“Jack! What did you do that for?” Alex scolded, and Jack looked a little sheepish as he stood there before her.

“Sorry Jones, I couldn’t help it,” Jack responded, shrugging with a smile tugging at his lips.

“It wasn’t funny,” Alex said pointedly.

“You’re just saying that because I scared you,” Jack said smugly.

“You didn’t scare me,” Alex insisted.

Instead of responding, Jack stared Alex down and raised his eyebrows. He was sure that he had frightened her a little, and he wanted her to admit it, if only to get her back for teasing him earlier.

“Okay, maybe you scared me a little …” Alex finally said, then she paused. “But it’s an irrational fear,” she added, unable to conceal the truth.

“Come on Jones, there’s a lot of ground to cover in here,” Jack said, quickly changing the subject because he knew that getting back to the task at hand would distract Alex from his prank.

“Maybe we should split up then?” Alex offered.

Even though Alex was not entirely comfortable with being alone in what was beginning to seem like an unsettling building, she wanted to prove to Jack that she was not a wimp after he scared her. Jack was surprised to hear her suggestion, and that surprise registered on his face with his eyebrows raising and his eyes widening.

“You’re not afraid to be on your own now, are you?” Alex said, smirking.

“Hey, you’re the one who squealed when I touched your shoulder,” Jack retorted.

Alex’s response was to shove Jack’s shoulder with her hand and push past him. “I’ll be upstairs,” she said, heading for the grand staircase in the middle of the gallery.

“Just yell if you find any weapons okay?” Jack said. “And be careful, the floors in these old houses are notoriously dangerous, and I don’t want you falling through them.”

Instead of responding, Alex simply waved a hand over her shoulder, acknowledging Jack as she began ascending the stairs. Jack, on the other hand, just shook his head as he watched her go. Sometimes she infuriated him. She was very independent, and she insistent on proving to him that she was capable of taking care of herself.

With Jack now left alone on the ground floor, he began taking a cursory look around what appeared to be the den. The mansion certainly showed no signs of anyone having been there for many years. The dust on the wooden floors at his feet was undisturbed, and the stale air suggested the windows and doors had not been cracked open in many years.

Using his flashlight, Jack began peering under dust sheets and opening drawers, looking for a weapon they could connect to the murder or murderer. If their witness was correct, the suspect had hidden the evidence there, believing no-one would find it for a very long time, if ever. As he moved around the room, he wondered if it was all a wild goose chase. Surely, if the suspect had been there, there would be some sign of that.

While Jack was busy, there was a sudden creaking of floorboards above his head that startled him at first, but he then realised that it was just Alex making her way through the upper floor. He laughed a little at his quick jump to a different conclusion. He figured that, with all his talk of ghosts, he had spooked himself a little. So, as he continued with his search, he blocked out the creaking, but he could not block out the next noise he heard.

While Jack was crouching on the ground in order to peer into a cabinet, he heard what sounded like a wail. He cocked his head to the side and listened carefully, then he heard the noise again, but that time more clearly.

“Jones?” Jack said.

When there was no response, Jack stood up and called out to the forensic technician again, but he still got no response. The wail became louder though, and Jack believed it sounded like a distressed young woman. On realising that, he immediately believed that something might have happened to Alex, so he left the den and headed for the main stairs.

After Jack took only two steps up the stairs, a loud banging noise from one of the back rooms drew his attention. He looked up the stairs, then turned around and began making his way to the back of the mansion with his hand resting on the gun at his hip. He could not take the chance that they might not be alone there.

As Jack approached a heavy wooden door halfway down the back passage, the banging noise grew louder. He then took out his gun, shone his flashlight directly in front of him, and cautiously pushed the door open. Once the door was opened, the light from Jack’s flashlight bounced off a large mirror hanging above a fireplace, and he was able to see his own reflection. In the dark night, he looked decidedly pale, almost ghostly.

After looking at himself in the mirror, Jack took a look around for the source of the banging, and he felt a sudden chill in the air. He then let out a sigh, and when he breathed out, he saw his own breath, like on a cold winter day.

The noise in the room persisted, but Jack could not see anything moving in the room. The window was closed tightly with a thick wooden board nailed across it, and all the furniture was motionless. Yet, as Jack moved across the large room, the banging continued, and it seemed to grow louder, until he could not stand the noise anymore.

After a while, Jack turned to leave, and as he was turning, his eyes caught the mirror above the fireplace and they widened in shock. Scrawled messily across the mirror in large letters was the word “RUN”. He knew that the word had not been there when he entered the room moments ago, and he could not deny the rapid beating of his heart as he stared at it.

When Jack shone his light on the mirror to get a better look, he saw that the letters were written in red … in something that looked like blood. The noise in the room persisted, and he heard a haunting whisper in his ear that gripped his heart with fear. In his ear, there was a shallow voice repeating the same word over and over again: RUN … RUN …


Tell us: What do you think Jack and Alex need to do next?