EXCERPT from Jessica West's "Friendship is Forever"

By the time the food was ready, all was quiet upstairs. They drew lots to determine who’d go fetch firewood and who’d have to go wake the dragon. David, at least, would want to eat. Naturally, Kait drew the short stick.

The three others scattered, gathering sticks and kindling for the fire pit. Kait crept up the ladder. Hopefully Tasha was a heavy sleeper and she could get the hell out of there with just David behind her.

Kait quietly made her way up into the bunkroom. She found David and Tasha in the lower bunk against the westward-facing wall. She was still on top of him with his arms wrapped around her, both of them snoring lightly. She almost left, had decided to just let them sleep, when an odd pulling sensation rooted her to the spot.

Maybe pulling wasn’t the right word. It felt like something was pouring into her from above. Like she was an empty plastic bottle someone was holding under a faucet, filling her up. She felt pressure on her head and lead in her feet.

Staring at her immovable legs, Kait raised her arms away from her body and tried twisting this way and that. Within seconds, she couldn’t even do that. The lead moved up into her torso until her arms fell heavily at her sides. She took a deep breath to scream, but it was too late. She was filled to the top and completely unable to control her body at all.

And yet, somehow, she was moving. Not falling, as she thought she should be, but walking forward. Toward the sleeping couple. Gently, slowly, she lifted Stacy’s head. Carefully, she placed one hand on Stacy’s shoulder, holding it firmly still. With her other, she got a good grip on the girl’s face, then gave it a sharp twist.

The girl’s body, already relaxed, simply stopped moving.

Kaitlyn returned to the ladder and crept down. Quietly. Calmly. As though nothing had happened.

Inside, though, she was screaming.

Kait watched as her body moved to the sink. Whatever was controlling her stilled. Slowly, the feeling of lead in her body dissipated, starting at the top of her head. It felt like a weight was literally being lifted off of her. Not off of her, out of her.

Even though she could move again, Kait remained stone still for a few moments, wondering what she should do. The right thing to do would be to tell the others what had happened as soon as they got back.

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