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"You need to cook a while longer to develop your flavor."

 

"Get off!" Zave yelled.

 

"Zave!" came Fey's worried voice. "Are you all right?"

 

It took Zave a minute to remember where he was. He, as well as Fey and all the others, were on the plane that Glenn had led them to. Even now they were more than five miles in the air, racing toward Utah and Skinwalker Ranch.

 

"Y- Yeah, I'm fine.,” he said. “Sorry, did I make a scene?"

 

"A little," Fey admitted, "but it's okay. It was just a bad dream, right?"

 

"Right," Zave whispered before turning to look out the window. Far, far below them, the earth was like a green and brown patchwork quilt. Farmland made squares and rectangles, while the occasional forests were huge, shapeless patches of green. Every now and then they would pass over a city, its whites and grays a stark contrast to the more natural colors that surrounded them.

 

"Have you ever been on an airplane?" he asked, turning to Glenn again.

 

The gray haired deer-walker shook his head.

 

Zave pointed toward the window. "You want to switch seats? Look outside for a—"

 

"All a view like that would do," Glenn cut him off softly, "is remind me of Skylar."

 

Zave's mouth snapped shut. Overwhelmed as everyone was by the deaths of the pack's youngest members, it was easy—disturbingly easy—to forget that they had lost one of their older members too. The hawk-walker had perished before Zave had even arrived to save Fey and the others from the wendigo horde.

 

A low rumble reached Zave's ears, just barely louder than the distant roar of the plane's engines, and he looked outside to see a line of dark clouds on the horizon. Lightning flashed deep inside them, followed by quiet claps of thunder.

 

"It looks like it's coming straight for us," Fey said, peering nervously out her own window. "And fast."

 

"Did the forecast say anything about storms today?" Zave asked, shuffling uncomfortably in his seat.

 

Fey snorted. "How would I know? There aren't any weather channels in the woods, Zave."

 

Zave's face burned with embarrassment, but it wasn't enough to banish the growing feeling of dread in his stomach.

 

"That day back home," he said quietly, eyeing the goat-walker behind him, "there was a huge storm just before the…you-know-whats appeared. Do you think—"

 

Before he could finish, a gust of wind slammed into the side of the plane, and the entire thing wobbled back and forth a little. A few people muttered worriedly, but it quickly righted itself.

 

"Unless they learned how to grow wings when we weren't looking," said Fey, "I don't think we need to worry."

 

By now the sky outside the plane had gone almost completely dark. It was still bright inside the plane, but Zave couldn't help but wring his hands as he stared out the window. Raindrops battered the window like tiny bullets, and lightning would flash every few seconds, revealing the churning, roiling sea of clouds surrounding them. By now the thunder was coming at the same time as the lightning, and each clap was deafening.

 

"How do we know they didn't grow wings?" he asked, his heart in his throat.

 

"Zave," Glenn said calmly, "sometimes a storm is just a—

 

"Attention passengers," a disembodied voice interrupted, "this is your captain speaking. We've run into some unexpected weather, but things are going to be just…"

 

His voice trailed off, and for a few seconds everything was silent except for the crash of thunder and the patter of rain.

 

"What in the world is THAT?" the captain exclaimed.

 

Then there was a BANG even louder than the thunder, and the entire plane lurched to the side.

Be Here When

Skinwalkers: Distant Thunder

Debuts On 11/02/24!

Or...

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