Agartha's Castaway - Book 7 HTML version

My brilliant editor, Autumn J. Conley.
Chapter 1
With one hand, Casey’s fingers instinctively closed around the metal grip on her weapon as
a low, throaty growl sounded to the left. She held her breath, and the flashlight in her other hand
wavered. She thought maybe it was a guard dog and immediately scolded herself for going along
with the dumb idea of going inside the warm kitchen to wait for Thorn. “Where the heck is the
light switch?” But she wasn’t about to stick around to find it. It was time to head right back into
the winter wonderland, pronto. Sprinting out of the kitchen, she felt a wave of fear wash over
her. “What was that?”
Jack cringed and glanced over. “Nothing friendly.” He aimed his gun toward the kitchen and
peered at her from the corner of his eye.
The deep growl came louder, followed by the sound of breaking glass. Casey thrust her
flashlight deep into her pocket. She focused, gun drawn, her feet frozen, anchored to the ground.
Whatever was there, she’d shoot first, then ask questions later.
The kitchen door burst open, and a four- legged creature with a powerful body and bushy tail
strolled forward, growling. To make matters worse, the thing was turquoise, freaking turquoise!
“Oh man!” Casey swallowed hard past the lump in her throat as she regarded the animal.
With its pointed snout, long, thick, weirdly colored fur, and pointed ears, it resembled a wolf, but
it was closer to the size of a lion. Goosebumps crawled up her arms. In the end, whatever it was
didn’t matter, because a predator would do what a predator always does: hunt, pounce, and eat.
Mike and Jack bumped into her, and she grabbed their arms tight. The wolf shook its head,
shimmering fur rippling over its shoulders and body like turquoise water. It had ice-blue eyes,
like a white tiger, giant paws like a bear, sharp claws like an eagle, and razor-sharp teeth like a
hyena. The animal was frightening, yet it was the most beautiful creature she’d ever laid eyes on.
“Is it real?” whispered Mike.
Casey recoiled. “I think so, because last time I checked, holograms can’t crash through
doors.” She searched the room for an exit, but all she could see were towering icebergs and large
sheets of floating ice. Seals continued to bark, penguins waddled, and whales spouted water. It
would have all been quite serene and relaxing, if a wild animal wasn’t about to tear her apart.
She shivered, but the trembling didn’t come from the cold winter wind blowing across the arctic
land. “No way out except where we came in.”
“Walk over there…slowly.” Jack inclined his head, motioning to his right.
“The door we came through is gone!” said Mike. “Where is it?”
He was about to panic, but she couldn’t let him. If the animal was anything like a wolf, it
would smell his fear and attack, considering him easy prey. Glancing in every direction, she spun
in a slow circle, whispering, “We’ll figure something out.”
“How?” asked Mike.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. The room’s changed so much.” Her gaze fell on a dark
shadow on the opposite wall. It was large, almost as high as the ceiling, yet inconspicuous
behind the glaring light. Her gaze wandered from the animal to the dark shadow in the distance.