Drawing of a mug of coffee. Caption reads: "His hand, holding the coffee cup, shook."

Haunted short story by Iris Carden

Five storeys below Brisbane’s Roma Street Police Station, is the headquarters for the Human Defence Unit. Its members are drawn from among the highest performing members of military, intelligence, and police forces throughout Australia, along with select highly specialised members of the civilian population. The Human Defence Unit and its elite staff are neither police, military nor intelligence. They do not exist.

Gavin’s hand shook as he picked up his coffee cup to drink.

“What did you want to talk about?” his cousin, Senior Agent Jo Burns of the Human Defence Unit, asked.

“When I said I was going to become a paranormal investigator, you were the only one who didn’t laugh at me,” he said. “Everyone else treated it as a joke, but you treated it seriously. You told me to be careful, that what I was getting into was dangerous.”

Jo nodded.

“Well now I’m in trouble. Something bad has happened. I was investigating this house, and I tell you it was haunted. I couldn’t get rid of it. It was something more evil than I’ve ever faced before. I admit it, I ran. I abandoned the investigation and the people who owned the house, but the entity, whatever it was, stayed with me. Instead of the house I was investigating being haunted, now I’m being haunted. It keeps telling me things, horrible things. It wants me to kill people. It keeps showing me blood, and dismembered bodies. Please don’t laugh at me. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who to turn to.”

Jo listened intently, then asked: “Do you know what I do for a living?”

“Sure. You’re a cop. I’m not asking you to arrest a spirit, I just need someone to talk to, someone who can help me work out what to do next.”

“I used to be a cop,” Jo said. Then she explained her work. He looked shocked.

“Why doesn’t the family know?” he asked quietly.

“My unit doesn’t exist. Neither do I. Officially, I’m still just a cop. Now, I’m going to ask you to come with me to my non-existent office.”

At the HDU offices, Gavin agreed to be put in a cell, so the voice could not persuade him to harm anyone.

Trainee agent Harry Smythe asked Jo, “So are we helping this ghost to finish its unresolved issues?”

“What Gavin described to me wasn’t a ghost,” Jo answered.

“Then what?”

“It’s another kind of spirit, oppressing him. Oppression is a precursor to possession. “

“So we get an exorcist? Or what?”

“We get an exorcist. Believe it or not, we have clergy for several religions on call. Gavin doesn’t practice any religion, but aligns more with Christianity than anything else, so I’m calling in a Christian minister. She’ll be here soon.”

Gavin stayed in the cell, while the minister, Jo, and Harry stood outside.

The minister began prayers and Bible readings, while Gavin complained about his head hurting and the spirit yelling inside his skull.

It went on for hours, and eventually Gavin was able to confirm he’d felt the spirit leaving.

He slept for several hours before he was ready to go home.

“Are you going to quit paranormal investigation, now you know how dangerous it is?” Jo asked.

“No. I know how dangerous it is, but now I know how important it is as well. I’m going to learn more about what I’m doing, and I’m going to find skilled people to work with instead of doing it on my own.”

“Fair enough,” Jo said. “When you get into trouble again, you know how to find me.”

Human Defence Unit Stories

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.


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