I’m almost at the party, still fully focused on walking there when I think I hear something behind me, a yelp and a laugh, but when I look back over my shoulder, no one’s there, not even Lottie. The lights are flickering, it’s spooky, so I quicken my step actually, until Patch shows up, asking if I heard anything, a call for help.
I realize it wasn’t all in my head and I’m not hearing things that aren’t there. That’s a relief.
“Oh, good.” I let out a nervous laugh.
I peer over my shoulder again in the direction I came from, still unsure, but Patch’s appearance helps kick in some level of rational thinking.
“Must be Lottie. She was in my room… we were going to get pizza,” I offer an explanation, somewhat doubtfully. I am trying to figure out how and why she’s suddenly not right behind me anymore, but the cogs in my head are turning too slowly.
Brayden quickly grabs the batteries, his eyes lighting up. He pulls the camera on Stella’s collar and slides the batteries into the slot. Taking a deep breath and bracing himself for disappointment, he pushes the ‘on’ button again. It takes two very long seconds, but then the camera springs to live.
“It’s ON!” he shouts exitedly, then remembers his treats to Stella and brings one out from under his cape, dangling it in front of the dog. “Okay girl, here’s what you gotta do. Go find Lex, understand? Go all the way back there.”
Brayden clicks the ‘record’ button, takes one more long, hopeful look at the dog, opens the sewer doors and then throws the pizza as far out as he can.