Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Case of Psychological Terrorism

By Bill Longworth
Nov. 29, 2011

An entry in the Writer's Community of Durham Region 2011 "Whispered Words" Prose Contest

Whispers everywhere! Every sound a foreboding message. The wind, the water, the trees, the birds, even the tires pounding the pavement seemed to be whispering, “Don’t do it!” Everywhere, I got the same message, “Don’t do it.”

Even the radio was blaring out a Marvin Gaye tune the DJ announced as, “Baby, Don’t Do It.” Why ever would this particular song come over the station I was listening to right now?

I had printed off a copy of the driving directions from my computer and even the sound of the print head traversing the paper seemed to be hypnotically whispering, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Don’t do it!”---“Don’t do it” was repeated with every passing stroke of the ink cartridge across the page.

The subliminal messages were everywhere. I wondered whether I was going nuts. These messages were toying with my imagination and playing games with my mind. Everywhere, whispered messages from my subconscious telling me what’s right...what’s safe....what’s... I couldn’t escape!

Sometimes, when an idea enters your head, you get blasted with the same message from everywhere. And I couldn’t get this idea out of my head. If I tried, I got the same message from another unlikely source....and then another....and then another. Almost as if the ideas were being propelled at me from some rapid-fire machine gun.

Are these thoughts bombarding my mind the kind of ammo that send some to insane asylums? If I wasn’t going nuts, such incessant messages were sure to send me there.

Perhaps the whole thing was a systematic plot by someone, something, or even my own mind to send me round the bend. Maybe something external had seized control of my some medication...or extraterrestrial... or hypnotic trance...or a shaman in this aboriginal land...or even the Supreme Being looking after my safety.

Regardless, my inability to rid my mind of the endless tape whispering “Don’t do it” over and over was, I thought, psychological terrorism. I couldn’t determine how much of the torment was coming from external sources and how much was a product of my own mind.

The whispered message was always ambiguous. “Don’t do it, don’t do it”....without ever making it clear what I shouldn’t do.

Every whispered plea, though, made me more determined to do whatever it was that I shouldn’t be doing.

The first messages came before I left Nanaimo to embark on what was billed as a three hour drive over the rugged mountains to Tofino on the west side of Vancouver Island, the most famous surfing site in Canada.

This February drive would let me witness Tofino’s best surfing which occurs from November to March when the swell is regularly in excess of ten feet.

This surf, and modern wet suit technology, attracts tons of backpackers and free spirits all winter.

The drive started as an easy 45 kilometre drive north from Nanaimo up the coast of the island before a turn westward across the rugged mountains to the west coast of Vancouver Island.

It wasn’t long after I turned inland that I came across Cathedral Grove, a rainforest of gigantic 800-year-old Douglas Fir, and stopped the car to wander through the majestic forest.

The peaceful tranquillity and lush smells of the rainforest made for a religious experience causing the loss of all semblance of time, and for once, distracted my mind, ridding it of the constant plea, “Don’t do it.”

Before long, the early afternoon dusk was settling in and I had yet to drive through the most mountainous sections of road.

The road rose to the Port Alberni summit as darkness started to settle in. There was still enough light to witness the treacherous passage ahead. It was bad enough in dusk, never mind at night when visibility further decreased.

As darkness approached, temperatures fell and freezing rain made the winding mountain road with its steep drop-offs even more deadly.

“Come to me,” the winds whispered gently from the deep canyons bordering the dark road being pelted with ice pellets from the brewing storm. The voice within me once again started its relentless, “Don’t do it, Don’t do it, Don’t do it.”

The sounds of nature, now far more than whispers, screamed out danger, while my inner voice “Don’t do it” urged me to caution. The hail pelted, the lightning exploded, and the thunder hollered as I continued through the Sutton Pass on this frightening night.

I slowed down, exercising extreme caution on the unfamiliar road, not being sure what unknowns were beyond the shoulders.

No matter my caution, I knew that other less cautious drivers could still involve my car in catastrophe as the ominous message, “Don’t do it,” now not a whisper but a jackhammer, continued pounding in my head.

It was a relief when morning came and I finally arrived at the Pacific shore for the scenic drive north to Tofino.

And then it struck me. The demon in my head could not have resulted from my anxiety at driving over the icy mountain road at night. The voice had started early in the morning when I was still on the coast in Nanaimo and before I knew anything about the road and its weather or what I’d find at Tofino.

The cautionary voice had to have another cause.

With this on my mind, I pulled up to the bay alive with twenty-something surfers with many of the free spirits, both males and females, standing stark naked in the parking lot, changing from their wet suits, oblivious to watching eyes like mine frantically checking out their progress in my rear view mirror.

Then, I had the Eureka moment! “Don’t do it” was a warning for naughty old me to control my excitement so that my blood pressure didn’t rise to gasket blowing levels.

But just then, my head exploded!

I next remember being surrounded by a cloud of white coats. I wasn’t sure whether they were angels or doctors.

Those ominous whispered “Don’t do it” warnings? I should have listened!

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