It was very distant at first, almost a whisper on a wind that made Anna doubt she had actually heard anything.
She cupped a hand to her ear, cocked her head and held her breath. Silence for a few moments and then she heard it again, this time a little louder and a little more distinct. It was no doubt the whistle of a kettle.
Anna had heard that sound hundreds, if not thousands of times in her life. It was a sound that stirred memories of many others. Her father rattling around in the kitchen on a fall morning, the creak of the hinge on the stove as he built a fire to chase the chill from the house, the sound of water sloshing into a metal container, the clack of the kettle being placed on top of the range, and finally after a few minutes, the sound of the whistle when the water had been brought to a roaring boil.
It was a friendly sound, a familiar sound, a sound that gave her hope.
The sound continued for a few moments and then.... silence again. Anna, hand still cupped over her ear waited breathlessly. Had she misheard? Had she fallen asleep and only dreamed of home? There was now only the sound of the wind through the trees. Was her mind trying to create something that wasn't really there? Doubt and dread flowed through her once again.
There it was again! This time it was louder still! The kettle was... coming closer? And boiling in a peculiar way? Why wasn't the whistle the constant drone like it should be? When her parents made tea, the kettle would sing constantly until removed from the heat, why was this one starting and stopping? Something was very odd.
Anna stood now, she had a good sense of what direction the sound was coming from. She squinted, gazing into the tree-line, looking for some sign of movement, Again a whistle, but this time joined by the rustling of branches and the snapping of twigs. There was no doubt now that something was coming towards her.
She swept her eyes over the ground, looking for a large branch, a rock, something to defend herself with. Anna had enough strangeness for one day and her guard was up. She would be prepared for whatever was coming.
Another rustle, another whistle, this one driving a small flock of birds from cover and into the safety of the sky. Finally, she spotted a large stick, about as long as she was tall. She held it in front of her defensively, knuckles white.
How silly I must look! She mused. I'm probably about to be rescued and they will find me in my Sunday best, ready for combat!
There was one more whistle, only a few feet away now. Bushes shifted and small creatures bolted from the tree-line, across the path, around Anna's feet, and into the bush beyond.
Whatever it was, it had arrived.