Fear: Into the Deep

Fear is often a necessary response for survival – an evolutionary early warning system. Fear is complex; it can be based upon known facts, immediate stimuli or memories of previous encounters, or it can be completely fabricated. In other words, it can be rational or irrational.

I am interested in the fear that lives somewhere between the two.


When I step into another world, another state of being, I am afraid.

People tell me they feel reassured, cosseted, comforted by the inertia and the deadened surface sound – perhaps it triggers unconscious memories of the womb and the distant echoes of the un-birthed world. I am not reassured or empowered – I feel robbed by my weightlessness, my limbs become analogous flippers, their speed and strength on Terra Firma means nothing here.

My heartbeat takes over my body, pulsing through my head and forcing my lungs to match its runaway pace. My mammalian brain is flooded with fear, allowing my imagination to spread like an inky cloud beneath my feet, surrounding me with mythical monsters and terrors of the deep.

As the fear multiplies, it begins to take over the rest of my body; it clings to my muscles like barnacles, burrows into my flesh like lampreys and limpets, feeding off of my trepidation, until I become a paralysed stony mass that sinks to the cold ocean floor.

I no longer think or feel – there is no stimuli, no air or light on my skin, only a crushing pressure that warps my body into an invertebrate jelly, abandoned to the mercy and vast swell of the big blue.

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