Beers, Clifford - A Vision of a sinking ship
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Clifford Beers – A Mind that found itself
I remember distinctly my delusion of the following day-Sunday. I seemed to be no longer in the hospital. In some mysterious way I had been spirited aboard a huge ocean liner.
I first discovered this when the ship was in mid-ocean. The day was clear, the sea apparently calm, but for all that the ship was slowly sinking. And it was I, of course, who had created the situation which must turn out fatally for all, unless the coast of Europe could be reached before the water in the hold should extinguish the fires.
How had this peril overtaken us? Simply enough: During the night I had in some way-a way still unknown to me-opened a porthole below the water-line; and those in charge of the vessel seemed powerless to close it. Every now and then I could hear parts of the ship give way under the strain. I could hear the air hiss and whistle spitefully under the resistless impact of the invading waters; I could hear the crashing of timbers as partitions were wrecked; and as the water rushed in at one place I could see, at another, scores of helpless passengers swept overboard into the sea-my unintended victims. I believed that I, too, might at any moment be swept away. That I was not thrown into the sea by vengeful fellow-passengers was, I thought, due to their desire to keep me alive until, if possible, land should be reached, when a more painful death could be inflicted upon me.
While aboard my phantom ship I managed in some way to establish an electric railway system; and the trolley cars which passed the hospital were soon running along the deck of my ocean liner carrying passengers from the places of peril to what seemed places of comparative safety at the bow. Every time I heard a car pass the hospital, one of mine went clanging along the ship's deck.
My feverish imaginings were no less remarkable than the external stimuli which excited them. As I have since ascertained, there were just outside my room an elevator and near it a speaking-tube. Whenever the speaking-tube was used from another part of the building, the summoning whistle conveyed to my mind the idea of the exhaustion of air in a ship-compartment, and the opening and shut-ting of the elevator door completed the illusion of a ship fast going to pieces. But the ship my mind was on never reached any shore, nor did she sink. Like a mirage she vanished, and again I found myself safe in my bed at the hospital.
"Safe," did I say? Scarcely that-for deliverance from one impending disaster simply meant immediate precipitation into another.