Jack Lance’s latest novel, Zone, is a paranormal thriller which looks at one of the biggest questions facing humanity today: are we alone in the universe? Below, Jack recounts a story which suggests we are not the only ones out there . . .
Are we alone? When someone asks this question, it can be connected to the vast and mysterious universe: whether or not we, on this planet, are the only living beings in the galaxy.
But the same question can also be asked in relation to another unknown world, the one we inevitably travel to after our time on this one is up.
This is a story a Dutchman named Branton de Geus once told me. Branton (who passed away a few years ago) was Holland’s most acclaimed expert in recording the voices of the dead. ‘I use my radio,’ he said. ‘Mostly I select medium wave, exactly halfway between Moscow and Vienna, and place a microphone very close to the static noise, which I call the wobble. Then I start a recorder and call whoever I wish to hear. Often voices of the deceased do reach me.’
A while ago, a Norwegian diplomat and his wife visited Branton to consult him about their little daughter Ollie. Somehow the girl had always known things before they happened, such as whether a pregnant woman would give birth to a boy or a girl.
One day Ollie called out: Mommy, come have a look. It turned out she had written on a piece of paper, in perfect handwriting: Björn is dead.
But the child was not even three years old and had never learned to write. Her mother was understandably upset and phoned her husband to come home immediately. Before he arrived, the mother got a call. It was her sister from Oslo, telling her that her son Björn had been hit by a car on his way to school, and had died in hospital. Deeply shocked, the mother’s thoughts turned solely to her sister, and she forgot what Ollie had written.
This was a mistake, because there was more about Ollie than her parents could fathom. One Saturday the girl had been playing in her parents’ garden. Around dinnertime her father started looking for her. He called her name, but she didn’t answer. He kept on searching and eventually found her.
Ollie dangled inches above the ground. The four-year-old had wrapped a twig around her slender neck and had hanged herself from a branch. At her feet lay a piece of paper on which she had written, again in that beautiful handwriting: I am going to Björn.
Sitting in front of his radio, Branton de Geus asked the child how she had been able to write that sentence down so expertly. ‘The answer I got was: she did it. I didn’t understand, but kept on asking. How had she known so many things before they happened? Ollie’s little voice again whispered that she had always told her. She had also hanged her in the garden.
When I asked who she was, I heard Ollie say: it was Tula. She, Tula, was always stronger than me. Tula did all those things.
The child must have been possessed by some evil entity. Horrible, both for me, and for the parents, who had never noticed anything.’
My novel Zone is very much about what is out there, in the afterlife. The main character in this supernatural thriller, Sharlene, is suffering from nyctophobia – not a fear of the dark, but of the terrors that may be hiding within the dark. Who knows, there could be more horrors than you care to imagine…
Just ask poor Ollie.