Truly, a funny and fascinating thing, when looked at from the outside.  Watch:


The eyes glisten bright, sitting at the bar, ears open and brain doing its best to absorb information beyond the gibbering of memories so old and oft-polished that they have burnished down to a single, hard silver spike of fear.  This is the barrel, this the chamber, this the magazine.  Here are the catches and releases that will move slide and magazine.  These are the mechanics behind the physics – here’s how to project your intent out beyond the range of your arms and legs.

A constant, running commentary of terror, buried and ignored, but insistent on having enough of a voice to “give warning,” whatever that means.  It is a voice that doesn’t understand what is going on: it is reacting to events in the now as if they were the events of the then, and the actors the same as those who flicker around and around on the memory loop of the past.

“You’re getting in the wrong side of the car.  You can let him ride with you if you have to but why does he get to drive because what if you can’t get back to your car then what will you do.  Why is he paying don’t let him pay he’ll expect something.  Stop gaping someone will see that you don’t know what the hell to do.  Figure it out, stop letting him tell you, stop being dependent on him.  Why did you look away he has the weapons and you need to know what he’s doing all the time in case he surprises you so why are you wasting eyeball time reading the walls and the other people.  What is that thing that you are putting your hands on, that is a Bad Thing and we don’t like it and nothing good will come of you touching it, stop putting your hands on it no no stop no stop no no Bad stop!”

And then just one long wail, lost long ago to any kind of reason, just a formless howl of aversion and remembered pain.

So, for the first three squeezes, everything hurts.  It costs, ignoring that kind of voice.  If it didn’t cost people something to ignore it, they’d fail to learn from their past experiences. So it hurts, all the way down to feet planted in entirely the wrong stance for shooting.  After that, the wail is deafened in the controlled explosion of new experience, new ability, fresh tape to spool in place of at least one of the old ones.  Projectile intelligence, self-loaded and thrown into an acceleration of forced evolution and adaptation.


Fear is a funny thing.  A bit like fire.  Leave it to run, feed it whatever is handy, and it will eat everything it can before it runs into a boundaries made of things tough enough not to be eaten.  Corral it, control it, compress it, direct it – and throw yourself into the future with it, to see what’s on the other side.