Title: Bump in the Night
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Characters: Edward, Winry, Alphonse.
Setting: Any. Takes place before the Elric brothers left Resembool to train with Izumi Curtis.
Summary: Strange nocturnal noises are happening at the Rockbell house.
Disclaimer: They belong to Hiromu Arakawa. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: Just a little thing. Written for the prompt "haunted house" at Comment Fic… and also as kind of an in-joke for Kristen Sharpe.
"Ed! Ed, wake up!"
The voice that dragged Edward out of his sound sleep was followed, even more rudely, by a violent shaking of his shoulder. He jerked awake, instinctively pulling the blankets over the human-alchemy book he had fallen asleep reading. (Because whoever was assaulting him, it wouldn't do to let them see that.)
"Hmph? What is it…" He rubbed his eyes and peered at the moonlit figure leaning over his bed. "Winry?"
The girl tugged at his arm, pale and wide-eyed. "Ed, I'm scared. There's a ghost in the attic! It's making noises above my room!"
Ed's own eyes widened at the assertion—with incredulity. He let out a derisive snort and began to turn over. "Oh, come on. It's probably just a rat or something…"
"No rat sounds like it weighs a hundred pounds!"
"And assuming ghosts were real—which they aren't—then they wouldn't sound that heavy either, because they wouldn't have a body at all." Ed pried his arm out of Winry's death-grip. "Go back to bed before you wake Al up."
It was amazing, really, how Winry could shriek and yet still be whispering. Ed winced, sighed, and kicked the covers off.
"Okay, okay! Let's go find your stupid rat—I mean ghost." He grabbed his shirt from the foot of the bed, yanking it on over his shorts. Then he picked up a flashlight and marched into the hall, with Winry crowding uncomfortably close behind him.
"Grandpa used to tell stories about the ghosts of Resembool." Winry's voice quivered. "There was a little boy who drowned in a well, and now his ghost leaves wet footprints wherever he appears. And there was the old woman who got kicked in the head by a horse, and she—"
"Will you knock it off?"
Winry was probably more than a little miffed, but she clammed up. Satisfied, Ed forged ahead to the corner of the hallway, and the alcove where the pull-down attic steps were found.
The steps were already lowered—which was peculiar indeed.
"Did you…?" Ed began to query, but Winry cut him off in a frightened hiss.
"Of course I didn't! I wasn't going to get anywhere near those steps alone! It was the ghost!"
"And why would a ghost need to pull down the steps?" In spite of himself, Ed was tempted to make scientific arguments on how an entity with no physical mass—again, a purely theoretical one—could bypass both gravity and solid barriers like the ceiling. However, he assumed the old spook-story mental image of ghosts floating through walls was already sufficiently clear to Winry.
"Because it wants us to come up—so it can eat us!"
Ed made a mental note not to ask Winry any more rhetorical questions.
"Just stay here, fraidy-cat." He began to step forward, scanning the closed trapdoor of the attic with his flashlight. "I'm gonna—"
His words were abruptly cut off by a dull thump that came from over their heads. It caused Winry to squeak and duck behind him, staring up at the ceiling with enormous eyes and a trembling lower lip. A second later, the noise was followed by a long, slow scraping sound.
"There it is!" Winry whimpered, clinging to Ed's arm and hiding her face against his shoulder.
Politely but firmly, Ed unwrapped Winry's fingers from his arm, pulling away from her. Then he marched resolutely toward the steps, and began to climb. He paused only once, halfway up, when sounds like footsteps resonated dimly from above.
Winry stifled a moan and scrambled after him, crowding so close that she almost managed to be beside him. "Don't leave me alone down here!"
Ignoring the girl's nervous jostling, Ed quietly crept to the top of the steps. He lifted the trapdoor an inch—and quickly lowered it again when a soft glow spilled through the crack. There was a light of some kind in the attic. More peculiarly, its color was a cool bluish-green, instead of the yellow-white of an incandescent bulb.
"It even glows in the dark…!" Winry choked out.
"Quiet. Somebody's up there, alright—but whoever it is, they're as human as we are."
Before Winry could protest, Ed pushed the trapdoor open fully, and peeked over the edge of the opening. Old boxes and trunks full of disused belongings were stored in the space above, obscuring his view, but he noted at once that the glow came from a far corner. In silence he crawled up onto the attic floor and crouched behind a trunk, gripping his heavy flashlight as a potential weapon.
Winry's head poked up through the trapdoor, searching anxiously for Ed. He raised a hand to still her, and she nodded fearfully.
More scraping and scuffling sounds came from the vicinity of the light. A shadow shifted as a large box was moved. Ed took a deep breath, and crawled on his belly to the cover of an old apple crate, in search of a vantage point that would let him see past the heaps of objects in storage.
The crate was halfway to the corner where the light glowed. Beyond it, one more precariously high wall of boxes lay between Ed and whatever was moving around. Holding his breath, he crept forward on hands and knees, intent on stealing a glimpse around the boxes…
There was a sudden thump against the other side, along with what sounded like a voice exclaiming "Gotcha!"—and the topmost boxes swayed from the impact, tipping with ominous slowness in Ed's direction.
Ed flung himself backward just in time to dodge the three boxes that fell exactly in the spot where he had been. Winry's piercing shriek from the trapdoor was not quite enough to drown out the tremendous sound of the crash, or the simultaneous shattering of an old lamp that tumbled out of one box and broke into a dozen pieces.
Clear of disaster by mere inches, Ed breathlessly looked past the mess. The collapse of the boxes now left an unobstructed view beyond them. The blue-green glow was radiating from a slow-acting alchemic reaction on the floor… and the face that peered back over the boxes, wide-eyed and white as the ghost he had been mistaken for, was that of Ed's little brother Alphonse.
…And then Ed saw the kitten cradled in Al's arms, and behind him, in a box lined with old blankets, four more balls of fluff nestled against their mother—and he realized that checking to see if Al was still in bed was the first thing he should have thought to do.
© 2013 Jordanna Morgan