The Others (Haunted From Without - Book One)

By: IAN C.P. IRVINE



Peter dropped his beer, and stared at the images on the screen. He couldn't believe it. William was dead? How could that be? Peter had been with him that very afternoon, and had only left him around six o'clock. Tomorrow William was due to introduce Peter to some of the other farmers and they were due to hand over the file they had compiled. In fact Peter had only left him, when William had insisted on driving somewhere alone to retrieve the file from its hiding place.

Flicking through the channels, desperate to find more news on the incident, anything at all, he eventually realised that none of the other national channels were reporting it.

He sat back down on his bed, and waited for the next local news bulletin.

What should he do now? Go to the police? Definitely. Peter may even have been one of the last people to have seen William alive. As far as he was concerned, there was no way that William was suicidal. Which meant that it had to be murder. Or a very strange accident.

Peter suddenly thought back to the conversation that William and he had shared the previous month when William had called him: William had told him about one of the other anti-GM farmers who had been found dead, another suspect suicide to add to the three others he had already learned about. William now made five.

A chill went up and down Peter's spine.

He stood up, and walked to his door, flicking the deadbolt on, and making sure it was properly locked. As he turned back towards the room, he noticed the letter that he had thrown onto the mattress.

Picking it up, he pushed his finger into the top, and ripped it open.

It was a single, folded piece of paper.

Written on the inside were three sentences.

"You are not welcome. Go back to Scotland tomorrow. Or follow William Ralston."



Peter stared at the message in his hand. His first reaction was fear. He was being followed. And threatened.

Whoever had left this message for him had delivered it personally and may even have been watching him. And whoever it was knew that William was dead.

Peter's journalistic mind suddenly sprang into gear and took over.

What time was the death of William first reported on the TV? When was this message delivered? It was already here when he arrived, which was probably at least thirty minutes before he watched the announcement on the TV. The live news coverage had said the body had been pulled from the water only an hour ago. It was a LIVE broadcast, so there was no way that whoever had written the note could have written it and slipped it under the door having learned about the death from the TV broadcast. Which meant that whoever wrote the note already knew about the death before it was reported, and had probably been a witness to it. Possibly even caused it.

Shit.

He needed to show the letter to the police.

Then another thought hit him.

CCTV.

Picking up the phone, he dialled the motel reception and asked to speak with the manager.

"Hi. Someone just broke into my pickup truck outside my room, and stole some groceries. I was wondering, do you have CCTV?"

"Yes, we do, sir. But unfortunately, the system stopped working about four hours ago. The engineer is coming first thing in the morning to fix it."

Instinctively Peter knew it was pointless pursuing that train of thought. Whoever had delivered the note had more than likely disabled the cameras too.

"Can you give me the number of the local police department?"

"Sure thing, Mr Nicolson."

Peter wrote it down.

He considered calling them now, to let them know, but looking at the clock, he realised how late it had become. It could wait until tomorrow. And besides, he was exhausted.

Pulling out his cell phone, he switched it on to set the alarm clock. Earlier that day he had switched it off to conserve power - there was no reception out in the fields, miles away from the city.

As soon as he typed in his pin code and the screens changed, the first messages from Susie arrived.

Her father was dead.



Peter stared at the messages in disbelief, a wave of emotion - sadness and regret - washing over him. He glanced at his watch. It was 2.15 a.m. Iowa was six hours behind Scotland. Which meant that Susie's father had died about two hours ago.

He started to dial Susie's number, thinking how badly things had just gone wrong.

First, William had been murdered. Secondly, his own life had been threatened. And now, Susie had lost her father.

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