The Others (Haunted From Without - Book One)

By: IAN C.P. IRVINE





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Peter was staying in a motel in Ames, a small city thirty miles north of Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, the largest corn producing state in the U.S. His motel was close to the Jack Trice Stadium, the home football field of the Iowa State Cyclones. Over the past few years Peter had grown increasingly interested in the sport, watching it regularly on cable TV in Edinburgh. One day he would love to go to a real game. It was just a shame it couldn't happen on this trip.

The police station closest to his motel was the Boxholm police station, but driving past, it seemed too small; although outward appearances could be misleading, it looked like the station might be better at rescuing cats from trees than taking his claims seriously and responding to them appropriately. The next station that his iPad showed him was the Ames Police Station in Clark Avenue.

He arrived at 10 a.m., and it was 12.10 p.m. before they finally let him leave.

The police were fully aware of the death of William Ralston. The death had been discovered and reported by patrol officers from the Iowa State Patrol, who had considered it as a straightforward suicide. Peter couldn't help but feel that when he entered the station, he had brought with him the most exciting news they had heard in months. Within moments he was seated in a room being interviewed by the duty officers, but when he was finished, he was asked to repeat the whole interview again with the Ames Police Chief, who came to the station from wherever else he was to conduct the interview personally.

Peter was not a fool.

He was cautious about what he told them.

He had met William in Scotland at the Royal Highland Show near Edinburgh. Peter was a journalist. He had been invited to the U.S. by William to write an article on GM corn crops, the successes and the failures. William had shown him several farms, and was due to show him another one the next day. There was no indication, none, that William was suicidal. On the contrary, he was an active member of the local farmers' guild.

He showed them the letter he had received and gave it to them for testing.

There were a lot of questions.

Why would anyone want to warn Peter? Why did he think they were threatening him? Who would want to threaten William?

And then . . . where will you be for the next few days?

He told them he was due to go home the next day and what had happened to Susie. He gave them the phone number of his editor at the Scotsman, and his home details in Edinburgh. The police took notes - lots of notes, made a few phone calls, conducted numerous checks on the internet - Peter could only guess what - and then agreed to let him go.

By the time he left, he felt more like a suspect than a good citizen.



Calling ahead, he apologised and warned Paula Ralston that he would be an hour late. After a quick visit to a local diner, he found his way onto Interstate 35, settled back into his rental, and drove north.

He was so wrapped up in his thoughts about Susie, that he didn't notice the black Grand Cherokee jeep drop into the traffic a hundred yards behind, following him steadily for the next three hours.





Chapter 5

Heatherview Care Home

St Andrews

Scotland

8.30 p.m. GMT



Susie had driven home from the hospital in a daze. She had left at 1 p.m., having spent some more time with her father alone, saying goodbye to him for what she thought would be the last time.

She'd been given some documents, one of which was the death certificate, although she had not yet had the courage to open and read it.

She knew it would be so final: strange words on a formal document, stoically announcing the death of her only surviving relative. Words on paper, that said nothing about the character of the man whom they discussed. Her father. Her daddy.

After sitting in a nearby restaurant, her thoughts turned to the conversation with Peter. She missed him. She needed him.

He was her future now.

She thought briefly about their wedding, planned for September 14th later that year, less than two months away. She had been looking forward to it so much, and the planning was almost complete. Now it would be different. Her father would not be able to walk her down the aisle. Would not be able to share the First Dance with her. Would not see her in the lovely, white wedding dress she had already chosen.

She started to cry again, pulled over into a lay-by at the side of the road, and bawled her eyes out.

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