Part 2

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Cyril stuck his head through the pantry door. "You know, I am upset that we missed microwavable popcorn. How it smells? And when they drizzle that melted butter on top?" He let out a sigh as he leaned back.

"But when they burn it?" Oliver shuddered from his spot on the sofa.

"A point I will concede," Cyril allowed, thinking back to the first weeks of the girls in their new apartment. How the smell had lingered for weeks. How it wafted out every time they opened the microwave to this day. He drifted over to the refrigerator and stuck his head inside that instead. "I'm betting tacos. Tacos are a safe bet--they eat those things constantly. Add that to the list of things I wished I could have enjoyed before departing."

Oliver didn't answer.

"Ok, fine, if you want to bet tacos, you can. Maybe I'll go with those mini pizzas they make. All the ingredients are in here. Another safe bet, I think. Stella does love pizza."

When his friend didn't answer, Cyril sighed. "Don't tell me you're not betting," he said, pulling his head out of the refrigerator. " You were the one who started Dinner Roulette after all and--what?"

Oliver stood in the center of the living room, looking up at the ceiling, head tilted as if straining to hear something.

"What is it?"

"You don't­­--you don't hear that?"

"Hear what?"

"It's almost like...scratching."

Cyril looked up at the ceiling. "Scratching?"

Oliver spun around, his eyes fixed on the far ceiling corner, over the living room's book nook.

"Like a squirrel up on the roof or something?" Cyril asked. "Should we possess one of the girls' laptops again? Have them send maintenance over like we did when we noticed the deadbolt was loose?"

"I don't think it's a squirrel."

"Oh, bigger like a racoon then?"

"I don't think--I don't think it's mortal."

Cyril frowned and squinted up into the corner. "But I don't see anything."

"I think I do."

"But--but there's nothing there. It's not like we wouldn't be able to see others like us. Ghosts--wait. Ghosts can't be haunted, can they?"

He didn't answer.

"Can they? Oliver?"

"It's blurry, but Cyril, there's something there. It's--"

Oliver flew backward as something invisible plowed into him. They phased through the wall, disappearing into Bronte's bedroom. A corner of the tapestry fluttered.

Cyril flew after them, phasing through the closed bedroom door. Oliver was pressed up against the far wall--the boundary of the apartment. He struggled against something that had a hold of his throat.

Cyril lunged. He smacked against whatever it was and wrapped his arms around it. Bracing his feet against the wall, he pushed off, pulling at the invisible thing in his arms. Oliver pushed against it.

Then Cyril hear it. Monstrous snarling that reminded him of rabid wolves or provoked tigers. His grip loosened for a second and then he forced himself to tighten it.

Oliver dropped to the floor. He rolled off to the side as Cyril pushed off. "Where is it?"

"Off to the left. Up high--in the corner."

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