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  • Belinda lay in the isolation tank in a health centre in Bournemouth,
    She regretted going with the idea of cutting of all sensory awareness to ease her stressful life style.
    What made me decide to do this she thought panicking.
    She hated being on her own even in her own home when her husband was at work and her children at school. It was a nightmare situation. She needed loud music to keep her company whilst she kept herself busy with cooking or a painting project, in order to smother the fear of being abandoned.
    This fear of isolation made her need to be near someone to touch to make her feel human.
    When I touch James’s hand I feel his blood coursing through his body my blood can flow again in rhythm with his heart. Well now in the darkness of the tank floating in shallow water she pushed thoughts away as she had been taught in meditation classes until her mind was at peace.
    She started worrying about her children’s lunch had she remembered to put in some fruit, she pushed that thought away. She remembered an argument with James over breakfast, she pushed that thought away, and she started having a sexual fantasy about her favourite movie star she took longer to push away that thought.
    Then she saw a pinpoint of light in the distance of her awareness. Breathing slowly and deeply she started feeling calm and felt no pain, no body. Lights flashed past her, and she heard no sound.
    She was thinking with a clear mind waves of purple and red appearing before her eyes and her thoughts once more fell away.

    She felt as if she was an omnipotent being floating in the universe free falling amongst the stars.
    Then she started feeling angry about the problems she had had with her mother and how she could have handled the situation better.
    You fool, she thought, did you think you could attain enlightenment just lying here.
    I never get angry with myself she thought have to be positive about myself. Who else will?
    I’m getting out of here, surely the hour is up.
    She banged on the lid or the side or the top or the bottom of the tank, not sure which way was up.
    No-one responded
    Finally she found a switch in the corner of her tank and as she pressed blinding light flooded in momentarily blinding her.
    “Is anyone there?” she called I think my time is up”.
    She climbed out of the tank looking around for a towel to cover her naked body with its skin wrinkled like a prune. Where were her clothes? She looked round the room and saw a series of lockers. Ne door was hanging open.
    As she approached it she noticed that a layer of thick dust covered the whole unit of lockers.
    She reached into the open locker and found the jeans and shirt she had been wearing before she entered the tank. They seemed a bit smelly and dusty. She felt confused because her clothes were freshly washed and ironed; no time for them to get smelly after just an hour of travelling to the clinic.
    “Is there anyone there?” she yelled.
    Silence wafted in the shaft of light and dust motes pouring in through the windows.
    Fear gripped her. As her body was covered in goose pimples, her hands started shaking.
    What had happened? How long had she been in the tank?
    She walked through the building. It was empty, No one was there, No receptionists no one waiting for their massage or yoga appointments. No-one gathered around the coffee machine. No health centre staff in their white uniforms of loose shirts and trousers. No soothing music. No sound at all.
    Trembling she walked out to the car park to find her car where she had left her mobile and lap top. I must find out what time it is. Something is terribly wrong. I cannot even here traffic she thought.
    The car park was full of cars which looked as if they had been abandoned rather than tidily parked.
    She found her car relieved to find something familiar at last and flopped onto the back seat fumbling for her lap top and searched for the time and date. What there must be a mistake the date on her screen was Wednesday 9th October 2050, 18.00 hours.
    This is not real. It cannot be real. She left her car and wondered in a daze up to the road leading to the beach.
    She saw no people. She noticed vegetation that had pushed through cracks in the road turning them into crevices.
    The old part of the collage in front of the pier where she worked was covered in thick ivy and other climbing plants that she did not recognise.
    She still saw no people. She walked up the path leading to the cliff top and looked across the bay turning left towards Mudeford and to her right towards Sandbanks and saw no sign of human activity She started shouting with grief realising that her husband and children might not have survived whatever apocalypse might have happened here.
    James, Fiona, Rachel she yelled her heart beating.
    There were no fishing boats, no surfers, no beachcombers, no ice cream sellers on the pier, and no children on the swings.
    What world had she awakened into?
    She noticed vigorous sea shore plants with thicker vines than she had seen before covering the cliff and the viewpoint terrace.
    The waves crashing into the shoreline was the only sound she heard. Where are the seagulls? Where are the crows and swifts?
    She walked for miles up towards the holiday homes of the rich on the Sandbanks peninsular trying to take in what had happened.
    She found a garden with apple trees crowding themselves out towards the sand.
    She picked an apple and bit into its juicy sweet flesh. If she was really the only human survivor of some war she realised she could exist on fruit and nuts that were growing rampant.
    A world where plant life dominates she thought.
    She was experiencing her greatest fear totally isolated with no protection from another human being.
    Weak with grief she lay down on the fine white sand in the heat of the sun and closed her eyes.
    “Mrs Riddlesworth!” a voice gently whispered in her ear.
    “Your time in the tank is up. I will give you 10 minutes to get used to the lights before you climb out.”
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