Dear Readers and Listeners, I am back with the second and concluding part of the story. Last week, we found Filip experiencing a series of event recurrences. Clueless, he decides to see Dr. Jan Pawlak, the topmost psychiatrist in the city of Warsaw. Read on or listen or do immersion reading (both read and listen, that is) to know if Dr. Pawlak would be able to help Filip. By the way, please consider becoming a member of this site and subscribing to my mailing list. Take care.
Watch the video trailer of DÉJÀ VU PART 2
Welcome to OBSCURUS, your weekly dose of paranormal fiction. Every Wednesday OBSCURUS features new short stories and serialized novels written by novelist, screenwriter, and voice-over artist Biswajit Banerjee. The realm of the paranormal stretches far beyond the usual horror story. So, while you will get to listen to lots of ghost stories on this podcast, there will also be many tales of lesser-known paranormal themes. To get us started, here's your host Biswajit Banerjee.
HOST TALK 00:00:47
Hello and welcome to OBSCURUS. My name is Biswajit Banerjee, and I am your host for this show. The last episode of this podcast featured part 1 of a story about an apparent recurrence of events. Today’s episode will present the concluding part of the story.
Before we start part 2 of the story, I would like to request my readers and listeners to visit my website biswajitbanerjee.com. You will find information about all my creative pursuits on the site. Would you mind becoming a member of the website and joining my mailing list? I will be so thrilled to have you on board.
I have another website obscurus.buzzsprout.com, which is devoted to this podcast. All OBSCURUS episodes, their transcripts, and chapter markers are available on this website.
And now, let’s start the story. In the last episode, we found Filip experiencing a series of event recurrences. Filip visits Dr. Jan Pawlak, one of the leading psychiatrists in Warsaw. Will he stand to benefit from Dr. Pawlak’s treatment? Come, let’s find out.
DÉJÀ VU PART 2 00:02:38
Written and performed by Biswajit Banerjee
Filip gave as vivid a description of the problem as he could. The lines on Dr. Jan Pawlak's forehead became more prominent as he gently rubbed his temple with a finger. A few moments of silence passed as Dr. Pawlak appeared lost in deep thought. Then he said, "Would you like to add anything more to what you have told me, Mr. Kowalski?"
"No, Doctor, I believe I explained the issue in essential details."
"Okay, let me first make it clear — things you experienced aren't paranormal phenomena. These events are explainable. So, please relax."
"Thanks, Doctor, your words are very reassuring. But what are these recurrences of events? Precognition?"
"Even precognition can be explained with science — but your problem is not precognition. What you are facing is déjà vu."
"Déjà vu! What's that?"
"Well, it may broadly be understood as a misleading feeling of the present being a recurrence of the past. Based on my research findings, I can tell you this sensation results from the mismatching of various brain faculties. This mismatching causes the brain to treat the present to be a re-enactment of the past. Perhaps putting it simply will help you understand better — let's say two different parts of the brain, which we may call A and B, are interpreting an event happening in the present. Part A observes the event first, and part B catches up with the event a little later. When part B takes notice of the event, the brain as a whole thinks — Hey, that event occurred before, how is the same event happening again? The brain fails to realize that the feeling of repetition of the event results from one part of it noticing the event before another part of it observes it."
"What if there were no mismatching between different parts of the brain?"
"Then there would be no déjà vu."
"Can this misleading perception even happen for the sense of hearing?"
"Yes, déjà vu can happen for all five senses — sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell."
"But I have had a chain of recurrences, Doctor."
"Each of these recurrences was a déjà vu."
"So, a chain of déjà vu events is possible?"
"Yes, Mr. Kowalski, you could experience thousands of such misleading feelings."
"Another thing, Doctor — in my case, the streak of déjà vu started all of a sudden. Just a few days back, I didn't face any such problem."
"Yes, that's quite understandable from what you have told me. But don't worry, the sudden start to a chain of déjà vu events is also not unusual — many of my patients experienced sudden starts to such problems.
"Also, in some cases, the period between the two déjà vu events was quite long — for example, the two-hour gap between the events in which my wife entered the living room, took off her shoes and sat on the curvy sofa — this, in fact, was the first pair of déjà vu events I experienced."
"Mr. Kowalski, your brain thought that the period between those events was long. Actually, the brain spotted the same event in the present at two different times, separated by an infinitesimal period. Also, let us not call a déjà vu event a pair of déjà vu events. It is a single isolated event and not two events separated by a period, as the brain would have one believe."
"And Doctor ..."
"Go on, tell me what's in your mind."
"The sense of recurrence of events is pretty strong — it is as good as watching a movie for the second time."
"The brain is a good trickster, Mr. Kowalski."
"Yes, it sounds strange, but that's the truth behind déjà vu. In fact, there are many kinds of déjà vu."
"Well, I can't give you an exact number but then there are things like déjà entendu meaning recurrence of a sound already heard, déjà pensé meaning recurrence of thought and so on. The strangest kind of déjà vu is déjà vécu."
"What's that, Doctor?"
"Deja vécu may be considered as a combination of déjà vu of an extreme kind and the power of precognition."
"I am not sure I followed that."
"One experiencing Deja vécu senses recurrence of sights, sounds, smells, touches, and tastes. Besides, one also gets the power to sense what's going to happen in the immediate future. Sounds dangerous, doesn't it?"
"Yes, it does, Doctor. Are all the forms of déjà vu tricks of the mind?"
"Yes, Mr. Kowalski, all forms of déjà vu are tricks of the mind."
"But how does one understand what is going to follow next in Deja vécu?"
"Though we don't understand the exact causal forces behind precognition, we do know some deeper layers of the mind are responsible for it. One day science will understand these deeper layers of the mind better."
"Is there a cure for déjà vu?"
"Just one cure — try to keep your nerves as cool as you can."
"And how do I do that?"
"Perhaps you can sleep more or meditate. Yogic exercises can also be of help."
"What if the chain of déjà vu continues in my case?"
"It will not. Whenever a déjà vu happens, try not to lose your balance. Tell yourself that your experience is a result of mismatching of the mental faculties."
"Umm-hmm, can medication help?"
"Oh yes, they can. I have written down the names of some medicines in the prescription. These medicines will help you keep your nerves cool. Take them for a month, and I am sure you will be better."
"Thank you, Doctor."
"You are welcome, Mr. Kowalski."
The first meeting with Dr. Pawlak gave Filip hope. Taking the prescribed medicines regularly and daily meditation could help him beat déjà vu.
But he found his hopes dashed within days as the frequency of déjà vu went up exponentially. Medicines and meditation didn't help him at all.
The subsequent visits to Dr. Pawlak's clinic didn't help either. Dr. Pawlak told him the same stuff — he was experiencing déjà vu, and that déjà vu was nothing more than a result of mismatching of the various parts of the brain.
The problem compounded with each passing day, and even the increased doses of the medicines didn't do him any good. Words, sounds, and actions — Filip sensed repetition in everything. By now, déjà vu had gotten so frequent that he often lost sense of time.
Filip had stopped writing altogether. His publisher went mad as Filip missed one deadline after the other for the submission of the first draft of his next novel. One day the publisher called him and demanded that the advance the publishing house had paid him for the next book be returned with interest. That was the day Filip decided to kill himself.
A couple of days later, he wrote his suicide note — No one should be held responsible for my death. The problems of my mind have driven me to the limits of frustration and helplessness. My life has now become purposeless. So, I decided to commit suicide.
Agata was not at home, and in all likelihood, she wouldn't be back before two hours. The housekeeper had left after finishing her chores. So, no one could rush Filip to the hospital if he shot himself now. This was an appropriate time to take the step; yes, this was the time to die.
There was a gun in the top drawer of a wooden pedestal kept in the attic. It was a licensed pistol Filip purchased a year before his marriage to Agata. Around that time, he was already a bestselling author with a lot of riches and consequently a potential target of robbers. So, the government granted him permission to buy the pistol. Little did he know at the time of its purchase that one day he would think of using it on himself.
Filip went up to the attic, opened the drawer, and took out the gun and the leather bag carrying the bullets. After loading the pistol, he held it to his temple. Then he rounded the trigger with his forefinger and was about to pull it. Some force from within his being stopped him from doing so. Perhaps he should visit Dr. Pawlak once more and explore ways to beat déjà vu and give himself one more chance to live.
Mikolaj was on leave. So, Filip drove the car himself to the clinic. This was the first time he was going to see Dr. Pawlak without an appointment. The doctor was a kind man and would not refuse to meet him for not having an appointment — Filip was sure.
After guiding the car to the parking lot, Filip walked up to the building that housed the clinic. Then he used the lift to go to the fifth floor and pushed open the door that led to the reception. There was no receptionist at the desk. "Oh! What a fool I am!" Filip said to himself as he realized it was a Sunday and the clinic was closed. When he was about to walk out of the reception, spoken words and laughter flowed into his ears. From where did the sounds come? It seemed some people were talking inside Dr. Pawlak's chamber. And they spoke very loudly. After all, the doctor's chamber had some amount of sound treatment, and from the reception area, one could hear sounds happening inside the chamber only if they were loud.
Filip moved close to the chamber's door. As he heard the loud voices, he moved his fingers over the right front pocket of his trousers and felt the shape of the gun inside. After ten minutes, he opened the door and shot all the people in the chamber. The loud gunshots and shrieks made way for absolute silence. Then he pulled out his mobile phone and dialed a number.
"Hello, is it the police station?"
A year later, he was in a common court in Warsaw, facing the culminating stages of a criminal trial.
"Your Lordship, we have repeatedly said this is an open-and-shut case. This man pleads guilty, and the CCTV footage clearly shows him opening the door of Dr. Jan Pawlak's chamber and shooting the people inside. So, the proof is staring us in the face — it's clear he is guilty of the five murders. And therefore, he must be given the strictest of penalties," Mr. Borys Nowak, the prosecution counsel, said.
"Are those your final submissions, Mr. Nowak?" The judge asked.
"Yes, your Lordship."
"Okay, sit down, Mr. Nowak."
The prosecution counsel pulled his chair and sat.
"What are your final submissions, Mr. Gajus?"
The defense counsel Mr. Leon Gajus got up from his chair and said, "Your Lordship, we never suggested Mr. Kowalski did not kill those five people in Dr. Jan Pawlak's chamber. We have tried to say that punishing Mr. Kowalski without considering his mental condition would be a travesty of justice. From the available medical records, it is clear Mr. Kowalski was under the treatment of Dr. Pawlak. The condition he was suffering from and is still suffering from is called déjà vu. Déjà vu is a condition whereby a person feels a present event as a repetition of a past event. This occurs because different parts of the brain may not work together in observing an event. One part may see an event before another part. When the other part watches the event happening, the brain erroneously interprets it as a repetition of a past event. The records make it clear that my client Mr. Kowalski was suffering from what may be called an unending chain of déjà vu. So, he lost sense of time. The problem was so chronic that Mr. Kowalski failed to understand if the event unfolding before him was an occurrence of the present or the past. And then the problem got even worse, and now he couldn't even tell if he was looking at real figures or illusions. So, the people my client shot at in Dr. Pawlak's chamber were not real people for him. Mr. Kowalski thought of them as illusions. Your Lordship, let us not forget that my client wanted to kill himself, as is evident from the suicide note discovered by the police from the attic of his house. This man, my client, your Lordship, doesn't deserve punishment. He deserves sympathy and proper medical care."
"Would you like to add anything more, Mr. Gajus?"
"No, your Lordship."
"Fine, sit down."
The judge now cast his eyes on Filip.
"Mr. Kowalski, you killed those five people, didn't you?"
Filip didn't reply.
"I have asked you a question, Mr. Kowalski. Did you kill those five people in Mr. Pawlak's chamber?"
"They were illusions, not people."
"No, Mr. Kowalski, those were not illusions. They were real people."
"Oh, I am sorry."
"What made you think they were illusions?"
"Everything appears to be an illusion. The present looks like the past, the past looks like the present — how do we know which is the present and which is the past? If we treat the present as true, then we must deem the past as an illusion. And if we treat the past as true, then we must deem the present as an illusion. Who can tell — perhaps neither the past nor the present exist? Sometimes it appears nothing exists — everything is an illusion. Even this courtroom is an illusion."
"Mr. Kowalski, don't you understand déjà vu is a trick of the brain?"
"Hey Judge, I mean whoever you are, didn't you say the exact same thing yesterday?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Didn't you say - Mr. Kowalski, don't you understand déjà vu is a trick of the brain - when we met yesterday?"
"Mr. Kowalski, the court didn't sit yesterday."
"No, Judge, the court did sit yesterday. Why are you lying to me?"
The judge gazed at Filip for a while without making any further response. Then he scribbled a few things on a notebook and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the trial is over. The judgment will be pronounced on the sixth of the next month."
The judgment went in Filip's favor. One of the most important parts of the judgment read — That Mr. Filip Kowalski killed five people in Dr. Jan Pawlak's chamber is not a matter of dispute. However, as the defense counsel submitted in his final statement, punishing Mr. Kowalski for the killings would be a travesty of justice. From the available medical records, it emerges beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Kowalski suffers from a bad mental affliction. What started out as déjà vu led to his thinking of people and things around him as illusions. The reports of the doctors who attended to him during judicial custody and those who took care of him in the sanatorium where he was sent from the judicial custody due to apparent symptoms of insanity prove that Mr. Kowalski is of unsound mind. So, this court is of the opinion that no penalty be imposed on Mr. Kowalski. He is presently under medical supervision in the State sanatorium. This court further orders that this treatment continues at the State's expense under the existing State policies.
"Coffee, Mr. Kowalski," a sanatorium attendant kept a cup of coffee on a table close to Filip's bed.
The heavy rains pounded on the forest trees visible through the rectangular glass picture window of Filip's room. A smile appeared on Filip's lips as he sipped the coffee with his gaze on the rain outside. The images of what happened several months back in Dr. Jan Pawlak's clinic flashed past his mind.
Filip took a few steps close to the door of Dr. Pawlak's chamber and listened to the loud voices. The voices were easily identifiable — the ones inside the chamber were Dr. Jan Pawlak, Agata, Celestyn, Mikolaj, and Earleen, the clinic's receptionist.
"I knew Filip would choose you as his psychiatrist," Agata said.
"How were you so sure?" Dr. Pawlak asked.
"Oh, it was easy to guess — you are known to be the best psychiatrist in Warsaw, and Filip is a great fan of yours; he keeps reading your articles in the medical journals."
"What if he had chosen some other doctor?"
"Then I would have suggested your name and tried to convince him that you are the best psychiatrist in the town and therefore he should visit you."
"Intelligent, my lady."
"Ms. Kowalski executed your plan to perfection, Dr. Pawlak," Celestyn said, "it was not easy to be doing things twice in identical fashion. She is a genius."
"Yes, you are right, Celestyn — to stage a chain of déjà vu is not easy — Agata is a genius. But stop calling her Ms. Kowalski. I do not like the use of that surname to identify my would-be wife."
"Oh, sorry. Should I straight away start calling her Ms. Pawlak?"
"Dr. Pawlak, you will get a beautiful wife and the riches of the foolish author. What will I get?" Mikolaj asked.
"Don't worry, Mikolaj," Dr. Pawlak replied, "you too will get a good share of that foolish author's riches. And so will Celestyn and Earleen.
"Thank you, Sir," Earleen responded.
"You are very kind, Dr. Pawlak," Celestyn said.
"But we must not forget the mission is still not over. It will still take some time before Filip goes completely insane or kills himself," Agata observed.
"If he kills himself, it will be great. But even if he doesn't do that, our purpose will be served if he goes insane. I will send him to a sanatorium and ensure he never gets cured. Two years back, Filip willed all his property to Agata. After he goes insane, he will not be allowed to change it." Dr. Pawlak said.
"Better still if he dies," Agata remarked.
"But I still don't understand a thing, Dr. Pawlak," Mikolaj said.
"And what's that, Mikolaj?"
"How did you manage to show only one entry of your clinic's phone number in the list of received calls in his mobile phone even though Earleen called him twice."
"Let Earleen answer that question," Dr. Pawlak laughed.
"Mikolaj, the truth is I am no receptionist — I am a software engineer and a hacker. When Filip wasn't watching, Agata installed one software in his mobile that I had written specially to make Dr. Pawlak's plan go through. And that's how I controlled the list of received calls in Filip's mobile phone."
"Earleen, you too are a genius," Celestyn said.
And that is when Filip pushed open the door of Dr. Pawlak's chamber and shot them all dead.
The rest was simple. If Filip told the police and the court the truth behind his killing those five monsters, he might not escape the penal provisions. So, now he had to pretend to be mentally sick. He had to convince the police and the court that his déjà vu problem had gotten so severe that he did not just lose the sense of time, but he also thought of people and things around him as illusions. And Filip did just that ... with success.
Feigning insanity also helped him avoid possible litigation from the side of the publishers for missing his deadlines for submission of the first draft of his new novel and not returning the advance with interest to the publishing house.
Filip was now pretending to get better with time. After a few months, he would be out of the sanatorium and back to his writing ways. Already ideas for several magnum opuses were hovering in his mind.
Thanks for listening to OBSCURUS. If you like what you heard, please subscribe and visit biswajitbanerjee.com for more information about Biswajit's books, movies, documentaries, and other creative pursuits. We shall see you next Wednesday with another episode of OBSCURUS. Till then, take care!