TITLE: Bump in the Night
AUTHOR: MystPhile
Distribution: Gossamer, Ephemeral, Spooky, Xemplary. Others, please ask.
SCULLYFIC Challenge: Required elements in end notes Spoilers: The Ghosts Who Tried to Steal Christmas Category: V, MSR, X Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Property of 1013

Web page, courtesy of Beaker: http://members.xoom.com/MystPhile/

Summary: A Halloween/Birthday/Ghost/Love story

She felt as if she'd stumbled into an old horror movie. Dust shrouded the neglected furniture, there was a cobweb veil across every doorway, dark stains of long-ago violence were splattered over the walls and tattered drapes. Only the haunting rumble of organ music was missing from the scene and she would have welcomed it to mask the hollow sound of her footsteps. The lonely echo reminded her that she had come to this place alone. Or so she thought, until something brushed against her shoulder.

Eewww, it was a bat. Just what she needed. Odd, she thought. Although she could take on a corporeal presence, as she had at the moment, she was in truth a spirit, what some ignorant people might term a ghost. But this setting was a bit much even for her. She wasn't sure where she was, exactly. All she knew is that she was condemned to wander the earth until she could recognize true love, a concept she had trouble wrapping her so-called mind around.

This deficit might be due to her youth. She had no idea how long she'd been wandering or how old she was in earthly terms. She knew only that she'd once been a young girl in New Orleans.

Her nickname, she remembered, was Poor Girl, or Po' Girl, a play on one of the great New Orleans' delicacies, the Po' Boy. She and her lover, Julian--whose name she remembered all too well--had fallen hard and hot and fast. Too fast.

Their teenage affair had been white-hot, burning itself out like a meteor. He was untrue; in retaliation, so was she. However, she soon found that the gander's sauce was not fit for the goose: He strangled her, cursing her soul, damning her in his rage. As her breath was squeezed out of her body, as her spirit took flight, she looked forward to the release. From pain, from false love, from rage, from vengeance. From the ignorance that she hadn't lived long enough to correct.

Unfortunately, her escape route was closed. Her unhappy soul remained on earth, totally out of her control, flitting here and there, being tested, and invariably failing. She'd been a failure as a young woman, and now she was a failure as a dead woman.

This was her first intimation that she'd acquired a new venue. That's how it always happened. Her consciousness would be aroused, she'd check out her surroundings, and there she'd be, in a new place, sometimes alone, sometimes with people to experiment on. But no matter who they were, her blinders remained in place as far as seeing love was concerned. She readily picked out all their vices; they were all so foolish, so vain, so little worthy of respect. How would she ever find release when given such pathetic subjects in her search for a recognizable love?

Often, Poor Girl despaired. If she'd never known love, if she'd only known passion, and fear, and hate, how could she ever escape these endless earthly wanderings? She glanced around.

This was the worst place yet. Bats, spiders, cobwebs. Ick. Sometimes she had been transported to elegant scenes peopled by the beautiful, the glamorous, women bedecked in glittering jewels. What a comedown this one was. Not fit even for a condemned spirit.

Then, she heard voices. She was accompanied not just by stray bats, but by human beings. Still, she didn't allow herself to wish for release. What kind of people, after all, could she hope to find in a dump like this? They would have to be real loons, to come here voluntarily. It was futile. She might as well just accept her fate and quit looking--go on floating, looking, sneering, rejecting. Had she been wise enough to read Shakespeare, she would have probably concurred with his line: What fools these mortals be.

Okay, so who is it this time, she asked herself, weary with the world. She floated toward the front hallway.

"Hey, this is great, Scully. Really neat, huh?"

Poor Girl saw a tall man in a leather jacket with a lock of hair falling over his forehead. She couldn't see his features that well, just glimpsing them in brief flashes from the

flashlight carried by his petite companion. She turned her attention to the woman with the tall man. Apparently her name was Scully. Hmm, she thought, her name is as strange as mine.

In the glimmers from the tall man's flashlight, she could see red hair, a slim, jean-clad figure, and wide blue eyes focused on the tall man. When she spoke, her voice was a musical alto.

"If you think it's neat, then that's all that counts, Mulder. Happy birthday. Never tell me I don't know what to get for the man who has. . . no material desires."

He--Mulder, apparently--laid his hand on the woman's shoulder. "This is a great birthday gift, the best I can remember. And I have to admit I'm surprised you'd do this after our little adventure last Christmas."

Scully shrugged. "Well, we got out alive. And for your birthday, I had to think of something you'd like to do. So I checked into your haunted house file and selected this one because it was located nearby." She flashed her light around, like a realtor showing off a highly desirable property. "Does it have enough atmosphere to satisfy your . . . desires?"

He brought his own flashlight into play, settling on the blood stains on the walls and tattered draperies. "Oh, yeah," he breathed. "Neat. This was a murder scene back in the fifties. The owner came home and found his wife with another man and shot them both."


"A couple of families moved in and then moved out quickly. It got a reputation for being haunted."

Poor Girl looked around, bemused. There were no ghosts here. She would feel it right away if there were. And she had certainly not been shot. She still carried the bruises around her neck, Julian's prints, a legacy of his hatred that would be with her forever. The guy--who was he, Mulder?--was wrong. But then, humans always were. They got boring. Should she do

something to these two, for her amusement? Make an appearance? Make some "ghostly" noise? Play with their heads? That too had gotten to be a bore. Her entire ghostly existence had begun to pall, no pun intended, she thought puckishly.

"Did the murder take place this time of year?" the woman named Scully asked.

Mulder shook his head. "Halloween? No, it was in February. But this is a good place to come for Halloween, Scully. Blood stains, an appropriate amount of gothic elements. Quite satisfying," he added, with the air of a connoisseur. "Thanks. It's a great present."

She sighed. "Who ever knew this is what it'd take to make you happy, Mulder?"

He laughed. "Cheaper than a tie, huh?"

She nodded. "Even in this light, I can see your smile."

"And you don't mind being here?"

She shook her head, giving a low chuckle. "Christ," she said, sounding amazed with herself. "I'm getting used to this stuff. I've spent so much time with you in dark houses, warehouses, factories, silos, mines, boats, islands. . . "

Poor Girl looked on in amazement. What was with this babe, she thought. She let this guy, who admittedly looked pretty good even in this light, drag her to places like this all the time? And tonight, she'd *chosen* to bring him here? Was she nuts?

Maybe the redhead needed a little lesson, she thought. And maybe Poor Girl was just the spirit to deliver it. Gotta separate them, she thought. Get this girl into my clutches. Deliver her a little spirit power. Poor Girl's form became visible, teeth bared in a grin, as she stood at the top of the stairs overlooking the couple in the hallway below. She sighed, very, very lightly.

Too lightly, as it turned out. The couple kept bantering. Did they never shut up, she wondered. They actually seemed to enjoy talking about absolutely nothing to each other, standing here in a filthy, chilly, blood-stained house. Assholes, she thought.

". . . paramasturbatory fantasies," Mulder was saying. "Can you believe it?"

"Well, yeah, I can," the woman replied. "I'm convinced that our minds did a number on us that night. There may have been something there, but it seems like we supplied all the ammunition.

So, I guess you were worried about devoting so much of your life to the quest, excluding other aspects. . . isolating yourself, being lonely."

"I never consider myself lonely. You're here."

She smiled. "Well, that was apparently one of my worries at Christmas. I kept thinking I shouldn't be. There, I mean. That I really should have something better to do, especially on

Christmas Eve."

"And you didn't?"

"Not really, hard as it was to admit. There's not much that's more important than being with you. That's what I found out that night. And what I tried to tell you the next morning."

He leaned down to gaze into her eyes. "Scully?"

"Yeah?" Her voice was a murmur. Poor Girl leaned over the railing to get a better look at the two heads inching closer.

"Do you give double birthday presents?"

Her teeth gleamed briefly. "What do you have in mind?"

He lowered his mouth to hers. From about an inch away, he muttered,
"You know precisely what I have in mind." The gap closed. It stayed closed for some time, and because their flashlights were illuminating the areas behind each of them, they appeared to be a dark clump, seemingly glued together, while moist, intense little gasps emanated up the stairs.

The clump broke slightly. "*Happy* birthday," he murmured, before moving back for more.

Jesus, Poor Girl thought. Now they're making out in this pig sty? What's with them? She stomped her foot, causing a hollow echo. It was the traditional bump in the night, she thought with a malicious grin.

Which had no effect whatever. Their bodies were grinding against each other, as best she could see. Yes, bump and grind. Two sets of hips entered the equation, and the flash lights danced like strobes with their writhing.

Jeez, Poor Girl thought, do I need to set off a bomb? She stomped her foot, then leaped up and down as hard as she could.

"What was that?" Scully asked, pulling away slightly. She sounded like a woman waking from a deep sleep.

Mulder nuzzled her ear. "Could it be what we came here to find?"

Scully slowly disentangled herself and flashed her light upward. She saw a slender figure with long black hair and long slender legs exposed by a micro-mini skirt. "Did you see that, Mulder?"

He was staring at her through the gloom in the hallway. "I'm looking at what I want to see."

"Well, not to engage in role reversal here, but I'd swear that I saw a woman upstairs. Surely, you want to go check it out."

He sighed. "If you insist. I think I prefer my second birthday present, to be truthful. But, since we're here. Upstairs?" He turned his light upward, seeing nothing.

"She looked young and beautiful. And she was wearing a very short skirt."

"What are you trying to do here, Scully?"

She shrugged. "I'm reporting what I think I saw."

"Okay. Let's go. But this time we stay together. Deal?"

He led the way upstairs, their lights darting in every direction. There was nothing up there but a very dirty, dusty hallway lined with cobwebbed portraits and tarnished chandeliers serving as clothelines for hanging bats.

"Wow," he said quietly, not wanting to disturb the bats. "Cool."

Poor Girl appeared in Scully's light. "There," Scully shouted. "This way."

But she was gone. "Here?" Mulder asked, opening a creaking door worthy of use on an old radio serial. Cautiously, he stepped inside while Scully scanned the hallway with her flashlight.

Gotcha, Poor Girl thought, slamming the door on Mulder and listening to him jiggle the knob in vain. "Scully," he shouted. "You okay?"

Scully too tried to open the door. "Yeah," she called. "Don't shoot off the lock. I'm right here."

She heard his shoulder thumping against the door, but then all sound vanished, as though clicked off by a remote control, and her attention was riveted by the figure walking toward her.

Poor Girl was several inches taller than Scully, very young, very bruised. Her eyes were hard as obsidian. The thumps of Mulder battering the door may have existed somewhere in time, but the two women inhabited their own dimension.

"You're Scully," Poor Girl said.

Scully stared into eyes which held no warmth, no mercy. "And you?"

The New Orleans accent came floating back through time. "Poor Girl" sounded to Scully like "Pogo," and when she said the name tentatively, Poor Girl didn't bother to correct her. She had more vital matters on her mind.

"I want to talk to you."

"Who are you?" Scully shone her light on the girl, stepping closer to examine the fingerprinted bruises on her neck. Poor Girl was shocked by this invasion of her space. She was used to humans fleeing or fainting, not stepping closer. This woman was mad, as far as she could see. The woman, however, was waiting for an answer to her question and she looked as if she had a lot of patience.

"I. . . I lived in New Orleans and my boyfriend strangled me. But I want to talk about you."

The woman, Scully, stared at her thoughtfully. "Every time I go to a house like this, I meet someone who wants to talk about me."

The spirit returned her stare, with interest. They both looked as if they were seeing a ghost.

Scully broke the silence. "So what's on your mind, Pogo?"

"Why. . . why would you come here voluntarily? A ratty place like this? Just because that. . . that guy you're with seems to think this dump is neat? And then you start making out with him. Here! Are you crazy?"

"I don't think so, Pogo. But, you know, running into things like you, sometimes I gotta wonder." She shook her head sadly.

"I'm not a *thing*! Pogo was indignant. "I just have to be a. . . a wandering spirit, without rest, until I recognize love. And there isn't any, so I'll be floating around the rest of eternity."

Scully looked interested. "What do you think love is?"

"I thought it was what I had with Julian, but, " she touched her neck, "I was wrong. Until it all went to hell, though, it felt like love. We were all over each other. All the time. I. . . I still like to remember it. Even after what he did."


"Yeah. Passion. Love. You think there's a difference?"

Scully nodded. "I think love. . . is, is giving the other person what he wants whenever you can, doing what you can to make him happy if it's at all within your power." She paused.

"Enjoying your time together, sharing ideas and activities."

The spirit nodded, contemplating Scully's words. "No sex? What did I see happening down in that hallway?"

Scully smiled. "The culmination of many years of getting to know and trust each other. A beginning." Her smile turned wry. "A tentative beginning."

Poor Girl's image became blurry, translucent, transparent, then was gone. As she removed her corporeal form, she could feel her spirit form also begin to dissolve. Maybe she could head for home, whatever it was, at last. She willed the door to unlock and Mulder burst through. In his mind, he'd been locked in the room for a few seconds.

"I guess the door was stuck," he said, joining Scully in the hallway.

"Well, you wouldn't believe what I thought happened to me while you were in there."

"Try me."

Scully looked hesitant to Poor Girl, still observing them carefully. Is this what love looked like, acted like? She watched their every move, listened for every nuance. Maybe it wasn't too late to learn.

They swayed toward each other, she noticed, without even thinking. They drew together like magnets, Scully's head tilted up to meet Mulder's eyes, even in the dim hallway where they could see little. On his part, he unconsciously angled his head down to meet her, focusing his full attention on seeing and hearing her.

Her voice grew softer as she addressed him. Its tone became intimate as she explained, "A beautiful girl. . . ghost approached me. Her name was Pogo. She wanted to talk about love."

"So did the last ghost," he told her. "The woman. She was convinced we were lovers." He leaned down and kissed her forehead. "Someone's trying to tell us something," he murmured. Poor Girl noted that his voice, too, grew soft and gravelly when addressing the redhead. "Maybe it's time to listen."

"Maybe it is," she said, moving into his arms and lifting her head. Their lips met again, first softly, then with more intensity. Her arms came up around his neck, her light darting like a firefly. His light pierced the ceiling as he gathered her closer. Their lips parted as they began to explore each other's mouths, both emitting tender murmurs.

Just like with Julian, Poor Girl thought, as her being prepared to disintegrate, hopefully to re-integrate with the universe. Only he was never that gentle, she thought. We went at each other like animals, all the time. These two . . . know who they're with. They're with the only person in the world they care about. No substitutes accepted. She nodded. Yeah, that's love. Too bad she'd never experienced it. Now she never would.

But surely, she thought, as more of her exited the house, they're not going to do it here. No, don't, she cried out silently.

Scully pulled gently away. "Not here, Mulder."

"But somewhere. Soon. Tonight." He kissed her again, ran his hand up her back, his flashlight cartwheeling. His hand tangled in her hair, sought out her scalp.

She tasted him, went back for more. "Yeah, tonight. Absolutely."

He pulled her close and pressed his nose into her hair. "What a birthday present," he whispered.

She angled her head back to meet his eyes. "It'll be a gift for both of us, I hope." Their lips met, met again, and kept meeting as they slowly descended the stairs and headed for the door.

As Poor Girl faded away, her last sight that of two lovers about to take their relationship to a new plane, she knew that her name had indeed been appropriate. Those who fail to recognize or experience love are the poorest spirits on earth.



1. Between now and Sunday night at 11:59 p.m., write and post your challenge story.

2. The story must be titled "Bump in the Night."

3. It must include at least a mention of Halloween.

4. It must include an original character named Pogo.

5. It must begin with this paragraph --

She felt as if she'd stumbled into an old horror movie. Dust shrouded the neglected furniture, there was a cobweb veil across every doorway, dark stains of long-ago violence were splattered over the walls and tattered drapes. Only the haunting rumble of organ music was missing from the scene and she would have welcomed it to mask the hollow sound of her footsteps. The lonely echo reminded her that she had come to this place alone. Or so she thought, until something brushed against her shoulder.

6. The story can be of any rating, any genre, any length you choose.

Anything goes as long as you have fun!

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