Young Family (Chapter 7, page 1 of 17)

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Chapter 7

Samantha had only walked the path to the beach a few times in the last five years. The first time she and Prudence had gone down to verify the boat was indeed there. They had looked around for anything to salvage, but they hadn't turned up anything. The other times she had come down to the beach by herself to make sure the boat was still there.

The path looked a lot different at night. The trees took on a menacing quality, the branches like clawed hands reaching out to grab her. An owl hooted as it searched the forest for prey. Samantha hoped that didn't include her. She squealed like one of the toddlers when something rattled the brush to her right. She held up the lantern, but didn't see anything.

"It's just the wind," she told herself. Or a squirrel or chipmunk or something harmless like that. There were plenty of those on Eternity. But her mind conjured pictures of bears twice her size, huge black monsters with razor-sharp claws and teeth.

"I'm a big girl," she said. "I'm not scared of the dark."

She remembered the first few nights after Reverend Crane and Pryde had died. Samantha had been only six years old, not much removed from a toddler. Though she had slept in the dormitory for quite a few days already, the room became completely foreign to her at night. Every noise prompted her to hug her dolly and whimper. She had finally gone into the adjoining room where Miss Brigham slept.

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