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.." Girard walked slowly around the living room. Nowhere to hide there. He looked in the kitchen next, checking the cabinets even though he didn't really imagine a grown man could fit into them. He looked in the bedroom, the boy's room, the bathroom. No one there, not even behind the shower curtain.

When he came back into the living room, the two were still sitting there. Garibaldi peeked around from behind the door.

"He doesn't seem to be here," Girard admitted.

"He went down the garbage chute," the boy said.

"What?"

"In the bathroom," the woman said. Paul had called her Marie, yes? It wasn't a name he could hear without experiencing some troubling thoughts just now.

"No way." Garibaldi grunted. "I'm coming in."

"Watch it," Thompson called from out in the hall, "he might still be in there. He might just be telling you he's not."

"Can he do that?" Girard asked, incredulous.

"Yes, against normals, certainly."

"Okay. Let's all search, then." He noticed that Marie and the boy were both sitting exactly as they had been, and little spider legs tickled up his back.

"You can get up now," he said.

"No, we can't," Marie said, tears starting in her eyes. "He told us not to."

"He compelled them," Bjarnesson said. "Should be easy enough to fix. He couldn't have had much time."

That was too much for Garibaldi. He entered the room, and he wasn't unarmed.

"Where's the garbage chute?"

The boy pointed the way with his eyes.



* * *



Garibaldi gazed in dismay at the dark shaft.

"Damn it. Where does this go?"

"We don't know," Paul called, from where he knelt with his family, soothing them, telling them that everything would be all right. "The basement, I guess."

"Perimeter reports no one went out the window or exited from
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