Bump in the Night

Bump in the Night is a ghost-hunting programme that’s different from all the others. That’s because none of it’s real.

Tony has always wanted to be a real paranormal investigator. His co-workers are perfectly happy to build their careers on falsehoods and cheap tricks, but Tony’s always wanted something more. Something real. Unfortunately, he’s about to get his wish.

When the crew set up in the infamous Lansfield Hall, it soon becomes clear that this won’t just be another normal day. One by one, the crew start to realise there’s more to those spooky ghost stories than they first thought. Subtly spooky antics turn into all-out carnage, bottled-up tensions rise to the surface, and a simple job turns into a fight for survival. If they want to live to see the sunrise, they’ll have to abandon the script.

They aren’t real ghost hunters, but that doesn’t matter any more, because these ghosts don’t want to be hunted.

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15. Broken Strings

For at least five minutes, there was silence.

“Shit’s sake.” Travis said eventually, yanking his phone back indoors and ramming it into his pocket. Tony did the same, and so did Gerry and Andy. Dave kept his phone clutched in his hand, and Tony vaguely noticed from across the room that Kevin still hadn’t moved. His silhouette against the wall was almost stiff in its stillness.

“Wait a second.” Gerry looked around, wringing his hands close at his chest, his eyes wide. “Is everyone here?”

“Uh, no,” Tony said. “Jean, um… wanted to stay outside.”

He watched as Kevin’s head jerked up.

“She what?” Andy almost laughed. “Bloody idiot! Jean!”

There was silence. Then, the door stuttered open and Jean stumbled through, holding her arms out by her sides as she leant against the doorframe.

“You called?” She said. She shot a glance at Tony, who looked back down at his feet.

“What were you doing out there?” Andy said. “Why didn’t you come in with us?”

“I just…” she covered her face with her hands for a second. “I was scared, alright?”

“Scared?” Andy scoffed. “Scared of what?”

“Oh, you know.” She waved her hand. “Everything.”

“Just like always.” She and Andy said in unison. Jean laughed, wiping the last of the tears from her eyes.

“This time it’s different,” Jean said. “I mean, I saw a ghost in here.” Andy went to interrupt, but she glared at him before continuing. “Not this morning. This evening. This evening. I saw her. And this time, I know she was… real.”

“You broke your sodding ankle running away from a ghost?” Andy said. “Seriously?”

“It wasn’t just that.” Tony jumped at the voice from right behind him. It was monotonous and thick and sullen, and it took him a minute to realise it was Kevin. He’d pushed himself away from the wall and was walking slowly across the room, one hand rubbing his forehead, the other still forcefully stuffed in his pocket.

“It wasn’t just that,” Kevin repeated, looking up at Jean. “Was it?”

“N-no.” She said. “I, uh… I mean, you… Something happened to you.”

Kevin didn’t say anything.

“Woah.” Dave looked at Tony and stepped forwards, his crappy phone still leaking light onto his arm. “Something happened to Kevin? What?”

“Nothing.” Jean shook her head. “I just wanna get out of this… room.”

“Yeah,” Tony said. “I think that might be a good idea.”

He shot a sideways glance at Kevin, who’d started slowly shaking his head back and forth.

“Hey,” Andy said as everyone turned to leave. “Kevin.”

Kevin didn’t say anything, but he stopped shaking his head.

“Kevin!” Andy yelled. “Oi! Look at me, I’m talking to you!”

“Uh… what’s wrong?”

“I wanna know what you were doing in here.”

Kevin cocked his eyebrow, his eyes out of focus. “What do you mean?”

“You were meant to be out in the corridor! What were you getting up to in here, huh?”

“Look, I…” Kevin took a step back towards the door. “I don’t want to start anything, okay?”

“Bullshit! Jean, don’t you dare!” Andy said, pointing beyond Kevin’s shoulder as Jean made a move towards him. “We’re still together, alright? I’m sick of pretending not to notice your bullshit. Both of you!”

“Hey!” Dave yelled, holding his arms out. “Are you fucking serious right now!”

“Stay out of this!”

“Andy!” Jean yelled.

“Shut up, Jean!”

“No, you shut the hell up, Andy!” Dave yelled. “Someone’s just died, and we’re in deadly fucking danger! This is the worst possible fucking time for this shit!”

“I don’t care!” Andy said. “I’m not in danger, okay? So what if the fucking spooks are out for us? They ain’t got nothing on me! They ain’t got nothing on us! Look! Do you see that?” Andy spun in a circle. “Look! No shit flying round! How the fuck else could they hurt us? That’s right; they fucking can’t. They fucking can’t!”

“Andy!” Jean yelled again. “He-”

“If you defend him one more time, Jean, you’re for it!” Andy yelled, turning round. “What-”

Andy!” Jean said. “Shut the fuck up! I’m trying to talk to him!”

“Yeah, of course you are!” Andy said. “He’s better, isn’t he? He’s better to talk to than me! Bet he’s not better-”

“He’s not fucking moving!” Jean yelled. “Look!”

Tony shoved his way past Andy and saw Jean standing next to Kevin, holding both his shoulders and staring up at him. Kevin had buried his head in his hands, his limbs so rigid they were like a plastic mannequin’s.

“Kev!” Jean yelled. “Kevin!”

Kevin shook his head and whimpered slightly.

“No…” he mumbled into his fingers. “I can’t… I can’t…”

“He’s just looking for attention,” Andy said. “Leave it.”

“No!” Travis said. “I think he’s gone into shock. Kevin! Can you hear us?”

Nothing.

Tony looked over his shoulder and caught Dave’s eye. Dave’s eyes were wider than he’d ever seen them before and his mouth was slightly agape. Tony knew what Dave was thinking, but he didn’t want to believe it.

Dave shook his head and simultaneously, he and Tony took a step towards each other.

“I’ve got this,” Andy said, smirking a little as he walked up and shoved Jean out of the way. She stumbled on her broken ankle, almost falling, but Dave grabbed her and she pulled herself back up against the wall. Her eyes had darkened and she was glaring. Not at him; at Andy.

“Hey, Kev,” Andy said, clapping his hands in front of Kevin’s face. Nothing. “You know what I think? I think you just want attention. You can hear every word I say, can’t you? Yeah. I’d better make them count, hadn’t I?”

“Andy.” Jean pushed herself off the wall, shaking her head gently. “Stop. Something… mm.” She screwed her eyes shut. “Something’s… wrong.”

“Yeah, something’s wrong!” Andy said. “I’ll tell you what the fuck’s wrong. He’s what’s wrong! If he had nothing to hide, he’d fucking talk to me, wouldn’t he? You’ve got one more chance, Jean. Tell me what the fuck really happened in here. I know you didn’t see a ghost. You’re just saying that to hide something from me, aren’t you?”

You saw the ghost in here, you colossal piece of shit!” Dave yelled. Tony looked at him, shook his head, then turned back.

“Shut up, you bunch of idiots!” Andy said. “Can’t you see we’re having a conversation?”

“We’re not,” Jean said. “I’m not. I can’t. I’m getting out of here.”

“Not you, bitch,” Andy said. “I was talking to your boyfriend.”

“Well, he’s not answering back!” Jean said. “Is he? Is he? There’s something wrong with him!”

“Of course there’s something wrong with him!” Dave yelled over the racket. “Can’t you see? He’s- he’s…”

“He might not be,” Tony whispered. Dave took another step towards him, huddling down like a scared child. They, just like everyone else in the room, were still staring at Kevin.

Kevin still wasn’t moving. His fingers parted slightly for his eyes, which were still clamped tight shut. He was breathing hard; Tony could hear it from the other side of the room.

“Course there is!”  Andy said. “Hey, Kev. You want me to tell you what’s wrong with you? Coz I know exactly what’s wrong. You’re jealous. You’re jealous of me, aren’t you? Because I’ve got her. She’s mine, you hear that? You’re pissed off because you’re in love with Jean and she doesn’t love you back. You’re in love with her, but she doesn’t want love. She wants me, and no matter how many times I treat her like shit she’ll come running back to me. She’ll always be mine and there’s nothing you can do about that. I’m right, aren’t I?”

“You’re fucking wrong and he can’t hear you!” Jean said, narrowing her eyes and clenching her fists. She started shaking her head harder. “Please, just let me-”

“He’s faking it!” Andy said. “He’s faking it because he’s been going behind my back and now he’s too much of a pussy to fight me like a goddamn man. Kev, I know you can fucking hear me, so I’ll tell you something right off the bat. You’ll never have her. You’re a fucking weak, boring, pathetic, ugly nerd and she’ll never love you, because she loves me.”

“Stop it, Andy!” Jean yelled. “Fucking stop it, or I swear to Christ I’ll-”

“You’ll do what?” Andy said. “You’re crippled and limping, you idiot. You can’t do anything.”

“Seriously, I think he needs help!” Travis yelled over the racket. Gerry had covered his face with his hands, Dave’s mouth was hanging open in an are-you-fucking-kidding-me expression, Tony was staying quiet, Jean was delirious and fuming, and Kevin was still catatonic.

“He what?” Andy turned round.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but he needs help. Look, just let me-”

“No, I got it,” Andy said. “I’ll help him. Watch me snap him out of it.”

He raised his hand and shoved Kevin hard in the chest. Kevin took a step backwards and said nothing.

“Andy!” Jean screamed, grabbing his arm. He shook her off.

“Shut up. I’ll make the bastard hear me.” Andy slapped Kevin across the face. Kevin didn’t move. Andy slapped him again. Nothing. Then, he laughed and curled his hand into a fist.

Kevin opened his eyes, and then widened them in shock. He still didn’t move, apart from the slight tremble in his hands.

Tony saw it first. Behind Kevin, Jean, who’d buried her head in her hands, slowly dropped her arms to her sides and opened her eyes. She blinked, once, twice, and her mouth fell open and the whites of her eyes bled black.

Tony and Dave glanced at each other and gasped.

“Oh, sh-”

“Andy-”

“Fight back, you fucking COWARD!” Andy yelled, smashing his fist into Kevin’s face. It connected, and Kevin staggered backwards, grunting slightly.

“Andy!” Tony yelled, but it was too late. “Jean-”

Jean let out an inhuman, gurgled shriek and flung herself at Andy, knocking him to the ground and flinging her head up as she pressed both her hands into his throat. She looked at Tony- no, through him, and he saw the blackened veins crawling outwards from her eyes. Andy shoved her off him and she rolled across the floor, jumped to her feet, and screamed again before the scream ran into a disembodied sort of laugh. It wasn’t hers. Of fucking course.

“Oh my god! Oh my god! It’s her!” Tony heard himself saying. “It- it’s her, not him!”

“Oh, shit!” Dave yelled as the rest of the room gasped. Tony looked at Kevin, who was staring, but didn’t seem to be seeing much at all.

“Holy- holy-” Andy snarled and tried to struggle to his feet, but Jean crouched down, curled her hands into his shirt, and dragged him upwards like he weighed nothing. Then, she shrieked again and tossed him across the room, growling as he hit the wall and crumpled to the ground.

 “Wuh- wuh… what the…” Andy rolled onto his back and groaned in pain, the whine catching like he’d winded himself. He wiped blood from a gash on his cheek as he got back to his feet.

“You fucking b-b-bitch!” Andy said. “What the fuck was that? Kevin, the fuck was that?”

“Jean!” Tony heard someone- Dave, probably, or maybe Kevin- yell as Jean walked calmly across the room, sprung her arm out sideways, and forced Andy back against the wall with one hand. Andy struggled and thrashed, but he couldn’t move. Jean choked with laughter, her head jerking back and forth and sideways and tossing her hair upwards like it was underwater.

“Jesus Christ!” Tony said. “She-”

“She’s possessed!” Dave yelled, and Tony felt his heart sinking into his stomach. “She- she’s fucking possessed! She’ll kill us!”

“Just like Bernard,” Tony muttered. Dave grabbed his arm and pulled him back.

“Don’t go near her!” Dave yelled. “Everyone get away from her now! Andy!”

Andy didn’t say a word as Jean, his punching-bag, tightened her grip around his throat and lifted him clean off his feet. She pinned him against the wall by the neck, squeezing tighter and tighter and staring him dead in the eyes with her own dead eyes. Her hair was floating around her head, defying gravity, curling around like fog, and the tear-streaked skin on her cheeks was ridged with black veins. Her lips were peeling back from her teeth in a snarl, and then, without opening her mouth, she laughed again. She covered Andy’s mouth with her other hand, forcing his head back against the wall.

“Fuck!” Tony yelled. “Fuck! Somebody do something!”

Kevin whimpered behind him. Tony turned to look at him.

“Wh- wh…” He trailed off. “What’s wrong with her?”

Travis, without a word, ran forwards and locked his arms round Jean’s waist, trying to pull her back. She was like a stone pillar; she wouldn’t budge. Then, she growled and Travis flew backwards like he’d been slapped, stumbling and dropping to the ground. She hadn’t touched him. He got back up. Tony looked back at Dave, who was leaning against the wall with his eyes wider than saucers and both hands gripping his phone in front of his face. He was filming. He was filming the whole thing on his fucking Nokia.

Instead of protesting, Tony ran across the room and grabbed Jean’s arm, trying to pry her hands away from Andy’s neck. Her fingertips were shoved so deeply into Andy’s flesh that her long nails were drawing up thin lines of blood. Andy was spluttering and gulping for air like a fish swallowing water, trying to grab hold of the hand around his neck, but he was grasping at empty air. His face was turning red and purple. His eyes were bulging and drifting out of focus. God, Tony hated that asshole. He imagined loosening his grip. He wondered if it was already too late. Maybe it wouldn’t make a difference.

Tony turned his head and looked at Jean properly. Her mouth was pulled tight in concentration and she was biting down so hard on her lower lip that she was bleeding too. She looked back at him, with her eyes, those shark’s eyes which glistened like oil, and then, the laughter came again. Her voice. But not from her mouth. When she smiled, the veins painted on her face dripped further downwards, pressing harder against her skin.

Tony swore and tried not to retch as the blood froze and plummeted from his head. He could feel the hand under his starting to shift and recoil, and he pulled harder. Travis was still trying to drag Jean back from the wall, but the two of them weren’t enough. He wasn’t fucking strong enough. He never was. He was going to let someone else die.

“Someone-” Travis panted. “Someone-”

“Dave!” Tony yelled. “Put your phone the fuck down and help!”

“I can’t!” Dave cried. “What if-”

“I gotta!” Travis interrupted. He let go of Jean’s waist with one hand, pulled his fist back, and slugged her across the jaw. Her head jerked sideways, too far sideways, and then cracked back. He punched her again. She jerked her head back, fixing her black eyes on Travis. Then, she roared, grabbing him by his throat. She raised her leg and kicked him so hard in the stomach he flew across the room and struck the wall under the window.

“Travis!” Tony shouted, taking his eyes off Jean as she went back to trying to throttle the last dregs of life out of her ex-boyfriend. Travis stood up and staggered back. Blood flecked his shirt from the spikes on her shoes.

“I- I’m fine!” Travis ran back up to them. Jean screamed and let Andy fall to the ground; he crumpled like a dishrag and didn’t move. Then, she turned her attention to Tony.

Without thinking, Tony tackled her and went down with her, struggling up and pinning her to the ground. When he looked down at her, her eyes were closed and the veins were sinking away, but her body jerked and he was suddenly flung off her. Three, four, five feet up in the air. He hit the ground, the wind yanked itself from his ribcage, and he rolled onto his back before struggling to his feet.

“What- the…” Tony choked, turning to look at Jean, who still wasn’t moving. Her eyes were still closed and she was limp, like she’d fallen asleep.

“Did you knock her out?” Travis walked over, clutching his stomach.

“What? No.” Tony said, his heartbeat stabbing him in the throat as he struggled to breathe. “I think… she just- I don’t know! Just suddenly went limp. You know? Because...”

He shuddered and turned to Andy, who was slumped against the wall.

“Oh, he’s toast.” Travis sighed.

Tony shuddered. “No. Maybe not.”

He turned as Kevin ran forwards and threw himself onto the ground next to Jean. “Jean? Jean?” He was saying softly, mumbling to himself more than anyone else. “Can you hear-”

“Get away from her!” Travis pointed. “Get away! Nobody-”

“Travis, stop it!”

“What if she… if she starts again?”

“She won’t!” Kevin and Tony chorused.

“How? How do you know that?”

Tony said nothing. Kevin sat back on his heels and didn’t move. He was holding Jean’s hand.

Tony nervously turned and walked over to Andy. He dared to lean over him. “Andy? Andy, can you hear me?”

ANDY!” Travis roared. Tony turned to stare at the far wall, where Gerry and Dave were standing. Gerry had both hands over his face and Dave was staring at the floor, shaking his head, his phone still clutched in his hand.

ANDY!” Travis shouted again, making Tony jump. Nothing. Dave glanced down at his phone and Tony looked nervously at Jean, bracing himself for the moment she opened her eyes.

“Gerry!” Travis said, curling his fist into the bloody patch on his shirt.

Gerry looked round.

“Gerry, why the fuck didn’t you come and help?”

“I, uh…” Gerry looked around the room and shook his head, his voice thick with fear. “I didn’t want…”

“You didn’t want to get hurt?” Travis walked up to him. “Are you fucking kidding me? How fucking selfish-”

“Guys!” Tony yelled. “Not now!”

He shot a glance at Dave, who looked down at his hand and then rubbed his neck.

Someone below them groaned and Tony and Travis jumped, looking down at Jean. Then, Andy started coughing and clawing at his throat, lurching upwards and looking wildly around him.

“What the FUCK?” He yelled. “What the FUCK? Who- what- FUCK!”

Tony breathed out in relief, wondering why.

“Andy-” Travis started, but Andy flung himself up onto his feet, rubbing his neck and staring down at the blood on his hand.

“What the fu- FUCK!” Andy screamed, pointing at Jean. “What the FUCK did she just do to me? What the FUCK just happened?”

“Andy!” Tony tried to cut him off. Below him, Kevin was mumbling something nobody could hear.

“Fuck this!” Andy yelled, his voice wobbling and his eyes widening. “FUCK this BULLSHIT! Fuck all of you! Fuck this!”

“Andy-” Tony said again, trying to grab him, but he was shoved back so hard he stumbled.

“No!” Andy said. “No! No more! I’m done!”

And he ran out of the room.

“Hey!” Tony yelled at Andy. “Come back!”

He could hear footsteps rattling down the stairs, echoing off the walls. Before he could wonder why again, Tony had taken off after him, running down the hallway and down the stairs. He was already panting by the time he reached the front porch; fuck, he was unfit. And where the fuck was Andy?

“Where the hell is he?” Travis shouted, running down the stairs after Tony. Tony turned back and shrugged.

“I don’t know.”

From outside, they heard the sound of a car engine starting. Lurid yellow light poured in torrents through the scuffs in the walls and gravel- along with something else, probably- crunched under tyres.

Tony and Travis looked at each other and bolted for the front door. They ran out onto the driveway just in time to see Philip’s silver Mercedes, crumpled as it was like a tin can, peeling back from the driveway and kicking up broken glass as it vanished into the fog.

“Oh, shit,” Travis muttered, sucking in enough dusty air to make him cough. Oh, SHIT!”

“If I get out of here alive,” Tony said, “I am going to make him regret the day he was fucking born!”

FUCK!” Travis yelled again, turning around and kicking the front door with all his might. Rotten strips split from the wood and landed silently on the doorstep. “FUCK! How the fuck did we forget?”

“Forget about what?” Tony said.

“The CAR! We could’ve got out in the car!”

“I thought it was broken,” Tony said. “Didn’t think it’d still work.”

“Well, looks like it fucking DID, didn’t it?” Travis yelled, turning on him. Tony held his hands up.

“Look, mate, it’s not my fault.”

“No, Tony,” Travis said. “It never fucking is, is it? No, it’s all our bloody faults. ALL of us! We’re all going to die but ANDY DICKHEAD PRIDE!

He grunted with anger, kicking the step, and then flung the door open. They both re-entered the house just in time to hear screaming coming from upstairs.

“Oh my god, what’s going on now?” Travis said, breaking into a run. Tony was right behind him, bolting up the stairs and down the hallway towards the master bedroom. They reached it just in time to see Jean on her feet again, her outline lazily traced in white moonlight on the wall. Her hair was floating and her face was striped and her black eyes were wider than ever; those disembodied snarls were still oozing from her mouth. She had Kevin pinned against the wall, his feet dangling a foot from the ground, and was squeezing the half-arsed sobs out of his throat with both hands. He kept raising his fists, but then dropping them again; the stupid sod couldn’t bring himself to hurt her. Dave had dropped his phone but was frozen in the corner, his hands clamped over his mouth.

Fucking hell!” Travis yelled, running forwards and grabbing Jean again. Tony walked over to Dave and shoved him, hard.

“Are you serious?” Tony said. “Why aren’t you fucking helping? What’s wrong with you?”

Dave just shook his head and pointed to the window.

Tony swore and sighed. He turned back to the far wall just in time to see Travis driving his foot into Jean’s broken ankle, letting her fall as both her legs buckled with a crunch. Her neck snapped back as she hit the ground, slamming the back of her head into the flagstones. She lay silent, one arm flung out to the side, her hair dragged sideways across her face, her legs tangled together. Like a broken puppet.

“Oh, my god.” Travis was cursing. “Oh my god.”

Mmm…” Kevin winced in pain, holding his neck and sitting up on his heels. He steadied himself against the wall, almost collapsing next to Jean. “Nobody…ah. Nobody touch her. Nobody.”

“Where, uh…” Dave wiped his face as he bent to pick his phone up from the ground. “Where’s Andy gone?”

Tony and Travis looked at each other.

“Uh,” Tony said. “He’s gone.”

“What do you mean, gone?”

“He drove the fuck off to God-knows-where!” Travis yelled. “He left us! He fucking left us here!”

“He drove off?” Kevin said.

“Yeah. In Philip’s car, the prick!”

“He drove off…” Kevin trailed off. “Without her. Without us. He l-left her.”

“No shit, Kevin!” Travis yelled. “He left us! He’s gone! We’re stuck here for real now!”

Kevin just nodded and turned down to Jean, taking her hand.

“Hey!” Dave said. “Can we please just focus on the bloody important thing here?”

“Yeah,” Tony said. “We need to get out of this room, right now.”

“There’s only six of us left now,” Travis added. “We need to stay calm and think-”

“Five,” Dave interrupted.

Travis’ head jerked up. “What do you mean?”

Dave pointed to the window again. “Five.”

“No, there’s six of us! Where’d you fucking learn to count?” Travis said.

“He’s right,” Kevin whispered. “Five. While you were-”

“Me, Tony, Dave, Jean, assuming she’s coming back, you, and-” Travis stopped. Tony was already scanning the room. “Wait.”

“Where’s Gerry?” Tony said.

Kevin was still looking down at Jean, his eyes wide, but he shook his head.

“Did he run out?” Travis said. “Did any of you see him leave?”

“Well,” Dave said. “You could say that.”

His finger was still aimed at the window. Tony swore as his heart froze, breaking his composure and running to the window. For a second, as he looked down, he forgot there was no glass and almost fell right through. Almost. He managed to save himself. Someone else hadn’t been so lucky.

“Don’t look!” Dave yelled at Tony, but it was too late.

Tony didn’t say anything. He just straightened up, clamped his hand over his mouth, and swallowed vomit.

“What?” Travis said, running forwards. “What?”

Tony grabbed him and managed to hold him back. “No. He’s right. Don’t look.”

“What the fuck?” Travis said, his voice wavering and his eyes turning scared. “What happened? He fell- he fell out the window?”

Tony sucked in air and shook his head, accidentally locking eyes with Dave across the room. “Not exactly.”

Travis’ eyes fell on Jean. “He was thrown out.”

“Yep.”

“And now he’s in- in the garden.”

Tony closed his eyes, trying to forget what he’d just seen when he looked out of the window. Gerry hadn’t hit the ground. In fact, he’d only fallen a couple of feet. And yet, he was dead. Tony had known from the moment he’d first seen that tree that the branches were fucking sharp, but he hadn’t realised just how sharp.

“Not exactly.”

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