Darren's head jolted back in utter fear. A hoarse croak, intended to be a scream, escaped his trembling lips.
"Shhh. It's me."
Mortie! Darren felt like collapsing with the sudden rush of relief.
"Have I ever felt more glad to see you," Kat smiled. "We've got a bunch of Spooks on our heels, in case you don't know."
Amelia stepped out from behind Mortie. "Would that explain those footsteps?"
Darren, still rather out of breath, nodded.
Then to his horror, a silhouetted form came into focus down the shaft. With the methodical steps of a hunter approaching its prey, it half-lumbered and half-glided to them, never once letting up on the haunting thud thud thud.
Darren turned to Mortie, who had a stern look on his face. "Now this is going to be difficult. Let's see if we can talk things out."
And he turned back towards the approaching Spook.
"Mortie!" yelled Kat. "Are you mad?"
But it was too late. Mortie was already face-to-face with the Spook.
"Anything seems to be the problem?"
"I suppose those two are in your charge."
"All three of them." He beckoned to Darren, Kat, and Amelia.
"I am putting them under arrest for suspicious behaviour."
"Hah!" Mortie laughed. "Since when did 'suspicious behaviour' become a crime?"
The Spook drew its face so close to Mortie's they almost touched. "You wisecrack like that one more time and I'll have you arrested as well."
"Hey, hey, lighten up. No offense. But anyway, we're due to report back in ten minutes. Can I send you these two for interrogation later tonight? Just leave me your station address."
"No. They're coming with me right now."
"I told you, they can't. We have to report back immediately."
"I'll explain it to your officer. Bring those two to me."
"For the last itme, they're not coming with you - and that's it."
The Spook turned a scorching shade of crimson. "There's something about you four I don't like." It rasped. "You're up to no good, and I know it. I'm going to call the rest here."
A gaping hole opened in the middle of its face, forming a mouth.
"Wait!" Mortie called. "Before you do that, I have something to show you."
He fished some sort of triangular object, gleaming with an enchanting emerald glow, out from his pocket.
Before they even had time to react, the Spook howled shrilly.