It’s an abandoned farmhouse, standing in the middle of a windswept plain of muddy grass. They approach just as the sun is setting, and the house is tall and dark, with boarded windows and a rotting porch.
“Ooh.” says Shane. “Very picturesque.”
“Are you fucking kidding. It looks creepy as shit.” says Ryan.
“It looks- it looks like a haunted house out of a cartoon or something.”
“Yeah! That’s not scary to you?”
“I said it looks like a cartoon! It looks like Casper the Friendly Ghost lives there.”
“Well, I think it looks like a literal nightmare. But okay.”
They drag all their gear up the steps and talk to the owner, a woman with a wide, ruddy face, a jean jacket, and a politely confused attitude about why two healthy, sane, non-suicidal young men would want to spend the night here.
She unlocks the door for them. “Alrighty. Be careful cause some of the steps are rotted, and the window in the living room’’s broken so there’s some glass. The best place to sleep’s probably the top floor, cause there won’t be so many rats.”
Ryan is grinning nervously. “Oh, great, rats. Fucking fantastic.”
The house, as Ryan tells them, is haunted by the ghost of a widow, Marguerite Percival, who killed herself and her two children after her husband, a Confederate soldier, died in battle.
“Okay, I get killing yourself.” Shane says, puffing a little as he climbs the steep, winding steps to the second floor. “But your two children? Seems excessive.”
Apparently, the widow’s wailing, children’s laughter, and a baby’s cries can be heard. Ryan hears what he thinks is a laugh and Shane insists is a bird- “What kind of bird sounds like that? Name the bird.” “I don’t know that many birds! The bird kind!”- and Ryan almost shits himself when Shane breaks off a piece of rotted banister. They yell at the ghosts to talk to them, wave the EMF reader around, accidentally shine their flashlights directly into each other’s eyes.
Ryan complains every two seconds about how cold it is. “Why the fuck did we come here in November? Why couldn’t we have come here, in, like August. My fucking hands are going to fall off.”
“Just wait untill we go to sleep.”
They crowd into the bathroom at the top of the house. The tiles are broken and there’s a dark pool of water in the bathtub.
“This is where she drowned her children,” Ryan says, waving the flashlight around speculatively. “Little Joseph and Louisa.”
“What if there was a mixup and he didn’t actually die?”
Ryan laughs. “What, he comes home and-”
“Honey, I’m home, battle was great- OH MY GOD!”
Ryan wheezes helplessly in response.
They drop their duffel bags in the master bedroom. There’s no bed anymore- the house was looted after it was abandoned in the 1930’s.
“Somebody out there’s got a bed a lady killed herself in.” Shane muses.
“Think about that the next time you’re antique shopping.”
“I will.” Ryan laughs.
They turn their flashlights off and sit on the floor, trying to summon the ghost.
“Yo.” says Shane into the darkness. “Marguerite. Come say hi.”
“We’ve got,” says Ryan, rifling through his bag, “A photo of your husband.” He pulls out a printout and lays it on the floor.
“Come cry over it or something.” Shane says.
They wait for a few minutes, listening to the wind rush around the house, whistle through the cracks in the walls.
Ryan shivers. “Jesus.” he says to no-one in particular.
“Welp, that was a minute.” says Shane.
Ryan goes to set up the camera in the corner and Shane rolls out the sleeping bag. Ryan chatters away, as he does.
“Why do I do this? I am so not into sleeping here. It’s cold as balls, and a lady literally killed herself over there. I’m going to freeze to death in the night.”
Shane straightens up. “Yeah, I can say pretty much for sure that you are.”
Ryan turns around.
“Because you forgot your sleeping bag.” Shane says.
The wind howls, lifting the lock of hair poking out from under Ryan’s toque. “You’re fucking kidding.”
Ryan laughs, a shocked, I’m-fucked laugh. “Oh, shit.”
They dig out what they can from their gear. Ryan ends up lying on the ground on top of the empty duffel bags, Shane’s extra coat draped over him, wearing two toques.
He’s not into it.
10:48- “Shane, this fucking sucks.”
10:50- “I’m freezing my balls off.”
10:53- “Dude, I just heard a whisper or something. Did you hear that? Something whispered.”
10:55- “My entire body is numb right now.”
10:56- “This is the coldest I’ve ever been in my entire life. I think I’m going into shock, dude.”
10:58- “I feel like I’m on the verge of death. I can’t feel my feet.”
11:01- “Dude. Dude. Shane. You gotta let me sleep in your sleeping bag.”
Shane rolls over. “”There- it’s a one-person bag.”
“I’m so cold I’m literally going to throw up. I can’t fucking do this.”
“Shane. Dude. Dude. Shane. Fucking come on, Shane-”
Ryan leaps up. “Fucking finally.” He shuffles over to Shane, pulls his shoes off, and starts to wriggle in. “Oh, this is really tight.”
“Yeah, I told you-”
Ryan manages to get all the way in, but his feet are poking into Shane’s shins and his arms are folded awkwardly in front of him. Their faces are literally one inch apart.
“Hmm.” Ryan says.
“Okay,” says Shane, “I’m gonna- we gotta do some strategizing here. I’m gonna move up.” He slides up awkwardly, trying to get a little more comfortable, and angles his hips so their legs fit together a little better. He ends up with Ryan’s face pressed into his neck.
Ryan’s voice is muffled. “I’m gonna suffocate like this.”
“Okay, okay,” he says. “Wait, okay, you lie on your back.” He turns to lie on top of Ryan, and slots his leg in between his. Now Ryan’s lying staring at the ceiling with Shane mostly on top of him.
“This still isn’t great.” says Shane.
“This is not going in the video,” he mutters.
Ryan laughs. “Yeah, I don’t think this is making the cut.”
Shane grunts and moves down a little bit so Ryan’s shoulder isn’t poking him as badly. He wiggles a little, trying to get comfy, and then-
He notices something.
“Oh my God.” he says. “Do you have a boner?”
Ryan is very still.
“Oh my God. You do.”
Ryan’s face, an inch from his, is very flushed. “Okay, you were moving around a lot- and your leg-”
“I can’t believe you have a boner.”
“It’s cold, okay, I-”
“What the fuck do you mean it’s cold? Who gets a boner from being cold?”
“I said it was because you were moving around! Your leg is like right there, dude, okay-”
“I- okay.” Shane exhales. “I’m gonna turn around.”
It takes a solid thirty seconds of wiggling and rustling. Shane settles on top of him. “There.”
There’s a pause.
“Uh,” says Ryan, “I think this is worse.”
“It’s w-” Suddenly, Shane can’t stop laughing. He covers his face with his hands. “Oh my God.”
“It’s not my fucking fault,” Ryan sputters. But he breaks into laughter too.
Shane twists back around. “Forget about this not making the cut. This is definitely going in the video.”
“‘Then, we attempted to sleep in the master bedroom of the Percival House, where the ghosts gave Ryan a boner.”
“Fuck you- I don’t think it was ghosts, okay-”
“Oh you don’t think it was the ghosts-”
Shane moves his leg up in a rhythmic motion. “Whoooo, Ryan, look, it’s the ghosts-”
Ryan laughs nervously. “Fucking stop.”
He could. He doesn’t. “Ooooh-”
He notices Ryan’s breathing is a little quicker. In the dark, his face looks redder than before.
He shifts his leg again, up, and his hip too. Ryan’s breath catches. “Dude, I-” He doesn’t finish his sentence.
Shane makes a decision. “You know what, fuck it,” he says.
“You know- we’re here, this is like- a thing that’s happening, that’s happened- we’ve crossed, like, nine out of ten lines here. What’s one more.” Shane isn’t sure if he’s talking to himself or to Ryan.
“Dude- if you’re saying what I think you’re saying, like-” Ryan inhales sharply. Shane- entirely by accident this time- had moved.
“That wasn’t even on purpose.” Shane laughs.
Ryan laughs too, a little breathily. “Yeah, no, I get what you’re saying, and yeah.”
Shane moves his hip up. Ryan makes what was maybe a noise. “Yeah?”
Shane very deliberately places his entire hand on Ryan’s crotch.
“Oh, shit.” inhales Ryan.
“No turning back now.”
“Nope.” He presses a little harder, and Ryan’s hips twitch up involuntarily. He slides his hand down past the waistband of Ryan’s sweatpants.
“This is- a thing that’s happening.” says Ryan. Shane wraps his hand around Ryan’s dick and Ryan heaves up into him. "Oh, God."
“Maybe this’ll summon the ghosts.” says Shane.
Ryan slides his hands up under Shane's sweater. “Oh shit- why would you even -unh- mention that.”
Shane presses his entire body down on Ryan and moves up. “If I was a ghost I’d be pretty pissed about some dudes having sex where I literally committed suicide.”
“Don’t even- can you go like five seconds without-” Ryan isn’t doing a great job forming full sentences. "Can you like- move your hand more?"
"I don't exactly have a lot of range of movement in here-"
"No- okay, just like- twist it a little- Oh shit, yeah." Ryan digs his fingernails into his back.
"This is such good blackmail material." Shane says.
"Sure, we can do that next."
"I hate you so much."
"And I can- It's not like you're exempt here." To prove it, he presses his palm against Shane's hard-on.
He shivers, and pushes back reflexively. "Well, you kind of started this whole thing."
"I started- Your fucking fault, fucking moving around and being hot and shit-" Ryan exhales a hot breath. "Oh, jesus, dude, I'm gonna-"
"Don't fucking- don't judge-" Ryan rakes his fingernails against Shane's back; his hips twitch against him. "Oh no, dude, I just realized-" but he's gone. He buries his face into Shane's neck and heaves up, pressing against him- his teeth scrape against his collarbone, and Shane can feel his breaths, short and sharp.
He groans into Shane's neck, his voice reverberating through him, and Shane's gone too, hips heaving.
Ryan pants against Shane's collarbone. They lie there, legs tangled together. Shane can feel the beating of Ryan's heart, slightly below and opposite to his.
"We didn't bring a change of clothes." Ryan murmurs.
It takes Shane a couple seconds to chug around to a response. "Aw, shit."
Ryan laughs. He wraps his arms loosely around Shane's waist.
"We did not plan this." he says.
"That we did not."
Shane rests his chin on top of Ryan's head. "You know what?"
"The camera's still on."
"Oh no- dude, oh my God."
"We just made a sex tape."
"We just-" Ryan wheezes. His laugh reverberates through both their chests. "This whole thing- I swear to God."
"I wonder if there's a market for sex tapes filmed in the dark with both people fully clothed in a bag the whole time."
Ryan's voice is muffled against him. "Definitely, yes, there is."
Ryan, for the first time ever, sleeps the whole night in a haunted house. They stumble out, bleary in the morning light. Brent is leaning against the car, checking his phone. "You guys slept in." he says. "See any ghosts?"
"Nope." says Shane.
"Why do you both have your jackets tied around your waists?"
"And then we settled down for the night." Ryan reads. "Mysteriously, our camera shut off despite having full battery on arrival. Because of this, we captured no footage of our night.
Was this the work of the vengeful spirits that haunt the Percival House? Or simply a malfunction?"
"We may never know." says Shane. Ryan stifles a laugh.