For an awfully long moment she stared at him, trying to decide if he was telling the truth. Then she clapped her hands together. "Okay, everybody out into the hall. Stay calm. Don't hurry. Just sit down quietly on the floor, against the wall. Let's go. Now!"

In the dark hallway, Mr. Miller's fourth grade was already filing out of their classroom and crouching against the wall. Students from other classes that Morgan and Courtney had warned were there as well. No one panicked -- the school practiced emergency response procedures like this at least once a year.

Morgan and Courtney saw Collin with their classmates and hurried toward him. Somewhere down the hall, glass shattered. The wind began to roar more loudly. All around, it sounded as if someone was heaving stones at the side of the building.

"Cover your heads, everybody!" Mrs. Lee shouted.

Collin pulled off his backpack and put it between his knees. Courtney and Morgan sat down beside him on the floor and ducked low, wrapping their arms about their heads.

Behind the classroom door they heard the sounds of windows smashing. They could hear books, desks and who knew what else blowing around the room. Thunder rumbled loudly. Wind howled, and Collin feared that they would be taken back in the void once again.

The storm seemed to move over the building. The roof squealed and squeaked, stretched and moaned, as it fought to stay in place. A heavy tree branch sliced through the roof and ceiling, and students screamed as the branch came to a sudden halt just above their heads.

Doors burst open up and down the halls from the force of the wind. Papers blew into the hallway, twisting around and around like mini-tornadoes.

"Keep your heads down," Mrs. Lee shouted.

Another teacher was telling his class not to worry. "It'll be over soon," he said. He repeated it nervously over and over. Collin hoped he was right.

 
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