A line of dirt clung to the blood on Ember’s face. Looking up through dense pine branches, the moon was almost overhead, only minutes remained until midnight. The hunters would quit trying to kill him then, but he needed to hide until the final gong from the mansion tower bell. After that, he could find an escape, somehow. One thing at a time, and surviving was first. Sixteen was too young to die. Every ounce of terror drained from his tired muscles over the past two days; now there was only a determination to survive. He knew another of the monsters might appear any minute, but he couldn’t dredge enough feeling to worry about what might happen in several moments. He worried about what was happening now. Any second he was going to pass out and leave himself exposed, with only a mile of forest separating him from the main house. Already, he only had the strength to crawl. His arms shuddered as if each might stop functioning. Ember pressed against the short grass again, avoiding the broken fingers swelling on his right hand.