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, I am your host Biswajit Banerjee and what a pleasure it is to be with you again! In the last episode, I narrated the first part of a short story about a possible monster. Well, we will finish the story in this episode. But before we do, may I request that you visit my website biswajitbanerjee.com and become a part of my mailing list. Also, I would be grateful if you visited obscurus.buzzsprout.com, my dedicated website for this podcast.
Now, let’s jump into the second and concluding part of the story. To recap, Kartik believes Mr. Brian Miller to be a monster. Just when preying on the sheep gets very difficult, Mr. Miller leaves the school and supposedly goes back to his native country. Kartik reasons that he might have gone to some other place where he can butcher animals and eat his fill without giving anyone around him the slightest clue of what he is doing. Come, let’s find out what’s happening.
THE CREATURE PART 2 00:02:21
Written and performed by Biswajit Banerjee
After setting myself the goal of scoring record marks in the final examinations, I started my preparations with full gusto. Things began to fall into place, and except for biology, I got my rhythm back in all my subjects. As for biology, I certainly needed Miss D'Silva's help. Since only a couple of weeks remained until the examination, I needed to see her as soon as possible. She had already covered the syllabus and now just took sessions to clear our doubts. However, my list of doubts was long -- fifteen questions in total. Even if she allotted an entire doubt session to me, there couldn't be a meaningful discussion on all the questions I wished to ask. Besides, I didn't want to ask all those questions in the presence of other classmates, as some queries, I guessed, were too easy by the standards of the toppers. As I had myself been a topper, I didn't want my competitors to know how poorly I was doing in the subject. So, I decided to see her in her chamber the next day for a one-to-one doubt-clearing session. I was quite sure she wouldn't turn me down if I requested such a session.
Well, I was right -- she accepted my request. The session was going very well. After she had answered about ten of my questions, my eyes fell on two men standing at the far end of the lawn tennis court visible through the chamber window. One of them was Mr. Patel and the other ... the other was Mr. Miller! What the hell! I rubbed my eyes, but the sight didn't change. No doubt, the other man was Mr. Miller.
All my concentration dried up. My restive movements caught Miss D'Silva's attention.
"What's wrong, Kartik? Why aren't you listening to me?" she said.
"Ma'am, that ... man," I pointed at the two men.
"Who are you talking about?"
"The one in that red T-shirt."
"Oh, you mean Mr. Miller," she said with a beaming smile, "you must be delighted to see him again. He is back in school."
"But he was gone for good, right?"
"Well, we thought so. But Mr. Miller managed to resolve the issues in Wisconsin. He has joined the school again. Not all students know about it yet. Otherwise, we would find boisterous celebrations all around, don't you think so?"
"I am not ..."
"You don't seem to be happy, Kartik. What's the matter?"
"Ma'am, something is wrong with Mr. Miller," I said, unable to hide the secret anymore.
"What is that supposed to mean?"
Now that I had spilled some beans, I had to spill the rest. I told Miss D'Silva all that I witnessed in the meadow -- the monster in the red T-shirt with the sheep carcass, my running away, the monster's following me, his tripping over, my collision with Mr. Patel in the school building, my changed situation with Mr. Miller and his threatening glances -- everything.
"Do you know what you are saying, Kartik?"
"Ma'am, please trust me. I know my experience sounds like wild imagination, but every word of what I have said is true."
The next few minutes passed in silence. Then Miss D'Silva spoke, sounding disappointed.
"I thought you were a sensible boy."
"Ma'am, it seems you do not believe me."
"Do you realize how ridiculous you sound?"
"I am not lying, Ma'am."
"These are hallucinations, moorings of an imaginative, yet stupid, mind."
I sat with my head down. It was clear she wouldn't believe me; I cursed the moment I decided to tell her about my experience.
"He is such a wonderful human being, and you call him a monster. Shame on you, Kartik."
Responding made little sense; I had triggered her anger in a big way and thought she would soon ask me to get out. What she would do after that was also of concern. What if she complained to the Principal? They might call my parents to send me packing ... and then I would have to seek admission to a much inferior school in the township where my parents worked. Oh, my parents would be so upset with me. An explosion of worries in my head prevented me from hearing much more of what she said, though some words such as 'idiocy’, 'shameful’, 'disgusting’, and 'deplorable' did hit my ears. It was a colossal mistake; I shouldn't have said such a thing. Despite knowing nobody would believe me, I narrated my experience to her anyway, how foolish on my part!
The spate of harsh words continued for some time, but she didn't ask me to leave. Instead, she said something entirely different, something that made little sense when she said it.
"Well, the truth is I have been waiting for this day for a long time, Kartik."
What was the meaning of those words? I pondered till she said something even stranger.
"To find you here in my cabin is such a delight."
I looked up. Miss D'Silva appeared to be in the middle of her transformation to becoming the lizard monster.
"So ... you ..." I mumbled.
"Yes, you moron, you picked the wrong person ... it's me and not him." By now, her voice had changed entirely. Within another minute, she had turned into the giant human-reptile.
I got up, looking for a way to run out of her room, but she blocked my path and then bolted the door.
"You are not going anywhere today, you imp."
"Please leave me, Ma'am. I promise I will not tell anybody about this."
"Of course you will not be telling anybody about this ... because you will be dead."
I rushed to the window. The two men were gone, and no other soul was in sight. Shouting for help would be of no use.
"Nobody can save you, you idiot."
The monster opened her mouth, and I spotted her sharp teeth and snake-like tongue. She stuck her tongue out in a flash, just the way a chameleon shoots its tongue at its prey. I just about managed to dodge it. The rage grew in her eyes as she retracted her tongue and prepared to stick it out again. But before she could do so, somebody kicked the door open. Five people clambered in -- Mr. Miller, Mr. Patel, a policeman, and two policewomen. All the cops were armed.
"Your dirty games are over, Agnes, time for you to surrender to the police now."
The monster turned around. "Brian ... you ... so the boy has already told you."
"No, he didn't tell me anything, but I guessed there was something fishy going on. When Kartik spoke about the monster the other day, I knew something was up; an intelligent boy like him would not tell us a cock-and-bull story, would he? I believed him and concluded there was a monster at large. And I also understood he suspected I was the monster. When I wondered why he should think of me as the culprit, I concluded he spotted something common between me and the monster. Then it struck me you had asked me to get you a T-shirt identical to mine. So, I reasoned that he might have seen you, in the avatar of the monster of course, in the meadow. My suspicions grew into near-convictions when I got a chance to look through one of your mind maps. You had left it behind in the library rather recklessly. Perhaps you thought it was a mere mind map of random scribbling and schematics, and nobody would any make any sense of it."
"So, the paper's with you, I was wondering where I lost it, but it is just a mind-map," the monster said as her body quickly transformed back to a human form.
"Yes, Agnes, but I understood it all."
"Sir, the giant lizard turned into a human!" the policeman said.
"Yes, Inspector Barua, she just withdrew the effect of her formula," Mr. Miller said.
"What formula, Sir?" one of the policewomen asked.
"Well, she has devised a chemical that can transform a human into a lizard-like creature. Miss Agnes D'Silva is a genius; sadly, she used her wisdom for the wrong purposes." Mr. Miller explained.
"But why has she been playing this Jekyll and Hyde game?" Mr. Patel said.
"Agnes believes the world has been very unjust to her. While she should have been one of the top international scientists, she ended up as a middle and senior school biology teacher. She is trying to avenge the injustice the world meted to her. The killing of animals is a part of her experiment, I guess, which she has been eating to fuel her primitive instincts. Agnes wants to find out how tough and ruthless she can be, the ultimate goal being to unleash her wrath on people who have been unjust to her."
"The world consists of fools and criminals, don't you understand," Miss D'Silva said with her eyes burning with fury, "in human societies, the mediocre thrive and the genius’ suffer. Do you people understand how painful it is to be different from the masses? Try to voice ideas that are uncommon and see how they treat you. Some so-called top scientists of this nation stole ideas and concepts from my academic papers and won numerous awards, but your laws gave me no protection despite getting all my papers copyrighted. My research proposals were rejected purely due to political considerations. And since I fought hard against the powerful and the influential, they assaulted both my family and me in every possible way. You guys didn't come to rescue me when some religious fanatics raped me because I wrote a paper that went against their religious doctrines. None of you showed up when my parents were burnt to death by the same fanatics. No one protested when the political-bureaucratic nexus endorsed the stance of those criminals rather than siding with me, the one person who has always had the guts to tell the truth."
"We understand people did wrong things to you, Agnes. But what you are doing is also wrong," Mr. Miller said.
"It is easy for you to say that Brian, because you haven’t lived through my experiences."
"But Agnes, what are you trying to do -- perfect a method to kill those who harmed you?"
"Even if that is my intent, what's the issue? The damn judicial system never gave me any relief. And the politically correct people never sided with me. So, why is it wrong for me to obtain revenge from those who harmed me."
One of the policewomen handcuffed her.
"Don't touch me, you bitch," Miss D'Silva said.
"You will be under detention till we produce you before a magistrate," the policeman said.
"To hell with you and your bloody magistrates."
"Please calm down, Agnes," Mr. Miller said.
"Shut up, Brian, you have stabbed me in the back."
"What you were doing was wrong, Agnes; you even wanted to kill this boy," Mr. Miller pointed at me.
"No, Brian, I wouldn't have killed him. I would have just instilled fear in him and warned him against opening his mouth. No matter what you guys think of me, I could not kill an innocent human. But yes, I will kill those who spoiled my life."
"No, Miss D'Silva, you can do no such thing. The law will take care of you," the police inspector said.
She laughed. "I am surprised despite being a cop, you don't understand the law of the land. What will you tell the court? That I have a formulation that can turn me into a monster? They will think of it as a piece of science fiction. There is no law or precedent in judicial cases that covers a crime of such a nature. And what evidence do you have about my being a lizard-woman? That some people witnessed my transforming from a lizard into a human? Or that there's an unintelligible mind map with random scribbling and schematics which supposedly shows how a formula can convert a human into a lizard? They will laugh at you, you idiots. The stupid laws are not deep enough to comprehend the idea of a lizard-woman. The irony is, law did not side with me when I was the victim, and now the law will be on my side when ... you know what I mean.
"Well, the law will take its own course," a policewoman said as they took Miss D'Silva out of the room.
Stunned silence followed for a minute or two. Then Mr. Miller slowly walked up to me and hugged me tightly. I, too, put my arms around him, still wondering if what I just witnessed was the truth.
Two years after the police arrested Miss D'Silva, right after we appeared in the matriculation examination, we got the news that the District and Sessions Court exonerated her of all charges. The court found the accusations baseless and pulled up the police for presenting a case that was no better than a piece of science fiction. Oh my goodness, Miss D'Silva was spot on about the law of the land. However, no one had any information about where she went after she was released.
All the teachers, including Mr. Miller, would never discuss Miss D'Silva or her deeds.
"Sir, where do you think Miss D'Silva is now?" Pinky once asked Mr. Miller.
"Where she is, I don't think, is of much consequence to you, little girl," Mr. Miller replied.
What a heartbreak it was for Pinky! She never imagined the man of her dreams would call her 'little girl.’ It took us months to bring her out of her depression.
Fifteen years have passed since I graduated. Now, I am a top cop myself. The Department regards me as one of India's best detectives, the reason they have assigned to me what may be described as the decade's most challenging case. Several politicians, religious leaders, and bureaucrats have been murdered in one of the South Indian States over the last couple of years. The murderer, for sure, is extremely intelligent. Despite using all their resources, the forensic teams failed to unearth a single piece of evidence connected with these murders. The bodies of the victims are often found strewn in the spaces around their homes or offices. Police and administrative authorities quadrupled the security arrangements for some politicians. Yet, they were still found murdered. As for the close circuit television cameras, for whatever reason, each one failed to capture any conclusive footage.
Let me now tell you a bitter truth -- the murderer had become a hero in the eyes of the people. That's because the people he had killed, for all practical reasons, were criminals themselves. Many of the victims had dozens of murder cases pending against them in the judiciary. They were expected to be absolved of the charges, as little happens to the real criminals in our world. Some were religious bigots with established links to terrorists. And some were perfect personifications of political correctness.
Well, I have little to do with public sentiments -- my job is to catch the culprit. I am not sure of success, as I will have to deal with one of the brightest minds. If I fail, it will be my first official failure since joining the police. And if I succeed, my heart, which does side with the popular public sentiments, won’t be happy. So, either way, I stand to lose something. But as a true cop, I am determined to give my best to the case. Hey, don't ask me who I think is the murderer. Maybe you have an idea, well so do I ...
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!