Trudging through the bush in the darkness, I fought the urge to turn on my torch.
It was terrifying being in the middle of nowhere, away from my two young kids, but I knew I had to prove myself.
After a lifelong fascination with the paranormal, I'd just completed a two-year online course in demonology and had come on a field trip with my instructor, Brett, to investigate rumours that there were evil spirits in Otford, a suburb south of Sydney.
Brett ran S.I.N. Australia, a paranormal investigations team.
He was a great teacher who was always good-humoured and patient.
But he also had his rules.
"No torches," he told me. "Light interferes with our other equipment."
We were laden with all sorts of devices to help us detect suspicious activity, and hoped to capture some photographic proof.
Brett insisted that no matter how state-of-the-art our equipment was, it would be useless if we screamed out in fright.
"Don't be afraid," he told me. "Demons feed off fear."
Breathing deeply, I followed him through the scrub.
"Hello?" Brett whispered. "Is anyone there?"
Part of me felt disappointed.
I'd seen plenty of ghosts in my time but demons were completely different.
They were fallen angels that could either possess people or torment them in hell.
I hoped I'd be able to spot one to satisfy my curiosity.
Suddenly, a shrill noise echoed through the dark.
The angry grunting sounded like it was a feral pig.
I clenched my hands into fists, resisting the temptation to switch on the torch.
"Did you hear that?" I whispered to Brett, hoping my mind hadn't been playing tricks on me.
"Loud and clear," he said.
Next thing, a colony of shrieking bats broke through the trees.
Or at least that's what I thought it was.
Unable to stand it anymore, I flicked on the light.
The sky was empty.
Scanning the trees with torchlight, I failed to spot a single bat.
"Why are you here?" I called to the mysterious presence, turning the torch back off.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a white shadow flash in the shape of a gargoyle that grinned at me menacingly.
I turned to Brett, ready to point it out when the apparition vanished.
"There's definitely something here," Brett said.
By now my heart was hammering with adrenaline. I wanted to keep exploring.
But as night wore on and it grew colder, we decided to head back to Brett's car.
"Well done, Yasmin. You passed with flying colours," he said as he started the engine.
I grinned with pride that despite stupidly turning on a torch, I'd proven myself.
"I wish we could have stayed longer," I lamented.
"Don't worry," he replied. "You've got the rest of your life to spot demons. We'll come back next weekend."
That night I tried to fall asleep, but the evening's electrifying experience played over and over in my mind.
I wanted to be back there in the bush.
Only six more sleeps before I do it again, I told myself, feeling like a giddy child.
I thought back to my first meeting with Brett, after friends had introduced us.
I was a shy mum and didn't know what I wanted from the world.
"You've got to believe in yourself," Brett told me.
We became really close and over the following months, I came to think of him as one of my closest friends.
Every time we went out together he assured me I'd be a natural at demonology and I felt my confidence grow.
So when he'd said I had passed, the excitement had me buzzing for the whole weekend.
On the Monday morning, I woke to a text message from Brett's girlfriend.
Call me ASAP.
I felt a strange chill.
Something was wrong.
Frantically dialling her number, I was greeted by her panicked voice.
"Brett's gone!" she sobbed.
I felt my whole world spin as she explained that his body had been found on the side of the road.
He'd been bashed to death the day after our outing.
No-one knew who'd done it.
I couldn't get my head around it – Brett wouldn't hurt a fly so why would someone want him dead?
I struggled through the next few days, paralysed by grief.
As the next weekend rolled around, I thought back to our plans to return to Otford.
I put on a happy face in front of my kids, but inside I was hurting.
Some days I felt like giving up on demonology.
Then, one night in bed, I felt a gentle presence beside me.
Silence filled the room, but I could tell that it was Brett, telling me in his own way that I had to keep going.
Suddenly, I recalled his words: "Anything's possible."
So I returned to work and now I lead S.I.N Australia.
Since then I've performed countless exorcisms on haunted houses and spotted loads of demons and ghosts.
My work might scare most people stiff, but I love it.
I still think about Brett every day and would give anything to have him back.
He changed my life and taught me to believe in myself.
I'm convinced he's my angel and watching over me as I continue his important work.
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