Bump in the Night

John waved his lantern about causing the darkness to pool in the corners. The rest of us held flashlights and searched about the room, but we did not see anything.

Bump in the Night

                I woke up to screams.

I wondered at first if I was dreaming, then Sam screamed again and there was a loud thump followed by thrashing on the floor.

My hand searched for the flashlight I had left on the table between our beds. I knocked it over and it nearly rolled off before I caught it and fumbled it onto my bed.

Sam screamed again and thrashed about as John burst through the doorway, gun in hand.

“What the Hell is going on?”

I was finally able to flick on the light and the dim light revealed Sam half out of his sleeping bag and bleeding from his forehead.

Sam gasped for air and stammered, “I woke and something was crawling on me!” He felt his forehead and when he pulled his hand back he cried out, “It got me! I thought I was dreaming! It was real and it got me!”

Carl poked his head in the door and held out a lantern which helped to illuminate the room.

John holstered his gun and went over to help Sam. “Nothing got you. You had a nightmare and bumped your head when you fell off of your bed. Matt, bring the light over here. Let’s see how bad this is.”

I crawled to the other end of the bed so I could shine the light on Sam’s head. I checked my watch while I held up the light; 2:07am.

Carl suddenly let out a scream as well and ran from the doorway taking the lantern with him.

Sam’s eyes got big and John spun to look at the door and yelled after Carl.

A scrabbling sound came from the wall above my head, then something flittered by in the dark at the edge of the light.

Sam dove back on his bed with another scream as John tried to spy what had just flown by. I searched the air frantically with my flashlight, but could not see anything. Sam scrambled out the door and John let out a yelp of surprise as a something danced on the edge of the shadows.

“Everyone out!” John yelled.

I jumped off the bed and sprinted out the door. John followed and slammed the door shut behind him.

We all stood panting in the middle of the big room. Carl’s lantern illuminated us in a perfect sphere of brilliant white light.

John checked Sam’s head and instructed Carl to get the first aid kit. He used suture tape to help close the two inch cut over Sam’s right eye.

“Don’t pick at it,” John instructed as he taped gauze over it. “It may need stitches. We will check in the morning. If it does, I will send you and Carl back to Kodiak on the plane tomorrow.”

We cleaned up and put away the first aid kit before John grabbed the lantern and said, “Let’s find out what we are dealing with.”

He marched over to the bedroom door and flung it open. We all crowded around the doorway, each of us now holding a light of some kind. John strode into the middle of the small room and I followed him. Carl stepped just inside the room and Sam stood outside, but poked his flashlight in and searched near his bed.

John waved his lantern about causing the darkness to pool in the corners. The rest of us held flashlights and searched about the room, but we did not see anything.

Putting his finger to his mouth, John motioned for all of us to be quiet and we stood perfectly still. All I could hear was the wind against the side of the building and the sound of rain spattering the window.

John lowered his lantern and said, “Whatever it was, it is gone now.”

It was at that point that Carl let out a high pitched scream and dropped his flashlight. His hands thrashed about his head and he did this little dance in place before running out of the room. The crash of the other door being flung open let us know he had run completely out of the building.

Sam had ducked back into the other room and watched warily from a few feet beyond the doorway.

I could hear a thumping noise come from just above the doorway and pointed my light in that direction. John also raised his lantern back up just in time to see something disappear into the darkness on the opposite wall.

John put his lantern on the floor and stuck out his hand, “Give me your flashlight.”

I promptly did and John pointed it low on the wall. He slowly moved the light up the wall until he reached the ceiling, then he brought it back to the edge of the lantern light and repeated the process a few feet over.

He slowly brought the light towards the corner of the ceiling. I gasped as something moved at the edge of the light. John crept the light towards whatever moved until we could see it in the shadows of the corner.

The creature stared back at us. Beady black eyes and pointy ears sat atop a small brown body. Its leathery wings gripped each wall and held it in the corner. The bat shook, though I did not if it was from the strain of holding it up or the terror it must have felt.

John let out a booming laugh and inched the light away so we could barely see the bat. “It is a tiny brown bat!”

Sam’s face seemed paler than before and he asked, “Could it be a vampire bat?”

John laughed again and I heard Carl call out from the room beyond, “There aren’t bats in Alaska.”

John pointed the light back towards the corner and said, “I think this little guy would disagree with you.”

We all went back out to the big room and Sam asked, “What do we do? I am not sleeping in there!”

John pondered for a moment before responding. “It was probably in there the whole day. When we sealed up the holes, we must have cut off his exit.”

We gathered the supplies that we needed and built a makeshift tunnel from the room door to the outside door using two of our tarps tied off to different furniture in the room. Sam and John held up paddles from the boat to make the tarps into a tent like tunnel.

Carl and I went into the room. He held an unzipped sleeping bag and I held a broom. I draped my unzipped sleeping bag on a chair in case I was needed to help block the way.

Carl spread out his arms and tried to block as much of the room as he could and deflect the bat out the door and into our tunnel.

I stepped up onto the chair and shined the flashlight into the corner. The bat was still there, though he now rested on one wall.

I eased the broom up. I did not want to hit him, I just wanted him to move.

It worked.

The bat let go and dove down. I jumped off the chair and dropped the broom and picked up my sleeping bag.

We could not see the bat in the dark, but I could sense it darting about and I tried to ease it toward the open door.

Carl closed in and the box we created got smaller and the flying became more frantic.

That is when Carl let out a girlish scream again and dropped the sleeping bag. He hopped about the room and through the reflective light of the flashlight, I could see the dark wriggling spot of the bat against the tan fabric of the sleeping bag.

I dropped my bag and picked up Carl’s and rushed it to the open door. The bat thrashed and I made it to the middle of our tunnel before the bat shook free and darted off. It flew under the tunnel and into the big room.

John cursed and dropped his paddle letting the tunnel collapse.

“Sorry,”  I said. “I almost had him out the door.”

We could hear the bat against the far wall above the windows, then it went silent.

“To bad the windows don’t open, “John said.

Carl came out of the room carrying my flashlight. “Is it gone?”

John began to untie tarps and Sam helped him.

“Let’s see if we can build a wall with these and flush it out the door.”

We could not reach the tarps to the ceiling, so we connected them together and tied the top end to the paddles so we could extend our reach. We created a wall and John tried to usher the bat out the door.

The bat darted about but would always swing back towards the wall with windows.

We did this for about a half an hour and my arms burned. John was letting out a barrage of curses, so we all sat for a moment and rested.

“This is a waste of time,” John finally said.

“What if we corralled him?” I asked. “Carl can stand by the door and I can move my end around to make the space smaller. If I Sam and I can get behind the bat, we can funnel it towards the door.”

We took our positions and tried. It took a bit of coordination between Sam and I, but before long we worked in tandem and had cut the space down in half. I reached the wall with the windows and slowly slid down it until I reached the wall that held the door.

The bat flittered about, but moved away from the collapsing wall.

Seeing our success, John squeezed out between the wall and the tarp.

Once I started moving down the front wall, it only took a few seconds for the bat to find the door and leave the building.

We let out a round of cheers and high fives before disassembling the tarp wall and heading back to bed.

We were scheduled to be up at 7. That was less than three hours away and I hoped John would let us sleep in.

The wind and the rain lulled me back into a dreamless sleep.

Author: matthewlasley

I am a school teacher and an author. I like to write picture books, middle grade, science fiction and short stories. I live in Alaska and I love history, so those two things often influence my creative writing.

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