Ashley closed the door behind her, shucking off her coat onto the couch. "Brandon, you home?" She called out.
"Good," she mumbled, hefting up the bag she'd been lugging. The box was heavier than she thought it'd be, and she was tired of carrying it from where she'd parked.
Her home was small, but cozy. The living room had a couch and recliner, situated in front of a flat screen television and bookshelf. She set the back on the couch and walked into the kitchen. She stopped to grab an apple from the fruit bowl on the island in the middle of the room, and crunched into it with glee.
"Now, where is my wrapping paper?" She wondered aloud. She intended to wrap Brandon's gift before he got home from whatever he was doing. Her brother worked odd hours, and she didn't remember whether he was working today or not. If he wasn't, he could be home any minute.
Finishing her apple in record time, she checked the hall closet. She found some of Brandon's hunting gear, but no wrapping paper. Digging through the boxes stacked at the bottom, she felt as if someone was watching her.
Standing up, she looked around nervously. Nobody was around, and the front door was still closed.
"Huh," she said. "Guess I'm just crazy..."
Kneeling to root through the back of the closet, she let out a cry of victory when she found a roll of wrapping paper. Pulling it out, she walked over to the couch to pick up the bag.
She wrapped the box in short order and stowed it in the closet for safe keeping. They'd be going to a friends Christmas party where they'd all exchange gifts, so no need to place the box anywhere special.
Walking back into the living room, she dropped onto the couch with a grunt. "Now I can relax. Wonder what's on TV?"
She spent the next half hour flipping through channels, not finding anything that would hold her attention. She finally settled on "Miracle on 34th Street" and relaxed while watching the Christmas classic.
She jumped when she heard a door close in the kitchen with a resounding bang! Standing up, she looked in the hall with trepidation, her thoughts racing as she waited and listened.
What in the hell was that? She thought. Is there someone here? Did I lock the door?
Eyes darting to the front door, she cursed aloud when she saw the that it was unlocked and slightly ajar.
"How the hell did I not notice that?" She whispered. Creeping around the couch, she closed the door. She stepped to the edge of the hall and looked down at the entry to the kitchen. She didn't see anyone, or any sign that someone was around.
That didn't mean that she wasn't playing host to an intruder, though.
"Whoever's there, I'm calling the police!" She called out.
She rushed over to her purse to grab her cell phone, only to find that it wasn't there. Cursing, she looked around for any sign of it.
She flinched when she heard another slam in her kitchen, this time a resounding crack of something metal striking wood. Rushing to the closet, she rooted around for something she could use to defend herself.
She almost cried in relief when she found her brother's hunting rifle.
He'd taken her hunting a few times, and while she wasn't a pro like him, she knew how to use the bolt action rifle. Grabbing a half-full ammo box from the top of the closet, she slid in a bullet into the chamber and locked it in.
"I have a gun!" She shouted. "So you better leave!"
Again, no response.
Creeping down the hall to the kitchen, she peeked around the corner.
Nobody was in the kitchen.
"Huh..." she said. She looked back and forth. The laundry room was open, with no sign of anyone having entered it.
"What was that... noise?"
Ashley paused when she noticed what might have made the loud noise she'd heard. Sticking out of the cutting board was the silver knife she'd just purchased. Walking across the room, she looked at it in wonder. It was buried half an inch into the wood, as if it'd been rammed into it by someone very strong.
"How in the world? She mumbled.
She jumped once more when she heard the front door creak open.