I’m the last one. I don’t know how long I have left. Either she’ll get me or the cold will. The ink is freezing as I write by the light of my FLIR C5’s torch but I must write. No one can ever make the mistake we did. You, reader, you must stay away from this house. If you have found this note, you’re already in danger. Leave. Leave NOW. Make sure no one ever comes here again. YOU MUST LEAVE.  

I think I’m in the cellar. There’s wine and a small, boarded-up window at the top of a stone wall. Skinny silvery spikes shoot through gaps in the wood. They offer just enough light to catch a peek of the twitching grass outside. My FLIR C5’s battery is running low, I’ve reached the last 30 minutes of its 4-hour operating time, soon the torch will go out and I’ll have nothing, no torch, no thermal imaging to help me navigate out of here. Not that I could, this crumbling house is a shifting labyrinth. No matter, most likely I’ll have expired before the battery.

The temperature’s dropping. I’ve taken a thermal image. It says the floor is 1°C. That was a minute ago. I'll take another. The temperature is 0°C. She's coming. Quick! Let me tell you why I’m here…

Naivety.

31st October: the four of us, Arthur, Flora, Miles, and I, entered Wilson Manor. We were going to disprove the ridiculous urban myth that the ghost of the wild Miss Wilson, who in life had lured people into her home to torture, still roamed the halls of Wilson Manor. We were going to silence the scaremongers once and for all. How could we have been so stupid?

We entered the house with:

Now, I have this pen and a FLIR C5.

Pushing open the towering, black doors we entered a sprawling foyer. In the centre, a staircase spilled down to meet us like a tongue in the snarling mouth of a wolf. At the top, two smashed glass windows glinted like eyes daring us to climb. And, stupidly, we did. We marched up those dark mouldy steps by the light of our torches with an arrogance that is particular only to those young people who have yet to be tested - yet to really see or feel the cold light of day.  

On reaching the landing, we were hit by a stench that seemed to reach down your throat and yank at your oesophagus. Pulling our scarves up around our noses, we noticed a steady creaking. Convinced this could only be caused by the wind blustering through one of the many smashed glass windows, Flora and Miles switched on their Testo 815 and Martindale SP79 Sound Meters and we headed along the rotting landing towards the noise. Flora and Miles led the way followed by Arthur and myself. As we sneaked down the hallway, the light from our torches slipping over portrait upon portrait of haughty-looking aristocrats with upturned noses, bloodshot eyes, and sneering smiles, the creaking began to get faster, and faster, and more erratic.

Suddenly a bang erupted from the room at the bottom of the hall and its door smashed open. The Martindale SP79 Sound Meter’s bar graph jumped up the screen while digits ran into incoherence on the Testo 815’s digital display, as from the dark pit at the end of the hall a creature, the like of which I have never seen before and pray that I never see again, slowly emerged.

Standing tall in a blue moth-eaten dress, a Victorian horror with grey skin, wild white eyes, tangled brown hair, and bloody hands came gliding towards us. She fixed her carnivorous gaze on our throats and a sadistic smile, comprised of veiny gums punctuated by the occasional decaying tooth, slid across her face as she silently drifted closer, and closer, and closer. Astounded and petrified we raised our thermal cameras to capture this unearthly event. But to our great surprise and even greater terror she could not be seen through them; not even Arthur’s FLIR T1020, with a thermal resolution of 1024x768px, exceptionally high thermal sensitivity, and large touchscreen 800x400px display, could capture the monstrosity before us. Blood froze in our veins and our breath turned to ice in our throats as we looked upon a ghost-less but harrowing scene smothered in a blue haze becoming darker and darker as the temperature plummeted.

Shaking, we lowered our thermal cameras. I slowly tucked the FLIR C5 into my back pocket without taking my eyes off the ghoul before me. But before we had a chance to turn and run a deadly scream exploded in the air; it cracked in our bones and clasped a fist around our hearts. Harmonising with the ghost's lethal cry were two yelps of pain. The Testo 815 and Martindale SP79 Sound Meters, unable to withstand the horrendous noise despite an upper limit of 130dB, had blown up in Flora’s and Miles’ hands. My friends collapsed to the floor clutching at their necks as blood pulsed through their strained fingers from holes gauged in their flesh by shrapnel. Gasping for breath and gagging on the stench that had intensified with Miss Wilson’s appearance, they drowned in a pool of their own blood as their thermal cameras, the Hikmicro OWL and Fluke TiS75+, rolled towards our feet unscathed.

Arthur and I were unable to move. Perversely, if it hadn’t been for the gleeful screech of Miss Wilson, as she pounced on the draining corpses of our friends, we may have died on that landing with them. Perhaps that would have been better? Released from our stunned state but unable to breathe through the thickness of the stench enveloping us, Arthur and I grabbed Flora and Miles’ dropped cameras and ran down the stairs.

In what seemed like another life, it had taken us minutes to strut up these steps, now it felt like hours elapsed as we sprinted down them. Out of breath and still choking on the air, we stopped halfway. Foolishly, we turned to look behind us. Using Flora’s Hikmicro OWL, I engaged the Highest Temperature Target Tracking function; her blood, mixed with Miles’, was still the hottest thing in the room. Fighting the urge to vomit, I set the monocular to record evidence of the very thing we could not believe we were seeing. As the vampiric ghost gorged herself on our friends’ blood, her writhing movements shifted the edges of the pool as though a tide was coming in and out at various points around a lake. Though Miss Wilson was still nowhere to be seen, horrifyingly, a red spot would emerge from the pool like a flare as she raised her head and the heat from the blood smeared around her snarling mouth could be picked up on the thermal image. Beside me, Arthur was also recording the unbelievable scene. Using Miles’ Fluke TiS75+, he cycled through six thermal colour palettes to find one that captured the movements and blood spot most distinctly. Activating the Voice Annotations function, he started to add frantic voice notes to the footage in a futile attempt to document what should have been unfathomable.  

Stopping to record footage and voice notes, as it turned out, was a mistake. The murderous ghost of Miss Wilson, attune to all sound, was not content with her meal so long as two potential victims were roaming her halls. She reared like a great dragon. The hot blood around her mouth burnt like fire and purple patches appeared like stab wounds (if only) on her blue dress as the hot liquid dripped from her chin. Terrified, Arthur and I ran down the remaining stairs, as, airborne, she shot after us with her teeth bared and her dress fanning out around her like wings.

We crashed against the bottom of the hallway, dropping our torches in the chaos, and made to wrench open the door but the handle had gone. The wood had gone. The door had gone. Pressed against the wall, we fumbled on the floor to find our torches. Luckily (or perhaps unluckily), we found and turned them upwards just in time to see her torpedoing towards us with an unhinged jaw. Arthur dove one way and I went the other. I smashed my torch and lost Flora’s Hikmicro OWL in the darkness. Disorientated, I pulled my FLIR C5 Compact Thermal Camera from my back pocket. But before I could switch on its built-in LED torch, Arthur’s scream tore through the air. It’s the worst sound I’ve ever heard and I’ll wager the worst sound that I will ever hear. Worse, even, than my own dying screams, the noise of which I believe I’ll know soon enough. Arthur’s shriek was excruciating and bloodcurdling, but what chills me is the warm wash of relief I felt upon hearing it.

Disgusted but determined to live (which I now know is a pointless endeavour), I scrambled to my feet, turned on the FLIR C5’s torch, wrenched open the first door I arrived at, and descended a twisting, cold set of stone stairs into the musty, creaking cellar in which I now find myself. 

In the time it has taken for me to write this story and give you my desperate warning, the FLIR C5 tells me the temperature has dropped another 4°C. She is coming. The ink is shrivelling inside my pen. I only hope I have written enough to scare you away from this place. I pray you never have to hear or see or smell or feel the things I have. A bang. She's found the door. It’s getting colder. The air is getting thicker with her smell. I can barely breathe. She's coming. I only have minutes. Please! My end is inevitable but yours is not. I beg you with all my heart and everything I have left, please, please, please LEAVE!