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The weather was foggy, it was dark and chilly and there were thunderclouds, pulling themselves together into huge piles before a storm. Olive was shivering in the darkness. She couldn't see Morton cowering beside her. She couldn't even see her hands when she waved them in front of her face. The windows at the end of the hall were dark, without a tiny star poking through the night. Once, Olive had visited a cave on a school field trip. the tour guide had stopped them in one narrow little chamber, deep underground, and turned out the lights. In that moment, Olive had felt just what she felt now - absolute darkness, icy, damp, and complete.
Something brushed her arm. Olive jumped.
"Olive?" said a very tiny whisper.
"I'm here," Olive whispered back.
Morton groped for her hand. "I just thought you might be scared."
"I'm going to find the light switch," said Olive as bravely as she could.
With Morton beside her, Olive groped along the hallway walls until her fingers brushed the switch. She flicked it up and down. Nothing happened.
"Let's try another one," said Olive stubbornly. She reached through her own bedroom door, running her palm up and down the wall. She clicked the swith. Nothing.
Olive's teeth were starting to chatter. The air was as cold as the inside of a refrigerator.
"I'm going to find some candles," she told Morton. "Keep right next to me."
"You keep right next to me," said Morton.
Her body pressed to the wall, Olive sidled toward one of the upstaris bathroom. There on the countertop were two scented candles in little glass jars. Olive ran her hand over the counter until she found the matchbook. She struck a match. A bright yellow flame flared in her hand, and in the bathroom mirror, her own relfection stared back above another bobbing yellow flame. The darkness pulled back, very slightly, but she could feel something icy breathing on her neck - something that didn't like the light. Olive and Morton each carried a lit candle out into the hallway. Olive could see her breath in the air. Her clothes, still damp from the lake, were now freezing. Moving very carefully down the stairs, Olive could feel the darkness close around them. She could hear it breathing. There was something in the darkness - something with a human shape, but something that hadn't been human for more than a hundred years.
"Olive..." murmured a voice in the darkness.
The air thawed a few degrees. Olive glanced around. Three pairs of bright green eyes glittered in the light of her candle.
"Horatio! Leopold! Harvey!" Olive felt as if she might collapse from relief. The cats encircled her feet, staring out protectively into the darkness.
"Old Man Mc - I mean Aldous McMartin," Olive stammered, "Aldous McMartin is here. He got out."
"Affirmatie," said Leopold. "We know."
"He wants to get rid of you, Olive," said Horatio. "Kill you. Yes. Or trap you. The sooner the better, as fas as he's concerned. He wants his house back. He and Annabelle were the last of the McMartins, and they won't let their legacy end so easily."
"What will he do to me?" Olive whispered.
"Well," said Horatio, "the easiest way would be to put you into a painting and leave you there forever. He will try to control you. He's been watching you. He knows you. He'll use the things you want and the things you fear. He will threaten whatever you care about most."
"I deserve this," Olive whispered. "This is all my fault anyway. I found the necklace. I let Annabelle out. I put everybody in danger."
"Do not thiink it, my lady!" said Harvey. "It would have happened with or without you.
Suddenly, Olive wasn't scared. She was angry. "I'm not going to let the McMartins get rid of us! I'm going to get rid of them."
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