The Others (Haunted From Without - Book One)

By: IAN C.P. IRVINE



Could it get any worse?





Chapter 4

Ames, Iowa

8 a.m. CST



The alarm clock rang, its high-pitched, piercing ring tone doing its best to rouse Peter from his deep dream: it was the same dream again, the dream that recurred whenever he was stressed or worried. Always the same, and always ending the same way: in his own death.

In his dream, he never saw the moment he died - it was always just implied - but Peter knew what the dream was leading to. Peter had once heard that if you actually see yourself die in a dream you never wake up. The journalist in him questioned this statement: how does anyone know that this old wives' tale was true? How many people have had the dream, observed their own death and never woken up, and then been able to tell someone else - "yep, I saw my death, and I died!" It was a ridiculous belief.

In his dream, Peter was standing at the top of the Matterhorn, balancing precariously on a tiny ledge. Peter, known and ridiculed by all his friends for suffering from the world's worst acrophobia - a fear of heights - was pressing himself hard against the rock face, squeezing his eyes shut, gripping the cold granite with his hands and hanging on for dear life. Then suddenly, he felt someone tap his shoulder and say to him, "Hello, Peter! I'm back!" When Peter opened his eyes in the dream and turned his head gingerly to his left, he found that another person was now standing beside him: his nemesis from several years ago - a polish, serial killer called Maciek.

Maciek laughed, and clapped his hands.

"Peter, I am here to help you jump. I will jump with you. Together, on count of three!"

Then Maciek would grab Peter's hand, count to three and jump off the ledge, dragging Peter down with him.

As Peter fell, he would vividly feel the sensation of cold mountain air rushing past his face, and experience a strange sensation in his stomach as he started to free-fall. He would see the ground rushing towards him. Closer, and closer, until . . .

Just before he hit the ground he would always awake in a cold sweat. Always . . . just before he died.

Thankfully, tonight at least, the alarm saved him. Peter woke up, leaving Maciek alone on the rock face.

Peter shook his head, swore aloud at his dream, and then hurried to the shower room.

Cold water rained down upon his head, and the last vestiges of the dream left him. He stepped out of the shower, towelled himself down and got dressed.

Today was going to be a busy day.

After reading the text messages from Susie, he had called her. She was in a terrible state, and incredibly relieved to be able to talk with her fiancé. Her tears flowed as she told him about what had happened, and he listened.

"It's not just that he died, Peter. I knew it had to come sooner or later, but it was a little weird. Not 'spooky weird' - I wasn't scared at all - but still weird. My dad really did seem to be able to see other people in the room with us . . . and yes, that reminds me, that's exactly what the nurse described them as being the night before, when I asked her who Dad had been talking to. 'He was just talking to the Others. It's normal . . . ' she had said. She had called them 'the Others'."

"Perhaps it's common for people to see their relatives when they are dying, almost as if the dead relatives have come to collect them and help guide them on their way to Heaven."

"That's what I was wondering. Anyway, I'm going to the home where Dad lived later today. I'm going to ask the nurse there what exactly she meant by that statement."

"Susie, maybe it could wait for a few days? Until I get back? Then we can go together. I think that maybe you should just take it easy today. You have to allow yourself time to grieve."

"I know, I know Peter, but I have to collect all his things, and help empty the room, and . . . "

"And nothing, Susie. His clothes and personal effects can wait. I think it's best if you do nothing today. I'm sorry to say, but you've just lost your dad, Susie. And you need time to take that in, and let the grieving process begin."

"Maybe you're right, Peter."

"I am right Susie. Please, rest."

"But it's not just that which upsets me about what happened," Susie carried on. "Dad was trying to tell me something. Something that he obviously thought was really important. He tried talking to me, but by that time it was too late. He died before he could tell me whatever it was that he had wanted to say. I can't help but think that whatever it was, it was really important. And now we'll never know what it was. Never . . . "

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