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“I’ll come with you,” Septimus said. “I feel fine now. If you have a coke or juice or something, though, I should probably have that. Maybe my blood sugar’s low.”
Sweet nodded, waiting until Septimus was out in the hall with him before he turned the light off in his room. “I’ll go first down the stairs anyway. If you fall, I’ll cushion you.”
“Nice of you,” Septimus said. “It’s probably fine, this just hasn’t happened before, so I’m a little freaked out.”
Making a sympathetic noise, Sweet started down the stairs. Septimus followed behind him, then said, “Hey.”
“Back up one step.”
Sweet glanced back over his shoulder curiously but did, stepping back up onto the step he’d just come from. “What?”
“Go back down.”
“Uhh, okay.” Sweet did.
Septimus frowned at him, then pinched his own side. “I know I’m bigger than you, but I didn’t think it was that much. The stairs are squeaking for you but not me.”
“This house and I just know each other well,” Sweet said. “I come here twice a year no matter what, so it recognizes me.”
Septimus stared at him and, for once, wished his eyes didn’t catch the light in that weird way. “Are you trying to set the Halloween mood? Because that was creepy. That was a really creepy thing to say, Sweet.”
Sweet laughed. “I mean,” he clarified, “I’m really familiar with what parts of the stairs are squeaky and what parts aren’t. I used to creep around here all the time when I was a kid and didn’t want my mom to catch me up. Done having me experiment?”
“Now I feel dumb,” Septimus groused. “Go on then.”
Laughing again, more deeply, Sweet led the rest of the way down the stairs and back into the bent hallway. He opened the door to the kitchen, heading inside.
The room was a bit old-fashioned, with a weathered checkered floor, and the type of wood cabinets and off-white countertop that Septimus guessed were last refinished in the 80s or 90s. A small folding table was set up against one wall with folding chairs on two sides; the other wall had the counter, with its sink and stove and cabinets. Through an open archway, Septimus could see what must have been a dining room space, but was now empty but for the dusty china cabinet against one wall and a dark stain on the carpet.
Sweet went to the fridge and pulled out a coke, testing it with his fingertips to see if it was cold before handing it off to Septimus. Catching a glimpse inside, Septimus said, “Hey, can I have one of the waters too? If it’s dehydration I shouldn’t just be downing soda.”
“Sure.” Sweet pulled out a bottle of that and passed it off as well. “That reminds me, don’t drink the tap water. It’s fine to bathe in but I wouldn’t ingest it.”
“Something like that. Anyway, I brought enough supplies that we could stay here for a week if we wanted, so drink as much water as you think you need.” Sweet shut the fridge and strained up on his tiptoes to open another cabinet. “Got your preference of canned goods?”
“Chef Boyardee?” Septimus ventured. He couldn’t imagine why Sweet might have overprepared so much, except that there was a chance of snow tonight. It wasn’t supposed to be a lot, and shouldn’t stick, but the house was isolated enough that if it was much worse than expected, they might be trapped there for a bit. He wished briefly that he’d brought an external battery for his phone; if they were stuck here and the power went out, a charger wouldn’t do him much good. No point worrying, though. He popped the coke’s tab open and took a sip.
Sweet smiled at him. “Your wish is my command.” He fetched the can down, and picked a saucepan out of a lower cabinet, eyed it, then blew on the lid. Septimus hoped it was dust he was getting rid of, not a spider.
“You want any help?” he offered.
“I’m good,” Sweet said. “You just sit and drink. Don’t want a fainting fit over the stove.”
Obediently, Septimus sat. He took another sip.
“Done any more thinking about where you would prefer that I sleep tonight?”
Septimus almost inhaled his mouthful of coke. He had been thinking of it, of course, ever since Sweet had offered to take the other room. On the one hand, this was a great opportunity. On the other hand, they were already here because it was like a horror movie setup, and he knew how those went. He choked down his drink. “Um,” he said.
“Never mind,” Sweet said hurriedly. “Anything you do wanna do tonight?”
[Please offer actions, thoughts, or concerns for Septimus in the Comments]
[Instructions | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 | Day 18 | Day 19 | Day 20 | Day 21 | Day 22 | Day 23 | Day 24 | Day 25 | Conclusion | Author’s Notes]