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  • Bilvy

23. Bump In The Night

Beau waited for Isaac to sit down behind Adelaide so he could choose a spot further away from him. He set his camera down and sat cross-legged on Adelaide’s other side, looking at her laptop screen over her shoulder. She had already claimed a piece of pizza from one of the boxes that Mark had just brought in, which sat open on the floor between them.

“How’s the stream going?” Isaac asked as he reached for a slice.

Adelaide covered her mouth with one hand as she chewed. “It’s a good one, we’ve had a heap of requests for questions to ask the spirit box, and a couple of new top tier patrons.”

Isaac nodded as he listened, then leant forward to throw a shy peace sign up for the camera. “Thanks, guys!”

Beau focused on separating a slice of pizza from the box, taking his time to tear the crust where it was only half-cut. He was already feeling a little tired and slow– normally they would have napped in the afternoon to prepare for a full night of recording and exploring, and they’d only catch a few hours of sleep on the property before dawn would break. With Beau’s recently turbulent sleeping schedule, he was relying fully on their esky of cold brew coffee and energy drinks to get through the night.

So, he was partially zoned out while Adelaide and Isaac chatted to each other and the chatters watching their stream. He didn’t even realise they were talking about themselves until he heard Adelaide say, “6’7”,” out of nowhere.

“Huh?” He whipped his head up. Isaac laughed, which caught him further off guard.

Adelaide ignored him and continued scrolling through the chat window to catch up with messages she may have missed. “And to the, like, three people asking: yes. I’m single. Yous are real horny tonight,” she said in a relaxed, deadpan tone.

Beau choked on a mouthful of cheese as she rattled off responses to personal questions like it was nothing.

“I thought these streams were for questions about the location,” he asked weakly after finally clearing his throat.

Adelaide laughed as she dusted off her hands. Just as she turned around to answer him, they heard a tentative voice calling them from the bar.

“Uh, guys?”

The trio looked over at Mark, where he was sitting at a barstool in front of an array of monitors and screens. He turned to them, a small frown on his face.

“Something just set off the motion detectors on the second floor.”

Isaac and Adelaide exchanged a look. Adelaide spun back to her computer as Isaac started to stand.

“Looks like we’ve got to cut this pizza party short!” She announced to her camera, already buzzing excitedly in place. “Mama’s gotta hunt some ghosts. Thanks for coming!”

The chat exploded with caps lock and excited emojis, right as she shut the laptop lid to end the session.

~~~

The adrenaline rush from a possible spirit encounter was enough to wake them all up so they could explore the building with a lively attitude. Beau followed them with his shoulder-mounted camera, while Isaac and Adelaide captured their own footage on smaller handheld camcorders and a bulkier infrared one. Every now and then they’d switch it up and separate from each other, Beau always following one of them to catch some live reaction to whatever they came across.

The building was extra creepy in the dark, but aside from a few bumps and mysterious scratches, the night was mostly uneventful. It was close to 3:30am when they regrouped back at their sleeping bags, without so much as a creaking door caught on their cameras.

Beau laid on his back with his hands folded over his stomach, staring up at the wooden beams lining the ceiling. It was a hot, humid night, so he had a leg sticking out from his unzipped sleeping bag, his hair still tied up to keep it off his neck. Even though the thin texture of the blanket was comfortable in the heat, the weight of it was flimsy and left him with the same restless feeling he kept having in his bunk.

He heard something shift beside him, and turned his head to see Isaac lying on his side, watching him. His chest tightened when he saw the glint of Isaac’s glasses in the dark.

“Hey,” his host whispered, one arm tucked comfortably under his head. “You up again?”

Beau frowned gently, processing the question slowly in his exhausted state. “Again?”

“Mmm,” Isaac hummed in confirmation. “You’re up on the bus a lot, right?”

Beau took a deep breath and turned his head to look back at the ceiling. Isaac had noticed? He hated the heat that filled his throat at the thought of his host seeing him at such a vulnerable moment.

“I can see the glow of your phone screen through the bunk curtains,” Isaac explained to fill the silence.

“Ah… Sorry,” Beau muttered, nervously glancing at him again. It was difficult to make out any of his features in the dark, but he could see Isaac’s silhouette move as he shrugged his shoulders.

“It’s not annoying… I just wake up sometimes and notice it. Sorry you’ve not been sleeping well…”

Beau exhaled slowly. “Thanks,” he murmured.

Aside from his little shrug, Isaac hadn’t moved, and just laid there looking at him. Beau found himself glancing around to see if Adelaide or Mark were awake, but their sleeping forms were still and silent. It was just him and Isaac, watching each other in the dark, sharing a quiet, unexpected moment.

He tried to turn away, tried to emotionally step back from the man who seemed to be leaning in again– but as his eyes adjusted better to the dark, as the curve of Isaac’s jaw became clearer in the shadows, he felt glued to him. Trapped in this intimate moment he didn’t want to give up, to take for granted.

He was only grateful that Adelaide’s sleeping bag was between them, keeping him physically blocked from shifting closer and sliding an arm around Isaac’s waist.

~~~

Beau didn’t realise he’d fallen asleep until he awoke to the sound of a loud bang. He jolted and sat up immediately, his mind primed for interruptions as they tossed and turned on the floor of the old saloon.

Isaac was already sitting up as well, and Adelaide was lifting herself up on her elbows.

“What was that?” she mumbled.

Isaac stumbled to his feet and approached the bar. He held his tired weight against it as he scanned the various monitors for any discrepancy that may have been picked up by one of their cameras.

“First floor, massacre room,” he grumbled, rubbing the sleep from his eyes with one hand, the other pointing at one of the monitors. “There’s something on the ground. It must have fallen over?”

Adelaide scooped up her microphone pack as Beau stood to find his camera. “I’ll go have a look while you check the footage,” she instructed, beckoning Beau over as she clipped the microphone to her shirt collar.

Beau strapped on his belt and clipped his own microphone pack to it, then hiked the camera onto his shoulder. By the time they’d reached the foot of the stairs, both of them were wide awake and filled with anxious energy as they followed Adelaide’s torchlight to the next floor.

She checked an EMF reader as they explored, but the device remained silent as they hurried towards the source of the bang. When they emerged into the room Isaac had pointed to, they stopped in the doorway and looked down at the plank that was misplaced in the middle of the floor.

The radio on Beau’s hip beeped, so Adelaide unlatched it and held it up to her mouth. “Isaac?”

“It’s in there,” he confirmed. “That plank just fell from the ceiling. The camera doesn’t see that high up, can you check it out?”

“Copy,” Adelaide replied, before hooking the radio back onto Beau’s belt. He stood back and filmed as she approached the fallen piece of wood, then peer up at where it had come from.

“Is anything in here with us?” she called out, always the one to jump at the opportunity to commune with a spirit. They waited in silence for any kind of reply, before she stepped forward again. The floorboards creaked under her weight.

“Addy,” Beau spoke up, catching her attention. He turned his camera up to the ceiling, and she aimed her torch to light up the dark shadow where the plank was once attached. “I caught a glint of something up there.”

Adelaide squinted and stepped back to get a better look, but struggled to find an angle that would light up the hole in the ceiling. After a moment of silent deliberation, Beau approached her with the camera held out.

“Here, hold this and I’ll take a look.”

Adelaide adjusted quickly, exchanging the camera with her torch so Beau could light his way into the ceiling. When he stood to his full height, there was barely a foot between the top of his head and the shadowy gap above him. His arm hardly extended to reach up and shine the torch into it.

His radio beeped again. Beau reached down with his spare hand to grab it, whilst keeping the torch held high.

“What are you doing?” Isaac’s voice filtered scratchily through the device.

“Checking it out,” Beau replied simply. “I saw something light up in the camera, so I want to see if it’s…”

He trailed off when he turned his torch to the side and spotted that glimmer again. Adelaide stiffened when Beau silently put the radio back at his hip, then gripped the torch between his teeth. He leaned forward slowly, both hands reaching up for the hole.

“Beau? What is it?” Adelaide snapped, a trickle of anxiety shaking her voice.

With his arms fully extended into the hole, Beau suddenly flexed. The room filled with the sound of loud incessant scratching, before he flung himself back with a strange mound gripped between both hands.

Adelaide screamed and jumped back, then burst into laughter when her eyes adjusted. Isaac’s voice came shouting through the radio again, but he slowly trailed off when he saw Adelaide doubling over to try and calm her laughter.

Squirming between Beau’s hands was a wild opossum, snapping its jaw and flinging its little claws around in the air. He held it carefully by the scruff of its neck while his other hand supported the base of its tail, his arms outstretched so its attempt to bite and scratch wouldn’t reach him.

“What the fuck is that?” Isaac gasped through the radio.

“I think it’s an American possum,” Beau laughed, shouting so Isaac would hear him through the floorboards.

Adelaide had just about calmed herself and finally approached to film the creature up close. It was a scruffy, ferrety thing, with a long snout and a pale face. Nothing like the teddy bear-like marsupials that curled up on tree branches in Australia.

“Put it down before you get rabies!” Isaac pleaded, his panicked tone coming through surprisingly clearly, which only made Adelaide fall back into a fit of snickering.

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