Time was frozen, my body still and my mind wandering. I was lost amongst my thoughts, drifting as my line of sight locked onto it as it hovered over me. Its eyes opaque and shrouded in shadow, growling as I felt my face tingle and my body fall in and out of consciousness.
I was in my directing class, shuffling through the videos in my camera, memories of a not so distant yet long-lost past. The professor was rambling off topic, talking about his latest project, gloating as usual. That night, we weren’t in our usual classroom. The room was much larger, wide with gigantic windows spanning on the far-left side, as if the entire room were made of glass. Honestly, there was no room like it in the entire university, yet no one seemed to notice.
My professor was none other than straw man George Maxwell. He was as meek as he was weak, always doing what the class wanted rather than fulfilling his duties by teaching the few of us what we wanted to learn. But nonetheless, I learned a lot from his success stories. So, that’s was a plus. Attempting to find some grain of wisdom from within his usual chit chatter.
But tonight was different. As I glanced at the screen of my Canon, watching those last moments within the frame brought an angst within my chest. Admittedly, I was the worst at putting up fronts. You could read the emotion right off my face.
I could not stand to sit through another moment of this meaningless lecture and decided then to abandon whatever he had left to say and leave this place. Hastily, I threw my camera into my bag, darting up. I was unsure if I was breathing, hoping that if I held my breath, I could creep off unnoticed. I quickly made my way to the door, feeling the cool brass of its handle within the tips of my fingers, when he stopped me. Yikes. I failed.
“Where do you think you’re going?” He said, pointing a pen at me. I lowered my head.
I turned back slowly, surprised by the spineless professor with nothing good to say. “I’ve really got to go and…” I hesitated as my mind went blank. “…I can’t say where.” Because, honestly, I really didn’t even know. I was clueless.
“Ah,” he said, stepping forward. His grin oddly widening. “Could I ask you to do something first before your leave? Just an exercise for the class to get those creative minds flowing.”
Reluctantly, I replied. “Sure.”
I walked towards him, my classmate’s eyes in unison, fixated on me as I approached the front of the classroom.
“Well then,” he started twiddling his pen with his fingers as he paced. “Ben, I’d like you to close your eyes. As I count to three, I want you to imagine two concentric circles; a white one within a black one.”
I could feel myself grow impatient, but I did what he said. I closed my eyes and imagined those ridiculous circles and hoped he’d release me from his grasp.
“And now imagine the white one lifting and growing larger.”
At first not, caring… But as I looked into those circles and watched them, I began to listened intently.
And then slowly, he said, his voice growing hoarse as my body floated adrift. “Do so until you feel the wrinkles on your face.”
“Wait what?” I managed to mumble, but it was in that moment that I felt my body overcome by that strange prickling and my memory came back to me. Not again. I thought. I could hear this deafening hum as it shattered my senses and startled me awake. When my eyes shot open, I heard it shrieking.