Don Davenport didn’t believe in ghosts. He didn’t believe in much at all. Didn’t drink, smoke, eat meat, vote, follow any religion or have many friends.
It was how he liked things, work then home to his flat each night in the heart of the city. Life was going well, he was happy.
The day he had his accident was to change everything for Don. Hurtling through the packed city streets on his bicycle. Music playing on his headset. He had skirted with danger around buses and trucks for years. Today, it didn’t end well.
The whole thing was over in seconds. Don was knocked from his bike, flew a short distance, hit a car and landed hard in the road. Three months in hospital, broken bones, a fractured skull and in a coma. He eventually regained consciousness and it seemed he was making a good recovery.
One day for no apparent reason Don left the hospital and disappeared. He was never heard from again.
This is Dons story; as he woke from the coma memories drifted back. He moved his fingers and toes, his feet were cold and when he looked down he could see that they were sticking out of the sheets at the end of his bed. He was in hospital, an accident, he remembered. There was a nurse with him tending to the machine that he was wired up to.
“Nurse,” said Don.
“Mr Davenport it’s so nice to hear your voice, just take it easy you’ve been out for a while,” said the nurse.
“How long?” he asked.
“Three months,” she replied. “Three months and two days to be precise.”
Don went silent, taking in this astounding piece of news. Three months and two days in this hospital bed. Over the next few weeks he began to recover. Things though had changed more than he could ever have imagined while he had been unconscious.
From the first moment he came around there were others with him, all around. The hospital was old. It had been on its current site for around seventy years.
Don lay there each night and day over the coming weeks. Watching the comings and goings. It was the most bizarre thing, like layer upon layer. Hundreds of people in his room some sitting, some standing, some crying, some screaming and some silent. A lot looked like you or me, young and old. There were others though where it was obvious how they had died. Disfigured, dismembered, creatures dripping with blood.
It was awful he could see them all drifting in and out. Just one, then fifty, then a hundred at the same time. It was the strangest sensation, he felt a little sick with the constant movement and noise. Shapes of people long dead drifting in and out of the room.
Don shut his eyes. Relief for a moment until he realised it accentuated the noise. He could hear them in the corridors and other rooms nearby. Hundreds of voices. Once Don had discounted any mind-altering drugs the hospital were giving him, or any mental illness he might be suffering. He had to accept they were most likely to be ghosts. He had no other explanation.
They sent a psychiatrist to see him who put him on even more drugs. For a while Don was so out of it he didn’t know what day it was. The figures in his room still came and went, without fail.
Don said the people had gone. It must have been a side effect of his injuries. His health was improving. He kept what he could see to himself. By now Don was walking again, encouraged to move around the hospital.
Looking out of the window was a shock. Thousands of people from different times wandering the streets. Again, layer upon layer of dead people roaming the streets. The corridors of the hospital were impossible for him to move around in. If they had a physical form he was sure he would have been crushed. As it was they just passed through, over and around him oblivious to his presence.
Don decided he must leave; he knew no one would ever believe him. He needed to find a place where over millennia, less people had died.
The hospital reported him as a missing person. He was determined not to be found. His journey was breath-taking. There didn’t seem to be anywhere he could find that wasn’t crammed full of the specters of hundreds of thousands of dead people. He tried travelling at night when he thought it would be quietest but found as many people have died at night as through the day.
Don’s journey was long and difficult, sometimes he would find an area or house or room where he got a little peace. It didn’t last long though, it seemed just so many people had died during human history. They were everywhere. Some of the things he saw were comical, many tragic and some quite scary. What he knew though was that he must find somewhere that he could get peace.
Eventually he found a remote spot in Sutherland on the very north coast of Great Britain with a population of 86. There were still many ghosts from across the centuries but nothing like the cities and towns. Don had resigned himself to staying in this quiet corner of Scotland for the rest of his life. Living alongside these people from the past. They were there but not there, existing on a different plane. He was not sure what had happened to him in the accident but now he was sensitive to all that was around him.
Exactly a year after his accident the strangest thing happened to Don. A ghost of a beautiful woman visited him. She was tall and pale with long auburn hair. He had been sitting on a cliff near the village looking out to sea when she walked towards him on the path. He was not sure what period of history she was from. She was different to the others. Instead of drifting past him, she stopped.
“You seem troubled, I understand your problem and can help. If you want me to? Take my hand,” she said.
Don was tired and happy to leave the lifeless solitary world he now lived in. Don took the young woman’s hand. A few seconds later he found himself falling from the cliff towards the rocks and sea, six hundred feet below. That was the day that Don Davenport stopped seeing ghosts.