Unwelcome Visitors

Standing at the window, Francis saw them coming. Their red car was creeping up the long cobblestone driveway towards the large, dark mansion that he called home.

Not another one! This was what, the third group this week? He had sent three complaints to the housing agency, but there had been no reply. When that hadn't worked, Francis sent another six letters to the police department. After all, it was trespassing! But he still received no reply. Francis just didn't understand the fascination these people had with his house. They didn't even ring the doorbell; they just picked the lock and came right in. Just like this group was about to do.

Francis hurried through the dark corridors as fast as an old man his age could, barely glancing at the portraits of his ancestors that decorated the walls. He got there just in time as six people were opening the large stained-glass front door and entering the dimly-lit hall of his family mansion. Francis stood at the top of the stairs, entranced as he watched them look around. For some strange reason, they were all dressed in black, and had large old-fashioned cameras swinging from their necks. In fact, their attire was very similar to most of the people who came to Francis's house.

"You ready?" a man with short blonde hair said, loud enough for Francis to hear him from his position at the top of the stairs.

"Shhh!" the woman beside him hissed. "Be quiet, it'll hear you!"

Francis blinked. Where they talking about him?

"Sorry," the blonde man said meekly.

Clutching their cameras, the group slowly started creeping towards the large doors to the left of the front entrance. When they were a considerable distance from Francis's hiding spot, he decided to move closer. He dashed down the stairs, wind rustling behind him, and watched them enter what he knew to be the dining room. He had made progress this visit: usually groups left very soon after entering. Not this group however, they seemed very determined. Francis only wished he knew why. But he supposed there was only one way to find out, so he followed them inside.

Luckily, the group was already on the other side of the room and did not hear him enter. Francis hid behind the old-fashioned but magnificent table which spanned the majority of the room. His family had always prided themselves on their home, and it showed. The deep red Victorian wallpaper was adorned with some of the finest paintings in the land, and the table and chairs where golden, antique and beautiful. Francis remembered hosting many a banquet in this room, but that had been a long time ago, when the house had been a thriving and lively place. It was just him now.

Francis turned his attention back to the group. They were taking photos of all his possessions, almost obsessively. They even took photos of the cobwebs in the ceiling corners.

"These will be great for the brochure," a woman with long, bewitching black hair exclaimed happily.

"The black and white photography just gives it that old-fashioned feel, doesn't it?" the blonde man from before agreed.

"There's been no sight of the main attraction yet, though," she sighed.

"I'm sure it'll turn up," the man reassured.

"Just look at this artwork," another woman mused. "Beautiful, isn't it?"

Francis' heart swelled with pride. Even though these people were in his house for some strange reason that he could not figure out, at least they appreciated the magnificence of his family's mansion.

"Thank you," Francis said automatically, flattered.

All six of them jumped, as if struck by lightning.

"Wh-What was that?!" the black haired woman stammered.

Francis rose from his hiding place behind the table.

"I'm sorry for scaring you," he apologized quickly, "I'd just like to know –"

But Francis' question was interrupted by their simultaneous bloodcurdling screams.

Before he could say anymore, all six of them sprinted out of the room, slamming the door behind them.

"Wait!" Francis shouted after them, following.

They looked back, eyes widening as they saw Francis hot on their heels

"Get it open!" the blonde man yelled, as the black haired woman wrenched opened the mansion's beautiful front door.

"Please wait," Francis called desperately, huffing. A man his age should definitely not run so hard. "I just want to know why you're-"

But it was too late, they were out the door. Francis stood next to it, pressing his ear against the glass panels.

"That was close!" one of the men said, breathing heavily.

"We didn't even get one picture," the black-haired woman said, sounding almost mournful. "Our brochure will be a big disaster! How can you write a brochure on the most haunted house in the country without even one picture of the ghost?!"