The Others (Haunted From Without - Book One)

By: IAN C.P. IRVINE



The timing couldn't have been better. Scotland was now involved in a huge political debate about Genetically Modified crops, and with its recent, increasingly devolved powers from the British Parliament in Westminster, the Scottish Assembly was trying to decide whether or not to ban GM foods from Scottish soil, or to allow them in.

Only last week, one of Peter's colleagues had got an article dedicated to the GM discussion on Page Five, but Peter could sense something larger here: a headline article for Page One.

In the weeks that followed, Peter had digested everything he could on the GM debate. And what he learned had shocked him to the core.

On the face of it, the motivation to produce genetically modified crops was pure and simple: to produce more food.

But the deeper he dug, the more he learned, and the more sinister the debate became.



Peter had stayed in contact with William. Almost a year had passed now, and during that time Peter could sense that William and the farmers he represented were getting more desperate as the months passed.

The crisis they were facing was deepening.

Strangely, the press and the world media did not seem to be covering their plight.

In July, William had called Peter one day while he was at work in the offices of the Evening News, where he was working at the time. There had been a development. One of the other farmers in Iowa, who had become increasingly outspoken and verbal on the plight of U.S. farmers and who was posting his personal experiences online, had been found dead. Officially it was suicide. Others thought differently.

"His crops failed this year. They simply didn't grow."

"His GM crops?"

"No. He switched seeds. Planted the seed we bought last year in Scotland from a different supplier. Hardly any seeds grew. The seeds were tested. They were fine. The soil is dead."

"Dead?"

"Yes. Listen, Peter, this is no longer something I feel comfortable discussing with you on the phone. We compiled a file, - myself and a group of other farmers - which documents all our experiences over the past few years. It's all in there. It's powerful stuff. It's dynamite. We want to give it to someone in the media. There's no one over here that we can trust. For whatever reason, no one seems to want to run with this . . . Are you interested?"

"Me?"

"Sure. You. You're ideal. The Scottish Press is free, right? And you've built yourself a big reputation as someone who takes on new technology companies, and wins. Your exposé of StemPharma was brilliant. You're the man we need. And I trust you, Peter."

"So, what's the plan?"

"I, we - the other farmers I represent, want to invite you out to Iowa. We want you to visit our farms for yourself. Talk to as many people as you want. See for yourself the condition our fields are in. And I'll give you the file. I'm sure you will know what to do with it after that."

"You want me to take on the GM industry?"

"That's not what I am asking."

"What are you asking then?"

"I'm just saying . . . come here. Visit with us. And then write about what you see and discover. That's what journalists do, right?"

Peter was silent.

"That's what you do, right?" William prodded.

"Yes," Peter replied. "That's what we do."

"Good. Then, when can you come?"

A month later, Peter was in Iowa.



Peter stepped out of the shower, walked into the other room while towelling himself down, and flicked on the television.

Taking another non-alcoholic cold beer from the fridge, he flicked through a couple of stations before ending up on the local news channel. They were showing 'LIVE' pictures being taken from a bridge crossing one of the rivers not far from the city. Peter had driven over it only a few hours before.

He turned up the volume, wrapping the towel around his waist and sitting back on the bed. The beer was cold and refreshing, and he was still thirsty after spending another day out in the heat.

"The body, which was pulled out of the river about one hour ago, has been identified as that of Mr William Ralston, a local farmer, and leader of the Iowa Farmers Guild. No other information is available at this time, but the police are not treating the death as suspicious. It is believed that Mr Ralston committed suicide . . . "

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