I jumped up and stood there for half a moment. The screams were wrenching. Gasping and then crying out again. Donny.

I flew out of the room, tripping on the chair on my way out. I ran down the hall and up the stairs. They pounded with my footsteps, just like I felt my pulse pounding.

But not as sharp and clear as her screams.

I ran into the hallway, right into her room. The door was already open. Wind and crow sounds flooded the room. The window was open.

I stopped dead in the doorway. Donny was pressed against the window, her head almost through it. Held there by the Scientist. The Double Scientist.
I yell. He’s trying to end the Effect. What he thinks is the Effect.

“Stop!”

The Scientist whipped his head around. Donny gasped for breath and tried to look up. The Scientist stood there without moving for a moment. I breathed hard.

Crows beat up against the house. They flooded the sky outside.

The Scientist stepped away and let go of Donny. She tumbled back. She shrieked.

I rushed forward and caught her by the waist before she went headfirst through the window.

“You alright?” I asked. I pulled her in. She ducked her head. A shaky breath was her only answer. I looked back behind me.

The Scientist had a gun. It was pointed at me.

And that was the last thing I expected.

Donny gasped and grabbed me. But he fired before either of us could do anything.

The sound was concussive. But the bullet went right through me. Like it wasn’t even there. Thank goodness.

“How….” Donny stuttered and the Scientist suddenly bolted, terrified. It hadn’t worked. He ran back down the hall. Back down the stairs.

I stood still. Donny clung to my jacket. Her hair was tumbled and undone all about her face.

“How did he..” she started again.

“He’s a Double,” I muttered. I was still shocked the bullet had vanished through my skull. But there wasn’t time to think about that. Crows had found that the window was open.

They started flying in. Bristled feathers and sharp beaks.

Before I could duck out Donny was already ahead of me at the door. She wasn’t screaming now, but she was running. And I was right behind her.

Of course the crows were right behind me.

They were coming too fast for me to close the door. Too many. They were already in and there was no getting them out. They swooped in front of us before we could reach the stairwell.

Donny ducked down, shrieking as they almost caught her hair.

I grabbed her arm and pulled her up. We bolted down the opposite side of the hall. I knew there was a stairwell there, it led to the basement. If my memory was correct.

We ran down. The crows flew after us and thudded against the walls. I opened the door to the stairwell and closed it just in time.
Of course I forgot the light switch was on the outside.

I stood at the door. The crows beat against it. Scratched it. But they couldn’t open it. Donny panted, sitting on the stair beneath me.

“Can you – can you turn on a light?” she gasped out.

“Uh, no,” I answered. And it was completely dark in there. Only the tiniest bit of light peeked from underneath the door. Same with a few crow feet.

“Well – where are we?”

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