The wind howled outside, and rain pattered against the windows. Jane shivered in her bed: these big old houses out in the middle of the country were nice and picturesque in the day, but at night it became clear that they were built in the era before the invention of central heating. She curled up into a ball, pulling the sheet up over her head. Thunder rolled outside.
One week in a haunted house had seemed like a great deal at the time, for the prize she was going to get. Ghosts she could handle, but if the nights stayed as cold as this she’d end up one herself. She cursed under her breath and promised herself a holiday in the Bahamas.
Her ears pricked up at a scraping sound in the hallway, getting closer. It sounded like someone dragging a chain along the floor. She peeked out from under the sheet; a low moaning started outside her door. Jane shook her head and sat up; she tried the lamp on her bedside table, but of course it was dead.
‘Tupping typical,’ she muttered, and reached into her bag for a box of matches and a pack of cigarettes. The door swung open and a spectral figure entered the room – mouth a-grimace, missing one ear, clothes drenched in water and chains wrapped around his body.
‘Get out,’ he moaned, ‘Get out!’
Jane lit up a cigarette and drew in deeply. She looked the ghost square in the face.
‘Make me,’ she said, smoke rolling out of the sides of her mouth.
The ghost screamed – starting as a low-frequency growl and increasing in pitch. Jane sighed and moved her legs off the side of the bed; her boots were there, where she had left them. She ignored the ghost’s cry, even as the glass in the window started to rattle, and tied up the laces on the boots. She stood up, drew in another lungful of smoke, and then flicked the cigarette through his head.
He blinked, surprised to be interrupted.
‘Look at these boots,’ said Jane, pointing down, ‘These are my stomping boots, you understand? Now, I’m going to be staying here for the next week, and I don’t want to be kept up all night by your wailing. You get me?’
The ghost raised his arm and pointed at Jane.
‘Get out,’ he wailed. Jane grinned and cracked her knuckles.
‘I was hoping you’d say that.’