Things that go bump in the night!


Question: What spring has sprung for you lately?

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
Things that go 'bump' in the night
Should not really give one a fright.
It's the hole in each ear
That lets in the fear,
That, and the absence of light!

Spike Milligan

Spike Milligan - Wikipedia

I was drifting off to sleep last night, when a metallic tinkle sounded from somewhere beyond the end of the bed. It was surprisingly loud, but familiar, as I realised it was a teaspoon rattling against a mug. It had been slowly, slowly shifting for hours, since I last had coffee. Even though I knew what caused the noise, it still took me a while to calm down and fall asleep.

Stranger and harder to identify from a few years ago, was a schruff noise that lasted only a second. I searched the bedroom in the morning, finding nothing. I wondered if it was me wheezing in my sleep. Months later, while dusting, I noticed a sheet of a wall calendar had detached, sliding down the wall to get trapped behind a radiator.

One of the funniest stories I’ve heard of strange sounds in the night happened to a friend. In the early hours, he became aware that there was someone else, apart from his wife, breathing nearby. Fearing a burglar, he slowly reached towards his bedside table where he kept a cricket bat for just such an occasion. He froze when hot breath blew into his face! Then a dog licked his cheek. They didn’t own a dog. Lights on, they realised it was their neighbour’s corgi. It had somehow sneaked into the house when they had a barbeque that evening, hiding itself away, until it decided to say “Hello.”

I’ve used strange nocturnal noises in my stories. In The Perfect Murderer, one of the killers experiences exploding head syndrome. It’s happened to me a few times, but not for years. The noise is loud and scary, sounding like a door has crashed to the floor next to the bed.

There’s a scene in An Elegant Murder, where the detectives are staking out a field at night, hoping to capture livestock rustlers. There have been sightings of an exotic big cat, which might have been killing sheep and cattle. As they wait in the dark, they realise a mountain lion is standing on the other side of their hide, which screams loudly! I based this on a true incident that happened to a sound recordist acquaintance of mine.

He was part of a team sent to investigate reports of a mountain lion being sighted near to Minions on Bodmin Moor. The plan was to camp out overnight to record audio and video of the big cat on the prowl. It rained heavily, so thinking the assignment was ruined, the sound recordist duo were just about return to their car, when they heard something big moving stealthily outside their canvas hide.

Figuring it was one of the camera crew having a laugh, their annoyance changed to terror when the mountain lion screamed! Holding onto one another, the two men attempted to work out where the big cat was, backing away from that wall of the tent. Their car was parked 200 yards away, too far to run in pitch dark, so they spent a sleepless night waiting for dawn. The cat only screamed once, and they hadn’t recorded it. Tracks around the hide had been made indistinct by the rain.

Imagine hearing that in the night, just a few feet away!

Fear of strange noises in the darkness is natural. It kept our ancestors alive.

Have any of you used such a situation in your stories?

What bumps in the night have you heard?


So that's what it's called! Always assumed it was associated with tinnitus.

And night noises, well, they've been a bit different lately. The sound of silence, no traffic, no pub, no people wandering the streets at night. Also, no foxes, no neighbourhood cats or dogs snuffling around -- it sounds so weirdly silent, as if everything that normally lives out there senses the predator hiding in the darkness. They can't see it, but they can feel it.
And my walking stick does a dance across the furniture, slides over the drawers, down the side of the dog bed, taps the wall, swishes slowly down the plasterboard and finally clacks onto the floor between the rug and the wall. Every night, just not at the same time each night.
Ask me if I put it in a different place so it won't happen - and I'll tell you how many times I've done just that, even jamming it into the drawer.
Some things have a life of their own, and rituals to complete, regardless of what stands in their way.
Many years ago I had a weird experience at night, not due to sound, but to a dream. Of course, you can dream sounds so mine may have been triggered by a sound. I dreamt an intruder was crawling around our bed about to attack us and I waited and waited tensed with fear and anger. When I thought I could reach him I Jumped on him and grabbed his wrists and started shaking him and screaming "what the fuck are you doing here?" or similar. Only then did the cries of my lady intrude and wake me up. I was sitting on top of her holding her wrists, shaking her, and screaming in her face. To have grabbed both her wrists simultaneously I must have had my eyes wide open looking at the real world but my head was in my dream. Once I woke up I felt as scared as my victim. To be so out of control is indeed scary as for a short few moments reason leaves you and primal instincts take over. It's like an extreme version of sleepwalking, I guess. Fortunately, I've never had it happen again but that may be because I am still dreaming?? Now there's a thought!
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Question: What spring has sprung for you lately?