When Natie found herself lucid again, she was somewhere. Somewhere more familiar, yet not familiar at all. There was the river, but it couldn’t be the river, because it was going in a completely different direction. It couldn’t be her river, because the water was so clear she could see to the bottom.
But it was all the right size. She wasn’t looking at it from a distance and barely able to take it all in.
There were no Hands. There was no backpack either, but Natie didn’t remember if she had had it on when she had been pulled out.
Shaking, she eventually managed to get out of the tree. She climbed halfway down before she fell. Rolling onto her back, Natie wheezed for breath like her father after chasing her around the house as he used to. When she got to her feet, she stumbled away, not certain where she was, where her home might be. How long she had been gone.
She did not see the Hands.