The Others (Haunted From Without - Book One)

By: IAN C.P. IRVINE





Life was so strange.

One minute you are there, and the next minute you are gone.

This morning her father had been alive.

And now he was gone.

Life made no sense. Living made no sense.

What was the point?

What was the point in living, when right from the very first instantaneous moment of conception, you are destined to die?

It didn't matter what great books you read - or wrote - what paintings you painted, what countries you visited, what wonderful sights you saw, what buildings you designed or built - the list went on - the outcome was the same. It didn't matter what you did, because, in the end, it all meant nothing. You died. Turned to dust. And so did everybody else.

It was then, at that moment, as she sat in her car beside the edge of the road somewhere outside of St Andrews, that she felt her little baby kick inside her for the first time.

The timing could have not been more significant. It was as if her baby had been listening to her thoughts, and it was nudging her. Telling her the answer.

In an instant, she knew what life was all about.

It was about the unborn child within her womb.

That little person who she would bring into the world and then nurture to adulthood. Who would grow up full of excitement. Full of laughter. Full of joy, and expectation.

Life was about the future. About the cycle: from life to death; from young to old; from parent to child.

She reached for the phone, determined to share the wonderful news with Peter. He would be thrilled to hear that Little Bump had kicked for the first time. Peter was going to make a brilliant father.

The call went straight through to voicemail.

"Peter, call me!" Susie beseeched, her tears mingling with laughter. "I have some incredible news for you. Call me!"



It was a beautiful day. The green grass, the sunshine, the blue of the sea . . .

It was strange how quickly her thoughts and her mood had changed from being so negative to so . . . so bright.

She knew that this sadness would pass. She had been through it all with her mother, when she had passed away several years before. She knew there was no choice but to take each day at a time. This time, however, it would be different. Now she had Peter, and their child growing within her.

She stroked her stomach, allowed herself a momentary smile, and started the car.

She had driven only a hundred yards, before thoughts of her father pervaded her mind again and the sadness returned.

For the tenth time that day she recalled the last few moments she had spent with her father in the hospital room. She remembered the look in his eyes and how he had looked over her shoulder to the empty space in the corner of the room behind.

"Your grandfather, and your grandmother. And your mother . . . and Timothy."

Were they really there? Could he really see them? What could he see?

In those last few moments, he had seemed so calm. So happy.

And then, again, that same recurring question: "Who was Timothy?"



--------------------



Claire Johnson, the nurse who had called Susie that morning, was due to start the night shift at the Heatherview Care Home at 9 p.m.

Susie was in reception at the care home as Claire walked through the door into the entrance hall - half way home to Edinburgh Susie had simply turned the car around and driven back to St Andrews. There were questions that needed to be answered, and Susie knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep that night until they were. Once back in St Andrews, Susie had walked on the beach, and sat in a restaurant, killing time, thinking of her father and waiting until Claire's shift would start.

Claire recognised her as she walked in.

"You look as if you could do with a good cup of tea. Why don't you come to my office with me? I don't start my shift for another thirty minutes."

Susie followed Claire along a few corridors, poignantly passing the room where her father had lived. For a second she stopped outside, resting her outstretched fingers gently against the door, but not daring to turn the handle and walk in.

Looking back, she saw Claire watching her silently. Understanding.

"We can go in if you wish?"

"No, not now. Maybe later. Perhaps tomorrow."

They carried on through the building, eventually coming to a small room near the cafeteria. Claire let her in, offered her a seat, and left her alone for a few minutes while she went off in search of some tea and a strong coffee.

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