6
Oct 04

THE FREAKY TRIGGER TOP 25 SCARIEST THINGS – 22: Quicksand

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The fear of being helpless in the face of your own rapidly approaching demise is already becoming a recurring theme of this list. Usually though, there’s a malicious influence involved somewhere, a giant maneating lizard or an axe murderer, for example. As all FT readers who have ever been up to their neck in quicksand will agree, in this case the real killer is the knowledge that the situation is entirely your fault.

Quicksand is pure stealth danger. It looks exactly like normal sand, but putting a foot wrong will see you sinking inexorably towards your doom. Its also psychological torture – there’s no pain involved in quicksand death until the fatal moment when your head goes under. The real horror lies in the knowledge of what is ahead, the slow sinking feeling (the slower the scarier, natch), the fading hope of rescue from a passer-by, friendly elephant or swooping bird of prey. And the prospect of encountering the remains of another foolhardy explorer just as you slip below the surface.

Experts say that if you do find yourself trapped in quicksand, on no account should you struggle, make rapid movements or otherwise try and extricate yourself – that will only cause you to sink faster. This is a bit like advising people to run in zigzags to escape a crocodile or stand perfectly still when faced with a grizzly bear. Frankly, it requires admirable presence of mind in a life-threatening situation.

And if the sand itself doesn’t get you, the noxious gases or circling vultures will have a good go. Glug.

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