I had lost my shell. That’s the only way I can think of putting it. I had lost my shell and now I was precariously floating along amongst a throng of people, completely without any edge to me – completely without ‘boundaries’, as psychotherapists love to say. I know people talk about ‘coming out of your shell’ but this was ridiculous.


The shock of losing my shell had pushed me into an altered state of consciousness. Everything had turned hallucinatory, everything had shifted for me into that super-real unreality I’d normally associate with an extra-large overdose of LSD. The world had become horrifically intense – it was all too bright, too buzzy, too vibratory, too overwhelming.


And – to make things worse – I had started to sense all the psychic predators and astral scavengers closing in on me, attracted by the prospect of a free meal, no doubt. I instinctively knew that unprotected free-floating consciousness means only one thing to these entities – a chance to feed, an opportunity to snap up the tender unguarded soul-flesh with their sharp little teeth. They were moving in.


An exquisite thrill of pure fear ran through me and – almost instantaneously – I had the awareness of a thousand little psychic ears pricking up with interest. Fear was more than just an appetizer for a psychic predator, it was the main course. They gorged themselves on terror, these sinister lower-astral entities, they delighted in it, they feasted on it, they flocked to it with terrible insatiable greed. Thinking this made me more afraid than ever.


The world is a very different place when you are afraid, I reflected wretchedly. A very different place indeed. When you’ve got a hard, impregnable shell, and perhaps a pair of huge powerful pincers like a fully-grown Atlantic lobster, then you go wherever you want and do whatever you want. The world is your oyster, if I’m not mixing up my metaphors too much. But if you’re sitting there on the sea bed all naked and defenceless, soft and quivering, pink and tender and appetizing, then the amount of time you have left to you is measured in minutes, if not seconds…


I continued to drift awkwardly up the high street, inwardly wincing every time some passer-by got too close. I felt that anything at all could crush me, bruise me, take a hunk off me, pierce me, cause me unendurable pain. How is it that all the people around were so oblivious to the danger, I wondered? How do they all manage to survive in such a hostile, unforgiving world?


Then I was overtaken by a terrible suspicion – maybe they hadn’t survived. Maybe had already been eaten, consumed, taken over by the frighteningly malign entities I could sense out there, biding their time on the periphery of my awareness.


Maybe – it occurred to me – all these people I saw walking around so carefree up and down the pedestrian precinct were only dummies, mere flags of convenience masking the unholy things that had taken them over. This stopped me in my tracks – the idea had a sickening plausibility to it. I studied a man as he walked by me and I could see that it was true – he had his shell alright but that was all he had. The shell was intact but underneath it there didn’t seem to be anything else, that’s all there was of him. Just the husk of a man, just the visible appearance with nothing behind it. everywhere I looked I could see the same story – perambulating ‘people shells’ looking for all the world like so many cardboard cut-outs. I couldn’t understand how I had never observed this before, how I had never been able to see through the façade up to now.


But I was wrong, I realized the next moment. These people hadn’t been eaten at all, or taken over. They had survived – they were surviving. They had escaped that fate. Intuitively it came to me – with this strange psychic acuity that I now seemed to possess – that they had done some kind of deal. They’d figured out some kind of an angle. The nature of the deal was not immediately apparent to me – I couldn’t figure it out. Then it came to me – they had deliberately made themselves insensitive, opaque and solid, so that they would be safe from the voracious appetites of the psychic predators and parasites who freely stalked this world. Those pitiless sharks and lampreys of the lower astrals, who roamed ceaselessly in search of the next meal, the next victim, the next tiny morsel of free, uncalcified consciousness…


It was ingenious. Any brightness, any sparkle was immediately picked up by the eaters, and so the trick was to dull oneself down, to solidify oneself, to retreat into dull mechanical patterns of thinking and behaving, patterns which in time turned into a thick envelope or shell, an inert blank object of no conceivable interest to any psychic predator. Thus it was that consciousness protected itself, found a safe place for itself – by calcifying itself, by deliberately solidifying or petrifying itself, by willing itself to become inanimate matter, stone, flavourless and unappetizing. Who would bite a stone, after all? Who would be stupid enough? Who would bother?


It explained a lot. No wonder no one was worried about the creatures. The eaters. The dread devourers. They were safe. They were impervious…


I however – it came back to me – was not. I was the furthest away from being safe or impervious that it was possible to be. And I didn’t have the slightest faintest most remotest clue what I was to do about it…







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