They Are Real

A seventeen-year-old boy is in therapy after surviving an accident, claiming that he can see dead people.
Reading time: 6 minutes.

They Are Real The Explorer's Tales beastboysuraj Suraj Singh Sisodia

"Why do you think you see dead people?" Dr Wilson asked Daniel, who sat across from him on a couch.

"I don't THINK; I KNOW," Daniel, a seventeen-year-old boy, sneered. "...have known for a while." Disappointment and despair covered his face. "I can see dead people. They are everywhere. If you could see them," he said, pointing at the doctor. "You'd freak out."

Dr Wilson kept staring at Daniel across the living room on a quiet afternoon in late May. The wind was as calm as it was hot.

"And how long since you have been seeing them?"

Daniel blinked in disbelief. He did not expect Dr Wilson to believe him so quickly. "I had been seeing them ever since I was a child," he said. "But I never thought much about it."

"Tell me about them."

"Th—the dead ones?"

"Yeah, tell me about them. When did it start?"

"Oh, I don't know," said Daniel, lost in his thoughts. "The kid at the beach with no parents is probably the first one I remember. I was nine years old, and the girl was about the same age. She looked a bit different, though. As if she had been in the water for too long. I even told my parents about it, but they thought it was an imaginary friend who lived at the beach." He hung his head down. "Now, I think about it, and I wonder if that's who these imaginary friends are; dead kids that only other kids can see."

"Uh-huh, and how did you know she was dead?"

"I didn't. That's what I'm trying to say. I saw people everywhere, but I didn't know they were dead. I remember seeing a homeless man on my way to school. I would always find him on the exact same spot by the road. I told other kids on the school bus about him, but they thought I was joking with them."

"Didn't it occur to you back then?"

"No," Daniel said with even more sadness than earlier. "I was just a kid."

"Were there others?" asked the doctor after he scribbled something on the notepad he had in his lap.

"Probably. The girl at the beach, the man by the road, and a few others are the only ones I am sure about. Who knows how many dead people I saw throughout my life? That's why I'm here."

"What do you mean?"

"What? Can't you see? I can't sleep. I can't eat. All I think about is my past and wonder who else was dead. Every time I remember someone who struck me as odd, I wonder if that person was dead or not? I am here so you could give me some pills or something. So I could sleep. Why else do you think I'm here?"

"You are here because of the accident. I think it impaired you. I'm trying to figure out just how badly it affected you, so I could help you recover."

"The only thing the accident did was make me see the truth."

"See, now that's what I'm trying to understand," said the doctor, leaning towards Daniel. "The accident occurred a couple of weeks ago. If that's when it occurred to you that all these 'odd' people you see are dead. How did you—I mean, what did you tell yourself before that? I want to know how did your mind handle that?"

"As I said, I didn't think much about it." Daniel had started to get a little angry.

"Okay. Okay," Dr Wilson leaned back and scribbled some more. "Tell me more about the people you are now sure were dead. Who else do you remember?"

"Um...there was a man on the lighthouse we visited once."

"How are you sure about him?"

"He was atop the lighthouse. It looked like he was about to jump. No one else could see him."

"Didn't you do anything?"

"Yeah, I told my friend Wendy. The thing was that the sun was directly in our eyes. So I thought maybe the light was playing some trick."

"What did the man do?"

"Nothing. The man just stood there. That's why I thought it was a trick. If he moved, I would be certain."

The living room fell silent for a minute. Dr Wilson sat thinking, and Daniel focused out of the window on a pizza delivery guy. His bike slowed down and stopped. He tried to kick start it again a few times, but nothing happened. So he slowly dragged it away.

Daniel looked back at the doctor, still in his thoughts, staring at nothing.

"What are you thinking?" asked Daniel, who couldn't bear the silence anymore.

"You just—" Dr Wilson reached back to his desk and picked up his laptop. "You reminded me of something," he said as he typed something. Then he turned the screen around so Daniel could see it.

Daniel's face fell when he looked at the screen. "How—how did you...?" he couldn't even finish his sentence out of shock.

"This is like the people's favourite spot for committing suicides," Dr Wilson declared. "A girl jumped to her death recently. It was all over the news. That's why I remembered it."

"So now, do you believe me?"

"Um—well, I can't disagree with you now? There's still much left to discuss. Wouldn't you say?"

"Like what?"

"Like why you?"

"What do you mean?" Daniel asked as if he was being accused of something.

"Even if I assume for a minute that you CAN see dead people, why only you can?"

"How would I know? Maybe there are others out there somewhere. I don't know."

"Hmm, maybe. But if you ARE right, if it's not just hallucinations, no pills would help with that."

Daniel did not care to hide his disappointment. "I was afraid you would say that," he said softly. "So what am I supposed to do now? —just live with it?" An idea then popped into his head. "Can't we still give this a shot?"

"Oh, I'm not saying I won't give you any pills. I only doubt they would work IF what you are saying is true."

"So what are we waiting for? Give me a prescription, and this session is over. Wendy has been waiting for me at the reception. I'll see you next weekend." Daniel almost got up to leave when the doctor motioned him to sit.

"We haven't even talked about why you are here," Dr Wilson declared. "The accident!"


"Yes. You said it made you see the truth?"

"Yeah, it did."

"Well, how so? Tell me what happened; from the beginning."

Daniel sunk back into the couch. It was the very thing he was avoiding the entire session; talking about the accident. He knew there was no way out, so he braced himself and took a deep, long breath before speaking.

"I had just got my learner's permit. So Wendy and I were out on an empty road far away from the city, driving my dad's car. There was a couple behind us.

"Since I was new and afraid, I was going very slow. The couple kept honking at us, so Wendy shouted at them and showed them the middle finger. It enraged them. They sped up and overtook us. While doing so, they shouted curses at us.

"Now, I wouldn't have said anything, but Wendy is short-tempered. She took the wheel and sped up to overtake them. I tried to stop her, but she wouldn't let me."

Dr Wilson kept listening to Daniel, who was now on the verge of tears.

"I didn't know how or when it happened. I only saw the front of a truck, and my world swirled around me. Everything was just shapes and noises."

"What is the next thing you remember?"

"Wendy and I had barely crawled out. We ran to see if the couple was alright. The truck driver asked me if I was okay. I remember I had shouted that I was okay and asked him to call an ambulance."

"What happened next?"

"I—I couldn't believe my eyes. The couple was standing safe and sound next to their bloodied bodies. It felt like I was dreaming. And then, in an instant, it all made sense to me."

"Did you tell your parents about it? —or anyone else?"

"No, I didn't know what to say; how to explain it. I know my parents think that I am traumatized. That's why they sent me to you."

"No, Daniel," the doctor spoke in a sympathetic voice. "Your parents sent you here because—"


"They think you are in denial. You have been talking to yourself for the past two weeks. They didn't stop you because they didn't want to tell you about Wendy. She—she couldn't make it."

Daniel couldn't speak. He did not know whether to ask the doctor or go out of the room to talk to Wendy. Then he decided and stormed out towards the reception.

"Hey," said Wendy, jumping from her seat. "How'd it go?"

Daniel gathered the courage to speak. "The doct—the doctor said you are not real."

Wendy chuckled in confusion. "What? Why—why would he say that?"

Before Daniel could answer, Dr Wilson walked into the reception. Daniel jerked his head.

"See, doctor, she is here. She is right here, alive and breathing."

Dr Wilson couldn't help but throw pity at Daniel. "There's no one there, Daniel." He then handed him a newspaper.

Daniel looked at the headline and the picture below it, and the world around him started spinning again.


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