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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. This is a special episode. Yes, my friends, it is the fiftieth episode of OBSCURUS. Without your love, best wishes, and blessings, I couldn’t have accomplished this feat. So, before any other thing, I would like to heartily thank my readers and listeners all across the globe.
Today, I will narrate the third and the concluding part of the story based on mass-energy equivalence.
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Okay, let’s now proceed with the story. If you haven’t listened to the first two parts of the story, I urge you to first catch up with those episodes. Scarlet finds herself trapped in a room with a corpse. Will she find her way out? Come, let’s find out.
THE EQUIVALENCE PART 3 00:04:03
Written and performed by Biswajit Banerjee
The weak beam of the phone flashlight fell over what appeared like a corpse.
"So, you killed Richard. Where are you, bastard? Come, kill me too."
With tears in her eyes, she moved close to the body and focused the light on the face. What she witnessed made her cry out in horror. It wasn't Richard. In the dim light, Scarlet discerned the lifeless face of James. The eyes were wide open, and blood streamed from one corner of the mouth. A thin layer of yellowish powder coated the hair, face, and neck.
The lights came on with a flash blinding her for a moment. When her pupils adjusted to the bright lights around, Scarlet spotted a strange machine roughly in the center of the room she had gotten trapped in. It was a large spherical structure with a cylindrical space in the center. Levers and switches attached to the base circled the sphere. It resembled an MRI machine.
Four yellowish power barrels stood against the wall close to the secret door, which now opened with a bang, and Richard barged in.
"Sorry, I had gotten busy with something. So, I couldn't come earlier to help you out of this place. But you too should have checked your curiosity, Scarlet — moving into this space defies all reason."
"Richard," she said.
"The door of this room often closes by itself because of drafts or some vibrations of the walls. Sorry, you got trapped here."
"This place is ..."
"Oh, this is a sacred place for me, Scarlet. Here's the machine that converts life energy into matter," Richard said, gesturing to the spherical structure, "it is a beautiful machine, isn't it? But it is surely not more beautiful than you."
"Richard, I thought the intruder killed you."
"No, Darling, I killed the intruder. You projected light on his dead face a while back, didn't you?"
"What! You killed James!"
"Yes, he was a shameless young man. Do you know — he watched us making love? How cheap!"
"But you killed him?"
"How else do you deal with people like that?"
Scarlet stared at the professor with an open mouth and fear in her eyes. Her heart beat faster and faster.
"This yellowish powder on his face..."
"Oh sweetie, this yellowish powder is the solidified form of life. Since James intruded into our privacy, I thought the best way to deal with him was to covert his life energy to matter. This yellowish powder coating on his body is his life ... in the shape of matter, of course."
"But how did you do it?"
"Simple, my dear, I put him in the cylindrical space of the machine and pulled that red lever," Richard said, pointing at a lever at the base of the machine, "covers fell on both sides to isolate the space, and then the machine did what it had to do. It used the principle of mass-energy equivalence to transform the shameless brat's life into the sexy yellow powder."
"Richard, you murdered him. Do you realize that?"
"For you, this might be murder. But for me, this is an act of sacrifice for the sake of science."
"But, this is barbaric!"
"Oh come on, my dear, of what use was his life anyway? He wouldn't turn into a Mozart or Einstein. A damn average person he was, and on top of that, he was shameless. At least I put his life to good use."
"Richard, please reconvert the yellowish substance into life, and resurrect James."
"I am afraid the machine is incapable of doing that. It can only convert life energy into matter; it cannot reverse the process."
"Oh no, somehow I am responsible for his death. James was hanging around this place to ensure I was safe."
"Don't shed tears for him, my love; he doesn't deserve your sympathy."
"I can't believe this, Richard. You are a murderer!"
"My dear, you don't need to be an insolent girl."
Tears rolled down her cheeks. "Oh, I saw a thorough gentleman in you — a model for everybody. But ... you are not what I thought. How much I hate myself for idolizing you."
"What a strange girl you are! A few hours back, you wished to see the machine that converts life energy into matter. Also, you wanted to witness a demonstration of the conversion process. Now that you are standing right in front of the brilliant machine and find a coating of the yellow substance over this worthless boy's body, which is nothing but materialized form of life energy, you should be happy. Instead, you are insulting me."
"Yes, I wished to witness the machine and the demonstration of the conversion of life energy into matter, but I didn't know the process involved killing humans."
"No, no, no, no, the expression 'killing' is so unmusical. Call it sacrifice."
"I can't believe this is happening."
"I fail to understand what did you expect to see – insect-life being converted to matter? Plant-life being converted to matter? What?"
"Whatever, but I didn't expect to see human lives being so-called sacrificed to generate matter."
"But dear, I did try doing this with lower life forms — with plants and animals. The substances plant and animal life energies get converted to are ugly to look at."
"So, you started converting human lives into matter for reasons of beauty."
"Well, Scarlet, beauty is one reason, but the major reason is ..."
"What? What is the major reason?"
The professor walked up to James's body and moved a finger across his face to brush away some yellow powder. He licked the substance and said, "This matter keeps me healthy and young. Look at me — I am more handsome than a twenty-five-year-old man. And you did experience what I am capable of in the bed, didn't you?"
"Disgusting, you are disgusting."
"Oh, come on, nothing is disgusting in keeping oneself healthy and young. By the way, I don't hurt people beyond thirty. The strength and vitality of people under thirty are remarkable. So, for a good number of years now, I have been converting the life energy of people under thirty into yellow powder. I suggest you also keep yourself perennially beautiful by consuming this powder on a regular basis. "
"Shut up, will you?"
"Don't get angry. You did like the taste, didn't you?"
"What the hell are you saying?"
"The soup, my dear. My special soup — you enjoyed it, didn't you?"
"So, you ..."
"Yes, I prepared it with the yellow powder. I keep plenty in stock. Some stock is right here in those barrels," Richard said, pointing at the barrels.
"Now, I know James was right. You were responsible for the disappearance of more than two dozen girls who visited this damn place of yours."
"Well, my dear, they were average humans just like James. So, I just put their lives to good use."
"You killed them."
"Again, you are using the wrong expression, Scarlet. Please be careful with what you say — I didn't kill them; I sacrificed their lives for the sake of science."
"How many lives have you converted into matter so far?"
"More than one hundred and fifty, I guess. Most of these people were between twenty and thirty years of age."
Scarlet stood there with her head down for a while.
"What are you thinking, my dear?
After a few deep breaths, she replied, "I got to leave now, Richard."
"But where will you go? You won't be allowed entry into the hostel now. Rather, let's have a sumptuous dinner and ... and then on the bed ... you know what I mean."
Without giving a response, Scarlet walked towards the door.
"Where are you going?"
Yet again, she didn't respond and kept moving. But before Scarlet could walk out of the room of horrors, the door slammed shut before her. She turned back to find a faint smile on the professor's face.
"That's no paranormal activity, Scarlet. I have a remote control for the door."
"I said open it."
"Don't shout, my dear. It hurts my ears."
"Open the door."
"No, you cannot leave without watching a demonstration of the mass-energy equivalence."
"I have already seen the demonstration."
"No, Scarlet, you just saw the machine and the yellowish powder. But you haven't watched the machine convert life into the yellowish powder, have you?" Richard pulled out a glass container from the inner pocket of his robe. A trapped lizard was struggling inside it.
"I am not interested."
"But I am, my dear. Watch the demonstration, and then you can go wherever you want."
Scarlet had little choice but to cooperate with the professor. Though she doubted Richard would let her go if she watched the demonstration, not to offend him appeared to be the best bet under the circumstances.
"Okay, go ahead, demonstrate the mass-energy equivalence."
"Sure, come here," Richard said and walked up to the machine and put the glass container in the cylindrical space.
After Scarlet moved close to him, Richard put an arm around her shoulder and said, "This machine is the heart and soul of my work. This conversion process is phenomenal."
Richard planted a kiss on Scarlet's lips; she didn't resist it.
"Most of the girls who visited this place before you were pretty, but you are stunning. And on the bed, you are ..."
"Please get on with your demonstration, Richard."
"Okay, okay, my dear. You appear to be in a real hurry."
After passing a wry smile, Richard picked up the glass container with the lizard and put it back in the robe's inner pocket.
"Isn't that supposed to be in the cylindrical space?"
"No, I told you animal lives turn into ugly-looking substances, didn't I?"
"Then ..." Fear gripped Scarlet's soul.
"You are the one going into the cylindrical space, my dear."
"What? You wish to convert my life into matter?"
"Absolutely, and I am sure the resulting substance will smell like musk."
"But you promised you would let me go after the demonstration."
"Oh yes, I am a man of words, Scarlet. I will ensure your body gets out of this place at the earliest and moves into the earth for a restful sleep."
"You bastard," she said and tried moving away from the professor, but he grabbed her wrist.
"The best way to watch the demonstration is to experience it. So, now you will watch your life transform into matter. Better be alert in your observation, my dear; the process happens in a flash. Remember what I told you about the big bang. The life energy flowing in your body will now act as the primeval atom and explode to finally become matter. Your body, however, will fall into a lower chamber before the explosion and not be harmed. The restful sleep is guaranteed."
The strong professor pushed her into the cylindrical space and punched her nose. She screamed, "Help, someone help!"
"Don't be a fool. No one can hear you calling out, Scarlet." Richard punched her nose again and then landed a blow on her stomach.
Crisis situations can sometimes bring out the best survival instincts in people. While Scarlet writhed in pain inside the cylindrical space, her reflexes kicked in. Her arm jerked up and hit Richard's chin, making him lose his balance. As the side of the professor's face hit the floor of the cylindrical space with a thud, Scarlet moved her hand into his robe and pulled out the glass container from the inner pocket. Something else also came out of the pocket, rolled out of the space, and landed on the room floor. Without paying attention to what the object was, Scarlet slammed the container on his forehead. A groan escaped the professor's mouth as she hit the hard glass container on the same spot again. Then Scarlet struck his eyes, nose, and mouth repeatedly, causing those parts to bleed profusely. Yet another blow on the mouth with the container! This time the glass broke, and at least two splinters went into his mouth. Another thing went into his mouth — the lizard.
As Richard screamed in agony, Scarlet knew what she had to do next. After quickly moving out of the machine, she garnered all her strength and pushed the professor's body into the cylindrical space. And then only one thing was left to be done — Scarlet pulled the red lever. Immediately, covers fell on both sides of the opening, isolating the cylindrical space from the surroundings. The screams of the professor dissolved into what sounded like an explosion inside the machine. Within seconds the covers of the cylindrical space went up. There was no trace of the professor!
But Scarlet didn't have to wait long to see him again. The lower chamber of the machine opened. The professor's body was lying on the metallic base of the chamber, covered with yellowish powder.
What a relief! With her eyes closed, she took a few deep breaths. The ordeal was over. Was it? She opened her eyes and looked at the secret door. It was perfectly shut. Did fate condemn her to remain in the room of horrors forever? As hopelessness started creeping into Scarlet's nerves, her eyes fell on a round object on the floor. This must have been the thing that slipped out of the inner pocket of Richard’s robe when Scarlet pulled out the glass container from it. Two buttons — one green and the other red — were very conspicuous on it.
With trembling fingers, she picked up the shiny round object and felt its weight sitting in her palm. It was heavy. She pressed the green button, and the secret door flung open. Indeed, the ordeal was now over. A smile played on her lips.
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!