“Bump in the Night” is a short horror story I was playing around with during my holiday. Enjoy!
For best effect: read after dark, just before bed.
Sarah opened her eyes. Her bedroom was dark. The only source of illumination was the white hue of her phone. Sarah reached blindly, knocking it off her bedside table to the floor. Now the room was pitch black.
She decided it wasn’t worth the effort of leaning out of bed. Text, email, whatever; it could wait until morning. Sarah only hoped she hadn’t damaged the screen. She closed her eyes and found the way back to her slumber.
Sarah’s eyes opened once again. The room was unchanged, it was impossible to know if she had drifted off for just a moment or a for an hour. Why had she woke again?
Downstairs, Sarah heard a bang.
She lay still in her bed, her breathing becoming a little less easy. She was groggy. Had there really been a bang? Even if there had been, it easily could have come from outside—a cat messing around in the garden or something.
There was another bang, and now Sarah was sure it originated from downstairs. Her heart thumped hard and a million thoughts swarmed around her brain.
It was probably too dramatic a move to call the police. She had only moved into the house a few days ago. Surely old houses were meant to have bangs and bumps in the night; it was more likely the noises were being caused by the boiler rather than some sort of intruder. Still…
She would call her Dad. He was a tall man, sturdy like an oak even in his aging years. If he thought it sounded serious he would bring her brother, perhaps. Hopefully, it would turn out to be nothing and they could all have a good laugh at her expense.
She reached for her bedside table but found nothing. A vague, tired memory of her dropping the phone hung somewhere in her mind. Shit.
She leaned up slowly in her bed, willing her eyes to adjust to the dark. Her bedroom door contained glass panels. An unusual decor choice leftover from the previous owner, but it meant she could see the landing and the top half of the stairs. There was nothing. Everything was still. Everything was quiet. As far as she could tell at least.
In her upright position, she reached over the side of the bed and patted the floor, keeping one eye on the stairs, just to be sure. Her hand found nothing.
She stole a quick glance at the floor. Yesterday’s clothes she had strewn about before bed, but no phone that she could see.
The stairs were still empty. She tossed the clothes across the room, expecting her phone to have somehow wormed its way under the mess. But there was still nothing.
Her phone was gone.
‘It can’t be.’ she whispered, double and then triple checking the floor around her bed. She strained her memory, yes, she remembered knocking it to the floor, remembered the hard noise it made as screen struck floor.
She abandoned her careful guard of the stairs and tore her bed apart. The sheets, pillows, the duvet. Each was checked and then discarded in the mad search, her panic rising. There was no question, the phone was gone.
Sarah jumped at the sound of another bump, this time louder than ever.
She slid as silently as she could from the bed, tiptoeing across her bedroom. The cold of the night assaulted her body, covering her in goosebumps. She picked through the mess she had made of her room until she found what she was looking for: her dressing gown. She threw it on and tied it tight.
That was one vulnerability sorted. Now Sarah scanned her bedroom in a vain search for a weapon. All she had was her drinking glass. If there was an attacker downstairs she would probably do more damage to herself with such a tool, but she took it nevertheless.
She tried to open the bedroom door as quietly as she could, but a damning creek from an ill-fitted door rang out for anyone to hear.
Sarah froze. She waited and listened but there was no further development downstairs.
She crept forward onto the landing, and, holding her breath, peered down the stairs.
Everything was still. Everything looked normal. Sarah’s hand holding the glass shook.
Step by step she made her way down the stairs. More and more of her new house came into view. The hallway looked undisturbed, the front door was closed, there was no hint of a light. All good signs.
Sarah walked backwards going further into the hall while still keeping her eye on the front room and the adjoining kitchen to the right. Carefully, she made her way a set of tools she had used the day before. A hammer lay on top. She replaced her drinking glass. The weight of the tool filled her with fresh courage. To her left was a doorway which led to the front door, a quick peek revealed this room to be empty. The front door was locked.
Sarah inched forward back into the hallway. From this angle, she had a clear view of the front room. She raised the hammer high and willed herself forward and into the kitchen.
Not daring to breathe, she sprung into the room, looking all around.
There was nothing there.
The backdoor was also still locked. After a cursory search of the few remaining rooms, finally, she started to relax. She checked the whole house a second time, this time turning on lights as she went until finally she collapsed exhausted on her sofa.
With her house now illuminated she was finally starting to relax. Her fingers crept into the sides of the sofa cushion. The search of her house hadn’t turned up her phone, but Sarah was glad of that—she would have felt pretty silly calling her Dad over nothing. She must have imagined dropping it in the night, she’d searched every inch of her bedroom with no luck. The only conclusion was that she’d misplaced it somewhere else. Wherever it had ended up, Sarah decided it could wait until morning.
Outside in the dark something stood perfectly still. The thing breathed in and out with a low rasp. The bright light from the house only helped shroud to make the thing less visible in the shadows of Sarah’s garden. Eventually, the house returned to darkness, and the girl made her way back upstairs to bed.
In its one hand, the thing clutched at a mobile phone with a deep crack down the glass screen. In its other hand, it clutched at something else.