INTRO 00:00:00 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 another episode of OBSCURUS. My name is Biswajit Banerjee, your host for this show. I am delighted to be back with another story. If you are new to this podcast, please catch up with the earlier episodes. And I would be so happy if you could find time to visit my website biswajitbanerjee.com. There's a lot of useful information about my books, movies, voice-over projects, and other work areas on the website. From time to time, I post articles and videos that I hope will entertain my followers. Also, you will find all the OBSCURUS episodes and their transcripts on the website blog. Don't forget to be a member of the website. If you choose to be a member, you will receive tons of interesting articles, stories, self-improvement tutorials, audio, and video messages. You might be aware, I also have a website obscurus.buzzsprout.com which is totally devoted to this podcast. Apart from the OBSCURUS episodes and their transcripts, you will also find chapter markers on this website for easy navigation through the episodes.
And now, it's time for the story. What do you think of premonitions? Dreams? Omens? And messages from the other dimension? Do they really happen, or are mere tricks played by the mind? Priya and Arvind made a beautiful couple. But then comes a message that changes all equations of their lives. Was it actually a message? Let's dive into the story to find out… THE MESSAGE 00:03:14
Written and performed by Biswajit Banerjee
"Can't you see her? She's right there!" I said. "No, Sir."
"Take a U-turn, will you?"
The cab screeched to a halt as the driver applied the brakes. In the next minute, we were moving in the opposite direction. I glanced at the receding figure through the rear glass. How the driver missed her, I wondered.
I never had much respect for the paranormal and often dismissed the reported unusual happenings as pure rubbish. However, what I saw a while back didn't register in the mind as normal by any means. Well, a real woman, and not a ghost, might have stood there. But the probability the driver would not notice such a solid figure neared zero. *** The roundabout path we took got me late by more than an hour. Two-thirty -- my watch showed when I arrived home. Fingerprint reports tell a different story, your Lordship -- the television sounds blared out to the porch as I got down from the car and climbed up the stairs.
By this time, the living room lights were supposed to be off, but they weren't. Apparently, my wife wasn't yet asleep. With a growing unease in the back of my head, I moved the key into the hole and turned it.
The door opened, and I walked in. In a swift movement, Priya got up from the sofa when our eyes met.
"Why is your mobile phone switched off? I tried calling you several times," she said as she ran into my arms. "Oh, I forgot to charge it in the office; I am sorry, dear, but what's wrong?"
"I was sleeping, but this terrible dream woke me up. It was so real in feel."
"Sometimes, dreams can be nasty, but don't worry, Priya, it was a dream after all."
"Almost real it was," she murmured, burying her face further into my chest.
Since we got married two years ago, I had never seen her so disturbed. This nagging idea that her experience had something to do with the woman on the road rushed past my mind.
*** "What did you dream?" I asked, sipping on my coffee.
"An ugly woman came into my dream."
The woman on the road flashed before my eyes, and my hands trembled, causing the coffee cup to clatter in the saucer.
"Are you okay?" She asked, moving close to me on the sofa.
"Yes, go on, tell me what else you saw."
"Just the woman."
"What did she do?"
"Nothing at all. She stood motionless at some distance from me."
"So, were you frightened by her presence?"
"Not just the presence, Arvind, the moment I saw her, I knew why she came — she came to give me the message that you are dead."
Priya snuggled herself against my neck. "Oh dear, I can't live without you for a moment."
The thought that her dream had some direct connection with my experience turned into a near conviction. Although it would add to her anxiety, I decided to tell her about the road incident. "I also saw something strange today."
"Strange! What's that about?"
"A woman, the kind you saw in your dream."
"What on earth ..."
"Relax and hear me out." By the time I finished narrating what happened, tears were rolling down her cheeks.
"So, Arvind, is this a sign that something terrible is coming our way. This is what you call an omen."
"Why must we think that? Why can't we just think of all this as mere unconnected events with no links with the supernatural? Maybe you simply had a dream, and I saw a real woman the driver couldn't spot."
While I tried to comfort her, I began to believe that these incidents were related. It seemed like all my reasoning had evaporated, and I wondered if we should contact a shaman or a priest as soon as possible.
"These are not unconnected events, Arvind. They constitute an omen, trust me."
"Are you convinced?"
"Yes, one hundred percent, don't you see the link?"
"Well, I am not disregarding your idea, but perhaps we should think again before drawing inferences."
"I have no doubt in my mind. The link is an easy one -- the woman appeared before your car to cause death to you. And then she came into my dream to convey the message that you are dead. She is the messenger of death, can't you understand?"
"But nothing happened to me."
"Thank goodness, nothing happened to you. Perhaps your decision to take a U-turn saved your life."
"She came in your dream to tell you I was dead, didn't she? Why would she come to convey a lie? I am alive, am I not?"
"Maybe some harm was due, but somehow you escaped it."
"But, Priya, don't you find a mismatch here -- if you believe the woman appeared in your dream to tell you I was dead, I should have been dead. The messenger of death, if that's what you think she was, would not tell lies, would she?"
"Yes, there might be a mismatch, but we shouldn't take these events lightly."
"What do you think we should do, talk to a priest?"
"I don't know, let me think, I will find a way out. No matter what, but I can't let any harm touch you."
"Nothing will happen to me. Rest assured, your love is the greatest guard."
Tears glistened in her eyes again, I moved close to her, and we kissed.
*** For about an hour, we sat huddled together on the sofa. The chirping of a distant night bird brought us out of the torpid state.
"Let's go to bed," I said.
The clock, just above the TV, on the front wall, showed a quarter to four.
"Yes," she said and got up from the couch.
After stretching my back, I got up too and followed her. The switch panel for the living room was a little away from the bedroom door; she put off both the lights and the fan and pushed open the door. A dim blue light was glowing in the bedroom. The wallpapers carrying designs with complicated geometry appeared eerie. Random images of the woman on the road crossed my mind again. My reflections diffused with Priya shrieking.
"What happened?" I said with my voice choking.
"There's someone on the bed."
Indeed, there was someone there. Even in the dark conditions, the presence of a human body under the cover was unmistakable. In the state of extreme anxiety, we even forgot to switch on the lights. We rushed to the bed, and I moved the cover.
Priya! The one lying on the bed was Priya! And she was standing next to me as well. "What's ... this, Priya?"
She responded after a while.
"I know what this is."
"Who's lying there?"
"It is me."
"Yes, I know, but ... how ... can ... it be possible?"
"It's all over, Arvind."
"What's all over?"
"That woman, the messenger of death, did what she had to do."
"Priya, what are you talking about?" "I thought she showed up to cause your death and bring the message to me, but the opposite is true -- she showed up to cause my death and get the message across to you. She appeared on the road to indicate I am dead -- it was a message for you."
A bright light filled Priya as she raised her hand and stroked my cheeks. Within moments, my wife's astral body disintegrated into countless glowing granules and then melted away into nothingness!