As the whistling intensifies and the building sways from side to side, Gretchen decides it’s now or never. On the count of three, she’s going to close her eyes and sprint to her room. The door is slightly ajar, so she won’t have to stop and turn the handle, and she knows the layout of the apartment like the back of her hand, meaning she won’t need to lessen her pace. And, if she does somehow manage to fuck things up like a klutz and run head-first into a wall, then the worst that will happen is that her mother will wake up. If so, then the monster can eat her instead while she has enough time to make her escape. Curling her upper lip in a cruel sneer despite how scared she is, she blows out her cheeks and rushes away from the heat of the log fire into the cold space of the hallway. The shock is the same as jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool, one where the bottom is as deep as memory. Chattering her teeth, she reaches out her hands with closed eyes and fumbles the darkness as if she were drawing the curtains of her bedroom first thing in the morning. When she opens them again a few seconds later, it’s no sunrise she finds, but something that turns her blood as black as oil.