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SONY DSCAlison chewed at the edge of her thumb. She watched Darryl pace across the living room, powering from one end to the other with machine-like efficiency. He took long strides, covering great swaths of carpet with each piston pump of his legs.

Alison nibbled at a hang nail, feeling it pull into the flesh behind her thumbnail. Darryl’s hands, still clenched into tight fists, stuck rigidly by his side, the only part of him not moving with frenetic energy.

“Uhh … Darryl?”

Darryl whirled around. He pinned her in place with the daggers of his eyes. Alison made herself as small as possible on the burnt orange sofa. He said nothing, just stared at her until she broke, looking away. He continued his pacing.

Finally, Tim returned, bursting through the front door with a gust of cold air and rain. Brown hair hung limply around his pockmarked face, rivulets of water running from each tendril. Mud from his boots left footprints across the carpet as he rushed over to Alison.

“I found it.”

He held out a meaty hand and unclasped his fingers. The key sat on his palm silently, judging them. Darryl covered the distance between them in two quick steps and grabbed the key from Tim’s hand. Holding it up to the light, he peered at it.

He started to laugh.

Alison had never heard a more unsettling sound. She bit down on her thumbnail to stop her teeth from chattering.

*from prompt “bitten nails, a maniac, reaching into a dark hole”

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