Of That Day and Hour: A psychological thriller

BOOK: Of That Day and Hour: A psychological thriller
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Of That Day and Hour


A.J. O’Brien


Copyright © 2016
A.J. O’Brien

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may
be transmitted or reproduced, in any form without written permission from the


Edited by Marian Thorpe.


“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels
of Heaven...” Matthew 24:36


The scorpion
scuttles from the Colorado desert onto Highway Sixty Seven. The warm breeze
offers little comfort from the searing heat; the horizon ripples like the ocean
sea, surrounded only by wasteland, shrub, distant mountains and rock. The
howling of an engine cuts through the silence. A fast approaching cloud of dust
threatens to engulf all in its path; tires, stained red by soil, rolling, not
hearing the crack of shell, the scorpion's rush of blood.

Imprisoned within this
vehicle, handcuffed, shackled and strapped to a steel galvanized bench, sits a
dark solitary figure. A slender yet muscular man with short afro hair and a
goatee beard, stylish with black-framed designer glasses. His shoulders ache
from the force on his arms, leashed behind his back. Unable to wipe away the
warm beads of sweat that drip down his dark ebony cheeks, they glisten in the
darkness, contrasting with his all-knowing eyes. A cursory glance of hatred
shoots like a bullet through the inspection window to the back of the
correctional officer’s head. This ride is reserved only for those deemed the
most dangerous, and in need of the tightest control. He senses the end is near;
like a bear treed by hounds, he can smell the sweat, stench, deprivation and
fear. They drive through the perimeter gates of the United States penitentiary,
maximum security, one step closer to Hell.

The vehicle draws to a halt
and the engine cuts out. Heavy reinforced doors slam shut: he can hear
footsteps and muffled voices.

“Got the son of a bitch?”

“Yeah, we got him.”

“Let’s welcome him home.”

In the watchtower the
marksman takes aim as the rear doors open and the truck floods with light. Dark
silhouettes with heavy boots and strong arms enter: steel chains clatter around
his feet. He takes his first steps out to the yard: the sunlight burns into his
eyes. The cops are nothing more to him than fleeting phantoms securing him on
either side, their voices only murmurs and echoes. Shadows from the electrified
fence pattern the concrete floor. The security cameras watch as he’s escorted
into the building, flanked either side by the officers. The steel door slams
behind them. The air inside is cool, but not as cold as the icy stares he
receives. Induction done, he’s stripped of his orange uniform and dignity. In
the center of the room, naked, he’s forced to kneel; knees scuffed and bleeding
from the hard concrete floor, cuffs cutting into his wrists. He knows what’s
coming. The last words Casey hears are:

“Got ourselves a cop killer.
Did you think once about the families? The children who are now without
fathers?” The correctional officer receives no answer except the defiance in
Casey's eyes. “I didn’t think so.”

Casey’s glasses hit the
ground with the first blow to his head, shattering one of the lenses. Pain and
shadow rain down upon him. Darkness steps in, offering the only pity and
comfort shown to him since that night.


Three months later, Harvard
University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Doctor Jefferson Davies addresses his
students before summer semester ends on the complexity of
déjà vu

“The term
déjà vu
first used by Émile Boirac, a French philosopher and parapsychologist, in a
letter to the editor of
Revue philosophique
in 1876, and later in his
L'Avenir des Sciences
Déjà vu
means already seen, and at some point in your lives most of you will experience
this; a brief period of time in which it will feel like you are reliving an
event that’s already happened. Hands up - how many of you believe you have
déjà vu

Jeff calculates how many
students have raised their hands.

“Okay, thank you. It’s
interesting to note that over fifty percent of you believe you have already
déjà vu
. Statistics tell us this is quite normal and an
accurate reflection given your age. Statistics also tell us that some seventy
percent of you will at some time in your lives experience this phenomenon.

“Cathleen, you raised your
hand. Would you be kind enough to share your experience with us?”

“Yes.” The brown haired
student blushes at being singled out. “I was having dinner with a group of
friends, there’s nothing strange about that, we often get together. However
this evening was different. I already knew the structure of the conversation
and what each person was going to say seconds before they did. What convinced
me that I was experiencing something out of the ordinary, is that I knew, I
just knew, that by the end of the evening, it would be the first time I kissed
my boyfriend, and it happened exactly as I thought it would.”

“Aww.” The sound echoes
throughout the theatre, followed by childish laughter courtesy of Cathleen’s
fellow students.

“Silence!” Jeff waits for
the room to settle before continuing.

“Thank you, Cathleen. Now,
you must always take into account that conversations are not random, there’s a
clear structural pattern within all groups of people and situations. Of course
you may have already been eagerly anticipating your first kiss; our body
language communicates far more between two people than we realize, especially
when they find each other attractive. Did you want to kiss him that evening?”


“Then you may have simply
given him the green light.” Jeff looks around for a second student whose hand
was up. “Thomas, what was your
déjà vu

“I was at the shopping mall.
I felt that I knew everyone there, that I was in a dream where the people in
the street, who, although I didn’t know them, seemed familiar to me. I knew,
not the person but the soul of the person, whose soul in return recognized me a
split second before their consciousness made them look away, like we’re all one
mind underneath it all. Does that make any sense?”

“That was probably the
drugs, Thomas.” Laughter erupts around the theatre. “Over half of you raised
your hands. Does anyone else have a good story to tell?”

“I do.”

Jeff looks towards the
confident student. He’s relaxed, smiling and eager to tell his story.

“Then please share it with
us, Jarone.”

“It happened when I went to
view an apartment. I knew the district it was located in, although I hadn’t
been to that hood before. I was going to ask for directions, but when I got
close I sensed its location and turned right into the street. The apartment was
awful, I couldn’t live there, but I was convinced it was the right place; the
sense was overwhelming. And then before I left I had a split second
recognition, something I can’t put into words, about the house across the road
with a tree in front. I shrugged my shoulders, shook the feeling off and left.
I contacted a different landlord and arranged to see another place, and would you
believe it was the house opposite with the tree. It was like I had a memory of
that street and I already knew where it was. I know it sounds crazy: I couldn’t
have, could I? It’s the apartment I live in today.”

Jeff nods his head, it’s a
scenario he’s heard many times in one form or another over the years.

“A classic example, thank
you, Jarone. We all, at some time or another, will find ourselves with an
intense feeling of familiarity with a location, or a person we have just met
for the first time, yet feel we go way back with them, to a different time or
place. It’s a sensation that I must admit is difficult to shake off.”

“Dr. Davies.”

Jeff looks over to the girl,
with auburn hair, she possesses a mischievous glint in her eye.

“Yes, Rachel?”

“Have you experienced

“I have, with a person
once.” Jeff pauses. The students are quiet, waiting in anticipation. Realizing
he’s been thrown by the question and is on public display, Jeff quickly
reasserts himself. “Yet I was fooled as so many of us are, by the coincidence
of mannerism, or the shape of an eyebrow and nothing more. I assure you there’s
no malfunction in the machine.”

Stiffening his posture and
resolve Jeff continues.

Deja vu
remarkably challenging to study. Data come from individual testimonies,
personal interpretations and descriptions of events. The scientific community
has distanced itself for many years from the field of
déjà vu
, because
of the stigma that’s attached to it and its associations. These include
extrasensory perception, more commonly known as ESP, past life experiences, the
paranormal and even alien abductions.” Chuckles ripple through the room; smiles
light up faces for a moment before Jeff continues.

“However, researchers today
are peeling back the layers of the mind; virtual reality models are being used
to immerse subjects under laboratory conditions, and studies reveal that even
the familiar layout of a room can trigger a deep
déjà vu
experience. One
subject visited Fort Alamo in Texas using virtual reality. He couldn’t
understand his familiarity with the town or the fort until later he discovered
an old movie poster in a curiosity shop, which explained his
déjà vu
away. Years earlier he had watched a historical and epic movie which was filmed
in the town.” Jeff can see the penny drop within his audience. Students nod,
smile, murmur agreement. “When people fail to fully retrieve a memory, they
still have some trace of that memory, and are left with feelings of
familiarity. These feelings are no more than delusions some people are unable
to break free of, no matter what evidence is presented before them.” Jeff
pauses, seeing a hand up. “Do you have a question, James?”

“Yes, are you saying that
when we watch a movie, the brain then records the movie as reality?”

“Precisely, and this as with
the Alamo case can lead to a
déjà vu
event later on in life. Another
developing and exciting field is that scientists are developing systems that
can reconstruct your dreams as digital video clips. The results are promising,
and may mean in the future you will be able to playback your own dreams.”

Raised eyebrows, open mouths
and smiles; the students are delighted at this prospect.

“Another paper published recently states that
there’s a common link between dreams and delusions, and that they are related
to faulty concepts of reality. Take the person who has a headache: the thought
of a brain tumor might cross their mind. This possibility is tested and
rejected, however, a person with issues with concepts of reality might
elaborate on this story, and the story becomes reality for them.”

Jeff’s hands are gesturing, offering up his
wisdom and knowledge to his flock. He enjoys working with inquisitive minds.

“Another example is the
woman who, after receiving head injuries in a car accident, returned home to
find her family had been replaced in her mind with doubles. She believed they
were impostors, even when the doctors pointed out to her that they were her
family, the same, identical, they were still replicas to her, albeit
exceptionally good ones. Schizophrenia, temporal lobe epilepsy, and other
neurological conditions can all bring about believable delusions, and for
sufferers it’s the world that changes and not themselves.” He pauses. “Any more

“Is it not arrogant for the
blind to assert that others cannot see?”

The question comes from a
mousy looking girl, with blonde straight hair, in blue jeans and a white
blouse. She’s not shy in voicing her opinion, and Jeff sighs inwardly.

“Please enlighten us, Jane.”

“Hindus believe we inhabit a
universe created by mind, where the soul is misled by matter, that we’re
controlled and trapped in an illusion called Maya. Under Maya’s influence the
soul believes that it’s not a spiritual being but is simply the body.
Theoretical physicists today believe we may live in a hologram, and that idea
also ties in with the Hindu’s belief in Maya. Scientific evidence also
demonstrates that everything is stored in the brain for retrieval at a later
date. We may even have dual personalities, as in the case for schizophrenics
hearing voices, or even our own guided coincidences.”

Jane’s attack provokes Jeff
into defending his own thesis.

“Yes, I’m fully aware of
both esoteric traditions and unproven scientific models. I’m also aware, to
paraphrase Tennessee Williams, that without my demons my angels would leave me,
but we address scientific models with scientific research, not speculation.”

Jane persists. “Years ago no
scientist in their right mind would have suggested that everything is a
vibrating energy, which only comes into existence when it’s observed, but
quantum physics tells us otherwise now. Equally I don’t think we can discredit
simply as delusions and faulty reality testing.”

“Jane, I’m not attacking
your faith or your beliefs, however for our academic discussion we only deal
with certified facts, and proven theories, rather than clouding the air with
speculation. I think at this point we’ll break for an early lunch and convene
back here this afternoon at one thirty. Remember we'll be comparing voodoo in
Haiti and the US, so if you haven't done your reading, have lunch with someone
who did.”

BOOK: Of That Day and Hour: A psychological thriller
10.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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