by SR Urie
short story about two people under hypnosis; spooky
|The Trance by SR Urie
When I was young, a teenager, most of my time was spent indoors due to some physical problems that I had. I was in a wheel chair, bound by a large cast on my leg, and healing from a rather bad injury. Spending most of the day watching television or trying to play the guitar, I ended up reading a lot about different subjects that caught a thirteen year old boy’s interests in the mid seventies, and one subject that caught my attention was the mystic art of hypnosis; or so the title of the book proclaimed.
My brother Buddie was three years younger than me. He put up with my pathetic physical condition, and he shared my interests in things like astrology and the occult. He was the first subject of my feeble attempts at my study of hypnosis, and he allowed me to hypnotize him the way the book described. Once I was able to coax him into a directed reverie, Budd’s reactions to my pre and post hypnotic suggestions proved that the author was fairly accurate.
In his apparent sleep, with the suggestions I gave him and with the aid of the hypnosis book, he became a toddler in his mind, was oblivious to pain as I poked him with a needle, and he demonstrated feats of strength in accordance with the book’s instructions and concepts of the power of the mind under a hypnotic trance.
When I woke him up after amusing myself and my little sister with Budd’s bizarre reactions, the boy had no idea or memory of the feats he performed. One suggestion that I gave him while he was hypnotized was an elevated self image, which seemed to help him get through his difficult period of entering puberty.
Time went by, my cast was removed, and both of us grew up. We moved to the Tampa Bay area of Florida when I became twenty one, and we worked together in a family run tavern that went bust. I ended up taking different employment.
I was working as a fry cook in a fast food restaurant and Chris was my supervisor; Budd was still in High School. Chris was a family man with a wife and an adorable two year old daughter. After long Friday and Saturday nights after the restaurant closed, Chris and I would jump in his little pickup, go to his house, and drink beer with his wife Sally.
A little overweight, both of them had bad teeth, and they kept their house immaculately clean, always. Chris and Sally were very nice people, happy with their little house on the outskirts of the small Florida town, and their love for one another. Chris had a large belly, broad shoulders and arms, and small blue eyes that smiled behind his wire framed glasses. He went about his work days, frying burgers, and helping his employees keep the customers satisfied as they consumed the hamburgers and fries that helped to pay our wages. A very good manager, he had a pleasant face and professional manner with his customers, along with the people he trained and worked with. He once took me for a ride into the big city, Tampa, introducing me to his friends and making me feel welcome, not only as his employee but as his pal.
Sally had long, dark hair that draped around her shoulders and her pleasant face. She was taller than Chris and I, quick to smile and giggle girlishly; she seemed to make it a point to be especially hospitable and kind as she brought beers and offered food as she sipped on her ice tea. She focused on the comfort of her guests and her husband in her cozy home, and she lavished affection on her gurgling baby girl with her massive bosom and sweet voice. Sally exhibited her love of life and her family, which reflected in Chris’s eyes as he would gaze upon her.
Those hot summer evenings were great, swilling brew and smoking cigarettes, after the baby girl had gone to sleep, while the humor flew; the jokes were often dirty, hilarious. One particular Saturday night Budd came with me to their house after the restaurant closed, partying with Chris and me, and we were playing a beer drinking game called ‘quarters.’ All four of us were getting pretty drunk, and the conversation turned to ghosts, the occult, and how it seemed that the crime rates in America were rising in frightening ways. Hypnosis came up in the discussion, and Chris smiled broadly and proclaimed, ‘I’ been hypnotized once.’ I looked at Buddie and smiled.
“I have too.” Budd said with a wink in his eye. “And guess who hypnotized me.”
Chris looked over at me and his jaw dropped down a little, looking at Sally, and he grinned. “Bull, Steve.” he said. “No way.”
“Yer’ kidding.” Sally added. “You know about hypnosis?”
I thought about it, not having read the whole book that helped me put my kid brother in a hypnotic sleep over eight years earlier. Still their curiosity in the lucrative subject re-sparked my interest. I told them about how once Budd was put into a trance and how I was able to stick a needle in his hand without him feeling it or leaving any mark; Buddie called me a liar for even kidding about what he was unable to remember. Chris and Sally found the whole thing fascinating, that Budd and I had some familiarity in the subject, which was in fact beginner’s luck once upon a time. They convinced me to try to put Budd under again, and I remembered the words, ‘…your eyes are getting sleepeee’, sleepeee’…’ and I had Budd focus his eyes on a specific spot on the wall. Before you knew it I had Buddie gurgling like Sally’s baby in his hypnotic trance like he had years before. Not wanting to put the guy through too much embarrassment again, I woke him up. Once again he didn’t remember being put under at all.
“Hypnotize me, Steve.” Sally almost pleaded. “I think that might be fun.”
“I’m not sure if I can, …”
“Please, ‘puleeeeze.” Sally pleaded, so I agreed again.
I repeated the words again; ‘…your eyes are getting sleepeee,’ sleepeee,’ …, had her focus her eyes on a spot on the wall, and Sally proved to be as good a subject for hypnosis as Buddie was. My suggestions produced similar results with Sally as they had with Budd. It was Chris’s idea that started our eerie journey together.
“Okay, Steve, you made her mind think she was an infant, can you make her go to where her mind was before she was born?”
It was one AM on a Sunday morning, and with the drunken state we were all in, the thought of actually going somewhere like that, of actually delving into the gulf of Sally’s mind, was something that we couldn’t resist. Such an unknown direction in this phenomenon we were so unfamiliar with wasn’t scary at first; instead it was exciting and entertaining. All it took was a simple post-hypnotic suggestion for her to go six months earlier than her current entranced state of being a newborn for the glorious smile on her face and the gyrations of her arms and legs like that of a newborn infant embracing life to stop, and for her to collapse into a fetal position on the couch.
She clasped her knees up to her breasts, tightly closing her eyes. Pressing her lips together with her grasping hands that wrapped around her head, Sally curled up into a ball, and she pushed her face down toward her closing lap as if she was enduring intense physical pain. As if a splash of water had washed over her face, the spell that had captivated her seemed to fade away. She laid her head back down, lowering her arms and legs, and her body relaxed back onto the cushions of the couch. Then a very pleasant smile bloomed in her face, and she brought her hands together over her chest as if she were holding a small bouquet of flowers. Her smile grew euphorically like she’d just been married or something, and she opened her eyes. Looking over at me, the joy in her expression seemed to climax, then she closed her eyes, pushed her head up so as to face her feet, and she giggled.
“Sally?” Chris asked, leaning over her face on the couch. “Can you hear me?”
“Sally?” she asked, opening her eyes and staring into Chris’s, reaching her hand up to his cheek. “Who’s that, baby?”
He brought his lips down to hers and kissed her, and she leaned her head back on the cushion of the couch, seeming to fall back into a deep sleep. Then a really hard look came to Sally’s face, and she pursed her lips, turning her head to the side, as if some rough surface had brutally crossed her mouth, like a coarse blanket. She reached up and pushed Chris away, rolling her body over and off of the couch. She curled up on the floor into a fraction of the fetal position she was in before, and Sally began to softly slap her forehead in an offbeat cadence as her voice emerged from her throat in a low moan, her eyebrows twisted in obvious pain.
“Sally?” Chris asked, completely taken aback.
Sally rolled over onto her face and then over onto her back, beginning to cry out, and then to scream in terror. Chris touched her shoulder, and Sally began to roll from side to side on her back, clutching some unseen object against her chest. Chris backed away from her as she writhed on the floor, and Budd began ‘shhing’ from the side of the couch.
“Shhhhh, shhhhh, baby.” Buddie whispered into her ear. “Everything’s okay. Shhhhhhh.”
Sally began to relax, as if a warm blanket had been placed on her shoulders in the cold, soothing the torment of the unknown person she’d turned into. She sat up and leaned her head back against the couch, folding her arms beneath her breasts, and began to gently rock herself back and forth with her eyes closed tight and her face bent down towards her lap. Chris sat back across from the couch, and got up onto his knees in front of Sally; then he turned towards me.
He looked up at me while I stood there with an empty beer bottle in my hand, and raised his hands up at his sides with a look on his face like, ‘well?’ It took a few seconds, but thank God I was able to bring Sally out of her trance. When she woke up she was sitting there on the floor in front of her couch, completely oblivious to what she’d just been through.
“Are you going to hypnotize me, or what?” she asked. Chris was so relieved to see Sally back to her normal self that he opened a bottle of wine after hugging her fully for what seemed minutes. As he held her in his intense embrace, she looked over at me with a look on her face like she was asking me what the hell was wrong with him, and what was going on.
“I’m next.” Chris kept saying. “I want you to do that shit for me, man.”
“Oh hell, no.” I replied. “I don’t know what that was.”
He finally released Sally from his hug, and told her about her little trip to her youth in her mind, and beyond. Budd just sat back in his chair, drinking his beer, and watching with interested eyes.
“Man, I don’t want any of this.” I said. “Can’t we just play poker, or something?”
“Poker!” Budd answered, grinning at the distasteful joke Chris had told us earlier that evening. I smiled and shook my head, remembering the member of the female anatomy the yarn referred to.
“Yeah…, “ I replied, grabbing another beer from the fridge.
“Okay!” Chris replied to me, smiling. “Where do we start?”
“Now wait a minute, …” I began, but Chris was serious.
“I want you to hypnotize me, Steve; God damn it!” He stood up and put his hand on Sally’s shoulder. “I saw what was in her soul, and I want her to see what’s in mine.” He looked into her eyes like he was making love to her.
“Yeah,..” she replied. “I’d like to see what I missed.”
It seemed that I wasn’t going to get off light. Believe me, I was the most fascinated of us all.
“Okay, it ees’ vyour’ toin,’ Master Chrees.” I said in my best Freudian accent. “Please too’ lie down on de’ couch, sir.”
The man smiled at me and laid his head back on the couch, confident in my apparent, new found abilities. So I started again, with the … your eyes are getting sleepeeee…, and eventually he fell into a deep trance. I did the usual tests the book I’d read described, holding the hand up and counting backwards from 100, and then we took him back in his mind, back to his childhood, to his early childhood.
For my friend and supervisor, that was our first mistake. His ignorance to his past was as naive as I would’ve been with my own if I were in his chair. We did the newborn thing and went back six months, just as we did with Sally, but when it happened to Chris his reaction was comparable to Sally’s, but different; he didn’t appear to go the same place as his wife.
“Leave me alone.” were the first words to come out of his mouth. “This is MY room.” He sat up on the couch and clutched some comparable object in his hands that Sally had been holding. Grunting audibly, he turned away into the corner of the couch, as if he were turning his face away into a corner, and he started to whimper to himself, not unlike the way Sally did.
“Who are you?” I asked. “How old are you?”
“I’m not anyone!” he declared loudly. “Leave me alone, you bastard!”
He got up from the couch and slowly crawled to the corner of the room on his hands and knees. Chris kneeled in front of the wall, brought his hands up to his shoulders like he was clutching an imaginary Teddy bear that wasn’t there, and his whimpering continued.
“Where are you?” Buddie asked.
“In basement; … I mean in my room.” Chris replied, pushing his face into the corner of the wall.
“What’s it like around you?” Sally asked.
“Cobwebs, boxes of junk, my teddy bear; why did daddy have to tear his arm off?” His voice was beginning to sob.
“How old are you?” I asked, taking a big drink of my beer.
“Four.” he replied. “Mommy likes it when I’m good, I miss my mommy.”
Chris began to cry, to weep like the little boy he’d become, and he clutched at his chest with the imagined teddy. Watching Chris from across the room, Sally began to cry as well.
“Why are you crying?” I asked. The sound of Sally sniffing from behind me caught my attention, and I looked back at her. She stepped over to the couch and sat down, watching Chris as he squatted against the wall, pushing his face into the corner.
“Leave me alone!” Chris replied in his little boy’s voice. “This is my room!” and his whimpers increased to weeping. Sally closed her eyes as she reclined back, clutching herself.
“Brother?” Sally asked, softly. “Are you there?”
Chris stopped crying and kneeled down near the floor with his face in the corner. Hearing Sally’s voice, hearing her call him ‘brother,’ his tears stopped as he seemed to recover from his grief. Sitting on his hips with his legs crossed, the pain in his face turned to an angry pout as he stared at the floor in front of him.
“Why are you here?” Buddie asked Chris, sitting with his back up to the adjacent wall. “What happened to you?”
Sally started whining once again on her own. It started as a soft sigh, and rose in her throat like a hard wind that comes out of nowhere. Somehow she’d fallen back into her trance; she’d actually gone to sleep, gone back to where she’d been in her mind before I’d woken her up. Intense pain emerged from her voice, affecting my friend Chris sitting on the floor, as if a hot stream of water came from her voice, searing his sulking face.
“How long have you been here?” Buddie asked loudly into Sally’s ear.
“I came here with my daddy’s friend.” Chris answered loudly, and then he sat up, resting his head against the wall, clutching his hands against his chest, his face clenched in the same pout, staring at the floor as if he were waiting for something, as if he had been waiting for some time. I stood there and watched him for a second or two, and he softly spoke.
“My sister’s here now.” he said quietly, as if he were reassuring himself. “I’m not alone anymore!”
“No you’re not, Bobby.” Sally responded.
It was really weird how she’d fallen back into a deep trance again, and somehow her mind had taken her to where her husband’s mind was, in some place and time far beyond comprehension. Sally was still on the couch, and her hands relaxed down to her hips as her apparent trance became a deep sleep. Chris rolled over and lied down on the floor, also falling asleep, untroubled from his previous state of mind.
Budd and I looked at them, and then each other, shaking our heads, silently asking each other what the hell was going on. It was only a mile or so walk at three thirty in the morning for Budd and I to make it home, Chris and his wife left behind in their slumber. The next day I phoned Chris, and he said that he and Sally were just fine; no lingering effects of the hypnosis. Unfortunately there was a falling out between Chris and me some weeks later, and I ended my employment because of some personal troubles I was having with a girlfriend. Later that summer I sold an old car I owned and moved to California with my other brother, ultimately enlisting in the military that autumn.
Quitting one’s job tends to put a damper on individual relationships between fellow workers, and I never saw or heard from Chris and Sally after that summer. The memory of watching them regress into such a psychological state that night became more eerie as time went by; especially as I recollected the incident during the tedious duty I spent in the Navy. I spoke to Budd about that night years later, and after asking him what he thought about how the couple had reacted to the experience, all he could say was that is was ‘really’ weird.
Looking back now, it seems that Chris and Sally had some kind of spiritual link between them, a link that tied them to a dark and dank basement where God only knows what had happened to them. My large friend, pleasant and considerate, loving to his wife and family, with the people of his community, had transformed before my eyes to an obviously abused and neglected child from another life. His spirit seemed to be restrained to a previous existence by the cobwebs he could no longer ignore or the damaged teddy bear he was so reluctant to let go of in his mind. Those same cobwebs appeared to lash Chris to Sally, who not only became his loving wife in another life, but seemingly drew them together in a special bond in their previous one.
I cannot say as to whether the couple remained together or developed any issues between them because of where we went in their trance that night. To be honest, we were just looking to see if maybe Chris had been a cowboy or a king in a previous life, or if Sally had been a stage actress or a rich lady in some royal court in hers. Stumbling on such a sad state of two children in a dark basement under such depressing circumstances was certainly not what we were expecting as we drank beer and smoked cigarettes, enjoying each other’s company after a long shift at work. To this day it is difficult to think about; let alone to try to understand with any acceptance of my own humanity.
For my brother and me, it became a bizarre experience that compelled us to steer clear of the abyss of unknown, strange things like the occult, or trifling with the human mind using such a transcendent process as hypnosis.
~ ~ ~