“Great! See you this afternoon!”
I overhear my wife tell her mother before setting her iPhone down.
She looks at me, smiling a little too warmly.
“Dad’s going to watch the kids, so you can come with us.”
For over six months Joy and her mom have attended this “class.” I’ve never quite understand what it is, but they seem very eager for me to join. I’ve also noticed a change in their demeanor that’s hard to describe. Something seems different and I can’t put my finger on it. Neither of them are overly impressionable, but I have a sneaking suspicion they’ve innocently been taken in by a cult-type group.
The kids were my last excuse, so it appears today is D-day. I’ll see for myself just what this thing is and hopefully not get caught up in the weirdness myself.
“Okay.” I reply.
Two hours later we’re walking downtown into a large brick building. Briskly passing by security, Joy and Mom lead me through a maze of rooms to what must be the innermost area of the building.
“Here we are.”
This windowless room has an odd shape, concrete walls, wooden floors, and…strange objects. All around the room lay unidentifiable…is it equipment of some sort?
“Pick those up.”
Joy says, pointing to some of the equipment to my right. Still confused, I obey, not wanting to show my ignorance as others begin trickling in. The room is quiet as the new arrivals pick up these same objects and set up what I’d consider “stations.”
I claim the back right corner, closest to the door in case things get awkward. My nerves start churning my stomach.
Someone, apparently the leader, steps to the front and begins yelling at the small group of 11, who line up and grab one of the pieces. Rhythmic music starts to pound and suddenly everyone begins convulsive and awkward movements. I glance over at Joy who happily joins in the ceremony, as does Mom.
It hits me—this is not a cult, it’s a Freemason-style society performing a ritualistic ceremony. My wife and mother-in-law are unknowingly caught up in a strange and what I imagine could be a potentially dangerous sect.
My mind races:
“Do they not understand what’s going on?”
“What degree of brainwashing has this leader played on them?”
“How can I get them out?”
The ceremony is now in full swing, with the entire room rising up and down in unison to some freakish and apparently painful routine. I notice grimaces and grunts from most of the participants.
There is no way to remove Joy, Mom and myself without everyone noticing. Frankly, I am afraid of what would happen if we were caught.
I have no choice but to play along with this charade. I work hard keeping my mind sharp to avoid any type of hypnosis, but find I have to concentrate just to keep up without raising unnecessary attention.
As we raise and lower, I cautiously glance around the room for escape routes. Fortunately we’re close to the door.
Yet, I also have to find a way to convince my wife and mother-in-law to leave. They are now fully hypnotized. How do I persuade them when they’re not in their right mind? The pounding music makes it difficult to think, but I begin to hatch a plan.
I find keeping up with the motions physically demanding. Extremely demanding. My thinking begins to fee strained. The rhythm, the noise, the movements. Faster, faster, faster. I have to stay strong.
My head begins to swim. Each movement makes me increasingly lightheaded. I am sinking fast. I struggle with all my might to stay conscious, knowing it’s my only chance at survival. My vision begins to blur into a mass of blurry images. I can’t hold on.
Then, as abruptly as it started, it stops. The others begin slowly placing their equipment back and exiting the room as if nothing happened. I notice a dullness behind their eyes, however.
There was no explanation and no understanding of who or what is behind these strange meetings. Joy half pulls and half carries me, physically and mentally exhausted, back through the dizzying maze of rooms, out of the building and once again into the light of the afternoon sun.
As I lay in the back of our van, I know whatever that experience was, I can’t face it again. I can’t go back. It’s too much…something.
Back home, I collapse on my bed and sleep.
Upon waking, my mind seems alert, sharp, recovered. Some of the details seem fuzzy. I can’t remember what happened and don’t remember it feeling as sinister as before.
“BODYPUMP class is at 8 next week, want to go again?” Joy asks.
“Sure,” I reply.
I’ve become one of them.