Jaime Thatcher was not scared of anything.

At least, that was what she wanted everyone else to believe, and what she strove to make true. It was the one thing she could take pride in, the one thing that she had ever heard an adult say about her with admiration in their tone.

"That Jaime is fearless," she had heard Ms. Henson from church say to Destiny's mother, after Jaime had jumped out of the playground's tallest tree and broken her arm without even crying. "I don't think she cares at all what could happen to hurt her, she just takes off!"

Jaime's mother too often shook her head and scolded at Jaime's more reckless actions, but Jaime had heard her talk about her bravery with pride just as much as with exasperation.

"Liam is my anxious child," Jaime's mother, Stacy Thatcher, had said several times, in reference to Jaime's five-year-old brother. "He still fights not to sleep in his own bed, more nights than not. He won't even sleep over at his cousin's house without getting scared, and his first day of kindergarten I thought he'd tear my pants leg trying to hang on to me. But Jaime? Nothing to seems phase her at all."

It was a rare thing for Jaime to hear a comparison to her little brother where she came out in the more positive light. More often than not, she heard far too much about how cute and sweet Liam was, about his curly blond hair, big brown eyes, and wide, gap-toothed smile. Even his lisp was gushed over as further evidence of his charm. Eight-year-old Jaime was often ignored entirely, even when she stood by Liam's side, as too old, too "sassy," as her mother called it, and too independent to merit much more than a polite smile. Third grade girls who were tall and skinny, with boring brown hair and grown-up teeth just didn't attract much notice.

Being the brave one was how Jaime stood out. And so she made it her business to show all the bravery she could conjure, just to make certain it was noticed.

She was the first to raise her hand and share her opinion, whether this was in school, in Bible study, or even at a boring adult dinner party. She always volunteered to be the assistant in assemblies, even if she didn't know exactly what she was supposed to do, and she never turned down any dare thrown her way. She swung the highest on the swings, sang the loudest in music class, and never hesitated to correct an adult she found to be wrong. Jaime was the girl who watched the goriest horror movies without closing her eyes, who read every Goosebumps book in the school library and boasted that they were stupid, not scary at all. She rode every rollercoaster at the fair and never failed to pick the scariest costume she could find to wear on Halloween.

And she wasn't above coming up with ways to scare others. It always gave her a huge thrill to see the shock and fear on people's faces when she jumped out and startled them, or when she hid a rubber snake or rat in their belongings and got to hear them scream. It gave her a sense of power to tell ghost stories and watch her friends twitch and glance around themselves, even as they denied believing her at all. And when she could scare a grown up, Jaime felt that she was the smartest and bravest person in the world.

Jaime Thatcher could handle anything. That was what she told herself, and she was pretty sure that everyone else believed it too.

But in the fall of Jaime's third grade year, something changed.


"Jaime, go call for Nala," Stacy Thatcher directed her daughter from over her shoulder.

She was standing at the kitchen counter, somewhat lethargically loading the dishwasher with the family's used cups and plates from the evening meal. When Jaime pretended not to hear her, eyes glued to the TV, Stacy signed, straightening up to turn more fully towards her. She was still a young woman, not quite thirty, but her face was already beginning to show lines of stress in her forehead and at the corner of her eyes.

"Jaime Hope, I'm speaking to you. Go outside and call for the cat, you know she needs to come in for the night."

Jaime echoed her mother's sigh, much more loudly and dramatically. Lolling her head to the side, she tried to reason with her.

"But Mom, I just started watching this, and anyway I set the table and I had to help you with laundry, and Liam hasn't done anything! How come Liam can't get Nala?"

"No, Mama, no!" Liam protested, his eyes widening with his alarm as he swiveled his head to look at his mother anxiously. "I don't wanna go out there, it's dark out!"

"You are such a baby," Jaime huffed, rolling her eyes and sticking out a mocking chin towards her brother. "Fraidy cat, fraidy cat!"

"Mama! She's calling me names!" Liam was quick to point out, as though Stacy could not hear this for herself.

"Yeah, well now you're a tattletale too," Jaime muttered, not quite softly enough for Liam not to hear.

"Mama! Now she called me a tattletale!"

"I don't want to hear another word out of either of you!" Chad Thatcher spoke with firmness, his voice overriding any retaliating words that Jaime might have come up with. "Jaime, your mother asked you to do something and you are not to argue. Do it, and do it now. You both could do a lot more to help out around here. Liam, go get ready for your bath."

Liam got up obediently, throwing another injured look in his sister's direction, and began to trudge towards the bathroom. Jaime got to her feet more slowly, her eyes slitted with resentment. Liam got away with everything, just because he was younger. It didn't seem fair to her at all.

Still, this was hardly a surprise to her. Her routine at home was nearly unchanging from day to day, even when she made efforts to shake it up. In the mornings she and Liam had to get up early, get ready for school, and get themselves onto the bus, and they were supposed to be quick about it and not complain. She was supposed to behave at school, and then once she was dropped off at daycare, she was supposed to do her homework and behave there too. After daycare, once her parents were off work, they were supposed to do chores, eat dinner, take baths, and go to bed. Until weekends, there wasn't much time to play or do anything Jaime thought of as fun, and her parents were usually too tired and irritable to want to talk much with her or Liam, let alone play games or read bedtime stories.

"We're your parents, not your playmates," Jaime heard far more than she wanted to. "That's what your brother and your friends are for."

Some playmate Liam was. All he ever wanted to do was play with his stupid trucks and action figures, and he cried over any dumb little thing. And he got away with it too.

"I think you're old enough to deal with this for yourself," her parents would sigh, whenever Jaime attempted to tell on Liam for hitting her or messing with her things. "This isn't important, Jaime, I have better things to do than play referee to you two."

She had watched over the years as Liam voiced his fears of the dark and monsters under his bed or in his closet, as he hid his eyes from scary movie commercials and fretted over "bad guys" coming to get him in the night. She scoffed at his fear of strange dogs and big kids on the playground, of the possibility of robbers or being hit by lightning or a hurricane. He was such a baby that he cried when he had nightmares and sometimes even wet the bed, even though he was in kindergarten now. Even their parents rolled their eyes and told Liam that he was old enough to be getting past those little-kid kind of things, and Jaime totally agreed with them.

She was never, ever going to let herself be like Liam. She was never going to watch her mom and dad look at her like she was just a baby, like she wasn't any better than dumb old Liam. So she didn't tell her parents if one of the scary movies she had watched gave her nightmares, even if it really did feel real still when she woke up. She didn't ask for help with homework or putting on jewelry or fixing her hair, even if sometimes her ponytails came out messy or she got marked for wrong answers later on tests. She didn't tell them if she was fighting with her friends or if her teacher didn't like her. Jaime Thatcher could handle anything, and she could do it by herself. She was different than Liam, and even all her friends. She was brave.

So as Jaime made her way reluctantly to the front door, she didn't voice the unease she felt at exposing herself, alone, to the darkness outside. She knew it wasn't very likely that anything really scary would be outside, and even if it was, the door was unlocked and partly open, close enough she could run inside and lock it if she had to. Still, her house was set back a good ways from the street, and her front yard hosted many trees and bushes that cast shadows across the lawn. It was difficult to see, even more so with the bright light of the porch shining out, and it made Jaime just a little nervous to go out on her own.

"Nala?" she called, one hand firmly on the door as she poked her head out, most of her body still within the safety of the living room. "Nala, Nala, come on in!"

"Jaime, shut the door," Stacy admonished, shaking her head towards her daughter. "You're letting in bugs."

Reluctantly, Jaime stepped fully out onto the porch and shut the door behind her. Taking a tentative step forward, she called again for her cat, waiting for her to decide whether or not to come to her. Her eyes darted, not to look for the cat, but to make sure she was aware of everything going on around her. She didn't want to miss anything that she might need to see or hear.

Still, her alert state did little to set her at ease. She didn't like the noisiness of the calling birds and croaking insects in the distance, the rustling of leaves in the wind or the snapping of twigs from too far away to be able to guess what it was stepping on them. It was obvious there were things out there that she could not see, creatures or maybe even people that may or may not be harmless and friendly.

Stupid cat. Why did her mother make her go call for her, when she knew Nala only came if she felt like it?

Jaime took another step forward, craning her neck to look for the bright glow of Nala's eyes in the distance. Only the occasional flare of fireflies could be seen.

Perhaps a minute passed before she saw it. A quick flicker of movement, brief but undeniable, casting a distinct shadow against the trunk of the oak tree at the edge of the lawn.

The tree was tall, thick, and very old, standing over twenty feet tall and possessing branches strong and spread out enough to hold two wooden swings and a tire swing too for her and Liam to share. The shadow appeared just behind the tire swing, tall, broad, and very dark, and when it moved again ever so slightly, Jaime's heart beat a rapid tattoo in her chest.

The shadow was too large to be an animal, and it was certainly too large to be a cat or even a dog. It was as tall as a grown man, and seemed to be of a similar shape as a human too. But although Jaime strained her eyes anxiously, desperate to make out whatever it was that could be casting such an ominous shadow, it seemed to shift closer, as though it were making its way near her, inch by inch.

A jolt of fear shocking through her system, Jaime turned on her heels, fumbling for the doorknob and slamming the door shut behind her. At the startled glances of her family, she swallowed, attempting to arrange her features into nonchalant calm.

"Nala isn't coming," she said, avoiding her parents' eyes. "I guess she's not getting dinner tonight."

There wasn't really anything out there, she told herself as she hurried down the hall towards her bedroom, getting out her pajamas and hastening into them, though it wasn't yet time to get ready for bed. She hadn't really seen anything but some kind of shadow. If there had been an actual person, she would have seen them, or they would have said something. There hadn't been anything out there at all.

Still, as she stood in the bathroom, brushing her teeth and washing her face to prepare for bed, she thought for just a moment that she had seen a face, eyes and forehead only, peering up at her through the window. But when Jaime gasped, rushing over to give a more thorough look, whoever she had thought to be looking at her wasn't there at all.

She didn't believe in ghosts or spirits. Those were just a dumb idea that she told other people about to watch them get scared. But what was going on, then, that was making her start to get kind of scared herself?


Jaime let Liam into bed with her that night. Normally, she would have grumbled and complained before giving in to him, making it plain to him that she thought his request was silly and babyish. He always hogged the covers and sometimes he kicked, and she definitely didn't like it if he peed the bed. But this time Jaime didn't really mind that Liam wanted to sleep with her. Actually she was kind of glad he had asked. She wasn't so sure she liked the thought of sleeping on her own, at least tonight.

It took her some time to fall asleep, and it wasn't just because Liam was sucking on his fingers and making weird slurping noises in his sleep. Every time she closed her eyes, she remembered the dark, not quite clear face she thought she saw in the bathroom window, the large, creepy shadow she had seen against the oak tree. She could not relax; she could not shake the feeling that something, someone, was still watching her, even now. Yet every time she opened her eyes, searching the room and the window for any confirmation of this, there was nothing for her to see.

Still, even after Jaime managed to drift into a light, disrupted sleep, she hadn't fully forgotten her disquiet. She didn't believe that she had seen anything; her own eyes had proved this couldn't be possible. But that didn't make the stupid feelings contradicting this disappear.


The next day was a Saturday, a day that Jaime normally enjoyed, as it meant that with no school or homework to do, she was free to carry out most of the day as she chose. Normally this meant playing with her mother's tablet or computer, if Stacy would let her, setting up elaborate scenes with her dollhouse, or attempting to persuade Liam into acting out the dramatic imaginative fantasies she came up with alongside her. Sometimes, if Stacy or Chad were in especially good moods, they might take her and Liam out to a matinee or for a meal, or even to a playground.

But this wasn't a Saturday that was going well for Jaime. It was a bright, sunny day, warm enough that Jaime itched to be outside for as long as her parents would permit. But Stacy had dashed those hopes before Jaime had even finished eating her cereal.

"Hurry up with brushing your teeth and getting dressed," she instructed, and Jaime noticed that her mother was already dressed and in the process of drying her hair with a towel. "We're doing errands today."

Errands. That was one of the words that Jaime hated, because it inevitably meant she was in for a long, boring day of being dragged to the post office, grocery store, or worst of all, clothes stores. She would be expected not to ask Stacy to buy her anything, and she would hardly have any time at all to be home playing.

Her mouth turning downward, Jaime attempted to negotiate. "Mom, I don't want to do errands. Can't I stay home with Dad?"

"Your father left to go fishing over an hour ago," Stacy replied. "And don't even ask about staying home alone, it's not happening."

"I'm old enough," Jaime asserted, hearing the whine in her voice but unable to change her tone. "I'll be good, I promise. I won't let anyone in and I won't break things and I'll even clean my room up. Please let me stay home, please?"

"Go brush your teeth, Jaime," Stacy didn't even bother to answer, already walking down the hall towards her and Chad's bedroom. "And put your bowl in the dishwasher."

Jaime stalked to the dishwasher as loudly and dramatically as she could manage, but this went unnoticed by her mother, or at least was not commented on. Liam, already having finished his breakfast, watched her from the table.

"I like errands," he announced. "I think they're fun."

Jaime glowered in his direction, further irritated by what she saw as his efforts to suck up. It didn't seem possible for anyone, even her mother, to like errands. Her brother was obviously not normal.

Her mood sank lower still when Stacy pulled her station wagon into the parking lot of Hall's, a bargain store outlet that Jaime disliked even more than the grocery store. Her mother could spend hours browsing through candles and sheets and dented food boxes, and there was nothing Jaime liked to look at there at all. Even the toys were so junky they fell apart quickly or were just too babyish for Jaime to care about. Liam didn't care if his toys only lasted twenty minutes, but Jaime had higher standards. She was in the third grade now, after all; she only had a year or two left of being able to play with toys before everyone would make fun of her for it.

"Mom, I don't want to go in here," she groaned, putting on her very best pleading expression and widening her eyes. "Please mom, please, don't make me go in here, please, please!"

Having already been bombarded with Jaime's complaints both in the house and in the car, Stacy Thatcher had had enough. Jaime had counted on this.

"Fine!" she snapped, her voice carrying a bite that nevertheless pleased Jaime, because it usually meant that she was about to get her way. "Don't go in, then. But don't expect me to leave you in the car so you can run down the gas. You're going to sit right there on the bench outside of here, and you're not going to move your butt off of it until your brother and I come out. I mean it, Jaime. I don't want you coming in here saying one word about being bored or hot or having to use the bathroom. You don't want to come in, you sit your butt there and be quiet about it."

Well, this wasn't exactly the outcome Jaime had hoped for, but it was better than nothing, she guessed. Not wanting to push Stacy much further, she sat down as she had been told, watching her mother and brother disappear behind Hall's automatically opening doors.

It wasn't very exciting, sitting alone outside. Still, at least she didn't have to stay by her mother and Liam. People might look at her, sitting out there alone, and think she was old enough that she was here all by herself, without needing a mother taking her anywhere. They might think she was a teenager, even.

Liking the thought of this, Jaime kicked her heels with some spirit, holding up her knees a little so she could swing her feet freely beneath the bench. She let her mind drift, coming up with new ideas for acting out with her dolls or with Liam when they had the time, and watched the squirrels and birds that came into view. By the time she had named every one of them and tried in vain to call them closer, she was already bored and tired of even her own company.

Maybe she shouldn't have stayed outside after all. But Jaime wasn't about to admit that to anyone. She was just going to have to think of more ways to entertain herself.

She looked around herself, letting out a loud sigh. The shopping outlet that Stacy had chosen was small and somewhat remote, located in a row of buildings that were mostly vacant or closed for the weekend. Few people had entered or exited Hall's, and Jaime hadn't noticed anyone venturing towards the other shops at all. She thought about getting up and checking to see if any one of them were open and more interesting than stupid old Hall's. But if Stacy and Liam came out and saw that Jaime was gone, she would be in trouble. Jaime didn't want to make her day any worse.

Perhaps ten minutes had passed before Jaime first heard the barking. Sitting straighter, she perked up, her interest peaked. Jaime loved dogs; she loved all animals, really. She only had her cat Nala at home, but she had always hoped that her parents would change their minds about dogs being too much work to have as a pet too.

She looked around, but she couldn't see a dog in the parking lot, across the road, or near the other empty shops. It was strange, because when the dog barked again, Jaime was sure that it sounded close by. Maybe it was behind the stores?

Stacy had made it clear that she expected Jaime to sit on the bench, where she had left her. But it hadn't been that long since her mother and Liam went into Hall's, and Jaime was sure that they would be a while longer in there yet. If she could find the dog and see if it was okay, maybe pet it a while, if it was friendly, she could be back on the bench without them ever knowing she had left.

Deciding this as her course of action, Jaime stood up, listening intently for another noise from the unseen dog. A bark obliged her a few moments later, and she tilted her head towards the noise's direction, beginning to walk forward slowly. The barking seemed louder to her now, more frequent, and she began to feel concern for the dog causing it. Maybe it was lost, or even hurt. Could it have a nail in its paw or something? Maybe Jaime could save it. She could be a real hero, if she could actually save a dog's life. Maybe her mother would even let her keep it.

Forgetting her initial intention not to let Stacy know she had left the bench, Jaime quickened her pace, now calling out to the dog she was searching for. "Here boy, here pup pup pup! Here boy, where are you?"

She scanned down the row of empty shops, seeing nothing that indicated a dog, not so much as a flicker of movement in the corner of her eye. Yet she could still hear the barking, closer than ever. Close enough that Jaime knew the dog must be very near her now, near enough she should see. But where was he then?

"Where are you?" she called out in exasperation, rolling her eyes forward. "I don't see you anywhere!"

With the dog's next bark, Jaime frowned, perplexed. It still seemed to her ears that the dog was very close to her…but this time, she thought that the barking was coming from above her. But how could a dog be up higher than she was? There weren't any mountains, hills, or even stairs nearby.

Slowly she lifted her head, scanning the darkened and sometimes broken windows of the upper levels of the deserted shops. When she turned slowly, still searching out the unseen dog's location, she locked eyes not with a dog, but with the haggard, grinning face of an old man.

Every muscle in Jaime's body went rigid with shock and fear; she could not have spoken or moved if she had tried. Her heart lurched into her throat, and she could not bring herself to look away from the dark triumph of the man's leer.

As she stared, frozen, the man's grin stretched until it resembled more of a grimace or the beginnings of a soundless howl. Then he pursed his lips together, took a deep breath, and threw back his head, letting out the imitation of barking that Jaime had heard before. Three barks, louder and more aggressive than before, concluded with a howl very close to that of a wolf.

Jaime's inability to move was dashed with the viciousness of this howl, and she stumbled backwards, tripping but keeping herself from actually falling in her haste to flee. The man's fierce barks echoed after her as she pumped her arms, desperate to move from his sight or hearing range. Any thoughts of her mother's admonishment to her was long forgotten as she burst into the store, frantically rushing down each aisle in search of her.

She accepted her mother's scolding without hearing or quite responding to it, still breathing hard, her heart not yet returning to a normal tempo in her chest. Never again would she make the choice to sit outside alone, whether it was day or night.

That was what she told herself for the first ten minutes she remained glued to her mother and Liam's side. But by the time her irritable mother had loaded the children back into the car, Jaime had calmed down, the experience just far enough in the past for her to process it with less emotion.

It was just some crazy old man, and she'd probably never see or hear him again. There wasn't really anything to be afraid of. There wasn't any reason to tell anyone about it. After all, Jaime Thatcher had a reputation, and she couldn't let someone else know she had been scared.


It took Jaime quite some time to fall asleep the night that she had seen the barking man. She couldn't stop wondering to herself what kind of person would pretend to be a dog, even when he couldn't see that there was anyone who was around to hear him. Was he crazy? Did he really think that he was a dog? How had he gotten into the empty building anyway, all the way up to the top floor?

This had been enough to occupy her thoughts as it was, but then another, even more scary thought had occurred to her. What if the man had known there was someone around after all to hear him…what if he had known that Jaime was around? What if he could see her on the bench from the second floor of the building, or if he had actually been somehow following her and watching her and her family go into Hall's? What if he had decided to try to call her away from the bench as soon as he saw her sit down?

It wasn't very likely, and even Jaime knew that. He couldn't have known that she liked dogs, or that she would decide to look for the apparent dog she heard. He couldn't know how long her mother would be gone or that Jaime wouldn't decide to go in after her, or even back to the car.

But it was just scary enough of a thought to keep Jaime awake far into the night and even into the early hours of the morning. And when she finally drifted off to sleep, she thought that she had heard the very soft, gruff noise of a dog's grunting woof.

It was not quite morning when Jaime stirred awake. She was not sure what had aroused her; she still felt heavy and clouded with grogginess, and her eyelids stuck together with sleep when she tried to open her eyes. Her bedroom was dark, barely disturbed even by shadows on the walls, and when she managed to look outside her window, Jaime saw that morning light had not yet begun to stretch across the sky.

She could not remember dreaming, and yet she was certain that something had awakened her. Something pressing, something grounded in reality rather than dreams.

She stretched her legs beneath her blankets, realizing that most of her sheets had tangled at the bottom of her bed. She had nearly convinced herself to relax back into sleep when she heard it. A low, menacing bark…not in the distance, from a neighbor's yard or the woods several blocks away, but from somewhere very close to her. Maybe, just maybe, as close as her own bedroom.

Jaime stilled, chest drawing tight and pained with tension. Immediately her thoughts jumped past considering a genuine dog as the source of the barking, right to latching onto her memory of the man in the shop window.

But that was silly. That was ridiculous, it was not possible. The man could not know where she lived. He could not know which bedroom was hers, and he certainly could not get through locked doors and closed windows, into her home and her very own bedroom, without anyone knowing or seeing. This could not be happening. It could not be anything more than Jaime's imagination, perhaps the remnants of a dream. And Jaime Thatcher was not scared of any stupid dream.

Letting out her breath, she determinedly lay her head back down on her pillow, telling herself to close her eyes. But the moment she was able to make herself follow her own self instructions, the bark came forth again. This time it was louder, closer, and much more menacing.

Again Jaime's eyes snapped open, a scream freezing in her throat. For several moments she considered bolting for her bedroom door, running pell-mell down the hallway and bursting through her parents' bedroom door. For the first time in her life, she considered giving sway to fear and letting someone else, someone bigger and stronger and older, finally deal with the source of her fear.

For Jaime was struggling now to convince even herself that she was not afraid.

It wasn't pride that drove her to place first one foot, then the other slowly to the floor beside her bed, bringing herself to a standing position. Nor was it false bravery, or even the need to find out for herself whether the barking she had heard truly was occurring. Jaime walked to her closet door not from any emotion or inner convincing, but rather because dealing with her problems and her anxieties on her own had become a habit so firmly ingrained that she could not truly redirect herself to another reaction or choice.

Jaime bit the inside of her cheeks hard enough to sting as she eased open the closet door, thrusting out her hand to blindly feel the space behind her clothing. There was nothing unexpected there, nor did her kicking foot find anything crouched among her shoes. She then checked behind her dresser, inside her crowded toy box, and even under her desk. There was nothing unexpected, nor could she see anything or anyone when she checked apprehensively outside her window. Struck with the suspicion that her parents or even Liam could be teasing her from outside her bedroom door, Jaime cracked it open, finding nothing but the glow of the hallway nightlight visible outside.

So it had all been imagined, after all. There was nothing. Was it possible that even the man she had seen inside the store, and all the barking she had heard then, had not been real at all? Could it all have been nothing more than a very real daydream? Could she be truly going crazy?

Jaime had never met anyone who was crazy. From TV and movies, she had only the most vague of ideas as to what could happen or what this might mean, but if she was starting to hear or see things that weren't real, it seemed to her that this might be one of the first signs.

Maybe it was time for her to talk to her parents after all. Or maybe Jaime could just ignore it, if anything else happened. Maybe if she tried hard enough, it would go away.

It didn't occur to her until she started back towards her bed, intending on climbing back in for what remaining sleep she could scrounge up, that there was one place she had not checked. Her bedspread was long and oversized, easily covering the space beneath and overlapping to the floor. Her bed did not lift far off the ground, but it did have just enough room under for a small man to be able to fit.

Jaime hesitated, silently debating. If she looked under the bed now, she would know once and for all that her room was safe.

Still, it took her several more moments of steeling her will before she could walk forward and grasp the blanket's edge. Even then she had to remind herself that she, Jaime Thatcher, was fearless, and how hard everyone would laugh at her if they knew that she was scared to look for a man who probably didn't even exist, a man that was so silly and stupid he liked to bark like a dog.

She didn't have time to lift the blanket fully before the hairy adult hand shot out, grabbing her by the ankle hard enough for Jaime to stumble backwards, falling hard onto her back. As she struggled to take in enough air to breathe, let alone to cry out, the man from the shopping complex slithered, snake-like, from beneath her bed, covering her small body with his own.

The last thing Jaime saw in her eight short years alive was the white expanse of her pillow coming down, covering her face, mouth, and nose until all she could breathe in was the softness of its fabric. The last noise she heard was the quiet, growling barks the man uttered near her ear…and in the last moments of her life, the girl who felt no fear was terrified.

The end