The house is silent for the first time in weeks.
Though Spencer knows he should be relieved, grateful that Mom and Dad have finally stopped yelling at each other, he's fearful of the sudden quiet.
Dread has an icy grip on his lungs, making anything more than shallow breathing impossible, and his stomach churns as if he's going to be sick.
Making as little noise as possible, Spencer unlocks his bedroom door and creeps into the hallway.
There's no sign of anyone else, and the door to Mom and Dad's room remains tightly closed from when Mom slammed it shut four hours, three minutes, and fifty-six seconds ago.
Still, Spencer keeps his footsteps soft and his mind alert as he ventures down the stairs.
He knows it's safer for him to stay in his room with the door locked, but he has a horrible feeling that something is wrong.
To put his mind at ease, he is compelled to check that everything is actually normal. Dad isn't anywhere to be found in the downstairs, and Spencer decides to check the garage.
It's empty, and the door is open, revealing his father's car, the trunk open, parked in the driveway.
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