"According to your faith be it unto you."
Jesus of Nazareth
"Well, Bill, I think we have the chamber ready. The ceiling's high enough." I glanced up where I had just chipped away some rock. "Tomorrow we'll move everything in, check the ventilation again, and I'll get ready."
Professor William Darch, my companion, was an instructor in psychology at a privately endowed college in the same city where I made my own living as free lance engineer. Our mutual interest in psychical research brought us together several years before and we had become fast friends. We were making preparations to carry out a dangerous experiment with suspended animation deep inside a cave that had its entrance on the hillside behind Darch's mountain cabin.
"You don't need to worry about ventilation, Dave. Besides, you won't be needing much oxygen once your body gets down to the ambient temperature."
"I guess you're right...I don't like to think about that," I laughed and shivered a little as I thought about the coolness of the air.
Bill Darch wasn't enthusiastic about our experiment. He would not have been willing to help me had I not convinced him of my determination to go through with it, with or without his assistance. He was too good a friend not to help under those circumstances and so he decided to do his part to make it as safe as possible. My idea for it came from some well documented accounts of trance phenomena achieved in India. We both identified the strange powers of the Hindu Fakirs with their capacity to self induce a deep hypnotic trance. Investigations carried on by psychical researchers in India had proven that some Fakirs could survive being totally submerged in cold water for thirty days without ill effects.
I didn't have the faith to risk my life with a try of even thirty minutes immersed in cold water, but lying unconscious in a cool cave did not seem so dangerous to me. At least there was nothing to entirely stop my breathing. I used a brain wave indicator to train myself and had learned to go into a deep trance that was very near death. I had gradually worked up to a full week of suspended animation. The more Bill and I investigated what could be done with hypnosis, the more unlimited its potential appeared. Miraculous healings, which included perfect knitting of bones only moments after a compound fracture, seemed to depend on the acceptance of a powerful hypnotic suggestion. There was no question about the genuiness of the healings but the many techniques used to administer an effective hypnotic suggestion to the patient varied from magic rites of African medicine men to priestly incantations at The Shrine of Lourdes. We hypothesized a Superconscious Mind for each individual which has miracle working power to control and alter both the physical body and conditions surrounding it. Hypnotically implanted requests from the unconscious mind, we theorized, released and directed this power. The research work of Max Freedom Long upon the magic performed by Hawaiian Hunas was one of the influences upon our thinking.
"We're through with the air hammer, Dave. Disconnect the hose and take out the tools and I'll clean up the debris." Bill picked up the broom and began to sweep the dust and stone chips toward the farther end of the chamber. The rough stone floor was fairly level now and we had enough head room to walk around without stooping. The chamber itself was about two hundred feet in from the cave mouth, which was only fifty feet away from the back porch of Bill's cabin. We had pulled a gasoline driven air compressor into his driveway and connected up enough hose to reach back to the chamber we wanted to enlarge.
"Three months is going to take us into the middle of September, Dave," commented Bill as we made our way toward the mouth of the cave. "Why don't you put this thing off until maybe the first of the year and enjoy one more summer?"
"What do you mean...enjoy one more summer, Bill?" I said, half jokingly. "I'm surely not planning on missing next year's!"
"You know darned well that isn't what I meant, Dave," Bill objected, and then added thoughtfully, "but since you put it that way, I am beginning to wonder why I've been willing to help you set up an experiment upon yourself that I couldn't be persuaded to undergo."
I paused for a moment before answering and then suggested, "Suppose we plan to have Walt and Milo and John here next Sunday. That will give me a week to get ready. By then I'll have three days on grape juice and three days of fasting. I'd like to check out the tape recorder running it for several days, too."
Intellectually I was convinced that hypnosis could release the power of mind over matter. I could expect my body to be preserved perfectly for an indefinite period and protected from injury of any nature. In fact, I believed that if my three month experiment left me with no harmful effects, it would prove one could spend years in suspended animation.
The tape recorder was going to repeat carefully worded suggestions to my unconscious mind at intervals during my first ten days of trance. These instructions would direct my unconscious to lower the body temperature to that of the surrounding air, to suspend all the life processes, to allow no destructive influences or changes to affect a single cell of my body and to draw directly from the air whatever was required to preserve and sustain it. We had prepared a casket-like box with perfectly fitted support for my body. The support was of stainless steel mesh and my body itself would be enclosed in a coarsely woven linen shroud. The box was well ventilated at both ends with fine mesh screens.
Bill Darch was terribly concerned for me but I knew that I could depend upon him. While I could set up the experiment entirely without his assistance, I was very grateful to have him work with me on it.
In answer to my suggestion that we begin the following Sunday, Bill pleaded with me to shorten the time.
"All right, David," he said, "if you insist that you want to hibernate through the summer instead of waiting until winter, then how about letting me wake you in the middle of August so that you can enjoy Autumn this year? Two months ought to be long enough to prove your point."
"Three months, Bill," I insisted, "a full three months."