Back in 1980, I was involved in an unavoidable head-on collision with a drunk driver. Judging from the damage to both vehicles, police agreed that it
was an impact of over 80 mph. Of course, the drunk driver was uninjured, and he even fled from the crash scene on foot. He soon regretted his
actions, and he was arrested on a variety of failure-to-render-aid charges, et cetera, in addition to DWI and resisting the police.
For my part, I was encased in a crumpled sedan that looked like it had taken a missile attack. After an hour of chopping the car to pieces, firemen
and EMS techs extracted me, sand-bagged, braced and tightly strapped to a rigid plastic board.
I was taken to a local trauma unit, utterly immobilized, and the emergency team there X-rayed and repeatedly poked and scratched my skin with needles,
asking "Can you feel that?" I had a few minor lacerations and lumps and bumps, but they could only offer superficial treatment until my head and
neck X-rays were examined. A couple of police officers stayed by my side through much of this, asking questions and reassuring me. Then the cranial
results came back from X-ray: I had suffered a double fracture to the C1 vertebra, first vertebra at the base of my skull. In short, I had a
very broken neck.
As they rushed me by police-escorted ambulance to the Texas Medical Center in Houston, paramedics took my vitals second-by-second. I was delivered to
Trauma One at St. Luke’s Hospital.
I was moved to the top floor Intensive Care Unit and attached to several monitoring devices. No general anesthesia was administered, as they wanted
me to remain conscious for as long as possible. As it happened, I was feeling very little pain anyway, although I was pretty banged-up. But it was
very humiliating: during the course of the ordeal, ER personnel (both male and female) had carefully cut away all of my clothing and tended to my
bodily functions, basically making me feel paralyzed even before the final verdict.
Finally, about 6 hours after the wreck, a cranial specialist came in and practiced his bedside manner, quietly telling me that the injury appeared to
be very serious, indeed, and that I was lucky I had not died in the wreck or in transit to the medical center. He also said that I was not yet out
of the woods.
It seems that with my particular injury, the slightest jarring could dislodge a fragment of bone into my spinal column, snuffing out my life in the
blink of an eye. Emergency surgery was considered, but the fractures looked so tricky in X-ray that even an operation might result in my death.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing — I was awake, alert, and I was feeling no pain. Actually, I felt like I could get up and walk away from it
all, except that I was strapped and padded and braced down, with a specialist telling me that I was "one wrong move" away from death.
I couldn't sleep at all that night. My disbelief changed to anger, then to fear, then to terror. There were humming and clicking noises all around
me, and ICU techs checked on me every 15 minutes, all night long. It was while a technician was checking on me, well after midnight, that this
I was wide awake, counting panels in the ICU ceiling, when my vision just shut off.
This was terrifying, because I was still fully conscious. I had a sudden sense of acceleration, which grew greater and greater, until it felt
as though I was strapped onto the nose of a rocket with my eyes tightly clenched shut. And through the fear, I remember thinking This is IT!
It’s happening! I’m dying!
Then a voice — or, more precisely, an outside thought — issued a command to me: Release the fear.
I knew instantly what the words meant. It meant that fear was holding me back, like an anchor. It meant that the fear was as trivial as spare change
in my pocket, and that it could be discarded with very little effort. So I did it — I just let go of my fear.
As soon as I released the fear, my acceleration stopped and my vision returned. I was standing in a long, rectangular room or chamber, made entirely
of dark stone. Floor, ceiling, walls, everything was made of stone. I was lucid and started rationally investigating the stone wall, peering at it
and touching it. Although the stone was a deep green, its surface was a glistening crystalline, with very minute facets.
I then began noticing the more peculiar aspects of the chamber. Turning around 360 degrees, looking up and down, I saw that there were no doors or
windows in the structure. It was a very strange sensation — I suppose because I've never experienced a seamless room with no exits — but
mine was not a sensation of fear; rather, it was pure curiosity.
At the far end of the stone chamber was a row of 7 evenly-spaced stone pedestals, about three-feet-tall and three-feet-square each, as I reckoned. I
inspected these, also; however, aside from meeting the floor seamlessly, they were unremarkable, bearing no markings and serving no obvious
I then realized that, although I could see very clearly, there was no apparent lighting source in the chamber. All-in-all, I was trapped in a benign
It was then that I became aware of another presence in the room, behind me. Turning completely around, I saw nothing, but the presence
remained behind me. It was not an oppressive or evil feeling, but it was forceful, as if trying to urge me toward a course of action.
My attention was focused on the far end of the chamber, and the urging became very insistent — and then I was pushed toward the stone
wall. That incredible sense of acceleration returned. and my logic told me I would be smashed into the wall at high velocity.
Upon impact, though, whatever I was passed right through the stone, and into utter blackness. The acceleration continued through this
blackness for a long time, it seemed, with the same unseen presence urging me on. I felt my anticipation mounting, or perhaps it was
impatience, because I finally thought I'd rather be elsewhere.
Instantly, a starscape appeared around me, unlike anything I’ve ever seen in special effects movies. This was a three-dimensional scene,
with thousands of stars of different sizes and colors moving smoothly past me. Again, my logic was intact, telling me that this rate of speed was
physically impossible — it would be far beyond the accepted speed of light. Additionally, there was a billowing veil of translucent pastel
colors (similar to the aurora borealis) that seemed to envelope my body without obstructing my vision.
This was a pretty thrilling sensation, and I was enjoying it very much; however, I again thought "I want to be somewhere else."
At once, the starscape changed, but was replaced by another starscape with different constellations, and I was still sailing along at a
fantastic clip. I realized that my sense of scale was way off, because my body felt large in relation to the scene through which I was
passing. Testing the theory, I reached out with my right hand and cupped it around a star as I passed it. Indeed, I knew I was reaching past
the star, although my hand was not visible to me.
While this was all very entertaining, my skeptical mind was still at work, and I decided to test something else: Decelerating. No sooner had I
thought about it than I slowed and came to a smooth stop, and the veil of colors diminished to nothing. I was then stationary in space,
surrounded by stars, but I was not alone. The presence was still behind me, and I could sense this in a powerful way. With determination, I
again turned to look, and this time the presence was quite visible to me.