is going bump in the night?
What is going bump in the night?
The cliché continues. Paranormal investigating
goes hand in hand with the term, “things
that go bump in the night.” Tracking
the news like I do for Ghostvillage I read
the term on a daily basis as unimaginative
writers fall back on the phrase, knowing the
reader will now a ghostly trail is about to
be set. I’m guilty of it myself, although
seeing it as much as I do now, I’m thinking
about retiring the phrase.
I forced myself to think about what it actually
meant. What goes bump in the night? The term
really doesn’t describe most of what
I’ve encountered in the almost fifteen
years I have been doing this. I remember some
odd noises at the old Charlesgate Hotel that
sounded like the dragging of a corpse in the
ceiling above me, but when you strip away
the potential for giant mutant rats, who probably
did actually make the noise, it still wasn’t
I’ve heard many a noise in the field.
I’ve collected hundreds of stories,
and the disembodied noise is a common theme
for hauntings of all kinds. I’ve heard
about children giggling and old men yelling.
I’ve heard gunshots, footsteps, voices,
knocking, and even scraping. I’ve even
heard of a woman vomiting and a phantom fart,
but no bump. I’m not even sure what
a bump would sound like. I guess it wouldn’t
so much be a bump in the noun form. The action
of a bump might make another sound, like something
falling to the ground. In that case, I have
heard a shattering.
The problem is the denotation of the term.
First, it makes it seem like something is
out to get you from the realm beyond. Very
dramatic, but not consistent with most people’s
experiences with the paranormal. The fear
comes from the unknown, not the treat of a
push. It also implies some type of ghostly
mishap. Unless you are trying to make it look
that way, bumping is the act of an accident.
I bumped into the person trying to get on
the train. The paranormal does not feel that
way to me. There might be times when two worlds
cross each other and the living gets a glimpse
of the dead, but usually a paranormal experience
is not by accident. From one side or the other
there is some kind of intentional communication
I think I may be kidding myself. I like the
term and will probably use it again. There
is a convenient warmth to it. It balances
something dark with a bit of levity, making
the reader know what is coming up. It conjures
up a dark night and a storm outside, trying
to sneak inside your window. Yes, a dark and
Wait. I think I’ve heard that saying
Christopher Balzano is the founder
and director of Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads,
an online collection of legends and ghost
stories from Massachusetts and the surrounding
states. He has been investigating the paranormal
for more than ten years and has been writing
about those experiences for the past five.
He has been a contributor to Jeff Belanger's
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places and Weird Massachusetts
and was one of the writers behind Weird Hauntings.
His writing has been featured in Haunted Times
and Mystery Magazine and has been covered
by the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the
Standard Times, and Worcester Magazine.
hristopher is the author of
several books about regional hauntings, including
Dark Woods: Cults, Crime, and Paranormal in
the Freetown State Forest and Ghosts of the
Bridgewater Triangle, as well as the collection
of true ghosts stories Ghostly Adventures
and the new how-to paranormal book Picture
Yourself Ghost Hunting. He has appeared on
radio stations in Massachusetts and throughout
the Internet, as well as being called upon
by television shows to comment on ghosts and
urban legends. He now runs the paranormal
news from Ghostvillage, one of the oldest
and largest websites dedicated to the paranormal.
Please Also see: 20
Questions with Christopher Balzano