The Others (Haunted From Without - Book One)

By: IAN C.P. IRVINE





"Here you are, Susie," she said, returning with a tray. "And help yourself to the Rich Tea biscuits."

They sat down, facing each other.

"I am sorry about your father. He was a wonderful man. Everyone liked him, and I don't mind admitting I had a bit of a soft spot for him myself. He had a wicked sense of humour."

"My dad? Funny?"

"Hilarious!"

"Honestly? He was always so serious around me . . . at least he was after Mum died."

A few moments silence. Claire waited patiently for the questions to come. She knew they would.

"I couldn't go home. I'm sorry, but I had to come to see you. I needed to ask you some questions," Susie started to explain herself. "A few things happened today, that I just don't understand."

"Susie, I'd be glad to help if I can."

"Can you remember last night - this morning - when you called me? When my dad was talking to me, he said something that I didn't understand. It was as if he was talking to someone else. At least, that's what it sounded like. I asked you about it, and you said he was just talking to 'the Others' and that it was normal. Claire, you had left by the time my dad died, so I haven't had a chance to tell you yet, but when I was with him, just before he died, he looked over my shoulder at the corner of the room, and said: 'Can I have another minute? Just another few moments with my Susie?' It was as if he was talking to someone behind me. Then he turned to me and apologised and said: 'I'm sorry, Susie. I have to go. They are waiting for me. And they can't wait any longer.' I asked him, 'Who's waiting?' And he replied: 'Your grandfather, and your grandmother. And your mother . . . and Timothy.' I remember his words exactly."

Claire nodded as Susie spoke, waiting for Susie to wipe away a few more tears, guessing what her next question would be.

"Claire . . . what did you mean, when you said, he was talking to the 'Others'? And that it was 'normal'?"

Claire smiled gently.

"When I said that it was normal, I meant that it happens a lot. I'm used to it now. It doesn't always happen, but when it does, it no longer surprises us."

"What doesn't surprise you?"

"I mean, when a person comes close to death, in the moments or hours before he or she leaves this world and travels to the next, it's quite common for them to start seeing, or interacting with other people that we can't see. Mostly, I think, it's a family member who is already deceased, someone who has gone before. Someone who has come back from the other side to comfort the dying person in their last moments, and to guide them from this world to the next, maybe even to take them back to Heaven with them."

"And you say this happens a lot?"

"Maybe not 'a lot', but regularly. So much so, that we, the carers in this home who have seen it happen before, just call the visitors 'the Others'. 'The Others' that we can't see."

"Are you serious."

"Never more so, Susie."

"And you . . . ? Have you ever seen 'the Others' yourself?"

"Myself, personally, no. But I know people who have."

"What? Who have seen these ghosts?"

"Ghosts is perhaps not the word I would use. Whoever or whatever these entities are that come to visit the dying do seem to comfort them. They bring peace to the dying in their last few days, hours or minutes. They provide reassurance and take away their fear."

Susie was shaking her head.

"I don't know if I can believe this . . . but my Dad did see something. Do you think it's real? Are 'the Others' really there? Or is it just some form of hallucination experienced by the dying as parts of their brains begin to shut down, or as they become really confused?"

"I don't know the answer to that question. And in a way, I don't care. The point is, to those who see them, they are real. Which, perhaps, makes them real, even if they are not."

"So, you think they might not be real?"

"That's not what I said. Personally, honestly, I think 'the Others' are real. I think that your father did see his wife, and his parents. I think they did come to help take him to Heaven. And I think it's beautiful." Claire smiled. "Your father was very lucky. He passed away peacefully, and far from alone. He went from love, to love. I just hope that when my time comes, 'the Others' will come for me too."

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