The Power of Suggestion

Prompt Day #106 Construct a scenario where a character drowns in the most unlikely of places.

The Power of Suggestion

                He was a fraud. He knew it. Victor Clauson was no guru. He couldn’t teach anyone how to visualize anything. What he could do was something strange and unusual. He had the ability to make suggestions that the person would assume was their own thought, vision, smell, etc. If he told someone they smelled pizza, they did. If he told them there was a double rainbow with a unicorn standing beneath, by God that is what they saw. It was a power he’d discovered at an early age and thanks to it, he was now a successful and famous billionaire. He sailed through school and immediately took a job as a motivational speaker, developed a cult following, sold some books and how-to videos and now, here he was leading his most faithful through the desert on a week long journey of discovery.

The Journey of Self Discovery was going to be a once a month event where he would charge ten thousand dollars a person to take six people into the desert with him where they would fast and vision quest and find themselves and if they were really lucky, change their future. Only this was the first trip and already things were going horribly wrong. He had somehow led the group way off course. They’d missed their first rendezvous point and therefore all their supplies but what they had in their backpacks. His cell phone had no service here (it had full bars all along the planned route) so he had no way of contacting his people. He couldn’t suggest that the phone find enough bars to call out. Frankly, he had no idea what to do. He could not let on, however, that he had no idea what to do. He just had to somehow keep everyone in the dark and alive until he could come up with a plan.

By the third day, they were exhausted, dehydrated and extraordinarily lost. His power of suggestion had kept them from realizing their dire situation. Plus until today there had been enough bottled water to go around. Now they were on their last one and he was seeing signs that at least two of his group members were physically deteriorating. Even if he told them they were all feeling stronger each day, he knew that soon it wouldn’t matter what he said, they would die. He did his best to keep his own strength and enthusiasm up but he was drained and he had a feeling this was not going to end well.

They walked on and his phone beeped. He looked down and suppressed a squeal of delight. He had full bars and texts were coming in one after another. He texted his team, and within seconds they’d located him and were sending provisions. With his new found relief he celebrated. Pointing ahead at a barren strip of sand, he suggested to his group there was a fantastic oasis of tropical palms and a crystal clear lake. The six severely dehydrated but devoted followers saw the oasis and took off to it.

He laughed watching them “splashing” about in the water, scooping up non-existent water and slurping it down. Checking his watch, he noted that help would be there in less than an hour. Everything would be ok, they would all survive, and no one would be suing anyone. He wondered if he had learned anything from the realization that he was not a guru. He laughed again. Was any guru really a guru? Weren’t they all just suggesting things to easily suggestable people? He just had a knack for suggesting things to anyone. Just then, he noted an increase in activity at the “oasis”. He put his hand to his forehead to shade his eyes. One of the six was flailing about in the sand ten feet or so from the rest who were now turning and yelling for him.

When Victor arrived five of his group excitedly explained that the sixth was drowning. No one it seemed knew how to swim and they hadn’t meant to wonder out into the water so far.

“Stand Up” Victor yelled to the man. The man continued to flop and choke. Victor ran over to him. The man still did not try to help himself. When Victor got close enough to pick him up, the man was coughing and sputtering. Watery pink foam was bubbling up out of his mouth. My God, he is drowning. Victor thought. He grabbed one of the man’s arms and lifted it. He smacked the man on the back.

“Breathe! There is no water here, you idiot! It’s all sand, see?” He swept his arm in a semi-circle but the man was far too gone to see anything. He was dying. Drowning in a sea of sand. Where was all the water coming from that this guy was bringing up?

“Dude! Listen to me. There is no water here. You cannot be drowning. Look around you.” Victor said. He turned around to the others who weren’t listening to him either. They were yelling at him to save the man. Shouts of “help him!” and “Save him” and “Oh God, he’s dying” were coming from the group. He’d never tried to undo a suggestion before. Obviously this was one power he didn’t have. If he didn’t make a show of trying to save an obviously non-drowning man from drowning, his life as he knew and enjoyed it was going to be over. He dragged the drowning man over to where the others were standing assuming they were on “dry land”. He dropped the sputtering fool to the sand and fell to his knees beside him. The man gasped, seized, and died. Victor, who knew nothing about CPR or first aid sat staring at a man who he had brought into the desert and let drown in an oasis of suggestion. Pink foam ran down the man’s face to the horrified screams of the five survivors.

His team arrived to find Victor a broken man, his former followers shunning him and the dead man with fulminant pulmonary edema rotting away in the dry desert heat.