She was sat in her chair with a book in her lap, on this cold, dark February night. The weather had taken a turn for the worse, with storm clouds rushing across the moonlit night, occasionally obscuring the moonbeams with their almost bedraggled, sinister, dark, grey forms, as if trying to shut out any form of illumination altogether. The wind had picked up, causing the trees outside to sigh in a sorrowful, almost ghost-like murmur, adding to the already dark impression this night had created on her fanciful imagination. Of course the book she was reading was not that conducive to many bright thoughts on her part. A collection of Victorian Gothic tales, a book she had picked up in some run-down old antiquarian bookshop, which itself looked like it was still stuck in that era what with its dusty tomes gracing its woodworm infested bookshelves, and its owner, a rather eccentric looking old man with pince-nez stuck on his rather hawkish nose, looking like the years had also eaten away at him as of his shop. One could not wonder if he himself were not also for sale.
She loved gothic short stories though, something she had studied whilst an English Student, but there was something not quite right about this particular book. Probably due to the fact that it was quite old; the pages emitting a musty odour that reeked of a time past. The stories themselves were written in quite an archaic, 19th Century fashion, but the passages contained within spoke of something quite not like she had ever read before. They spoke of a horror which chilled you to the bone; stories of old ghosts and the macabre, of haunted manor houses, ghostly apparitions in churchyards and the usual ilk of old gothic fiction.
It seemed as if the whole atmosphere of her surroundings had changed whilst she sat reading that evening. The fire she had lit seemed to be fending off the night, its flames cavorting around the walls, and once or twice she looked up from her book with a sudden start at a shadow on the wall caused by the flames, which, to her aroused imagination, seemed to resemble some kind of ghastly figure from out of the corner of her eye. The weather had worsened as the night progressed, and it was almost as if her room and the night outside were adding their own ominous, theatrical performance to the stories she was reading, creating a backdrop of supernatural proportions. But even though she slowly began to feel the icy fingers of fear deep within her stomach begin their ghastly grip, and she knew that she had to stop reading this book; it had captivated her and she felt frozen to the chair, a rising feeling of being consumed by the very horror contained within these words.
The wind suddenly picked up, its howling becoming more pronounced; a branch had started to scratch furiously against her window, its sound almost like a high-pitched laughter to, at this point, her very vivid and very fearful imagination. She saw, or rather thought she saw, more and more shadowy figures within the murkiness caused by the dancing, leaping flames to her back with a suggested whispering which she was not sure was being caused by either the wind or something else entirely. A ghost perhaps? Could it be? What was it? She felt a rising panic grip her soul. Her skin started to crawl, her heart beating furiously and her stomach tightened. The whole room seemed to become darker, an icy chill sneaking through the windows, pervading the whole room, the fire becoming impotent against its menacing intent. Mustering all her remaining rationality and swallowing the rising fear back into herself, she slowly laid the book down, and rose from the chair. She spun around quickly, hoping she would try and catch whatever she thought lay behind her off its guard. Nothing was there – apart from, no, what on earth was THAT?
Next thing she knew was the room light had been switched on. Suddenly everything became back to normal, no more shadows were dancing around the room, the wind had died down, the fire seemed at peace in the fireplace, the book lay closed on the chair and what she saw before her was her bemused partner, who had arrived home late.