I assume that everyone has different fears than I do. Not just because I’m a unique individual, but because I don’t have the usual phobias that others have. Spiders and snakes are cute. I do handstands on top of cliffs. I work as a professional public speaker. I scuba-dive in the ocean for fun. There’s just one little fear that keeps biting at the back of my brain.
I’m scared of avalanches. Landslides. Anything like that. I know, it sounds silly, but something about them just grips me by the spine and won’t let go. Before you start thinking that I’m claustrophobic, it’s not that either. I go spelunking weekly, I’ll have you know. The prospect of being buried alive isn’t fun but that’s not really what scares me so much.
It’s the inevitability that freezes my bones. It doesn’t happen all at once. It’s not like a car crash that goes from zero to in the ICU or a fire that kicks off in a home with greasy rags. It’s not an instant thing. It takes time and there’s no way to escape.
Picture this. You’re hiking or skiing or just generally having a good time out in the world instead of curled up in front of the TV. You’re out in fresh air, exploring the planet we’re blessed with. Then, you hear a rumble. At first, you think it’s an oncoming storm. Great! Storms are wonderful to be out in. The rain pouring down, soaking you to the bone? Delicious. The thunder, or what you thought was thunder, doesn’t stop though. It keeps rumbling and, in fact, starts to get louder. The ground under you starts to shake and you see little fragments of the surroundings – snow, pebbles, whatever – trickling down the slope you’re standing on. The rumble gets louder and louder and you start to run as best you can. You’re hurtling down the hill as fast as your legs can carry you, being careful not to trip.
Your chest is burning with exertion as you run, slamming into trees and bushes as you go. The rumble is louder now. It’s right at the edge of hurting your ears. You hear snapping and crashing as the environment is swallowed and broken by what’s coming. You pause a second to look up and your stomach lurches. A wave of snow or mud is rolling at you and there is nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. All you can do is stand there as you’re swallowed by the world. If you’re lucky, you die right away from the impact. If you’re not, you get to feel yourself slipping away, unable to move.
I’m being careful, though. I live in an area that is completely flat. I avoid skiing or hiking now. Everything I do is designed to keep me safe. There’s just one problem. My company is having a retreat this weekend up in the Rockies. It’s compulsory. I can’t avoid it.
And I can hear the rumble already.
Here is where I''ll post random stories that aren't, as of yet, in a larger book. Call it a free ride into the mouth of madness, yo.