Emily sat up in bed with a frozen expression as she glanced around the room. This time her breathing was normal. Her pulse rate was calm. She checked her phone. The display glowed 4.35am against the darkness. Her eyes dropped to Boyd, fast asleep beside her.
In the two weeks since they attended the Molly Williamson Medium seminar, Emily had experienced uninterrupted sleep. She started to believe she was cured. Tonight however, something changed.
As she woke from her slumber, Emily tried to rationalise what just happened. She wasn’t frightened as she sat up in bed, recalling her dream. If anything, she was surprised. She had to share it with Boyd.
Emily gently nudged her husband’s shoulder. ‘Hun…’ she said quietly.
Boyd’s eyes opened. He startled and sat up quickly. ‘What’s wrong? Are you alright?’ he mumbled. He rubbed an eye.
‘I’m fine…really. I just had another visitor in my dreams...’
Boyd’s shoulders slumped. He regarded Emily. ‘Is everything OK…?’ He asked. Boyd frowned. ‘Wait...You’re not upset…’
Emily shook her head. She pulled the covers over her lap. ‘No. It was really weird.’
Boyd leaned on an elbow. ‘Weird…You mean, weirder than any other of these sort of visits…?’
‘OK. How so…?’
‘In my dream, I woke up to a woman standing by my bed looking down at me…’
‘OK. Sounds familiar. Which woman this time?’
‘No. I haven’t seen this one before. She was about mid-twenties. Red hair and really pale skin. The weird thing was…I wasn’t scared when I saw her. I found myself talking to her. I think it was a dream. It’s hard to tell because it was so real.’
‘You actually talked to this…this dead woman?’
‘I did.’ Emily shook a puzzled head. ‘I did. I actually spoke to her.’
‘This is some messed up shit, Em. What ah…what did she say to you?’
‘When I first saw her standing there, I felt calm. I asked her if she wanted something from me. I asked if she needed my help. She said yes.’
Boyd’s jaw dropped. ’Are you sure you’re OK?’
‘Yes. I’m good. This woman asked me to help try and find her. I asked her where she thought she was. She said she didn’t know but it was cold and wet.’
Boyd glared at Emily with a stunned stare and open mouth. Emily continued.
‘She told me she has a lot of pain in her back and her chest hurts. Her shirt…’ Emily rubbed a hand across her chest, ‘was all bloodied…’
‘Are you saying these dead people feel pain…?’
‘I don’t know…They must. She said she is in a paddock somewhere, it’s cold and wet and she wants me to help find her…so her family knows where she is.’
‘How the hell can you do that, Em…? How can you possibly find someone you saw in a dream?’
‘I don’t know. I woke up after that, so I am a little taken aback at the moment.’
Boyd’s eyebrows arched. ‘You’re taken aback…’ He rubbed a hand through his hair. ‘You’re talking like you are considering this…like, like this was something real, not a dream…’
‘I don’t think it was a dream. You know how in dreams you can’t see people’s faces, your mind just tells you it is them. Well, I could see her face. I’ve never met her before, but I could make out all her features. She had these bright green eyes…’
Boyd slipped his legs out of bed. He sat on the side leaning on his elbows. He had to be concerned about his wife after what he just heard.
After several minutes of contemplation, he glanced over his shoulder at Emily. His eyebrows plunged when he saw her nestled back under the covers and fast asleep.
With a slow shake of his head, he killed the light and tried to do the same.
One week later it happened again; another nocturnal visitor in Emily’s dreams. This time she didn’t wake up. She slept through until her phone alarm disturbed her sleep.
After her shower, Emily wandered into the kitchen. The tantalising smell of toast and freshly brewed coffee welcomed her. She smiled at Boyd enjoying his breakfast when she entered.
‘Morning Hun…’ she said. ‘What time did you get in…?’ she asked, shuffling over to the coffee percolator. She grabbed a mug and poured herself a cup, breathing in the wafting aroma.
Boyd’s eyes lifted to the wall clock. ‘About twenty minutes ago…’
‘How was work?’ Emily held her mug with both hands while she sipped on her coffee. She leaned back against the sink.
‘Quiet. We only had three call outs all night.’ He lifted a finger. ‘A heart attack...’ He lifted a second finger. ‘A drug overdose…and an assault victim,’ he said lifting a third finger. ‘All were transported and all survived, which is good. How about you…? How’d you sleep…? No dream time visitors,’ he asked with a hint of flippancy.
’As a matter of fact…I had another visitor during the night…’
‘Really…? Same one?’
‘No. A different one this time…a man. I hadn’t seen him before, either.’
‘Did he want help too?’ Boyd said with a cynical smirk.
Boyd rolled his eyes. ‘Really Em…’ he said, riddled with disappointment. ‘Surely you’re not believing this is actually happening. You don’t believe you are being visited by dead people…Do you?’ His tone pleaded with his wife.
‘It seems so real…They actually talk to me.’
Boyd scoffed then sipped on his coffee. He replaced his cup. ‘You know who you sound like…?’ He began. ’One of those nutters at that seminar we went to, the ones who believed they actually talked to the dead.’
Emily didn’t respond. His words cut deep; they hurt her. She expected unconditional support from her husband, not ridicule. These nocturnal visions, while no longer distressing, still concerned her.
‘What did this one ask you to do?’ Boyd asked.
‘Same thing as the young woman …he wanted me to help find him…so his wife knew where he was….He looked about mid-thirties and was dressed in bike riding gear. I asked him if he was a rider. He said he was. He said he was near Airey’s Inlet but he doesn’t know where. It was dark where he was and wanted help to find him.’
‘Was he injured?’
‘I don’t know. He said his neck was sore though…’
‘Maybe he fell from his bike and broke his neck…that is of course, assuming all this is real…’ Boyd said.
‘I think it is…’ Emily said. ‘I genuinely think all this is actually happening. These are dead people talking to me.’
‘Coz you have…’ Boyd held up quotation mark fingers, ’the gift, hey…’ he said, riddled with cynicism.
Emily glared at Boyd. ‘You need to go to bed and I need to go to work…’ She emptied the dregs from her cup into the sink and placed it in the dishwasher.
‘Come on Em…I’m only teasing you…Look at it from my perspective.’
‘No…’ Emily snapped. ’You look at it from my perspective…I’m the one being visited by these…these —
‘Ghosts...?’ Boyd said with a smirk.
‘People…’ Emily said. She glared at Boyd. ‘I’m the one who has to reassure myself that I’m not going crazy. I’m the one who has to cope with all this happening around me. And the one person I thought I could rely on for support, ridicules me. Thank you very much. I’ll see you tonight.’ She gathered her hand bag and car keys and stormed out of the kitchen, ignoring Boyd’s pleas to come back and talk about it.
Emily and Naomi casually strolled to their favourite café for their morning coffee break. It was an opportune time to update Naomi on everything that had happened, without prying, judgemental ears listening in.
She knew everything about these dream-time visits sounded absurd to the average punter, but to her, it was all very real. Fortunately Naomi didn’t judge her. In fact, she seemed genuinely interested. More importantly, she was supportive.
Naomi opened the café door and allowed Emily to enter first. ‘So, let me see if I’ve got this,’ Naomi said, following Emily inside. ‘Two people have visited you…,’ Naomi glanced around the busy café, ‘in your sleep,’ she said in a lower tone. ‘And each one asked for your help to locate them…?’
The girls joined the back of the order queue that snaked back towards the front door.
‘That’s right…’ Emily said.
‘How do you plan to do that…?’
‘I don’t know… I wouldn’t know where to start.’
‘What does Boyd say about all this…?’
Emily glared at Naomi. ‘He says they’re just dreams…’
Naomi waved her hand. ‘What would he know...He’s just a male…I wonder how each one died…?’ Naomi said with a tone of excitement. ‘I wonder if they had an accident and haven’t been found. Maybe that is why they want your help…’
That right there was why she loved her friend so much. Even with something so weird, something so questionable as these night visits from dead people, Naomi still supported and believed her, almost unconditionally. Emily knew in her own mind that if it was Naomi who had these night visits, her cynical nature wouldn’t be so believing.
‘Surely their family know where they are,’ Emily said. ‘They would probably have buried them after their funerals…’
‘What if they are missing…?’ Naomi said. ‘What if their families don’t know where they are and they haven’t had a funeral…?’
They reached the front of the line. The waitress caught Naomi’s eye. ‘Oh, I’ve got this,’ she said, then moved to place their order. Emily moved off to the side.
When Naomi joined Emily, she continued. ’If they are missing, the cops would have a missing person report for them.’
Emily shrugged. ‘Maybe.’
‘You should go see the cops and tell them what you know…It might help them.’
Emily glared at Naomi, holding it for an extended awkward period.
‘What?’ Naomi said.
‘You want me to go to the cops and tell them that I was…’ Emily paused to check her surrounds, ‘visited by dead people in my sleep and I think these dead people might be missing persons…? They’ll probably lock me up… or certify me, or something.’
‘I see your point…’
‘Even if I did do that, I can’t help the cops,’ Emily stressed. ‘I don’t know where these two people are.’
‘Order for Naomi,’ the Barista shouted.
‘You’re right,’ Naomi said. She pushed herself from the side wall and collected their order. She handed Emily her coffee and they exited the café.
‘Maybe they will re-visit you and tell you more information, Em…’
Emily shrugged as she sipped on her coffee. ‘Who knows?’
Naomi opened her browser as she strolled. She thumbed something into her phone. ‘Hey Em, did you know there are 33 people missing in Victoria at the moment, all of whom are suspected of having met with foul play?’
‘I didn’t know that.’
Naomi’s eyes remained buried in her phone as she scrolled through the missing person website pages. She stopped walking. Emily continued a few steps then stopped and turned back. Naomi’s eyes were wide as she stared into her phone
‘What’s up Nomes…?’
Naomi’s eyes slowly lifted to Emily. ‘What did you say that woman looked like…the one who visited you and spoke to you…?’
Emily moved back to Naomi. ‘Um…She had red hair…green eyes. Looked mid-twenties, or so. Why?’
Naomi spun her phone display to face Emily. Emily squinted then took the phone. Her eyebrows arched and her mouth fell open. ‘That’s her…That’s the woman who visited me…’ Emily said. ‘Is she a missing person?’
Naomi took the phone back. ‘This is the Victoria Police Missing Person website, so…yeah, she is a missing person.’ Naomi read the page. ‘Her name is Sarah Moon. She is 26. Went missing from Geelong CBD about six months ago.’ Naomi’s excited eyes lifted to Emily. ‘This is the woman who visited you in your dreams, Em…You know what that means…?’
‘You’re not crazy. She must be dead, that is why she visited you.’
‘Can I have a look at that?’ Emily accepted Naomi’s phone and visited the photos of all 33 missing people. ‘This one here…’ she said turning the display to Naomi. ‘She looks like one of the women who had visited me in the past. This one never spoke to me, though.’
Naomi read from the screen. ‘Jenny Cox. 26. Left to visit her parents in Bacchus Marsh. She never arrived. Missing twenty-two months…Twenty-two months, Em…she’d have to be dead.’
‘This one here…This guy with the beard…This Brian Taylor. I’m sure he has visited me as well.’ Emily continued to visit the various pages of faces. ‘I reckon this one here, and…this one here have both visited me at some time in the past as well. They look so familiar.’
‘If they did visit you Em, then that means they are all probably dead.’
Emily shuddered. ‘This is too much to take in…’ she said, handing Naomi back her phone. She checked her watch. ‘Oh, shoot. We better move it…we’re running late.’
‘Good thing these coffees have lids…’ Naomi said as they fast-walked their way back to their desks.
Malcolm Denyer crawled his vehicle to a stop, parking by the kerb in the quiet residential court. The dashboard clock showed 10.15pm before it shut off with the vehicle engine. The time was significant to Malcolm.
The leafy street in which he parked was not his street, but it was not foreign to him. It was nothing more than a car park. He surveyed the immediate vicinity before reclining back. His eyes remained fixed to the rear view mirror.
Malcolm was a well-respected man in his society. He was the Principal at his local primary school with 32 years’ experience in education. He was the former president of his Rotary club. He was the incumbent Chairman of his lawn bowls club and he could be found on many Sunday mornings working as a volunteer for local charity organisations.
Earlier tonight he volunteered at a Geelong soup kitchen providing meals and food hampers to the homeless and families in the community from a lower socio-economic background. He was on his way home when he detoured.
All this charity work and caring for the needy however hid a darker, sinister side to Malcolm Denyer. It was a seedy side driven by uncontrollable urges that lured him here tonight.
He checked the time on his watch before returning his eyes to his mirror, waiting.
Malcolm sat upright in his seat when a familiar car passed by in the adjoining street behind Malcolm’s vehicle. He checked his watch. Right on time.
He waited five minutes then alighted from his vehicle. He was a short, overweight man with an unflattering head piece, unconvincing in its efforts to hide his male pattern baldness.
He quietly closed his car door, nudging it until it clicked. With a push of a button the car’s indicators flashed. Following one final check of the immediate vicinity, he made his way back to the adjoining street, turning left. His corpulent silhouette was difficult to discern skulking in and out the shadows cast by street lighting.
After a short walk he stopped out the front of a single storey home and scanned his surrounds. The front of the house was in darkness. The vehicle he earlier waited for was parked on the street out front. He leaned back against the waist high, brick fence and feigned doing up a shoe lace, all the while scanning for prying eyes. All clear.
Malcolm quickly entered the property via the driveway and made his way across the front yard to the high, picket fence side gate. He knew from experience there was no dog to worry about. He slowly opened the gate, closing it behind him.
For the most, the side of the house was in darkness, except for the light shining from a window two-thirds of the way down. Malcolm edged his way to this window. The privacy screen erected on the side fence to his right hid him from the neighbour’s view.
Malcolm’s heart pounded as he arrived at the window. The blinds were open; so too was the window. He took a deep breath then peeped around the lower corner of the window. He frowned at the empty bedroom. He stood back against the house and checked his left and right, then his watch.
It wasn’t long before the sound of a female singing caused him to smile. Malcolm moved back and peered through the window, keeping close to the lower corner. A sinister smile filled his face.
An attractive young woman — probably in her early twenties — entered the bedroom wearing a fluffy white towel wrapped tightly around her shapely body. She sang and danced around the room to the tunes pumping through her headphones, oblivious to the prying eyes glued to her window.
The 58 year old pervert had her routine down pat. He knew from previous visits that she attended the gym four nights a week, returning home around 10.20 each night for a shower, followed by an unwitting show for her audience of one.
He knew she lived in a share house with two other university girls. He knew she left her blinds open, along with her window on the warner nights, like tonight. He knew the privacy screen was there and he knew he had got away with watching her now for several weeks.
Her first mistake was believing she didn’t need to close her blinds because of the privacy wall on the neighbouring fence. Her neighbours couldn’t see in, but creeps like Malcolm could.
Malcolm watched on as she removed the towel and dropped it into a clothing basket in the corner of her room. Malcolm’s pulse quickened as he leered at her toned and shapely naked body; testament to her many dedicated hours spent in the gym.
He was particularly focussed on her free moving, sizeable breasts as she danced around the bedroom, oblivious to the unintended performance she provided. Malcolm removed his phone and took a series of photos to add to his growing collection.
She was a young woman comfortable in her own skin. She was in no hurry to cover up and this suited Malcolm.
After several minutes of perverted leering, the primary school Principal removed some tissues from his pocket and began pleasuring himself, while he watched his naked, unsuspecting victim.
When he was done, he took one last leer, then quickly and quietly retreated back to his car.
His vehicle’s indicators flashed twice as he quickly approached. He opened the door and slid into the driver’s seat and closed the door. His heart still pumped heavily in his chest as his mind’s eye re-visited the visions of his naked goddess.
While fumbling with the ignition key, the door behind him opened and someone slid into the back seat.
Malcolm frowned. ‘Who’s that…?’ He said. He tried to glance back at the uninvited intruder.
A gloved hand came around from behind and grabbed his forehead, pinning his head firmly to the headrest. The other gloved hand pressed the tip of a knife blade into the side of Malcolm’s neck. The knife point slightly pierced his skin. Blood trickled down his neck.
‘What do you want from me…?’ Malcolm said. His heart pounded, but this time it was from fear.
‘Drive,’ was the firm instruction from the back seat.
The back seat passenger applied pressure to the knife point.
‘OK. OK,’ Malcolm said, taking the not-so-subtle hint. He started the car and moved off from the kerb.
Following a series of “turn right”, “turn left” and “straight ahead” instructions, Malcolm found himself on the open country road. He glanced into the rear view mirror at his abductor, but all he could see was the left eye of a black balaclava.
‘Where are we going…?’ Malcolm’s voice asked with a notable tremor.
Nothing but silence from the back seat. The pressure applied to the blade pressed firmly into Malcolm’s neck was clearer than any spoken word. He kept quiet.
The vehicle’s headlights illuminated the occasional centre white line disappearing under the car, and the poorly maintained jagged edged bitumen roadway and gravel shoulder.
Beyond the high beam from Malcolm’ vehicle sat isolated countryside and rural farmlands blanketed by the black of night. The further he drove into the darkness, the quicker his heart rate climbed and the more frightened Malcolm became.
After forty minutes of country road driving Malcolm’s car headlights illuminated a sign announcing their arrival at Steiglitz. The remote town, northwest of Geelong once thrived in the mid-1800s as a busy gold mining township.
At the height of the 1860 gold rush, Steiglitz had over 1500 gold-fossicking residents. Today, there are less than 100, mostly farmers, scattered throughout the bush town.
The gold rush may be long gone and the town’s last gold mine closed in 1941, but there remained a residual scar on the land. A number of alluvial deep mining shafts, with associated mullock heaps were dotted throughout the surrounding bush landscape, evidence this virtual ghost town once thrived in a time gone by.
‘Slow down…’ came the instruction from the back seat. Malcolm eased off the accelerator. ‘Left here…’
The high beam illuminated a break in the long roadside grasses approaching on the left. Malcolm slowed and turned left into the gravel road, lined by one metre high dried grass. His vehicle bounced and rocked along the narrow, bone shaking, pothole-riddled track.
The car’s high beam illuminated the towering, light grey tree trunks lining the road. They jumped out from the black backdrop.
‘Turn right here…’
Malcolm did as he was told, turning right into bush land.
Malcolm pulled the car over. He glanced around the isolated darkness. Visibility away from the car head lights on this moonless night was down to only feet.
‘Turn off the lights.’
He did as instructed. Darkness engulfed their vehicle. Malcolm’s heart raced. He knew this wasn’t going to end well. Why else would he be brought way out here?
‘Turn off the car.’
‘Look… has this got something to do with that girl I was watching…?’
The knife pressed firmer into his neck. ‘OK…’ Malcolm held up a submissive hand and turned off the engine.
‘Leave the keys. Get out.’
Malcolm alighted from the car. The twigs and dried leaves crunched under his feet. Beads of perspiration formed on his forehead. He glanced around at the enveloping blackness. No-one would hear him scream out here.
A torch light from behind illuminated the ground in front of Malcolm. ‘That way,’ the voice from behind ordered.
Malcolm commenced walking where the torch light shone. At least the knife had been removed from his neck. He touched the tender wound left by the knife. He grimaced. When he checked his fingers there was blood.
His abductor shoved Malcolm aggressively in the back. Malcolm quickened his pace. They walked into the dark, tree covered bush for around five minutes when the torch light flicked to the right.
Malcolm did as instructed.
‘I don’t want to die,’ Malcolm pleaded with his abductor. ‘Please, I have a family…I have a wife and three kids. Look, I promise I won’t peep in her window again... Please…’
His pleas fell on deaf ears.
Malcolm slid his phone from his pocket and held it up.
Malcolm did as instructed then handed the phone back behind him.
‘Hands on your head.’
Malcolm obliged. He scanned the darkness. His breathing escalated to panting, while the abductor inspected Malcolm’s phone.
After a short wait, Malcolm’s time was up. Using a quick, deft movement, the abductor sliced open the side of Malcolm’s neck, below the ear, severing his carotid artery. Blood spurted several metres from the gaping wound.
Malcolm grabbed his neck in a feeble attempt to stem the flow, but the cut was too deep. Torrents of blood coursed from his body as he collapsed to the ground.
Within thirty seconds Malcolm passed out from the lack of blood supply to his brain. Ninety seconds later the perverted primary school Principal was dead. His abductor stood and watched until the life drained from Malcolm.
Once his pockets were emptied, Malcolm’s body was rolled over three times, then, with a final push from a foot, Malcolm’s overweight corpse plummeted down an open, vertical mine shaft. The delayed thud resonating back to the top verified it was deep.
Malcolm would never know it, but he shared his deep dark resting place with two other bodies in varying stages of advanced decomposition.
Within minutes Malcom’s car was gone and the area returned to isolated, overgrown bushland.