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The trip was planned before either of them really knew it. That's the tricky thing about making decisions in a dive bar in the middle of the night, Malcolm thought, by morning, it feels like someone else made the decision for you.

Serena hadn't been pleased with the plan, obviously. Malcolm knew his mom had been counting on having him home for another week or so before the fall semester started, and to have Owen home even longer. She still worried about him, as any loving mother would, but Malcolm knew it was that same love that made her say, "Okay, just promise you'll drive safe," which was her way of granting them permission to take the trip.

With their mother's hesitant blessing, they'd made arrangements at a hotel in the nearest town, which was about a forty minute drive from 24 Thornewood Road. They had packed light, some pajamas and a change of clothes. How do you pack for a seance? Malcolm had wondered before tossing a tie into his bag with a shrug.

He had no idea what he was getting himself into.

They would set out early Friday morning. If the GPS was to be believed, it would take them just under five hours to get to their hotel. And by the look of it, it wasn't a straight shot on the interstate. It would be five hours of backroads and small towns.

The night before the trip, Malcolm laid in bed, trying not to feel like a character in a bad horror movie. He couldn't even begin to wonder what would meet them at 24 Thornewood Road. Despite the evidence — the letters, the spider, the phone call — he didn't know what to believe. He didn't know what he wanted to believe.

What did he want to get out of this trip? Time away from home? Quality time with Owen? Maybe. But there was something more. Answers. That was it, he wanted answers. An explanation for everything they had learned about Edward Poole and the house on Thornewood Road.

There had to be some logical explanation, he told himself as he tossed and turned in the darkness. The world and reality as he knew it would right itself and prevail in his mind once again. But as he drifted off to sleep, he found that the thought didn't please him. For the first time in his life, comfort wasn't what he wanted.

He awoke with a start, heart-pounding, limbs shaking. The room was still dark, his alarm hadn't gone off yet. An animal-like scream had torn through his dreams, shocking him awake. Owen, he realized, stomach twisting in fear. He leapt out of bed and rushed to his brother's room.

When he entered the room, Owen was a tangle of limbs and blankets. He flailed out of bed, no longer screaming but breathing in sharp, panicked breaths. Malcolm flipped on the light as Owen thrashed. He looked like he was in a fight with his bedsheets, until Malcolm noticed the thin, white threads wrapped loosely around his skin — arms, face, chest.

"There," Owen spurted. His continued to thrash at his skin as he stood, attempting to get the spiderwebs off his skin.

Malcolm saw it emerge from a coil of Owen's bedsheet. In the time it took his brain to register the spider's presence, he was already on top of it, crushing its thick, dark form with his bare foot.

Owen didn't hesitate. He grabbed the wooden container from the box of Poole's letters, and opened it up. With shaking hands, Malcolm took the crushed spider and dropped it inside the box. Owen clasped it shut.

They both collapsed on the ground, breathing deep, shaky breaths.

"I was dreaming there was a spider on my face," Owen said slowly. "Then I woke up, and there was a spider. On my face."

Fear settled into Malcolm's chest. Not for his brother, although he did sympathize. This was an ugly fear, a selfish fear, one that made him feel equal parts guilty and queasy. It was a fear that his brother would back out, that he would call off the trip. That this encounter would be the one that crossed the fine line between fun and fear. I'll go myself, Malcolm told himself. But he knew he didn't have the guts to see this through alone.

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