When Jack reached the first step, he turned to see why Alex was not following him, and he found her staring up at the attic much like he had been just moments earlier. Her arms were wrapped tightly across her torso as the cold wind whipped around her, blowing her hair across her face and ruffling the fabric of her pants around her ankles.

“Jones?” Jack said, snapping his gaze to her while she brushed a lock of hair from her cheek. “What’s wrong? See a ghost?” he joked.

“Of course not,” Alex responded. “Non-corporeal entities are merely a figment of the imagination, created out of human desire for immortality and the need to believe in the continuation of life after death. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to support their existence.”

While Alex was speaking, Jack found himself rolling his eyes. He should have known that Alex would have some logical explanation to discount the potential existence of something supernatural. Still, he felt that she sounded a little unconvincing, and he wondered if she was not very sure of her own reasoning.

After a while, Alex’s gaze shifted from Jack to the house. She was once again drawn back to the attic window at the very top. She noticed that the shadow she had seen standing there a moment earlier had disappeared, and she quickly rationalised the incident as a combination of the looming storm and Jack putting ideas into her head with all his talk of ghosts.

After shaking it off, Alex hurried to join Jack at the foot of the steps, and the two of them ascended towards the solid wooden door which was gently rattling against the doorframe in the cold wind. Years of neglect had caused the hinges to loosen up, and Jack wondered how safe the rest of the house would be. As he pushed the heavy door open, it let out an audible creek, and he knew they were about to find out.

After opening the door, Jack stepped across the threshold first, then he coughed a little as the dust disturbed by opening the door caught in his throat. He brushed away a few cobwebs from near his face, then stepped further inside to let Alex come in behind him. Once inside the house, he turned on his flashlight and shone the wide beam around the entrance gallery.

Directly in front of them, there was a large wooden staircase with sturdy looking banisters that led to the first floor. An old, deep green carpet lined the stairs, and Jack could make out a distinct worn track up the middle, presumably being where the footsteps of the residents would have been concentrated when the house was occupied. There were rooms on the right and left of the door, and there was a long passage behind the staircase that lead to further rooms. The mansion was considerable in size, and Jack knew it was going to take some time to work their way through it.

“It doesn’t look like anyone has been here in years,” Alex said from behind Jack, and her voice was amplified in volume by the acoustics of the gallery.

Everything around them was coated in a thick layer of dust, and there were cobwebs everywhere, including on the old wrought iron chandelier hanging above their heads. Alex turned on her own flashlight, moved away from Jack, and stepped through the open double doors of the room on the left of the main entrance. Her footsteps echoed loudly as she moved across the old wooden floorboards.

“What are we looking for exactly?” Alex asked Jack as she shone her light around what she identified as a study.

In the room, there was a large wall to ceiling bookcase which held enough books to be classified as a library. There was also a large oak desk near the window with a worn brown leather chair behind it, and a small wooden coffee table in the centre of the room, right beside a moth-eaten green velvet couch. When Jack did not answer Alex’s question immediately, she turned around and was momentarily worried when she did not see him there.

“Jack?” Alex called out, taking a few tentative steps towards the other side of the gallery, and all she could hear was the sound of her own footsteps. “Jack?” she called again, but that time a little louder.

When Alex still got no response, she carried on forward, using her flashlight to guide her. But, rather than feeling fear, she was annoyed by the fact that Jack had wandered off, leaving her on her own. So, as she walked into the room on the far side of the gallery, she called Jack’s name again, and her heart began beating a little faster when he, again, failed to respond.

After a while, as Alex stood at the entrance to the room, looking at all the furniture covered in sheets of dust, rain started falling, and she could not hear the soft footsteps creeping up behind her. Suddenly, a hand gripped her shoulder at the same time as a sharp crack of lightening lit up the room, and she jumped, letting out a gasp of terror.


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