The sharp sound of the clock chiming.
The tasty aroma of fresh-baked goods.
These are just a few examples of mixing senses to convey a feeling. Colours can’t be heard, and sounds can be sharp though most people wouldn’t say that a sound feels sharp to the touch. A certain smell might take you back in time to your youth, making your mouth water for a slice of grandma’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, but you can’t really taste an aroma. Combining senses for the sake of painting a vivid picture with words has been done forever. It is called “synesthesia” in the literary sense. But there is also a condition known as synesthesia. And I myself am a synesthete.
When I was very young (and didn’t know any better) I sat on the porch talking to my grandma about how different words tasted. “Thursday” tasted like a popsicle. Particularly Flavor-Ice. She just kind of went along with me so I assumed she agreed, and I later found that this was not normal so I stopped talking about it. I remember watching Sightings as a kid. Pretty sure it was Sightings. For those of you who have never heard of it, it was that really great show about aliens and ghosts and creepy little what-nots in the realm of the supernatural that was produced by The Fonz. One particular segment spoke to me. There was something about a man who talked about a chicken with lots of points on it. There were also people who saw visual effects whenever they heard a sound. “Mixed senses,” the narrator said, and he even gave it a name. Synesthesia. That’s when I knew I wasn’t just some sort of freak. It actually had a name, and I knew I wasn’t the only one who had this “gift” as people refer to it. My senses were mixed up! How cool was that?!?! I still hesitate to call my kind of synesthesia a gift most times and when I do, it’s usually in sarcastic jest. I wish I had a cooler kind that didn’t make me crave Sugar Babies every time someone says the word “Table” or wanting a strawberry sundae when I hear the word “Laptop”. It’s similar to the feeling you might get if someone were to tell you to imagine taking a bite out of a big, juicy lemon. Is your face puckering yet?
When I was older and had access to the internet, I researched synesthesia with renewed interest. Knowing that this thing had a name allowed me to talk to people about it because I just saw it as a fascinating subject. Most people would ask what their name tasted like, but it was rare for me to find other people who had it. I was hoping to find more people like me. And then I was talking to a friend named Sarah. She said her mother took her to a doctor when she was a kid thinking she had allergies because she tasted everything. She was diagnosed with synesthesia, and while to me “Sarah” tasted like a caramel sundae, she said her name tasted like cardboard.
There are some people out there with really cool powers of synesthesia. When reading black print on white paper, every letter has a colour. One person’s “M” might be blue, while another would see the “M” as orange. When you have a paper filled with thousands of O’s and a few C’s thrown into the mix it’s hard to pick the C’s out. But someone with this particular type of synesthesia can seek out the C’s almost at a glance. Sometimes a person might see little designs when the phone rings, or maybe even colours. Or perhaps someone might smell sounds or hear colours. The combinations are endless! Basically, synesthesia is any two of the five senses (smell, sound, taste, sight, touch) that merge together. People think that babies are all born with it but lose it when they get older. Maybe that’s why there are so many sense-stimulating toys for babies, and maybe it’s why they respond to them with such awe.
I don’t know how or why it happens, and there are doctors who say this is some sort of made up thing. The studies that have been performed show evidence that it is real, because the individuals who participated came back years later for a follow up. If their B is green and their X is orange, it normally stays that way even in the follow up studies. Every now and again there may be a slight change, but for the most part, everything remains as-is over the years.
For me personally, I just don’t feel that I have a really cool power. For me, words, sounds, and colours have flavours. I find it kind of boring and would love to know what sounds look like. But there are certain things I gravitate toward and some things I stay away from because of the flavours. Tropical blue is my favourite colour because it tastes like blue juice. I hate light blue mixed with yellow because it tastes like macaroni and cheese. That seems to be a common colour-combo in pajama sets and baby blankets. Ick! Some people have voices that to me, have very distinctive flavours. One of my teachers spoke like pink lemonade and wore matching lipstick! I’d leave that class dying of thirst! Judge Judy’s voice tastes like a mint patty, and the sound high heels make on a hard floor taste like Junior Mints. It’s very specific, because though mint patties and Junior Mints taste pretty much the same, it’s about texture, too.
Some things enhance flavour for me. Those red restaurant cups make a Coke taste all the better. I hate blue M&M’s because blue is not the flavour of an M&M. A Skittle, maybe. I usually sort my M&M’s out alphabetically by colour. Blue, green, orange, red, yellow. I eat the blue ones first because blue tastes the least like an M&M. The orange, red and yellow have pretty strong chocolate flavours, but I set the brown ones aside for last, because that’s what an M&M is supposed to taste like and it seems more satisfying. I have tried blind experimentation to see if I could tell what colour the candy shell was without looking, but I think I have to see it to taste it. Otherwise they all seem to taste the same. I’m still a little upset about the demise of the light brown M&M, as they truly captured the flavour with the colour, even more than the dark brown ones.
Sometimes when I’m munching on something, I’ll think of the word or sound that it tastes like to bring out the flavour. It makes it taste even better! Like the other night when I was enjoying a banana split, I thought of the word “dance” because that’s what a banana split tastes like.
Music also has flavours, and I am not a big blues fan because it has a horrible taste. So does blue grass. But “Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Order is a total explosion of flavour to my tastebuds! From bubblegum to a tart-sweet candy and even kool-aid, it’s got all of the main food groups! At least, all of my main food groups.
Spelling and context can also change the flavour of a word, even if it’s prounounced exactly the same. “Too” is like a stale glazed doughnut, while “two” is like chocolate pudding. “To” just tastes like coffee weakened with creamer. It’s kind of strange how each flavour is so different but the words are the same. Nancy tastes like a banana split, but Nanci makes the flavour stronger but lighter. Changing a “y” to an “i” tends to do this to just about any name or word. Likewise, “ie” in place of “y” or “i” can also give it a whole new effect. I don’t know if this qualifies as synesthesia, but the “ie” sometimes feels like a hug. I guess it would be a type of synesthesia since it is combining “touch” and “sound”.
Sometimes every syllable of a word has a flavour, but it just depends upon which part of the word I’m focused on. Betsy is a prime example. The “Bets” part tastes like that vegatable beef soup with the letters, but “sy” tastes like a really delicious icing that’s been chilled in the fridge. Tasting the word as a whole is very difficult for me in that aspect, but normally when this happens the syllable I’m more focused on will be the overall dominant flavour.
And of course there are certain colours and words I don’t like because the taste is awful. Ham-pink, another colour found in night clothes, is one of my most hated colours. Sometimes if I focus enough I can change the flavour of something by simply associating it with something else. It may not last, but it will get me by if I have to be exposed to it. The worst part is when something has a flavour of something that causes heartburn, because if I am surrounded by the stimuli enough, I’ll actually feel a pang of heartburn from it.
Then there are times when it causes embarrassment because of the simple fact that I don’t think much about it, especially when I’m around people who know I’m a synesthete. The other day I was shopping with my mom and looking at some curtains or valances that were only a dollar. She said she’d never understand me, because she got me some really nice curtains which I replaced with sheets. I impulsively replied, “But those curtains tasted like cheese and broccoli!” She said she liked cheese and broccoli, and it’s one of my personal favourites as well, but it didn’t taste like the good kind and it was overwhelming.
However, my synesthesia had helped me through school. If there was a review that was basically just like the actual test, multiple choice preferably, I would study by picking out a word in the question that had the strongest flavour. Then I would associate it with the correct multiple choice answer with a word that did not appear in any of the other questions. I could remember it simply by saying, “Okay, the question that tastes like macaroni and cheese goes with the answer that tastes like a banana.” This has also come in handy when I learn new words, because I know that it tastes like Skittles, and by focusing on the flavour I’m able to recall the word from my memory bank.
So I guess in that aspect, it is sort of a gift. Even though I still think it would be way awesome to see a sound.
Sure, we’re all familiar with the blood sucking vampires of pop culture, and how can I leave out the shiny love-struck type? But unless you’re hardcore into the supernatural, there is a type that you may not be aware of. The psychic vampire. And they are every bit as scary as the blood suckers, but not quite as scary as the teen-angsty kind. Then again, what is?
I’ve had experiences with what I believe to be psychic vampires (a.k.a. Energy Suckers or Life Suckers), and in general mundane chat, my friends complain to me of people who make them feel lifeless, and in the instances where I tell them about psychic vamps, they get that “You hit the nail on the head!” look on their faces. PsyVamps are the kind of people you go out of your way to avoid. The pop up at your work cubicle and invite you out to lunch, but you kindly decline, explaining you just have way too much work to catch up on as you frantically try to close out your game of Solitaire but the computer is so old it freezes on the screen. Or it’s Girl’s Night Out and everyone is having a great time until this person shows up and suddenly, everyone wants to call it a night. You feel guilty for constantly giving them the brush off so you make plans with them, only to regret it as soon as soon as you get into their car feeling like a trapped rabbit, knowing this lunch date isn’t going to be quick and painless. But there is a difference between people we just plain don’t like and and actual psychic vampires. And just because someone exhibits the signs, it does not make them a psychic vampire, either.
“But Joslyn,” I hear you saying. “How can I tell if someone is a true PsyVamp, or if they’re just simply annoying?” Great question! Well, it’s very simple really. We all have someone we just don’t “mesh” with and maybe even try to break away from if we can. That’s normal. So to illustrate, I will use the stereotypical annoying person personality profile. Hmm…I think I just might fit into this category.
Annoying people are generally kind, good-hearted and high-spirited. They might laugh at all of their own jokes while everyone else feigns a giggle. They fancy themselves to be the life of the party. When you’re having a good time, everyone walks away but the annoying person will usually follow. They can be a bit know-it-all and one-up you, and you cringe just being near them. And they often provide everyone with a good laugh at their expense. But the psychic vampire differs in a few aspects.
A psychic vampire is generally depressing to be around, but do not necessarily suffer from depression. There are various types of depression, from a chemical imbalance to hitting a rough patch on the road of life. I’ve known people who are depressed and have had my own experiences with it myself. The difference between a person suffering with depression is that you don’t feel depressed when you’re around them. A psychic vampire, on the other hand, will make you feel depressed when they’re near you, even for a few minutes, and they don’t even have to say a word to accomplish it. They are very negative, tend to complain about everything, and they’re often selfish. They rarely do anything for others without personal gain. They are needy and jealous in relationships which can wear upon the object of their friendship or affection. They might cause you high stress levels. And when they enter a room, everyone else gravitates to the other side because a PV normally exudes a type of aura. You may not be able to see it, but you can definitely feel it. But the psychic vampire, being a bit anti-social, will usually sit by themselves unlike your average everyday annoying person. Like annoying people, they might also be know-it-alls, one-up you, and are just generally hard to talk to. PV’s never have anything positive to say about anything or anyone, and their negativity drains the energy of those around them. It’s almost as if they enjoy complaining. Some of them won’t let you get a word in edgewise, and you’re forced to listen to them for hours. Because their own energy level seems to be running on empty (and when I say “energy” I’m not talking about being active, but rather about one’s “Qi”), they must feed off of others to thrive, rendering the victims lethargic. Now, being that PV’s are often anti-social, they might want to be the center of attention but rather feel they have to be around people in order to feed. There are exceptions to every rule, of course. In some cases, PV’s are very low-key until they get into a group of people when they liven up. But the main way to tell a PsyVamp is not how they act or what they say, but rather by how they make others feel in their presence. The effect is particularly noticeable when a PV feeds off of a normally happy, high-energy person who suddenly stops laughing or becomes more serious, or when it is noticed by several people.
Dealing with PsyVamps is difficult. If you’re proud of a project you’ve been working on and you’ve gotten some really great feedback, they burst your bubble by some snide little comment. When you’re talking to one of those obnoxious non-PV “I know everything” people, you might just roll your eyes, but with a psyvamp, it might make you feel more frustration than vexation. You can’t talk about anything around them without being on your guard because the most innocent conversations can turn into interrogations. But the biggest thing that I have noticed is that unshakable dark cloud feeling that rolls in with them and causes a downpour on everyone’s parade. When you’re in their presence, you may notice a shift in your own mood. People get confused when I try to explain “energy” to them in this scenario. A psychic vampire has no “Qi” energy and has to feed of of yours. In doing so they drain your own “physical” energy leading to that Oh So familiar “drained” feeling of physical and mental exhaustion. After two minutes with them, you might feel like you’ve been doing hours of construction work while trying to figure out one of Einstein’s mathematical equations. You may also notice that this person isn’t just having an effect on you, but everyone else. You know those people that never say a negative word about anyone? Well, even they find it hard not to complain about a PsyVamp. If you were a balloon, you’d be completely deflated by the time a PsyVamp is done with you.
Know anyone like that? Well, you’re in good company! And the thing is, most psychic vampires don’t realize they’re even doing it. They’re just average people going about their daily routine. For the most part, a PsyVamp feeds off of anyone and everyone he or she comes into contact with. And yet again, there are exceptions. Sometimes, the victims of PV attacks are chosen a little more carefully. Some PV’s feed off of those closest to them. Their spouses, their children, maybe a son or daughter-in-law or even a school bully feeding off of a certain kid or kids. Verbal abuse is highly characteristic of a pyschic vampire. By bringing down another’s self-worth, they are able to take it in for themselves. They might even seem satisfied after succeeding in bringing you down. My own opinion of this is that when you don’t allow it to affect you, there is no energy for them to take from you, and that’s why they leave you alone. It isn’t always that easy because some of them won’t quit until they have eaten away, so to speak, at your very core until there’s nothing left. Be wary, as prolonged exposure to a PsyVamp may actually begin to skew your own perception into a negative reality. They bring you down, man. They just bring you down!
And then there are the PsyVamps that know exactly what they’re doing. Some are even some skilled at OBE’s and use those Out-of-Body experiences to feed upon someone in that vulnerable state of sleep. Theoretically, sleeping and even daydreaming are the times when the mind is more prone to an attack because your mind is in a relaxed state, making it easier for this type of vampire to feed.
All over the world, there are cases of Old Hag Syndrome. Generally, it is the same. Sleep paralysis followed by a crushing pressure on the chest and usually sensing a presence in the room with you or maybe even seeing the face of an old hag and even the hot, putrid breath in your face. Some people see alienoid creatures, dark shadows, or even a person (familiar or a stranger), and scores of other things in the corner of the room or pinning them down, accounting for the feeling of someone sitting on their chests. It is thought that we see what our own culture has popularized, and that it is perhaps a figment of the imagination in the natural occurrence of sleep paralysis. I do believe there is a percentage of sleep paralysis that is natural. I’ve had it quite a few times myself and at first it was scary. Now it doesn’t bother me that much, but to not be able to move, speak or even scream for help is frightening. And with panic can come hallucinations. However, there is a line of thought that blames creatures for sleep paralysis and loss of energy, claiming that whatever guise they assume, it is the work of a psychic vampire. Many people who are chronic sufferers of sleep paralysis claim that when they wake up, they feel as if they haven’t slept a wink.
I’ve made a special note about the people I have classified as psychic vampires and try to stay away from them if I can help it. And if I can’t? Then all I need is a little time to prepare, preferably a few days so I can get in the zone. Now, you can’t really go around accusing people of this type of thing because there’s no way to know if psychic vampires really exist or not. However, it doesn’t hurt to protect yourself from someone you suspect to be a PV. I try to create a mental block to their negativity and/or personal attacks. Maybe crack a joke or completely ignore them by countering their remark with something positive. It’s my coping defense to reflect the bad Qi so it won’t eat at me. The biggest thing is to not let them bring you down with words, and by doing so, you can reserve your own energy. But once you feed them, they’ll come back for more. Think of it like a raccoon; if you keep your garbage secure, they’ll give up and start digging through the neighbor’s trash knowing they’re not going to get an easy meal.
And I’ve also found some rituals that seem to guard against psychic vampires. Wearing a crystal can help. Amethyst worn in a medicine bag or on a necklace might help, particularly if it is over your heart. This helps the person wearing it to become conscious of any attempt someone might make at getting at their heart and allows them to put up that mental barrier. And even just having crystals around that repel negativity can be a huge help. It’s like ritalin to a psychic vampire in that it seems to have an effect on them, but from a logical stance it may actually be that it has an effect on me and how I deal with them. In some cases it works like a cross to the Bela Lugosi types, because they can’t stand to be around the crystals for too long without feeling uncomfortable and wanting to leave. “Where might I find some crystals?” you ask? Well, you’re in luck because I’ve got connections. Amethyst, regular quartz, smoky quartz, just about any kind of quartz, and red jasper among so many others. I’ve got all kinds, not only because of their intrinsic beauty and aesthetic qualities, but because I find them to be helpful. And if someone is desperately in need of crystals for whatever purpose, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will put you in contact with the person whom I buy mine from.
Something I have noticed about psychic vampires is that it seems they do not like the smell of sage. Sage to a PsyVamp is like garlic to a blood sucker. I realized this when I was around people I thought to be psychic vampires during sage smudging rituals. They had the same reaction as movie vampires had to garlic. The sneer, the gagging, the squeals of “Get that stuff away from me!” What is the significance of this? Well, sage is known and used for repelling bad energy. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I also have hookups for sage, and I definitely need to purchase some more pretty soon.
So, the next time you’re around someone you believe to be a psychic vampire, try those methods to protect yourself. Put up a mental guard so that any offense will roll right off, leavinng you untouched. Remind yourself that they are just trying to get to you, and that you’re not going to allow it. Wear crystals or carry them in your pocket. And last, but not least, smudge yourself with a sprig of sage if you’re going out with them. If they are planning to pop on over for a visit, do a smudging on the area where you normally entertain your guests. Heck, do the whole house if you feel it necessary. (Note: Sage and crystals may also work on those you don’t want to be around for too long and I’ve even heard cases where it is said to be effective against those with negative intentions toward a person.)
Maybe these people aren’t really psychic vampires. Maybe there’s no such thing as a PV, or any other type of vampire for that matter. Maybe they’re just negative and rub off on those around them, much like a positive person makes everyone happy with their mere presence. But if they do exist, I’m prepared. I have my crystals, my sage, and just in case I run into the blood sucking variety, they’ll think twice about taking a bite out of my juggular because I love pizza. And pizza sauce usually contains the Number One homeopathic vampire repellent. That’s right. Garlic! A slice a day keeps the vampires away!
Top Secret Interview!!!
I was doing some online research about real life monsters. I’ve always wanted to believe, but after finding this footage, there is no doubt in my mind that there are things out there that are better left alone.
The footage I have found was never meant to be released to the public. but I was granted an interview with Cutter (pictured below), which I will keep heavily guarded for my own research as a writer of the paranormal.
1.) I’m sure it’s important to have a sense of camaraderie in your line of work. Is it pure luck that you all mesh so well, or was compatibility taken into consideration when you were hired on the team?
[Cutter] It would have to be pure luck. There is no personality profile in the interview process at least not in regards to social interaction with the other officers. There is in that we want to make sure new recruits aren’t psycho of course, but Command could care less if we get along socially. In the future you may find that not all of us are actually getting along.
2.) What are some important character traits a member of Shadow Company should have in order to handle the pressure of the job?
[Cutter] A sense of humor is mandatory. At least that’s what we require in our particular unit. Shadow Company has hundreds of units stationed all over the world, so we probably do things a little differently than those other teams. But having a sense of humor is imperative here. We find that if you can’t joke about the job then the job consumes you. There is a good amount of evil and darkness that we witness, and we need to combat that with laughter. While still doing the job of course.
3.) There are times when we’ve all seen or heard something we can’t explain. Are there divisions of Shadow Company in charge of analyzing whether or not something may be a threat so that the appropriate plan of action can be carried out?
[Cutter] Absolutely, we’re all pretty much a mix of soldier and investigator, it’s how we’re trained, but we do have Agents in charge of specific investigation, assesment, and analysis. They gather as much intel as possible to help us decide what is a threat or a hoax. Much of our paranormal division assits us in that way as well. We have over 100 psychics working in our building alone. But much of that intel needs to be scrutinized. It’s hit or miss alot of the times, especially with psychics like Greenly. She’s really talented, but she needs to work on her interpretation.
4.) If Shadow Companies didn’t exist, would humans stand a fighting chance, or would we all be zombie chow?
[Cutter] No, the world would’ve been overrun decades ago. In the movies the Zombie Apocalypse happens all at once. In the real world, from a scientific stand point, it takes time for zombies to develop, rise, gather and attack as a group. Same goes for any other group of monsters. Vampire Coven’s and Nests have had organizations and networks for years, but like any organization or terrorist cell it takes time and planning to take over the world or slaughter thousands. We do a good job of making sure those plans fall apart. We’re constantly taking out zombies and other creatures a few at a time, to keep the planet safe.
5.) How important is it for the various divisions of Monster Cops to remain in the shadows?
[Cutter] It’s probably the most important thing. We work hard to stay a secret, so the Monster threat stays a secret. Otherwise there would be panic, and that is never a good thing. We call it “The Veil”. As long as “The Veil” is up then we’re all good. If it ever comes down, it’ll be an interesting day.
6.) Having first-hand experience with monsters, do you find them terrifying, or simply more of a nuisance like a rodent infestation?
[Cutter] Both. Zombies, Low Level Vamps and Lycans, they’re very much a nuisance. Chupacabras and Gremlins are REALLY annoying. But every once in a while you will encounter something formidable, something scary. A Master Vampire you have to take seriously. You can’t just go in an take their heads off, they can be a real threat. Stone Golem’s, Gargoyles, Banshees, those can all be very scary. But we’re trained to handle the fear and do the job.
7.) My last question made me think of a clip where Agent Bateman relayed an experience he had. How would I know if the possum living in my neighborhood is possessed like those chipmunks Agent Bateman talked about?
[Cutter] First of all I wouldn’t totally trust everything Bateman says. He says “possessed chipmunks” I think the rest of us would say they had rabies. He likes to exaggerate. So I wouldn’t worry too much about any local rodents or creatures being possessed. Although I do remember that call. Bateman was naked. We still don’t know why.
8.) Do you find it irksome when someone who isn’t a Monster Cop complains to you about how rough they have it at work?
[Cutter] This is a topic that comes up every so often. I think I’ve learned to smile about it though. I come to realize that I’m glad this person is alive to complain about work. Means we’re doing our job.
9.) Since you have no doubt seen some unnatural and horrific things on the job (zombies, vampires, succubi, and “possessed” chipmunks), has it marred your perception of the world?
[Cutter] Depression is something I’ve already dealt with in the past. This job can get to you. In the beginning it was hard not to be down about the state of the world. But as long as The Veil stayed up, and the rest of the world could continue to watch the sun rise each day, I’m fine. My wife helped me understand that.
10.) Most people don’t like to think about their job when they get home, so part one of the question is, Do you like horror movies? The second part is, When you watch a horror flick do you find yourself saying, “Oh, that could never happen!” or criticizing the actors over their methods of monster-removal?
[Cutter] I think I stopped watching movies about 20 years ago. My top five favs are all from the 70’s and 80’s. I just haven’t had time. I prefer westerns, I’m a huge Clint Eastwood fan. For A Few Dollars More is great. Rio Bravo is another one I like. I think Horror is a genre most of us avoid, as we seem to be living in a horror movie. Some of the guys in “The Basement” they really love that stuff. They’re usually down there watching horror movies. There was one thing they were watching. I guess it’s a TV Show. I think it’s called The Walking Dead. I catch some of it every once in a while when I head down there. Realistic for the most part, but I have to say it’s not that easy to kill a zombie with a shovel or a knife. It honestly depends on the type of zombie, but I’m seeing people take a swing or a stab and they get easy shots into the brain. Nope, not that easy. Also, it’s completely unwise to do any close up kills with zombies. I understand it’s almost unavoidable if you’re surrounded especially during a zombie apocalypse, but in the real world you learn not to put yourself in that position. A distance kill is always preferred. Even if you do get close, you use your side arm. Bullets are preferred. If you’re trying to stay silent, then a crosss bow is perfect, I think I saw one of the characters with one in the show, it’s a great idea. Bottom line is you are dealing with toxic creatures, you want to keep as much of them off of you as possible. We never want to risk coming in contact with infected blood or flesh from a creature. We’ve seen too many people turn just because they got a little blood on their skin.
11.) How do you unwind after a really tough day? (And I’m sure there are lots of them.)
[Cutter] Food. It’s always food. The meds that we take don’t help, they tend to make you hungrier, but a good meal and lots of sitting always work. And a shower. Hot shower.
12.) What do you love about being part of Shadow Company?
[Cutter] Working for this agency is the first and only time I’ve ever felt like I’ve made a difference. It’s quite fulfilling.
13.) This is my final question, and I’m dying to know! Will you ever reveal the secret to that cookie recipe?
[Cutter] No. 🙂