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The Haunting of Button House

Chapter Text

Alison had gotten quite used to large arrays of people descending on the house, from the builders to the film crew, so I was quite a relief when only three people knocked on her door in the late afternoon. A few months previously she had received a phone call from someone american asking about the ghosts rumours surrounding the house. They said they were from this show called Buzzfeed Unsolved and investigated supposed haunted sites; she swore she had heard of them before.

“Anyways,” The american on the other end had said, “We’re coming over to the UK to film some episodes for a new season and we’d love it if you would give us permission to come and investigate your home.”

Alison looked round at the ghosts who had gathered around the phone on speaker. Mike sat opposite her at the kitchen table with both his thumbs up.

And that was that. Kitty had been getting overly excited on the morning and Robin had been practicing flickering the lights, much to Alison’s annoyance as she tried to take a shower. Fanny had spent most of the week bellowing about how the house was completely unacceptable for guests, resulting in Mike shoving miscellaneous junk into an unused room, or Julian’s depending on who you asked. The Captain had been trying to do research on the upcoming guests and orchestrate a plan of action, which mostly involved getting Julian to pull up the ‘You Tubes’ on Mike’s laptop, providing the screen wasn’t shut.

“Good Lord!” The Captain had said through gritted teeth after the fifth episode, “That blasted noise machine again. I do hope they don’t curse our ears with the damned thing.”

“No doubt these troublesome americans will treat us like children.” Julian folded his arms from behind the Captain as they both fixated their eyes on the screen, “The colonies, they’re all the same. They think they’re better than you in every way; they steal your £6000 poker money in one go, even though it WAS RIGGED THE GAME WAS RIGGED!”

Julian went off on a tangent and the Captain rolled his eyes, trying to hear what the ‘Ryan’ chap was saying. Inadvertently, the Captain had become quite amused by this show and when Julian wasn’t around, he would beg Alison to put it on for him instead of the tanks.

“But you love that show?” Alison became a little suspicious.

The Captain didn’t want to let on how much he enjoyed the rag-tag duo as they unsuccessfully ‘ghost hunted’, “I just want to see what we’re up against. You can never be too sure of the Americans.”

“They helped us in the war, Cap.” Alison still tried to understand him, “What has Julian been saying to you?”

Needless to say, the entire household was anticipating their arrival and waited by the downstairs window to catch a glimpse of them coming up the drive. Alison opened the door to someone she recognised as Ryan, followed by Shane and a guy who must have been the camera operator.

“Hey there! I’m Ryan, this is Shane and our camera guy Matt.” Ryan held out a hand for Alison to shake.

“How are ya doing?” Shane greeted her as Matt gave her a friendly wave.

“Would you like to come in? I’ve got the kettle on.” Alison stood aside and let them come in.

“It’s them! It’s really them!” Kitty squealed, recognising Shane and Ryan from watching over the Captain’s shoulder.

The Captain held his stick out in front of her, “Leave them to it Catherine, I’m quite sure they-”

He was cut off by all the other ghosts around him following the others into the living room. Kitty ignored the Captain and skipped after Robin. He supposed it wouldn’t hurt to stand from afar.
In the room, Alison showed Shane, Ryan and Matt to a sofa by the TV and Mike came in not long after with mugs of tea, narrowly avoiding Fanny in the doorway.

“Here you go guys.” Mike set the mugs down on the coffee table.

“Thanks again for letting us come here, I was reading up on the past of this house and it’s amazing.” Ryan took a sip of his tea, pulled a face and politely set it back down on the table.

“Yeah, it can be quite…” Alison noticed the gaggle of ghosts migrating into the room to get a closer look at the Americans, “...active.”

“We also wanted to make sure if there were any rooms that were off limits, or any parts of the house you find particularly active where we might be able to go?” Ryan continued.

Alison looked back at the ghosts, then her mind drifted to the basement where the plague victims were. She was still debating on telling them she could actually see the ghosts, which would make things a lot easier, but knowing them she would probably be made a mockery of on the internet by their fanbase. She decided against it.

“Well, technically no place is off limits, we’ve not really got anything to hide.” Alison finally replied, “The basement is… apparently… the site of a plague pit so you guys might get something down there.”

“Is it true there is a screaming woman that falls from a window?” Shane butted in.

“I have a name, you oaf!” Fanny took immediate offence, “Go on Alison, tell him.”

“Um,” Alison looked from Fanny, to Shane and back to Fanny, “I heard it was actually Lady Fanny Button, who used to own this house in the Victorian-”

“Edwardian!”

“Edwardian era.” Alison corrected herself.

“Oh right,” Ryan took another sip of his tea, forgetting what had happened the first time, “Have you ever heard it?”

“You hear a lot of things in this house.” Alison joked, well, half joked. She wasn’t going to pretend they weren’t surrounded by an array of actual ghosts listening in on their conversation. The exact array of ghosts that these men in front of her had come to investigate.

“All the more for this guy to get scared by then, eh?” Shane nudged Ryan playfully.

As if on cue, Robin took this opportunity to lean in behind Ryan and yell ‘BOO!’, scaring Alison instead.

“Oh don’t mind that.” Mike put a hand on Alison’s shoulder, “She had a bit of an accident a while ago and she does that every now and then.”

“Yeah, sorry about that.” Alison threw Robin a death stare and he immediately backed off, “Would you like a tour of the house?”

Chapter Text

Ryan and Shane sat on the fountain outside the house, “This week on BuzzFeed Unsolved we investigate Button House in Surrey, England as part of our ongoing investigation into the question ‘Are Ghosts real?’.” 

“Nope.” Shane answered the rhetorical question, popping the ‘p’. 

“Is that it? No little cheeky remark?” 

“That’s all you’re getting.” Shane folded his arms and leaned back, almost falling into the fountain. 

“This house, or rather the grounds it stands on has been subject to many unfortunate deaths over the years and many rumours about it are commonplace throughout the population of the neighbouring village.” Ryan continued. 

“I’m going to stop you there.” Shane interrupted, “I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, rumours are not a valid source of material.” 

“Yes I know that but-”

“Exactly.” Shane cut Ryan off again, “I don’t care that ol’ Jimmy from number 24 thought he saw someone in the upstairs window.” 

“Goodness!” The Captain breathed from behind the camera man, “He really is that cynical in real life.” 

“Rude is what he is!” Fanny remarked, throwing daggers with her eyes. 

“Come on.” Pat tried to calm her down, “They’re only having a fun little natter.” 

“I’ll damn well show THEM a natter if they’re not careful.” Fanny huffed and took herself off into the house. 

Ryan then began to explain the timeline of the house. After going through when the house was built and the history of the grounds, he listed off the ghosts he had researched. 

“It is unclear how many entities actually reside here, but there are a few prominent ghouls that have been spotted over the years, so let’s go through them.” Ryan began to explain each one. “First off, we have quite a strange one to say the least. A lot of people have described it as half man half beast.”

“Half beast?” Shane repeated. 

“Yeah.” 

“What is it, like a centaur?” 

“I highly doubt a ghost of a mythical creature haunts these grounds, Shane.” Ryan smirked, “Moving on, we have the headless body of a tudor Nobleman.” 

“I think you’ll find it’s a body-less head, thank you very much.” Humphrey said as Kitty held his head carelessly. 

“Did you know chickens can survive without a head?” Shane randomly remarked. 

“You are full of useless, knowledge, you know that?” Ryan turned to his friend. 

“Why else have you brought me along?” Shane joked. 

“We then have a few that sort of seem to be from the same area,” Ryan continued his explanation, “One Victorian man and two women. One of those women has been said to be the ghost of Lady Fanny Button who used to own this house. She is sometimes heard screaming from one of the windows because legend has it she was pushed and fell to her death.”

“Well that sounds cheery, I’m sure she’s a lovely woman.” Shane commented. 

This earned a negative-sounding collective mumble from the ghosts around them, not that they would have heard. 

“There are also some more recent ghosts that should be noted.” Ryan added, “There is said to be a WW2 army captain that patrols the house, so we might bump into him. We have a scout leader who died here in 1983, whose death was pretty well recorded.”

“How did he die?” Shane asked. 

“Arrow to the neck.” Ryan and Pat both said at the same time. 

Shane pulled an uncomfortable face, “Ouch.”

“You’re telling me.” Pat remembered how it felt when he actually got shot. 

They then moved straight onto the investigation. 

“Wait hang on! They never mentioned me!” Julian started to get angry, “Surely they would know about me, I’m more bloody recent than Pat. My death was in all the newspapers for Pete’s sake.” 

“Who is Pete?” Kitty asked innocently as the Americans packed up their equipment and moved into the house to start their investigation. 

Once in the house, Shane and Ryan equipped their lights and cameras. The ghosts stood around them watching inquisitively. 

“What be the little black box?” Mary pointed to Ryan’s gopro. 

“I’m not quite sure, Mary.” Pat replied, eyeing the night vision camera Shane was holding. 

“Are we all ready to go?” Ryan asked the cameraman, who replied with a thumbs up. 

Shane turned the lights off and the three men moved into the house only illuminated by their torches. The gaggle of ghosts followed them, led by the Captain with Pat bringing up the rear. 

“Hey! Can someone pick me up? Hello?” Humphrey called over to them. He had been propped up on a table by Kitty when they came in the house and left there, typical. 

Shane and Ryan climbed the stairs and made their way to the ballroom. 

“Ok, right now we are in the ballroom where there were many parties held.” Ryan gave a little introduction. 

“Nice, it’s a very nice room, lots of space to get drunk, have a little jig.” Shane spoke into the thin air, which was actually Julian’s shoulder. 

“We’re going to reach out now, so if there are any ghosts in here with us who would like to say something, now would be the time to say it.” Ryan gestured his arm around the room, narrowly missing going through Pat. 

“What should we say?” Kitty asked the others. 

“In case it has escaped your attention, Katherine, they can’t hear us.” The Captain bluntly replied, “There would be no use in-”

“You don’t have to speak if you don’t want to.” Ryan inadvertently interrupted the Captain, “You could make a sound, or you could move something.” 

“Why don’t you give a little tug on our shirts?” Shane jokingly suggested, miming tugging on Ryan’s. 

All the ghosts immediately looked to Julian. 

“What?” Julian lifted his arms in defence, “I told you, it only works on small cups and buttons. Do you really think I’m going to be able to pull on their shirt? Anyway, its demeaning.” 

The other ghosts continued to stare at him expectantly. 

“Ok fine, but no promises it’ll work.” Julian gave in. 

He walked over to Shane and reached for the collar of his shirt. He concentrated all of his energy into his thumb and finger as he strained to get a grasp on the clothing. The other ghosts loudly cheered him on and just as he managed to get a hold of Shane’s collar, he moved and walked through Julian, making him feel sick. All the other ghosts groaned in frustration and Julian doubled over. 

“Ok, I think we’re going to move on to where I think we might get a better chance of communicating with something.” Ryan said before leading the way out of the room. 

“SomeTHING? We are people you disrespectful blighter!” The Captain closely followed the cameraman out. 

The group made their way up to the Captain’s room, much to his annoyance, and found Fanny stood by the window. 

“Oh of course.” Fanny squinted threateningly at the americans, “Is there no end to your torment and rudeness in my house?” 

“It is mine too!” Thomas retaliated. 

“And mine!” Kitty squealed, fanning her hands excitedly. 

“No it wasn’t,” Thomas turned to her as Shane and Ryan bantered on about nothing in particular, “You only died here, you didn’t own this place.” 

“Oh, I know!” Kitty smiled innocently, “I just wanted to join in.” 

“Ok, we’re going to whip out a device that you might not like.” Ryan took out the spirit box. 

“This thing is gonna haunt your nightmares, if ghosts even have nightmares.” Shane watched as Ryan fiddled with the box. 

“This will allow you to speak to us, so uh, please use it.” Ryan turned on the box and set it down on the bed. 

All of the ghosts, apart from Robin who grunted excitedly, cried out as the awful radio static filled their ears. 

“What on God’s green earth is that?” Pat yelled out, plugging his ears with his fingers. 

The spirit box spluttered out something resembling ‘on God perch tap’. This surprised Ryan to get such a quick response out of the static. 

“Did that thing just say what I said?” Pat stared, astonished at the speaker. This time the box didn’t repeat what he said, but rather some jarbled mess of radio static. 

“My name is Shane and this is Ryan, can you say our names back to us?” Shane sort of broadly glanced around the room. 

“Shane and Ryan!” Kitty squealed in the direction of the box, which only relayed ‘Ryan’. 

Ryan’s face dropped and his eyes widened, sending Shane into a gigging fit. 

“We hear that Lady Fanny Button was pushed out of the window here, is Fanny with us now?” Shane gestured to the window. 

“That is Lady to you, you foul mouthed yank!” Fanny yelled in Shane’s face. 

The spirit box came to life as Fanny spoke, but said something more along the lines of ‘slady how now yack’. 

“Brown yack?” Ryan tried to translate it. 

“Sounded like ‘now track’, but that makes zero sense.” Shane proposed. 

“Your blasted machine doesn’t work, you nitwits!” The Captain pointed his stick in their faces. 

‘Your blasted machine doesn’t work you nitwits!’ the spirit box relayed his message word for word, and with perfect clarity. 

Shane, Ryan and even the cameraman took a step back and gasped in shock. The other ghosts stared at the Captain as he too stood in astonishment that the strange machine had managed to translate what he had shouted at them. 

“That was like… a full sentence.” Ryan had gone completely pale and stood up against the wall. 

“You said it pal, not me.” Shane also stood like a statue, staring down at the box. 

“Quick Captain!” Thomas broke the silence among the ghosts, “Say something else!” 

“Uh,” the Captain tried to think of something to say, “Have you come to this house to communicate with us?” 

The spirit box made an incoherent noise as Thomas spoke, but once again relayed what the Captain said almost word for word. It had said something like ‘you come - house - to communic-us’. 

“What? Can you say that again?” Ryan asked in the direction of Pat. 

“Have you come to communicate with us?” The Captain tried to speak clearer, but at this point the spirit box seemed to have given up and just continued emitting static, “Blast.” 

Shane and Ryan stood in silence for a few more minutes as the Captain tried again and again to make the spirit box relay his message, but to no avail. They decided to give up and move on to the rest of the house. As they were leaving the room, Shane accidentally passed through Mary, who didn’t get out of the way in time.

“Do you smell burning?” He asked Ryan, who simply shrugged as he put away the spirit box.

Chapter Text

The ‘ghost hunters’ went to a few more rooms before returning to the front of the house. The ghosts had eagerly followed them around, trying to get their attention through Julian almost pushing a cup off a window sill and encouraging the plague girl to sing to them. No matter what they tried, Shane, Ryan and the cameraman didn’t notice them. They came to the top of the stairs that led to the basement and stopped. 

“Ok so, the owner of this house said there is a potential plague pit site in the basement.” Ryan explained to the camera, “So this is where we will split off for your individual investigations.” 

“You sure about that, scaredy pants?” Shane taunted, “After what happened with the spirit box upstairs?”  

“Shut up.” Ryan half laughed, strapping the gopro to his chest. 

Shane and the cameraman bid farewell to Ryan at the top of the stairs and made their way into the living room. Left on his own, Ryan wavered at the top of the stairs, shining his torch into the darkness below before venturing down. 

“I want to go with him.” Kitty implored, but the staircase was being blocked by the Captain and his swagger stick. 

“Best just to leave him to it.” The Captain explained, “There’s already a great deal of people down there already, we don’t want to crowd the place. Do you want him to walk through you?” 

“I suppose not.” Kitty bowed her head. 

At the bottom of the stairs, Ryan was shining his torch around the seemingly empty basement looking terrified. The go pro was shining up into his face and he held the spitit box in one hand with his torch in the other. 

“Oh he looks nice.” One of the plague victims murmured, with a positive collective mumbling response from the others. 

“Ok, uhh,” Ryan stammered as he looked around the dingy basement, “My name is Ryan and I’d, well actually no I’d find it quite terrifying, but I’d like to speak to whoever might be down here with me.” 

“Is he talking to us?” Another plague victim said, taking a closer look at the timid man that they all stood around. 

Ryan stood in silence for a while, prompting another ghost to speak, “Yeah, I think he means us.”

“It’s not like he’s going to hear us, so why is he asking?” another one at the back pointed out, which earned a general noise of agreement. 

“It’s a nice, uh, basement you’ve got here.” Ryan tried to make some sort of conversation, albeit one-sided. 

“Well, we try our best.” a couple of them responded. 

“I’m not gonna lie, I’m slightly terrified right now.” Ryan swung his torch to scan the old boiler. 

“Ohh there’s nothing to be scared of, apart from Jim.” one of the women said. 

“What did I do?” retaliated Jim, the ghost with the unsettling jaw of teeth. 

After a few minutes, Ryan didn’t even attempt to use the spirit box out of pure terror and jumped out of his skin when Shane called his time from the top of the stairs. He immediately exited the basement and turned off his torch as he came into the lit hallway. 

“How was it?” Shane put a hand on the shaking shoulder of his friend. 

“It’s so quiet down there it’s awful, but I have a feeling you’re going to have a whale of a time in there.” Ryan replied, taking off the gopro and handing it to Shane. 

“Oh I intend to.” Shane smiled unsettlingly, pointing the night vision camera in his counterpart’s face. 

The time then came for Shane’s turn in the basement, and once again the Captain stopped Robin from following him in. 

“I don’t see why not.” Robin argued. 

“Just no, Robin.” The Captain pressed his stick up against the caveman’s chest, earning a defeated grunt. 

Shane descended into the dark in a way more cheerier manner that Ryan had, “Hey ghouls, I’m Shane and I’m here to have a blast.” He grinned into what he thought was thin air. 

“Now this guy I can get behind.” One of the victims grinned back at him. 

“I don’t know, he seems kind of a prick.” another one muttered. 

“You think everyone is a prick, Jeff.” 

“You want some? I'll give it you.” 

“If anyone wants to speak to me, I’m going to give you some silence to say whatever you want.” Shane waved his arms around and went straight through a couple of people’s heads. 

“Oh god, sorry mate.”

“Yeah I hate it when that happens.” 

Shane stood there silently while the ghosts had a conversation around him. After a few minutes Shane broke the silence. 

“I heard you guys died of the plague, nasty way to go, I feel for you.” 

One of the women smiled at him, “Oh, that’s nice, at least he cares.” 

“Yeah that’s sweet.” Someone else agreed with her. 

“Guess the rats just made themselves at home, huh?” Shane added. 

“Oh, well that’s just rude.” 

“He had to go and ruin it, eh?” someone at the back commented. 

There was another awkward silence before Ryan shouted something incoherent from the top of the stairs and Shane left the basement. 

“Good riddance.” 

Once up in the light of the hallway, Shane and Ryan did a little conclusion to the camera and they filmed a fake exit. 

“Are they leaving already?” Kitty sounded disappointed. 

“Quite rude of them to leave without saying goodbye to Alison and Michael.” Fanny pulled a sour face. 

“Wait, they’re coming back?” Pat squinted into the dark and saw the Americans coming back towards the house. 

All of a sudden Alison and Mike came up behind the ghosts as the Americans came back in the front door. 

“Thanks again for letting us come and film here.” Ryan shook Mike’s hand, “Although your basement is very scary.” 

“I didn’t find it scary, had to go down there and fix the old boiler by myself when we moved in here.” Mike tried to boast. 

“Yourself? You mean you and the Youtube tutorials.” Alison embarrassed him. 

“Hey, I don’t blame you.” Shane laughed, backing him up. 

“These Americans here have been the height of disrespect with no regret for their actions.” Fanny bellowed into Alison’s ear, but she just had to smile and nod as Ryan said something about their investigation, “They insulted my title, they mocked my unfortunate demise and they played a God awful sound that damn well near made us all deaf!” 

“Could you excuse me for a minute.” Alison politely smiled and backed out into the living room, followed by Fanny and the other ghosts. 

“I demand you remove these… colonizers from my house at once!” Fanny stamped her foot. 

“They called me Victorian!” Thomas dramatically exclaimed. 

“And Lady Fanny… and me… I think.” Kitty added. 

“The tall one wents through me.” Mary smouldered. 

“They called me a headless body!” Humphrey called from the back, who had been picked up by Julian at some point. 

“They didn’t even mention me at all!” Julian’s brow furrowed, rallying behind the complaints of the others. 

“Alright, alright!” Alison tried to calm everyone down, “I know they might not have been the most respectful, but you’ve got to remember that they can’t see or hear you.” 

“They heard the Captain.” Thomas pointed a finger at him. 

“What? Really?” Alison turned to the Captain. 

“They had this device that, somewhat unreliably, could translate what we were saying. It made a hellish sound, but at one point it did manage to relay something I said.” The Captain explained, puffing out his chest a little. 

“The spirit box.” Alison remembered from watching other episodes of the show, “So that thing really does work then.” 

“I assure you it doesn’t, the blasted thing cherry-picked what we were saying.” The Captain argued, “Unreliable piece of machinery, I say.”

“I thought it was quite snazzy, despite the noise.” Pat muttered, aware of the contempt the Captain had towards the little box. 

“Look guys, they’re going to leave soon anyway.” Alison explained. 

“And rightly so!” Fanny raised her already angry eyebrows, “They have no right to treat us with such impertinence!” 

“Anyways, conversings with the dead be witchcraft.” Mary timidly pointed out. 

Alison rolled her eyes at the familiar phrase, “Mary, you say that to me all the time.” 

“Then you be an expert witch.” Mary smiled innocently, smouldering a little as she spoke. 

Alison pinched the bridge of her nose and tried to diffuse the situation, all the while being quiet so the guests in the next room wouldn’t think she was crazy and was talking to herself. Afterwards, Shane had offered to take them all down to the local pub and Alison immediately took him up on the offer, eager to escape the gaggle of disgruntled ghosts. God knows what they’ll say when the actual episode comes out.