"This exact spot is where seven-year-old Emily Farnam drew in her dying breath," spoke the guide, pointing to a dark, stone stairway located outside the house. "When Everett Farnam built his manor in 1834, this area was a cistern. The young girl fell into the water while playing and drowned, unnoticed. Little Emily's ghost is rumored to dwell here, in the only home she has ever known."
I felt a cold chill race up and down my spine. Nearly dusk on a late fall day, leaves scattered and danced in the sudden gusts of wind. A large shadow suddenly swept across the autumn carpet and over my boots. Turning my head, I watched a large black raven land in the utmost branch of a dead tree. The sentry, an ominous omen, sat watching the activities, its sharp talons wrapped around the brown limb of the tree. When I finally broke free from the creature's mesmerizing spell, I realized with a sudden wave of apprehension that my group had vanished.
The wind furiously lifted the strands of my hair, whipping them across my face. The sun sank lower into the horizon. I stood alone with only the dead leaves, raven and ancient edifice as company. I hurried to the front of the building, rushing past a pair of stoic stone lions standing guard. Ignoring their bared teeth, I threw open glass paneled doors, relieved to recognize the soft glow of the group's orange lanterns ahead of me. I walked into the parlor and quickly developed a fascination with a picture hanging nearest the door, attempting to nonchalantly merge with the group.
"Funny story about that picture," spoke the guide, coming to stand beside me. "When I first bought this house, I hung this picture of my ancestors on the wall."
She pointed to the charcoal painting of a stern man and woman. "A few days later, the picture was upside down within its frame." I turned to face her, clearly puzzled. In response, she delicately lifted the artwork off of the wall. Turning it over, she revealed a smooth wooden backing with no signs of tampering, and a single hook on the top edge of it.
"What I witnessed was impossible. The other witnesses agreed. This frame can only be hung right-side-up upon the wall. The picture itself cannot be removed from the frame; it will crumble with age if touched. A few days later the picture mysteriously returned to its original orientation, as it hangs now."
Having finished her explanation, she hung the ancient picture back upon the wall. Unnerved, I followed as she led the group out of the room, stealing one more backwards glance at the picture. Shaking my head in disbelief, my eyes fell upon a baby doll lying on a small table underneath the frame. I started as a lifelike shimmer emerged in the formerly dull eyes of doll. I rushed out of the room, seeking the protection of the group from any other adventures the night would bring.