For the main hub of the story, see here: Project Human Adaptation
Project Human Adaptation - Order in the Ocean
First Test: Entry 4
Subject #3’s test had us all under water. The other subjects started to panic before realizing they could still breathe. However, Subject #3 wasn’t in the water with us. He was a few feet away in what looked to be a narrow passage. It was as if we were in a tank at an aquarium.
From his perspective, he was surrounded on three sides by a dome of glass. The passage he was in was lit only by small path lights on the floor and an eerie blue-green tint from the water. He wasn’t moving. He wasn’t looking around either. Subject #1 asked if he was ok and he said he was. The light on the amplifier was a pale yellow… Odd. Each of the other subjects started at a solid yellow when the test began. This meant he wasn’t really feeling much fear.
I told him to head towards the boxes, but he refused, saying it would fall on him. Subject #4 said there wasn’t anything above him, but he insisted that there was. He said if he moved, the rope would break and it would fall. Subject #7 asked what was above him. His response was a shark.
The light on his amplifier turned a deeper yellow. Just then, we could see what he meant. Above his head, hung a large model shark. It was strung up by its tail, as if caught by a fisherman, with its wide gaping mouth dangling over him. Looking around, I saw that the water itself was devoid of any marine life. So, it seemed he would only be dealing with the model above his head. Subject #1 said he could easily move out of the way in time, but he disagreed once more.
I attempted to get him to at least focus on the boxes, but he refused again. He gestured to one of the floor lights in front of him, and said it was his safety zone. As long as he stayed in that spot and kept his eyes on the light at his feet, the shark wouldn’t fall. After a few moments, the amplifier light lessened again.
What control. He was the first of the group to have such structure to his fear. It was as if this was a dream he had and already knew all the features of it. His method was definitely one of the more unusual ways of dealing with fear; preoccupation. If the mind is so focused on another task, it won’t notice the fear. In essence, this was the crux of this first test, with the boxes serving as the focal point. But he would get nowhere like this. In the face of a real threat, this was the equivalent of a deer-in-headlights; a total freeze up.
Subject #7 said he thought sharks were cool and asked what was so bad about them. Subject #3 began explaining in as ordered of a manner as the rest of his actions. The mouth was obviously his first reason. The second was the eyes and the third was the skin, saying the textured look of a Great White’s skin made him uncomfortable. When asked why the eyes were bad, he said because you couldn’t see an iris or the whites of the eye. Just the dark pupils, like an empty void. As if in response, the floor light he was staring at darkened.
His light began flickering red. What!? But how? Not even Subject #2’s light made that drastic of a change. The shark hadn’t moved. The only thing that changed was… his safety zone. It’s was breached. The talk of shark features had disrupted his thoughts. I called out to him, directing him to the boxes. Not taking his eyes from the floor, a look of sheer panic appeared on his face as he stepped back from his spot, managing only a few words.
The rest of us couldn’t help but flinch as a massive shark head phased through the floor of the passage and engulfed him. As the scene faded, we could see a new figure that attacked the boxes. This one was monster of an image, with a head sporting shark-like features on a somewhat humanoid body. It had slashed and bit at the boxes.
When the figure melted away, I stepped over to the subject and removed the amplifier. Before I could stand back up, he gripped my arm, breathing heavily and staring intently at my lab coat. He was using me as a safety zone to calm down.
Once he was ok, I looked to the rest of the group for the next volunteer. It seemed with each new test, new questions were forming. Now it looked like imagination also played a role in the effects. Though when looking back, all of the tests had qualities of a standard bad dream. I’ll have to analyze that aspect later.
Just another facet to explore on this quest.