Super Dark (Super Dark Trilogy) Online - Tanith Morse Page 0,1

then I’ll have to hit the next street on my own.”

He hesitated, then relented. “Okay, okay, I’ll come.”

We took a left turn at the roundabout and started trudging up an unfamiliar street. Our boots, now ankle-deep in snow, made eerie, hollow sounds as they crunched on the pavement. We could see our breath in icy clouds.

Suddenly, I felt an odd sensation, as if something had thrown a handful of wet leaves at my back. It made me freeze in my tracks.

We heard the sputter of an engine—an old, tired sound, like the last chokes of a dying witch. We spun around and saw a battered, white van speeding in our direction, its headlights blinding us. When the vehicle pulled up alongside us, it screeched to a stop and an enormous man jumped out.

He was the most hideous creature I’d ever seen: seven feet tall, with bloodshot eyes, dirty brown overalls, and a matted beard that hung down to his waist. His bushy brows met in the middle, and his neck and hands were covered in thick, black hair. His lips scared me the most: they were purple and punctured with teeth marks.

What happened next was a kind of blur. One minute we were standing by the curb, clutching our trick-or-treat candy—and the next minute, this monstrous creature had scooped us up under his arms and shoved us into the back of his van. Candy spilled from our abandoned, overturned buckets, making a colorful stream in the snow.

Inside, the van was dark and damp. The floor was covered with large clumps of hay, as though it had been used to haul livestock. The putrid smell of rotten meat was overwhelming.

As the van rattled up the road, Elliot and I huddled together like a pair of scared rabbits, holding each other tight for comfort. I’ll never forget the warmth from his tiny fingers as they interlocked with mine, or the way he tried not to tremble for my sake. Elliot was putting on a brave face, but I knew he was just as frightened as I was.

As my eyes grew accustomed to the gloom, I noticed we were not alone. Sitting a couple of feet away was a silhouette; when we passed a streetlamp, I could see it was a woman with swarthy skin and long, dark hair that was gathered back in two big bunches. She was dressed in strange layers of embroidered cloth that reminded me of a Russian Matryoshka doll. Chunky, gold bracelets weighed down her spindly wrists, and her calloused fingers sported an array of antique medallion rings.

I gasped when I saw her eyes: black, unflinching, and potently evil.

I burst into tears, and once I’d started, I couldn’t stop. I was terrified. Elliot cradled me in his arms, stroking my hair to make me feel warm and protected, but I could tell he wanted to cry, too.

“What are you going to do with us?” he asked, trying to make his voice sound serious and brave.

The woman didn’t answer.

“I want my mum,” I whimpered.

Elliot continued trying to calm me. After a moment, he looked the woman dead in the eye, an expression of defiance on his face. When he spoke, his voice sounded much older. “Let my friend go,” he said. “I don’t care what you do to me. Just let her go. She doesn’t want to be here.”

The woman folded her arms across her chest and glared in reply, her face as grim and impenetrable as ever.

My sobs intensified. I believed now that we were going to die. This was it. We were Hansel and Gretel, about to be eaten by the witch.

“Let my friend go,” Elliot repeated. “I promise I’ll be good. I won’t scream or anything. I’ll do whatever you say. Just please … let her go.”

Abruptly, the woman made a violent stabbing gesture with her hand, and then she turned toward the driver. “Muzas gost!” she rasped. Her voice sounded unearthly.

The man hit the brakes and the van skidded to a halt. The woman continued muttering in a strange, foreign language as she wrenched me from Elliot, unbolted the back doors, and shoved me out onto the street.

The last image I had of my best friend was his sweet, tear-stained face, his tiny hand waving goodbye to me as the van doors closed.

I never saw Elliot Marsh again.

As I picked myself up, I saw that the snow had begun falling again. Huge, white flakes sifted down from a treacherous sky, like a terrible judgment from