The creak of the rocking chair didn't bother Gwen Holcomb anymore. As she sat on the couch, she ignored the sound and stared at but not really reading the book in her hands. The chair had been making that awful sound on its own for the past forty years. No sense in getting nervous about it now.
But tonight was different in many ways. Gwen knew this. Gwen dreaded this.
Still, she put any creeping, horrible thoughts out of her mind and tried to focus on something outside of her internal fears and the external ambiance of the evening. The atmosphere almost felt afraid. The air quivered with the nervous anticipation that something was coming. Something terrible.
Gwen cleared her mind, doing everything she could to think of nothing. Nothing at all. Because only nothing could keep her from dreading the horror that was inexorably marching toward her. Such a quiet evening to be pondering such horrible ideas.
Gwen looked up from her book to the window across the living room, thinking she might have heard a noise from that direction. After several minutes of staring at the window, however, the only noise in the room was the constant creak of the rocking chair, which was still moving on its own. She returned to the book, still not having read a word of it, and realized she was holding her breath.
She exhaled, but almost as though it were a premonitory response to her sudden relief, the room instantly fell to an awful chill, her escaping breath misting, dissipating visibly as it left her lips.
“I'm not ready,” Gwen pleaded. As though it was giving an angry reply, the room began to shake, old pictures on the wall began to vibrate, and the air grew from chilled menace to a threatening and frightening aura.
“You have no choice,” an unhappily familiar voice announced. “You've run out of time.”
Gwen closed her eyes, for she knew who would be arriving shortly. Knew what would be arriving.