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Then she came around a bend in the path and saw the lightning-struck tree blocking her course. There was no time to swerve, and if she tried to put on the brakes she would succeed only in being impaled on one or more of the tree’s dead, jutting branches. Even if she avoided that, there was Norman. She had gotten ahead of him a little, but if she stopped, even for a moment, he would be on her like a dog on a rabbit.

All this went through her mind in an instant. Then, screaming-perhaps in terror, perhaps in defiance, probably in both-she leaped forward with her hands out in front of her like Supergirl, going over the tree and landing on her left shoulder. She did a somersault, sprang dizzily up, and saw Norman staring at her over the fallen trunk. His hands were clutched on the fire-blackened stubs of two branches, and he was panting harshly. The breeze puffed and she could smell something besides sweat and English Leather coming^ from him.

He hurried down to the stream, trampling the delicate prints of Rose’s feet beneath Hump Peterson’s square-toed boots, reaching the edge of the running water just as Rosie gained the top of the other bank. She stood there for a moment, looking back, and this time it was clearly him she was looking at. Then she did something that brought him to a dead halt, momentarily too amazed to move.

Norman wrinkled his lips back from his teeth, making a grisly expression that wasn’t a grin, and put one of Hump’s boots on the first white stone. The moon sailed behind a cloud as he did. When it came out again, it caught Norman halfway across the little stream. He looked down at the water, at first just curious, then fascinated and horrified. The moonlight penetrated the water no more than it would have penetrated a flowing stream of mud, but that wasn’t what took the breath out of him and brought him to a stop. The moon reflected up at him in that black water wasn’t the moon at all. It was a bleached and grinning human skull.

She swung with her left hand, not thinking of how much it was going to hurt to drive her fist into the face of a marble statue . . . and it did not, in fact, hurt at all. It was like hitting something spongy and rotten with a battering ram. She caught just a momentary glimpse of a new expression-astonishment replacing lust-and then the thing’s smirking face shattered into a hundred dough-colored fragments. The heavy, pinching pressure of …….


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