He was fighting to stay on his feet when he was hit with another blow on his back. He pushed himself forward, knocking down whatever it was aside. He lifted the book above his head, ready to aim, until he realized he was staring at a girl armed with a branch.
“Wait!” he said as she raised her branch. The sharp end grazed his arm and he dropped the book.
Her eyes widened as he began to bleed.
“You’re real?” she huffed.
Voices came from nearby, calling out Adli’s name. Adam appeared past the bushes with Joe.
The girl turned around, weapon ready.
“No, no, no!” Adli said. “That’s my brother!”
Seeing Adli, Joe heaved a relieved sigh and fell to his knees.
“You’re alive!” he exclaimed, a bit dramatically.
“Where were you?” Adam asked.
The girl watched from the side as the three of them had their little reunion. Her fingers were tight around the branch.
Adli turned to face her. Despite her looking like she had just crawled out of the earth, she was vaguely familiar.
And then it hit him.
“I know you,” he said.
She didn’t move or speak or even blink.
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