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Sam and Lachlan sat on the edge of the hole in the ceiling. Nikola lay between them, resting partially in Lachlan’s lap with one paw over his leg.

Lachlan looked over at Sam and noticed he clutching his hand, his expression pained.

“How’s the hand feeling?” said Lachlan.

“Not as bad as you’d think,” said Sam. His voice sounded weak. “It hurts a lot, though.”

Sam was quiet for a moment, staring into space as he cradled his hand.

Then he jerked his head up, as though startled.

“Chelsea,” he said.

“What?” said Lachlan.

“We found my coworker’s shoes, remember?”

Oh, right. Lachlan had almost forgotten about that. All the monsters and cannibals had been extremely distracting. He felt a pang of concern for the poor woman who was trapped in this place all alone, probably even more terrified and confused than he was.

“We should find her,” said Lachlan, “before something else with more tentacles and/or a taste for human flesh does.”

“Agreed,” said Sam.

“How are you feeling?” said Lachlan. “Are you alright to stand up?”

“I-I think so,” said Sam.

Lachlan patted the floor beside him, and Nikola climbed out of his lap.

“Good,” said Lachlan. “Because as they say in Tennessee or wherever you’re from, time’s a-wastin’.”

Lachlan climbed to his feet.

“I’m from North Carolina,” said Sam.

“I know. I only said Tennessee so that you’d be irritated and offended.”

Lachlan offered his hand to Sam. Sam hesitated, then took it with his good hand.

“Everything you say irritates and offends me.”

Sam wavered as Lachlan helped him to his feet, and Lachlan put out his free hand to steady him.

“Look at me,” said Lachlan, “being the better man. Graciously lending you a helping hand after you refused to do the same for me. Helping you to your feet even as you continue to rudely insult me.”

“This is an excellent example of you being irritating and offensive,” said Sam.

Lachlan shook his head in mock-disappointment as he let go of Sam’s hand.

“Tut tut. Not even so much as a thank you. Shame on you, Samoyed.”

Sam frowned and squinted at him.

“So, Mr. Five-Steps-of-Problem-Solving,” said Lachlan. “What’s the plan for finding this girl?”

“How would I know?” said Sam. “We haven’t gone through the five steps yet.”

“Well, we know what the problem is. Some girl is here all alone and we need to find her. That’s step one, right? Knowing the problem?”

“No,” said Sam. “Step one is identification of the problem.”

Lachlan sighed exaggeratedly.

“That’s what I just said.”

“No, you said ‘knowing the problem’.”

“Meh. Tomayto, tomahto. There’s no need to get into Sam-antics,” said Lachlan. “See what I did there? Sam-antics?”

“You’re not funny,” said Sam.

Lachlan began walking away from the hole in the concrete, and Nikola trotted after him.

“How dare you, Samurai, I’m a genius of comedy,” said Lachlan. “Come on. Let’s walk and talk.”

“Where are we walking? I thought you didn’t want to walk anymore.”

“I don’t know,” said Lachlan, “but my legs don’t hurt anymore, and if we’re going to find this girl, we probably won’t do it by sitting around.”

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