Christopher Balzano

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What is going bump in the night?

What is going bump in the night?

By Christopher Balzano

Artwork Ricardo Pustanio

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 a bump.

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 going on.

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 stormy night.

Wait. I think I’ve heard that saying before too.


About Christopher Balzano

Christopher Balzano

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

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Also read: Is It Really Paranormal? Questioning The Unknown Side Of Ghosts And Demonic Possession - With tales of being raped or beaten by ghosts, to stories of even a ghost giving a person a loan of some cash. I ask myself do these things really happen? --

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