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modulating from whine to growl to bark. “Henry!” Vaughan said, the dog quieted. “What are you looking up for?” They were directly underneath where Michael knelt. This is it, he thought, and willed himself to not exist. Nobody here, he thought. There’s nobody here. “When we was upstairs, you wanted down. Now you want up again?” Reacting to Vaughan’s tone, Henry barked once in affi rmation. Good dog, Michael thought. “That’s it,” Vaughan said. “I’ve lost enough sleep over you tonight. I’m going to bed.” Michael stayed in the ceiling, in darkness, for another thirty minutes. His sense of relief was so powerful that he drifted momentarily into sleep, waking disoriented and panicky. Taking one step at a time, deathly afraid of making a mistake in his eagerness to be gone, he fi nally switched on the fl ashlight, worked the tile free, and lowered himself to the cabinet. He was fi lthy, the dust and sweat having formed a thin layer of mud over his exposed skin. He cleaned his glasses as best he could, then took his
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