There was plenty of implied danger in Shun's words at the end of last week's episode of Shin Sekai Yori, and given his sorrowful and resigned tone there it's no huge surprise that we join episode nine of the series with Shun having failed to attend school for several days in a row.
Needless to say, this is a huge concern for his friends including the recently dumped Satoru - but can they do anything to find him, especially given his warnings that the group are being watched after their misadventures several years previously. This isn't enough to deflect them from finding out what's going on however, and the group split up to begin the search for their friend.
In Satoru and Saki's case, their hunt takes them to Pinewind - an old haunt which seems to have been barricaded off from the outside world completely. Although Satoru and Saki can make it through these cordons with no difficulty, the presence of Monster Rats as guards is only one of many hints that something very strange is going on here. With the situation gnawing at Saki more and more, she eventually confronts her parents about it, effectively forcing them to give her at least some information about what is going on, bringing forth a suggestion of an "accident" at Pinewind. This is as of nothing compared to Maria and Mamoru's experience as part of their search however, which suggests a far, far more grisly fate for Shun...
Having built up and threatened to explode into a storyline which will follow it through the rest of the series on a number of occasions, it finally feels like we've reached the crux of matters, with Shun's disappearance and the slow, creeping revelations that follow in its wake giving a suggestion of exactly how deep this discomfiting rabbit hole really goes. With Saki now effectively on the run, I can't wait to see what Shin Sekai Yori has up its sleeve, and even if its story-telling up to this point (including this episode) has been rather uneven and even a little jumbled sometimes (as is its animation quality), it certainly feels like a series with a compelling over-arching tale to tell.