They say fear is all in the mind. Bullshit. Fear is a real tangible touchable thing. People watching Discovery Channel who cover their eyes when they see a spider or a snake, no that is not fear. No not that fear, real fear based on real life events, the kind of fear you silently fight every day, the kind of fear that keeps you awake at night, the fear that drives your nightmares, the fear that changes your life. When that fear strikes there is nothing you can do.
I was being dragged up the beach we had made it in through the channel easily my mind was clear and extremely focused. Self-preservation mode was fully activated I had done this before it came automatically as if in a trance. I heard myself rattling off instructions, go to Glen and Cathy´s house call the paramedics, don’t move me, someone call my mother, get my phone and wallet from the house, nobody panic. A small crowd had gathered by now, I was lying on the sand on a slight slope, I was safe. I had to stay focused, keep talking, keep talking , keep spirits up, don’t show any signs of fear, tell jokes, keep talking.
Until now the struggle had been to stay alive, there had been no time for fear, no time for anything else. The struggle had been to float and to breathe. I knew now I was safe, I knew I was doing the right things, it was by the book. I had been a lifesaver, I had been a safety officer with a St Johns certificate, just follow procedure, do not move, not even an inch, stay warm and get into a hospital as soon as possible.
How bad could it be, this seemed a walk in the park, the sun was shining, I was staring into an impossibly blue African sky, I was surrounded by friends my home was just a few hundred metres away. There were no terrible sounds of impacting screeching, grinding, crunching metal. There were no sounds of screaming pain. There was no sign of collective fear and panic. There was no copious amount of splattered blood. There was no death. Compared to 1985 this seemed a walk in the park. How bad could it be?
George was standing talking to me, I was watching him he had my hand in his, he was talking I was not listening I had to force myself to come back, to concentrate. George had my hand in his, what was he doing, concentrate, concentrate. George had my hand in his he was asking me to squeeze his hand, oh ok yes of course, what for?
That was when the fear struck.