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“Hey,” said Sam. “Do you hear that?”

Lachlan looked up from the notebook he was reading and listened. He heard nothing at first, then faint voices became audible. He sat up, swiveling his body around to look out the window.

He could make out four figures in the dim light, approaching about a quarter of a kilometer away. They looked human in shape, but that didn’t mean anything in this place.

“Do you see anyone?” said Sam.

“Yeah, four someones as a matter of fact. They’re too far away for me to get a good look at them, though.”

“Let’s hope they’re friendly,” said Sam.

“Based on our previous experience,” said Lachlan, “I’m going to venture a wild guess that they’re not.”

“Yeah,” said Sam. “Probably not. We need a plan.”

“To start, why don’t you turn off that torch? If they’re not friendly, we don’t want them seeing us.”

“What torch?” said Sam. “All I have is this flashlight.”

“Flashlight, torch, tomayto, tomahto.”

“It’s not ‘tomayto, tomahto’. A torch is a stick with combustible material on the end of it that you light on fire.”

“Maybe in America it is. In Australia, we understand context enough to know when someone’s talking about a stick that’s on fire and when someone’s talking about a battery-operated–” Lachlan cut himself off as he saw one of the figures point toward them. “Fuck.”

“What is it?”

“We’ve been spotted.”

“How do you know?”

“One of them just pointed at us. Turn off the torch and let’s hide in another room.”

Sam nodded and switched off the light.

“Just what I was going to suggest,” he said. “Let’s go for the one next to this one. It’ll be the easiest to get to, and we’ll still be able to keep an eye on the window.”

Lachlan stood up and headed for the door.

“Don’t just sit there, then, Samurai. They’re getting closer.”

“I’m coming, I’m coming.”

Sam stood up and followed him out of the room. They hurried down the hall, and Lachlan opened the door to the next room, holding it open so Sam could catch it and enter behind him.

Lachlan dropped to a crouch and motioned for Sam to do the same, but Sam was staring at the room’s walls, distracted. Lachlan grabbed Sam by the back of his jacket and pulled him down, nearly causing him to lose his balance.

“Hey!” said Sam.

“Shh!” Lachlan whispered. “The whole point of us coming in here is so we can stay hid–”

He trailed off as he looked up at the wall in front of them and realized what Sam had found so distracting.

Hanging on the wall from metal hooks and canvas straps were dozens of axes and knives, organized by type, size, and shape. In the center of the wall, there was even a pair of long, thin, single-edged swords. Each weapon was labeled with a small square piece of paper, though Lachlan couldn’t read the labels in the dim light. A table was set up against the wall with a sharpening stone, sandpaper, a few small plastic bottles, and some equipment Lachlan didn’t recognize.

“Woah,” said Lachlan. “Holy fuck.”

“You’re just now noticing this?”

“I’ve been a bit more focused on our survival,” said Lachlan. “Let’s get through our current predicament in one piece, and then we can address the fact that we’ve apparently stumbled into the den of a very organized serial killer.”

“Whatever.” Sam squinted out the window. “It looks like they’re getting a lot closer. I can’t make out what they’re saying, though.”

Lachlan listened closely. The voices still sounded human. He couldn’t make out every word they were saying, but he made out the words ‘house’ and ‘window’.

“Well, that’s not good. Something about a house and window. They’re probably talking about how they saw us in the house through the window,” said Lachlan. “On the bright side, it’s not as though we’d be unarmed if they came in here.”

“We’re also in a room full of weapons they could use against us, you know.”

“I know that, but I’m trying to see the glass as half full here.”

“You know, most of what people consider optimism is just an unwillingness to consider things logically. We’re outnumbered four to two, you know. A direct physical confrontation isn’t likely to end well for us–“

Sam fell silent for a moment as they heard the front door open. Then, he spoke again.

“I call the swords.”

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