The night before Nick Cutter returned, Claudia Brown was plagued by bad dreams.
She dreamed of the Gorgonopsid, the first prehistoric creature she had ever encountered. It attacked her three times: first in the Forest of Dean, then in the Home Office, and finally in the dark rooms of Nick Cutter's house. His empty house.
She dreamed of anomalies appearing in ridiculous places – her vanity mirror, her fridge, her car. Every time, though she knew – she knew – that it was dangerous, foolish, stupid, she would duck her head in through the glittering portal between worlds and call into the blackness beyond, "Hello?"
But there would be no answer.
She dreamed that she was blind again as she had once been in a hotel, and that someone had her by the hand as they ran. She could feel herself being pulled through anomaly after anomaly, the ground beneath her feet one moment grass and the next rock, beating sun followed by freezing rain. At first it was her father who had her hand, and then Helen Cutter – "You're going to have to trust me." And at the last the grip on her hand morphed into something cold and clawed, and she heard the terrifying crrrrk and knew the creature for what it was.
She woke to the buzz of her mobile phone.
"It's Stephen. You're going to want to come in."
Still half lost in her nightmares, Claudia blinked at the clock on the bedside table until it came into focus. 5:52 am. Something big, then. "What is it?" she asked, slipping out of bed and flicking on the lamp.
"Anomaly." Stephen's reply was terse.
The foreboding feeling in her stomach clenched. "When? Where? Why is it important?"
"It opened ten minutes ago. In the Forest of Dean."