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Vatsal Parekh

Thriller


4.5  

Vatsal Parekh

Thriller


Dark Dream

Dark Dream

18 mins 239 18 mins 239

[Beginning with the Chapter 1]

 

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be… The greatest fight we have in this world is against the darkness in ourselves. The greatest fear we have is walking into the mysterious abyss of our inner selves. The world is insane. This filthy society is full of disgust. So, this is probably the only way to get rid of this feeling. I can’t help it. I have to do it to feed myself- to get rid of the madness”, read last week’s third client, Dijesh.

“What is this thing?” I asked him being a bit disturbed by the words he just pronounced and also with a bit of curiosity.

He sighed looking at the piece of paper he was holding in his hand. “It’s a letter”, he mentioned, “About a case.”

“What! I thought I was having a session with you”.

“Yes!” he said indicating the letter in his hand, “Yes of course. It’s just that this thing has really puzzled me for long time. I don’t know …I’m confused.” 

I had known Dijesh since my childhood, but had never seen him this much frustrated. Taking off his same old full-rim fiber specs and keeping it on the glass table in front, he remained silent for some time. His sweaty shirt, rumpled jeans, and sunken eyes were enough to conclude that he was extremely tired and over- worked or worried of something.

“Come on! You know I am your friend. I’ll always help you.” I said breaking the utter quiet which led me to witness his quick emotionless smile.

It was a regular Friday night. We were sitting in the visiting room of an old clinic where I had used to hold my regular weekly sessions as a psychiatrist. Now I live in Delhi- a better scope, a better living. I generally come here once in a month, if necessary, Just to take care of my old clients- can’t leave them in the midway of the treatment.

“So, this thing started like one and half years ago. A man got missing one evening. Missing report was filed. Police found nothing- no progress at all. Surprisingly, the man returned on his own after two days.”

“Interesting”, I commented.

“No, Not yet!” Dijesh stated with a worried look on his face as he knitted his eyebrows, “Interesting thing is… the man didn’t have any idea where he was for the last two days. Even, he didn’t know his left thumb was cut during this time!”

“What?” I was stupefied by his last utterance.

“Yeah. Most Probably by a nutcracker I guess.”

“Oh God!” I was tremendously shocked as whatever he was saying was hardly making any sense, although it is my job to deal with the unnatural, psychotic human conditions.

“He only remembered hearing some bells- Probably like church bells. There was no other physical wound or sign of forceful abduction or anything. However, this letter was found in his pocket.” Dijesh continued, “To make it more complicated, the man hanged himself few days later- took his own life. There was no case, no clue about how did this happen- nothing”. After a moment, he sighed in despair, “There’s no crime if nobody remembers it.”

Needless to say, I was utterly surprised by every single sentence he was speaking, but I didn’t interrupt this time.

“Still this was fine. But again, the same thing happened after nine months. Exact same incident – the thumb, the bell. He, within a week, stabbed himself to death. Friends and family of these two victims told that they were not like before. There was something off about them. The way I see, there’s a killer who won’t stop.”

After that, I had a strange feeling and started doubting his story as nothing seemed quite normal – starting from the appearance of Dijesh to the story he was telling. So, interrupting him I started asking about what made him think that way and whether he had informed the police or not. To this, he replied that though he had tried, they all had turned a deaf ear to him. I could sense that his anxiety was gradually increasing despite showing any strong gestures.

“I…I don’t know!” he hesitated,” They said that there’s no evidence as if it was all vague. They accused me of imagining things. After all, I wasn’t assigned or something for investigating this and hence, should have stayed out of it. But I knew something was happening. Nobody could see it. But I had to stop it.”

I passed the bottle of water to him observing that he might need it. I saw him grabbing that and drinking it with his shaky hands. It was a fight- or-fight signal which I meant he was experiencing the exact trauma that he had felt after being ignored by everyone. At this point, I was sure that there was something wrong about him. Probably, his brain was making up things- gathering false information.

Trying to be as calm as possible, I asked,” Don’t you think you should not do this when you are not assigned to do it? Why would you do it?”

“I don’t know”, he described. “Somehow I got engaged. It’s just that something is happening in front of me and I can’t do anything. Also, I don’t know. Recently, there’s been something strange. I tend to forget things easily. Not like completely blank, but I can’t remember things right away at the very moment when required”.

There was some relief as I Found out he was not completely unaware of his situation. I replied, “See, Dijesh. It’s quite normal to forget things and sometimes getting messed with memories and all. Especially, the kind of job you do, it’s tough sometimes. You get a lot of anxiety recently. Don’t you?”

He nodded agreeing with me. “Maybe, take a week or two off. Get out of this city and give yourself some time. I think the condition will improve. Stress can lead you to something like this”, I continued, “Regarding people telling you that you imagine things, its human tendency to do that at some point. If you see my shirt now, close your eyes and then again try to see it, you will be able to see it. But what you are seeing with your eyes closed is nothing but an image- an imagination. That’s what we call recalling something. That’s a memory. But if I would have asked you to do the same tomorrow or a week later. You won’t recognize the shirt, because you won’t be able to picturize it.

When I was explaining this, I saw him looking at me with his confused eyes.

“I know it’s not a great analogy, but…” I smiled and continued, “You know, six seven years old kids sometimes when they are alone, imagine things. That’s quite normal for them. Even my grandma used to say, that I was like till twelve. It’s OK to imagine or feel things that may or may not present. When we grow older, we get matured. But…”

I could sense that Dijesh was not convinced at all. There was still something that was troubling him. Maybe he thought whatever I was saying, was meaningless. I could again see him in stress.

Finally interrupting me, he said, “You know, the reason I came here urgently at night, because I found something.”

“What?”

“The connections!” he said, “These two persons – they were not completely innocent. They were accused of some cases but got away somehow. But recently last night I found that the first incident happened on the first Friday of February, and then it happened after nine months, the first Friday of November. The next will happen, the first Friday of August- tonight.”

“Whoa! What! Wait.” I was taken aback by his last words, “I’m sure it’s coincidence. They’re just two incidents and only one gap of nine months.”

“I thought that too”, he said, “But then I came to know that Mr. Bhargav had been missing for two days.”

“The businessman Bhargav!” I asked, “I know him”.

Agreeing with me he said, “Yeah! He is quite famous. And I got this feeling that something is going to happen tonight.”

Even after that I attempted to convince him that he needed to relax, probably it was all coincidence because the entire thing seemed kind of unnatural but in vain.

Dijesh insisted me to accompany him to a place. “The victims. When they were returning, they were walking on the roads at night. And there’s this only church that rings at night. All the other nearby churches is very close to the residential area that ringing bells un-occasionally at night are not allowed.”

I never go to any crime scene at all, regardless of the actual crime happened or not. But, looking at Dijesh I thought probably it would be best if I accompany him there. Moreover, he was my friend. So, without giving it a second thought I agreed. I didn’t have my car in this city, so I got in his black Suzuki Wagonar, and Dijesh made it grumbled back to life.

 

[Beginning of the Second Chapter]

 

It was around eleven at night by my watch. The heart of the city was silent and just into its great slumber. Though there were few vehicles on the roads, still the number was decreasing gradually as we were moving towards the outskirts. I lowered the side- glass to witness the beauty of the moonlit night. Not for so long though. Quickly dark patches of clouds started gathering at one corner slowly moving towards the moon to engulf the entire sky. The yellow sodium vapor street lamps and cool humid wind were creating an eerie atmosphere altogether.

It did not take long. We reached the spot in half an hour. There was no house for living nearby- only a church I could see around hundred meters ahead of the corner where he parked the car.

Getting out of the car, taking out his Marlboro from his shirt- pocket and bringing it towards me, he said, “This is the place.”

“No, thanks”, I said neglecting the pack, “I’ve stopped smoking. It’s been close to two years.” I used to suffer from chronic episodes of dry cough due to my smoking habit. Though I had stopped smoking, the condition was not improving, rather getting worse day by day. Hence, I tried to maintain a distance while he was smoking.

“Ok, So, we just wait here till something happens”, he informed lighting his cigarette. I would be lying if I said I had not been scared stiff for a moment seeing the church in the middle of nowhere. It was just as Dijesh had mentioned earlier. I could see three windows on the side that was visible. A large strange tree was there at the back of the church with its twisted skeletal boughs making it look like a giant old lady spreading her arms straight towards the church.

“What if Dijesh was right?” the thought came to me, What if there’s really a killer out there?”

However, leaving all these weird thoughts, I started observing Dijesh expression again. There was a sense of severe excitement in his face. I didn’t know how to explain the whole situation. I had no idea whether there was something odd that moment or I was just feeling that way. Whatever the reason was, the mystical nature of the whole atmosphere was further intensified by the hustling of leaves and the rumbling of the clouds. By the time we were waiting, I did not see a single vehicle passing by it. It was a dead silent except for the croaking of frogs and the cricket’s noise.

Soon, it became midnight. The bell rang piercing the night’s silence. It was loud enough to get attention of everyone awake at least at a five hundred meters radius. We both became super-alert to every detail to observe if there was something suspicious. We waited for ten minutes after the bell without speaking a single word out of curiosity. But nothing happened- only the wind started blowing roughly fluttering my jacket.

Dijesh was utterly surprised. He had wanted to prove himself right but nothing happened as he had mentioned except the mere presence of the church. I observed a drastic change in his facial expressions. He was becoming more and more worried. Surely, he was trying to connect the dots- why nothing happened as he had thought. Was everything a mistake? Was everything in his head only? – An imagination after all!

It was time for me to make him confront reality. It was the moment I was waiting for. It was the moment when he was bound to accept his condition entirely.

“Dijesh, you are going through a situation where your brain sometimes imagines things which aren’t true. It’s all right. It’s not so uncommon. It happens. What I think you need is rest and probably a change of sight too.” I said,” Go and take a vacation. Generally, this change should work out for your case. If not, then we will try something different. Keep track of anxiety. Don’t worry and don’t take stress at all.”

“Just five more minutes”, he said with his worried face.

He brought another cigarette to light up. So, I waited in the car so that he could have some alone- moment for understanding and introspection.

Suddenly, I started having my episodes of cough. I already knew that it would continue for at least ten minutes. I was hacking and sneezing continuously without a break. At the end of each cough, I was taking a sharp gasp of breath. Within a moment I realized that I was coughing blood. There was a severe pain in my throat and my voice started rasping.

Dijesh probably noticed it from outside. Throwing the cigarette on the ground, he came inside and said, “Are you okay? What’s happening?’’ He provided me with a bottle of water. The intensity of the cough decreased but it didn’t stop.

Looking at the severity of my plight, he decided to take me to his home which was around two kilometers form there. I agreed nodding my head.

Just then, it started drizzling. The raindrops were sprinkling on my face through the window which I had intentionally kept open. After a moment, I was fine again. Nevertheless, there was still severe pain in my throat, but the coughing stopped.

There was just one thing that was still unclear to me. So, I enquired in my gruff voice, “If you were not assigned to the case, how did you get the original letter?”

There was no response as if he was not able to listen to me clearly. So, I repeated the question a little loudly this time, “How did you get the letter?”

He slowly turned to me with his dead protruding eyes. He looked here and there as if he was trying to figure out something. Then he turned to me again. This time a mixture of confusion and fear glittered on his face.

“I don’t remember”, he uttered.

All of a sudden, the windshield wipers that were whipping till now stopped in the middle. Looking at the road, I observed a sharp turning right in front of us. Dijesh tried to get hold of steering, but it was too late. The car went out of control. It was running quite fast and moving abruptly. Without wasting a minute, he slammed the brakes. An instant sheer sound of screeching and skidding of the tires on the rainy road was heard and then it rammed into a sideway tree.

As soon as the car hit the tree, I assumed I was dead. But I was not. I was just senseless for some time. When I got back to my senses, I realized that I was injured on my forehead- although it was nothing serious. There was grey smoke coming out of the engine. Buckling off the set belt, I was pushing the door hard to get out of the car.

But my jaw dropped in surprise as I discovered something terrible. I found myself sitting at the steering. There was no sign of second person in the car.

The rain was stopped by then. Getting out of the car, I looked at the both sides of the road- there was no single foul. To confirm, I checked the website where my clients registered for appointments. There was only two for that day. I was completely thunderstruck. Everything felt like a dark dream.

It was half-past one by my watch and I had no idea what to do. I could see the small two- storied house that Dijesh was talking about. So, I searched for the keys and found a strange- looking key with the key chain of car-keys. Hoping that will open the door of the house, I started walking towards it.

I was sweating all over- the cool wind was making me shiver. Except that, it was dead quiet again. It appeared like a blanket of clouds was covering me and everything that was happening that night. A beguiling atmosphere was consuming me into the darkness. The unmitigated mysticism of the night which was hallucinating me seemed unstoppable and eternal.

There was a large blood-red colored poster just opposite the gate of the house. But I was agitated enough that it all looked like Hebrew. The front grill was not locked. It clanged open with my little push. Crossing it I reached an old wooden door having a mottled brown door- lock. I rang the bell. No one answered. Slipping in the key onto the knob, I twisted it. A click sound and the door creaked open.

Searching for the switchboard, I turned on the lights. It was an old- fashioned house but didn’t look like unused for a long time. I could see a cupboard at my right, an on the wall opposite to it, there was an old grandfather clock incorrectly showing the time to be quarter to eleven. However, the pendulum was still moving back and forth. There were three large windows – all fully closed and covered with window- screens. Some parts of the room were covered with dust, but some were clean.

I moved towards the small dining table which I assumed to be clean. As soon as I reached there, I saw a newspaper and a scissor lying on it.

“What is this?” I thought,” Why is this happening?”

I wanted all these to end- to be back to normal again. However, I wasn’t in control. A part of me still awkwardly had this sheer urge to make a meaning out of it.

“Today’s newspaper!” I murmured looking at it. Nothing seemed to be impossible that night- nothing was normal. When I quickly turned the pages holding it in my hands, a small piece of paper- cut fell on the floor. It was a photo of Mr Bhargav. “Missing” was written under his photo.

Immediately few thoughts started circulating in my mind-“Was Dijesh Saying the truth? Where is he? Whose house is this? Where is Mr bhargav? Why is all this happening? Etc etc.

On the spur of the moment, a noise came to my ears causing my heart to pound. Looking at it, I realized it was just a cat.

“How did it enter?” I thought the very next moment, “There must be someplace for it to enter above there?”

I started climbing the stairs slowly, cautiously- turned the lights on. There was a living room and a kitchen. I went towards the living room. An uneasy Feeling ran through my veins. The door was already open, so I went inside.

Whatever I saw sent chills down my spines. I was completely numb for a while. I wouldn’t have that much shocked if I would have literally seen a ghost in that room.

It was Mr Bhrgav. He was sitting on the couch quietly and looking at a particular place on the wall where there was nothing. At the back of his couch, there was a window, which was slightly open.

“Mr. Bhar…..Bhargav!” I stuttered, “Hey! Are you okay?”

There was no response. I looked at him closely. There was no expression at all. His eyes were open, but he was not blinking. I realized he was not actually seeing-as if he was somewhere else. His pupils were widened, but he was breathing. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I noticed his left hand- his thumb was cut. Blood had dripped over the floor- but now it had stopped dripping. He was not tied or anything, he was wearing his specs, an offensive diamond ring was there on his third finger. It looked like someone had strongly hypnotized him.

“How the hell did this happen?” I thought scanning the entire room.

There was a wash basin on my right where I saw a steel nutcracker with patches of blood on it. Nothing seemed to surprise me anymore. Rather strangely, I could sense a mixture of fear and excitement in me pumping my adrenaline.

I noticed the almirah right next to the basin was slightly open. I opened it entirely to see what was in there. It was full of large glass- jars having a name-tag attached to each of them. Some were empty. Some were having a finger in it, floating within a liquid which had eventually turned red due to the blood.

After closing the one side of the door which was a large mirror from the outside, I observed something was written on it probably with a black marker. I went through it, “There is no crime if nobody remembers it”.

Within a flash, I remembered everything- everything became meaningful. I hadn’t problem at all figuring out the handwriting. It was my handwriting. Suddenly my expression changed. I laughed like a mad man- it was ferocious. I had a devilish look on my face- my eyes looked sardonic.

Just then the grandfather clock started ringing. I figured the time had come. So, I turned to Mr. Bhargav and clapped twice. As expected, he stood up with his expressionless gesture.

I searched in the left pocket of my jacket and found that letter. Looking at it I smirked and then placed it in the shirt pocket of Mr. Bhargav.

“Walk away! I said with my rasping voice,” There’s nothing in this world for you. You want to kill yourself. There’s no one for you. You have to kill yourself.” I stopped and again clapped twice.

He started walking normally without uttering a single word. He went downstairs and I followed him. The door was already open. I saw him as he was walking out of the house. Soon, the night would be a dark dream again. I stood there on the porch bringing the Marlboro pack; I put one in my mouth. Then giving it a thought, I threw it on the ground with a silly smile on my face.

I closed the grill after Mr.Bhargav crossed it and quietly enjoyed the cool soothing breeze with a smile, being submerged into an irrepressible satisfaction. This time, I clearly observed the red poster in front of me.

It was saying, “When I let go what I am, I become what I might be…”

 

 

[The END]


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