By Chef QuaintAndCurious
My story begins six years ago when I was 22. I was working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in Manchester, England. For those of you unfamiliar with each; Manchester is the largest city in the Northern part of my country and, as an EMT, I saw my fair share of gunshot victims, stab wounds and generally things unpleasant in nature which can play on your mind if you allow them inside. I have had the blood of strangers upon my hands and witnessed more than one death rattle. That said I loved the job, it was interesting, the pay was adequate for what I needed at the time and the hours, though long, did not affect my lifestyle or social life. I left the job almost exactly one year in and I no longer want anything to do with a primary healthcare profession. One year in I attended a car accident, not my first car accident nor the worst in terms of severity, but one which has changed my life significantly.
My memories of the day are somewhat hazy, it started normally, this I do remember. The call came in around half past five in the evening, a multi-car pile up on the Manchester ring road. Myself and my partner at the time quickly engaged the blue lights of our first response ambulance and raced the four miles or so to the scene. It was relatively standard, one car was on its side, the front and back of the other two were completely caved in, it would take a person with far greater forensic skill than mine to reconstruct the actual events of the crash.
My partner and I grabbed our emergency kits and jumped out of our vehicle, he raced over to the two upright cars, the occupants of which were either pacing around the scene, their faces pale, their hands on their heads, some crying. Or they were sitting as though asleep, unmoving inside the cars.
My attention was drawn to a middle aged female sat upright against the underside of the people carrier which had flipped onto its side. I breathed deeply and rushed to kneel in front of her. She was conscious, pale, and dying. I will not describe the extent of her injuries, nor will I speculate how she managed to end up where she did. Just appreciate that she was in a bad way and that despite the aid which I could give her I could tell it would not make much of an impact as to her fate. I resolved to make her comfortable for the worst part about the ordeal was that she was conscious and, though her eyelids fluttered and her breathing was laboured, she was as aware of her surroundings and situation as I was.
I knelt down in front of her and began to talk to her, the standard paramedic questions which are the one thing that television programmes and films often get correct about the job. ‘Can you hear me?’ ‘What is your name?’ ‘Can you tell me where and how bad the pain is?’ that sort of thing.
The question that every paramedic dreads is the panicked whisper of ‘am I going to die’ but this lady did not ask me that. Instead she continued to breathe erratically and made no acknowledgment as to her own mortality or the precarious thread by which it now hung. Instead she clung on to a life fading with each passing minute, answering my questions as a runner who has just completed a marathon would answer a journalist. Then it happened.
Do you know that fear that knifes across your chest when someone looks at a point over your shoulder and gasps in alarm. It’s a look often accompanied by ‘do not move’ in response to a large creepy crawly or imminent mild danger. The fear is very short, but for the split second that it’s alive, it is the most crushing, overwhelming fear there is. It makes you want to flail, to run in circles, to panic completely in a manner that you invariably think is not something you would ever do. Well the stricken lady raised her head, widened her eyes towards a point just over my left shoulder and gasps deeply. I froze completely, a thousand thoughts exploded into my mind which, and it sounds like a paradox to say this, had gone totally blank.
She murmured in a volume which only exacerbated the situation. I continued to kneel, frozen and staring into her eyes as they filmed and dulled in death. I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever watched anyone die but the difference in their eyes from their last second of life to their first of death is startling. From being bright and reflective it is a change akin to someone pulling a semi-transparent film over a previously bright window. That is not what made me leave my job, what made me leave was the figure i saw reflected in her eyes and standing just behind me.
I could not describe it’s features beyond that it was incredibly thin and humanoid in shape. In the reflection of her eyes he appeared completely black. There was no time lapse in between her passing and me whipping around to find that the nearest person to me was one of the crash victims standing against the motorway barrier about fifteen feet away. I saw out the rest of the day and handed in my notice. The reflection in that ladies eyes during her last second of life has haunted me ever since and no amount of sleep, alcohol or social distraction has loosened the knot of fear and confusion which seems as though it will be a permanent fixture in my chest.
The reason I submit this story to your attention is an event which occurred last night (15/03/2015). My maternal grandfather passed away last year after a long battle with illness and it devastated my mother. The pain has dulled somewhat now and, despite being a complete cynic, we thought it might be fun to agree to attend a private medium reading which my Aunt (my mother’s sister and the complete opposite to her in terms of spiritualism) had organised at her home.
After a general display of mediocre talent in my Aunt’s front room the female ‘psychic’ asked if any of us would like a one on one reading while the others waited in my Aunt’s kitchen. We all agreed and I was the last to go in.
Upon entering the room I found the medium seated at a round table shuffling tarot cards and the stereotypical situation was not lost on me. The medium glanced up and coughed.
‘I was dreading giving you a reading. Please do not sit down.’
I frowned and was about to open my mouth to tell her not to bother before she glanced over my left shoulder and cleared her throat again.
‘You would have seen him if you’d turned round before she died.’
The shock and surprise hit me like a truck and, despite considering myself to be quite an emotionally strong person I felt my eyes prickle in that telltale way.
‘How do you know about that?’ I asked.
‘He’s still behind you, he’s been behind you ever since.’
She continued to glance over my shoulder and the fear, so dull for so many years flared across my chest again.
‘He doesn’t like people seeing him, not many people do until the end.’
I did not try to stop the tear which welled out of the corner of my eye and ran delicately down my cheek.
‘But you saw him, and he didn’t like it. He’s following you, he’s waiting for the right time to reveal himself.’
‘I’m scared’ was the only thing that this 6ft, 28 year old man could muster and I truly, truly was afraid. Not afraid in the way that you would be about going on a large roller coaster, or would feel prior to a bungee jump or sky dive, but afraid as you would be if you came face to face with a lion and were unarmed and alone. The fear was visceral, sharp, and completely unescapable.
‘He has a message for you,’ she continued.
I did not want to hear the message but she lowered her head to her cards and shuffled them as though on autopilot, her face pale in the candlelight.
‘He wants you to know that he is looking forward to the day when you can see him through your own eyes and he says that, on that day, you will realise that after him there is nothing beyond.’
I exited the room, my heart pounding. My family asked what was wrong but how could I vocalise what had occurred. I know there is nothing after this life, as surely as I know that the sun will rise tomorrow. It is a thought that comes with constant fear and let me tell you, there really is no fear quite like it.