The sound of screaming came from the direction Lachlan, Jen, and Sam had headed.
“God damn it,” said Mrs. Sharma.
She unsheathed her axes, heading in the direction of the screaming.
“I thought you said you weren’t going to help them,” said Angelina.
Mrs. Sharma shot an annoyed look over her shoulder before disappearing into the trees. Naomi, Chelsea, and Angelina jogged after her.
“What’s going on?” Naomi called ahead. “Are they okay?”
“I don’t know,” said Mrs. Sharma. “They’re not here anymore.”
Naomi’s chest tightened as she slowed her pace, coming to a stop behind Mrs. Sharma. Lachlan, Sam, and Jen weren’t behind the rock anymore.
“What do you mean they’re not here anymore?” said Angelina.
Mrs. Sharma gave her a very unimpressed look.
“I mean they were here, and now they’re not. That’s what ‘they’re not here anymore’ means.”
“Okay, well, where did they go?” said Angelina.
“How should I know?” said Mrs. Sharma.
“You shouldn’t.” Angelina pouted. “It was a rhetorical question.”
The tight feeling in Naomi’s chest grew as she stared at the empty spot where her friends had been standing just a few minutes ago. Well, technically only Lachlan was her friend. She barely knew Sam and Jen. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t terrified for them.
“Do you think something… something took them?” she said.
Mrs. Sharma held her axes at the ready, her whole body tense as she scanned their surroundings.
“Maybe. Or maybe they ran away from something. Either way, whatever danger they were screaming about could still be nearby. We should go back over to the snake guards. Whatever could have come after those three will be less likely to come after us if we’re next to a pair of large, intimidating creatures.”
So they were just going to stand there?
“So we’re not going to look for them?” said Naomi. “We can’t just do nothing! We have to help!”
Mrs. Sharma turned her unimpressed look on Naomi.
“I thought you were the only one here who actually used your brain, but I guess I was wrong. We’re not going to do nothing. We’ll try to find your friends once we can be reasonably sure the threat is over. But we won’t be any good to them dead.”
Naomi flinched under Mrs. Sharma’s gaze, but didn’t back down. Her friend and two other people were in immediate mortal danger, and that danger grew every second they were missing.
“No. I’m not just going to stand here and do nothing. Something just took my friend and two other people, and the longer we wait, the longer they could be hurt or… or…”
Her voice rose in panic as she spoke. Normally, that was something she’d be self-conscious about, but now she was too afraid to care.
“Quiet down!” said Mrs. Sharma. “Don’t yell. If you yell and act frightened, you could provoke an attack. Here’s what we need to do. Everyone move closer together. Stragglers are more likely to get picked off from the group.”