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Not long into the first day, I began to have strange episodes of paranoia- were the other two laughing at something I innocently did? Would we really be let out after 20 days? These flashes of paranoia ended almost as soon as they came on. Strange-not my usual way of dealing with people in new situations.
Well into the second day, the cobwebs became more insistent. I began to sense that the area was flooded with high frequencies-at a pitch too high to seem anything more than a slight ringing of the ears. As I grew accustomed to this, I also found-to my bewilderment-that I was unable to carry on any lengthy or meaningful conversation. Two days. and none of us had yet shown the slightest interest in interacting, except for an unexplainable subdued hostility. As a result, we tended to spend most of our time in our own cabins, doing little more than that.
The nights passed quickly. Our day/ night cycle was set by a timer: lights went off immediately at 11:00, and turned on at 7:OO. The first four nights, sleep came almost instantly after lights went out. The transition from wake to sleep was instant, and the nights were dreamless.
The fifth night, there was a difference. Sleep didn't come immediately. I lay awake several minutes, letting thoughts run through my mind. The pressure in the air seemed to be letting up somewhat. I'd almost felt like being sociable that day. And my thoughts began to come easily again. With the sense of well-being that comes with knowing that strange behavior is imagined, I drifted off towards sleep... and at the moment of sleep experienced a profound panic, a wrenching shattered glass terror which physically jolted my body. It lasted thankfully but an instant, and left me drenched in a cold sweat.
No sooner did my mind comprehend what had happened, than I smiled peacefully - and slept.
The morning after, I awoke feeling quite everyday normal, had breakfast in my room, and got out a book to read. This particular morning, though, I just didn't feel like reading. So nice to lie back and let my eyes close. A little nap and sink into that delicious drowse that wouldn't let go. Roll onto my stomach. Someone walking into my room? They won't mind if I sleep. Banging a metal pitcher? Silly of them. They could see I was asleep and feeling so good. I'd open my eyes but why bother? Just lay on my stomach feeling good.
Four hours later, asleep, lying on my back straight, hands down by my side, eyes closed until-they opened to see Len the research technician step into view at the doorway, smiling. "Hi, have any unusual emotional experiences lately?"
"Yes," I beamed from ear to ear.
"Last night I had an acute sense of terror, of panic. But it didn't last long. It passed and then I smiled."
"Well, sometimes when we get into new environments and the lights go out, we revert to childhood fears of darkness. . . ."
I was very happy. If I had a chance to take part in a similar study again,would I? Oh, absolutely. Enjoying myself thoroughly. You ought to try it. Bye.
With the euphoria came a sense of great clarity. I perceived aspects of my environment, in my little room, which before had gone unnoticed. I found it difficult to write creative thoughts, but my perception was heightened.
Although I'd barely noticed them at first, I now took another look at some peculiar brass buttons on the walls in my room. There were three of these buttons, and they seemed out of place. Everything else in the room had an observable function-the call light, the radio, light switches-all but these three buttons. I thought again of the frequencies and, by focusing my hearing, I could faintly make out three or four very high frequency tones, pulsing in and out, intertwining, changing pitch every now and then, sometimes persistent, other times intermittent. Very high frequencies-at the edge of hearing.
From this point on, I was constantly aware of the frequencies. Once I'd plucked them, they were always with- in my grasp. I knew how to listen for them. One step beyond sensing that something was there, I became acutely aware of what was there. I could hear them playing with my mind-moving it, coming in and going out. Somewhere out there was a master organist, and 1-1 was the choir, singing his tune. Being aware, I understood.
Whether because I was aware, or because it was necessary, the next night I felt them. The sixth night was the only night I felt the frequencies, aside from the constant subliminal pressure which stayed with me throughout the project.