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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9. False Pretences

As he pinned her against the wall and started to kiss her again, Jean wondered for the thousandth time why she let Andy do what he did to her, time after bloody time. She didn’t know what the hell to call their relationship anymore, but it sure as shit wasn’t love.

“You like that?” Andy said, his hot breath all over her neck. Her cheeks were drizzled with a drying crust of tears and eyeliner, but if he’d noticed, he hadn’t given a shit. Jean jabbed her chin towards his throat, sighed, and said nothing.

“Hey,” he said, running one hand down to cup her chin as the other slipped south of her waist. “Look at me.”

She did. She looked him right in the eyes, wondering if, for once, he might say something other than-

“Bet you’re not thinking about Kevin now, are you?”

Never mind.

“Andy,” Jean hissed, planting her hand on his chest and pushing him back. “Please stop it.”

“Stop what, babe?” he murmured, locking his arm tighter around her waist and leaning further over her. “This?”

He went to kiss her again, but she shoved him back, more firmly this time. Jean grabbed his wandering hand and dragged it back above the waistband of her jeans. The fingers of his other hand were prying at the laces holding her jumper together, but he’d always been shit at knots. She let him fiddle till he gave up.

Jean felt a cold shiver running down her spine like water, and instinctively, she wrenched herself out of Andy’s grip to look into the corner of the room. Something foggy prickled the corner of her vision and then vanished.

“Fuck, what’s got into you?” Andy laughed his nasty little whiny laugh and pushed himself back from the wall, one arm still planted on the crumbling stone next to her head.

“I…” Jean stuttered. She never stuttered. “I don’t know.”

“Well, me neither, woman,” he said, putting his other arm on the wall over her other shoulder. “Fuck this. Why do I even bother with you?”

“Yeah, good question.” Jean said. “Why do you bother with me, Andy?”

“I don’t know, Jean,” he said, chuckling again. “I mean, you’re a bloody gorgeous girl, and you used to be kind of fun. Now, I’ve gotta be careful where I step or I unleash the psycho-bitch.”

“True,” Jean said, standing up properly. He shot a nervous glance at her shoes as she stepped towards him without a wobble.

“Andy.”

He looked up, almost as though he was angry she’d distracted him from the stone floor. “What?”

She stared right back. He was trying to patronise her with his eyes. All she had to do to keep her composure was squash any emotions that crawled onto her face, so she dragged her mouth into a line and wiped her eyes blank. It was all a matter of acting. She could do that. She’d been doing it for nineteen years. Easy. Easy. It was easy. Just like her.

“Ah,” Andy said, pointing at her as an obnoxious grin spread across his face. “I know that look.”

She cocked her eyebrow, tweaking a dull ache from her new piercing. “Oh?”

“Yeah.” Andy shrugged and furrowed his brow, shaking his head and letting the smile drop all the way to the ground floor. “You are thinking about Kevin.”

She burst. “Like fuck I am!”

“You so are!”

“Shut up, you jealous twat! We’re just friends! I’m not a fucking two-timer!”

“Oh, really?” Sarcasm swung into Andy’s voice. “So you’ve never done anything on your bloody twilight filming sessions but talk, have you?”

She shook her head. “And film, you dumb shit.”

He raised his hand towards her face. She didn’t even flinch. For all his fucking muscles and tough-guy talk, he’d never so much as prodded her.

“Right!” He said, lowering his hand. “Oh, right! So he’s never tried it on with you, has he? Kev’s never tried anything? Bullshit! I’ve seen the way you two look at each other!”

“Not everyone on this earth’s a fucking perv like you!

“The whole bloody crew’s seen the way you act together, you stupid bitch! What was that bullshit this morning, leaving me to go sit with that fucking loser? And then he just upped sticks and fucking grabbed you!”

“Andy, he was helping me up, and I moved because you kept fucking grabbing me.”

She cut herself short with a yelp as something toppled over with a CRASH from underneath them. Once she was alone with the thudding of her heart again, she cursed herself. Why was she suddenly so jumpy?

Because she’d seen a ghost? Yeah, maybe.

“Why’d you leave me earlier, then, huh?” Andy interrupted her. “I went-”

“I went upstairs,” she said.

“No, you didn’t!” Andy said. “I went looking for you, and you weren’t fucking there!”

“That’s because I ran out again.”

“Yeah, right!”

“I did! Because I saw-”

“You were looking for Kevin, I know you were.”

“Well, so what if I was?” Jean said. “Maybe I just needed someone to fucking comfort me!”

“Why didn’t you come to me?”

“Because you’re an asshole!”

The truth was that she had been with Kevin. Kevin, her best friend who actually gave a shit about her feelings and made an effort to make her feel better when she needed it. She needed it a lot, it was true; she was a wet blanket, a fucking damsel in distress. But Kevin wasn’t, and hadn’t ever been, anything other than her friend. She wished Andy would believe her.

“I’m not an asshole!” Andy said after a very, very long pause. “Kevin’s a fucking psychopath!”

She almost laughed. Almost. Maybe a little.

“Oh, really? Kevin’s a psychopath? How? How’s Kevin a psychopath, Andy?”

“Jean, he’s fucking jealous as fuck.”

She frowned. “Uh, no, he’s not.”

“Yes, he is, Jean! He’s a jealous piece of shit! He’s out to get me even though I haven’t done shit to him!”

“Andy, you’re a bastard to him. He doesn’t deserve it.”

“Oh yeah? Well, how do you explain my missing cameras, then?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Your missing cameras? The fuck are you on about?”

“Someone stole them! Took them from right under my nose!”

She rolled her eyes. “Oh! You mean your white box of random ghost-hunting bullcrap!”

“Oh, I’m sorry, but what the fuck are you calling bullcrap? I’ll bet you ninety-nine per cent of the viewers are there because of me!”

“Well, if that’s the case, they obviously can’t tell you have no clue how to use a fucking camera! Where’d you last see them?”

“In the kitchen.”

“Well, I’m sorry, but it wasn’t Kevin. He’d never do that to you, and you know it. That how you see me, Andy? You want me to have no—one to fucking talk to but your dumb ass? If you just wanna shove your hands everywhere but the fucking kitchen sink without actually having to ask your girlfriend when something’s wrong, why don’t you just-”

“Oh, that’s the problem, is it?” Andy yelled. “You want me to ask you what’s wrong? Well, then, what the fuck’s wrong? I knew something was up with you!”

“Well, why didn’t you ask?”

A cold gust of breeze from the wound in the ceiling wiped itself across her face and she winced, picking tendrils of black hair out of her mouth as she waited for Andy’s response.

When it came, it was softer.

“I’m sorry, babe. Tell me what’s wrong.”

“Right.” She walked to the window and dared to put her weight on the remaining fragments of windowsill, cold purple sheets of winter air pressing against her back. Here, she could smell the scorched wood and the dust and the musty, dusty rottenness of the building’s carcass, and somehow, it was less cloying than Andy’s fucking aftershave. He didn’t come any closer, but he was watching her in that lecherous, flattering, intoxicating way he always did. Shit, she was shallow. Shallower than the filmy spit of stagnant water at the bottom of the cracked fountain on the lawn. Why did she let him do this to her?

Jean yawned and picked another lump of black from her eyes. It was only about six in the evening and she had to stay awake all night. This was going to be fucking fun, wasn’t it? Yeah. Not to mention the fact that the house may have been slightly more haunted than she’d first thought.

“Jean!”

“Yeah?”

She turned back around and narrowed her eyes at him. He was standing in the same place as before, with a ‘Well, get the fuck on with it’ expression on his face. Pointedly, she wiped the last traces of him from her mouth and took a step towards him.

“Andy, I saw a ghost.”

He blinked at her, a gloriously gormless expression on his perfect face. Then, he spluttered, shaking his head and looking at her with disbelief.

“You fucking what?”

“You heard me.” The words snagged. “I saw a ghost. In here, a couple of hours ago.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“What kind of ghost?”

“Like, uh…” she swallowed, her voice high and syrupy and thick in her throat. “The woman who died in here, um… Alice. I saw someone up here, like, a woman with no head and blood all across here.” Jean waved her hand across her chest and frowned down at the undone laces before starting to tie them back up.

When she looked back up at Andy, he was shaking his head, a frown crumpling his forehead like orange paper. Jean sniffed and felt another tear dripping off her nose. She remembered running down those stairs in a blind bloody panic. She knew what she’d seen. And she knew Andy wouldn’t believe a single word.

Andy shook his head. “You bitch.”

She blinked. “The fuck did you just call me?”

The smirk was wiped off his face. “I just-”

“No,” she said, taking another step towards him. “The FUCK did you just call me? Go on! Say it again, I FUCKING dare you, Andy! I FUCKING dare you!”

She was screaming now, hot angry tears cutting grooves in her cheeks. So much for the mask of composure.

“I called you a fucking BITCH, Jean! What are you, deaf?” Andy jabbed a finger at her chest. “Why the FUCK would you say something so bloody stupid? You’ve seen a GHOST? Really? You expect me to believe that?”

She swallowed a sob. “I know it sounds stupid, I KNOW it bloody does, all right? I just want you to LISTEN once in a while!”

“You want to make me look fucking stupid! You think this is a joke? You think I’m a joke?”

She brushed her hair off her face. “Yes, Andy, I bloody do! I think it’s a joke that we can’t even be in the same room together without you feeling the need to grab me like I’m your fucking pet. I think it’s a fucking joke that we can’t even have a fucking conversation without arguing!”

“Well, maybe you should just shut up and do as I say, then, instead of ripping me to shreds!”

“That’s NOT how relationships work!”

“Well, if that’s not how they work, then maybe you should go find one that works for you, psycho bitch!” Andy yelled. “Go run downstairs to Kevin, why fucking don’t you? I’ve had enough.”

“Good. Me too. Kiss my arse, Andy.” Jean sighed and swallowed. “This was never love, but I never fucking loved you.”

He let loose some kind of shocked burst of laughter. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“Did you ever love me?”

“No, of course not.”

“Good. Then give me back the key to my apartment you stole and get the fuck out of my life.”

“Fuck you. You’ll come back.”

She was already out in the hallway. “No, I fucking won’t!”

She would, but it still felt so good to be out of that room. In that room, she’d felt like she was being watched; it was colder than the rest of the house and she only had to close her eyes to hear weird voices whispering inside her head. Dumping Andy for the fifth time that week was an added bonus, not that it was going to last.

She walked towards the stairs, only barely twisting her ankle on the loose flagstone at the corner of the corridor. The cycle of breakup, makeup, breakup, makeup was impossible to escape for long, but maybe she’d be able to stay away from him till the morning. Probably not, though. She wished she could just walk right out that door and bugger off into the woods, but she couldn’t.

She had a job to do. She was stuck here with Andy all night.

Oh, and the ghosts too.

Fucking wonderful.

The back door stuttered open behind her with a wet wooden creak.

“Hey.”

Jean stiffened for a second when she heard Kevin’s voice. Shoving her anger down into the pit of her stomach, she turned, smiled and gave him a wave. “Hi.”

Kevin was smiling, just like always, even though he looked like he’d been dragged backwards through a hedge. The icy wind had stained his face, his already-unruly mop of black hair was sticking out in random places, and there was a bright orange leaf clinging to his shoulder. In her messy state, though, his green eyes were going to be even easier to fall into than usual. Wondering why she was such a pathetic piece of shit, Jean looked up at the ceiling. She could hear Andy pacing around upstairs, exaggerating his footsteps like a stroppy teenager having a tantrum. Kevin raised his eyebrows at her, and then, without a word, he walked forwards and wrapped his arms around her. She let herself breathe out and hugged him back.

“You’ve got grass in your hair,” he said when he let her go.

“Oh. You’ve got a leaf on you.” She reached up and peeled it off his shirt.

“Wonder why, Andy didn’t tell you.”

Jean fiddled with the leaf, tearing it to shreds with her fingertips, letting them flutter to the ground like rotten confetti. She raised her eyebrows as she reached a hand up and dragged the dry lump of grass out of her hair. “Because Andy put it there.”

Kevin just said, “Oh.”

“I’m sorry about the noise.” It occurred to her to wipe the tears off her face. “We were just having a fight. It won’t happen again, though… hopefully.” She smiled. “For a while.”

“Jean, it’s all right. You don’t have to say sorry.” Kevin tittered. “You might want to say sorry to Gerry, though; he’s going spare over his shooting schedule.”

She laughed. “It’s done with.”

Kevin looked at her. “You know-”

“No, I mean it this time. I know I say it all the time, but this time I mean it.” She looked at him and grinned, properly, for the first time in hours. “We broke up, Kev. Uh, again.”

He smiled nervously. “You did?”

Kevin’s smile was so sweet and genuine it was pathetic. It was pathetic because it made her feel pathetic. Jean smiled wider, and cursed herself for it. Why did she let him do this to her?

“Uh, yeah.”

“And… how do you feel about it?”

“Um, yeah. Yeah, I feel good. He called you a psychopath. I told him to go fuck himself. It’s good.” She averted eye contact. “It’s all good.”

“Jean, that’s great. If you ever need to, y’know, talk about it, you know where I am.”

She smirked. “Ah, I don’t know. I don’t think Andy would like us two talking to each other.”

“Well, screw him. I want to talk to you.”

“In a completely innocent and non-suggestive way, of course, not that he won’t read everything into it and start spreading rumours.” Jean grinned. “I don’t have to give a shit for a few hours.”

Kevin raised one eyebrow. “A few hours?”

Her smile dropped. “Well, I mean, yeah. Won’t last forever, will it? Not like any of our breakups last.”

“Do you want it to last?”

“I dunno. Maybe.” She shook her head. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll sort it out.”

“Well, you know, I just want you to be happy. I worry about you.” Kevin blinked. “Sorry. None of my business.”

“It’s okay.” Jean tried to smile.

Kevin took his glasses off and stuck them in his pocket, then took them back out and put them on again. He always did that when he was nervous.

“I, uh… have to go. I’ve got work to do in the driveway.”

He left by the back door.

Jean sighed as she leant against the skewed doorway of the kitchen, looking up at the charred crusts of ceiling-beam. Then, she stood up in shock as her gaze travelled downwards. The walls of the kitchen were the colour of rusted metal and the floor was blackened, thickened, curdled by flames and age. It was no surprise, really, that the white plastic box sitting right in the middle of the floor was immediately obvious. It was the box, she knew, that contained all of Andy’s cameras; the one he’d supposedly lost.

“How hard did you fucking look, Andy?” Jean smiled to herself as she walked over to the box. She allowed herself a little wobble at each step, contemplating as she did so what to do with Andy’s cameras. Should she leave them there? Give them back? Kick them into sawdust? Set them on fire? Chuck them out of the bedroom window? Smack him over the head with them? The possibilities were endless.

And, when she reached the box and got a chance to look inside, she realised none of them would be necessary. Someone, or, at least, something, had already done the wrecking for her.

And it sure as shit hadn’t been Kevin.

“What the fuck?” she murmured, running a hand over the mangled mess of melted black plastic inside the box. Some of the ruined cameras had melded together and some had fused to the sides of the box, which was so badly melted it looked like it was about to fall apart. Jean swore again and dropped to her knees, looking out of the hole in the kitchen wall at the dead night sky, feeling the sickening press of the cold air against her face. When she gritted her teeth and stuck her hand flat against the solid lake of curdled plastic, that was even colder.

As she sat there, staring, wondering how the hell this could even have happened, and letting the scroll of weird shit she’d seen since getting here play through her head, the feeling seeping like liquid through her chest was the coldest of all.

Without thinking, Jean grabbed the box by both its handles, cursed as she dragged it up off the ground, and managed to adjust its position in her arms till she could just about manage its weight. She wanted to find Kevin when she opened the front door, but instead, those two idiots, Tony and Dave, were sitting on the steps. They were dying of laughter about something she couldn’t have cared less about. Jean had no idea when or how this wisecracking blond idiot had managed to break down the gargantuan walls of sarcasm Tony Belgrave had built around himself, but hell, he’d done it. She guessed they were friends now, but she couldn’t help wondering whether Tony would ever notice the way Dave looked at him.

She would have turned and gone back inside, but at that moment, Tony spotted her and immediately stopped laughing. He nudged Dave, who took a little longer to get the message.

“Uh…” she said, slackening her arms to take the strain of the box. “Guys?”

At the sound of her voice, which sounded limper and more pathetic than a damp rag out here in the wind and the rain, Dave turned around. He didn’t say anything.

“Yeah?” Tony said eventually.

“What’s wrong?” Dave said. His voice was loaded with attitude, so Jean decided to ignore him and just talk to Tony. The ghost expert. The wacko. The gullible paranormal nutcase. Yeah, he’d know exactly what to do.

“Don’t ask any questions, please,” Jean said, noticing Tony was about to say something. They’d clearly been holding back laughter the last time she’d seen them, and if she’d been one of them, she probably would have laughed too. Like Andy had said, she’d looked a right bloody mess. She was an embarrassment.

“Don’t make me feel like an idiot for getting scared,” She continued as Tony kept staring at the box. “Just look at this.”

Jean dumped the box down on the ground, watching Tony and Dave exchanging glances before Dave peered over into the box.

“Holy shit,” he said with a shred of confusion. “What the hell’s this?”

Tony looked over Dave’s shoulder and audibly gasped. “Holy hell. Is this…”

He looked up at her. She shrugged.

“Andy’s cameras. Yeah.”

“Well, what the bloody hell happened to them?”

“Haven’t a clue. Just found them in the kitchen.”

Tony looked at Dave. Dave looked at Tony. Jean shook her head in disbelief at both of them.

“Hey! You guys! Can someone explain this bullshit to me, please?”

Tony looked back at her. “Well, do you, uh…”

“I haven’t a clue, Tony, and before you ask me to admit there’s ghosts in this house, yeah, I bloody believe it. I just broke up with Andy over it.”

Dave looked to Tony, then back to her. “How long d’you reckon that’s going to last?”

Tony snorted. Jean scowled at them, but they were right.

“Fuck you.” Jean said.

“Fuck you too.”

“Come on, Dave!” Tony said. “Give her a break, would you? I mean, look at this shit!”

“Easy for you to say, Tony!” Dave said. Jean looked at Dave and spotted the purpling, yellowing bruise peeking out of his hood. “The ghosts aren’t bloody hunting you down!”

“Well,” Tony said, looking back at the box. “Give them enough time and I reckon they’ll be hunting the lot of us.”

Jean tried to roll her eyes, but her muscles were seizing up. “Right. You think we should say something?”

“We already did.”

Jean blinked. “Uh, what?”

Tony withered her with a look. “Dave and me, we, uh… already talked to Philip about this.”

“Like fuck Philip’d believe you!”

“I know.”

“We didn’t know what else to do,” Dave said. “Short of legging it out of here and ruining the episode.”

“We can’t do that,” Jean said.

“Why not?”

“Because our jobs depend on it! I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a damned decent salary and I’m not giving it up because of some fucking harmless spooky bullshit.”

“Harmless-”

“Shut up, Tony. Harmless. You were hired for your fucking geek appeal, so don’t pretend you know what the fuck acting is. You can’t pretend like you really understand this job.”

“I never claimed to understand this job.”

“Acting isn’t something you leave at work, you know! It’s a bloody life skill, and it’s useful. The cameras stop rolling? You don’t stop acting. If your boss or your boyfriend’s being a dick to you, because you’re a woman, or for whatever damned reason, you shut up, smile, and say it’s fine. Life’s easier that way. Life’s easier if you keep your mouth shut and your face straight and don’t fight every damned thing all the time. You wonder why I’m always scowling? Because I’m a bitch? Yeah, I’ll openly admit it. But being a bitch is easier than freaking out and making your problems everyone’s problems. If you’re scared of something? If you walk into a bedroom and see a fucking ghost in the doorway?”

Tony and Dave glanced at each other. She got it. She was the most overemotional person in the world, lecturing an idiot and a sarcastic deadbeat on calming down. Just because she preached it didn’t mean she had to practice it.

“If someone asks if you’re all right, you don’t need to tell them everything, because the world doesn’t care about your problems. If you find this shit on the ground-” She smacked the crate with her hand. “You stay calm, you keep your head level, and you get on with the job. It’s the only way you get anywhere in this world. Acting. Pretending. Nobody’s genuine. Everyone does it. Everyone including you.”

Her thoughts flickered back to Kevin as she got up to go back inside. She wondered, not for the first time, if he was pretending to like her. As the door rattled shut, she heard Dave muttering something about women and breakups. She could have marched back out there, could have screamed at him, but she didn’t need to. She breathed in. Calm. Collected. Normal. Blank.

She breathed out. Harmless. The ghosts were harmless.

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