...he was sitting in class, and the clock was frozen...fifteen minutes until the end of class, and the clock hand just didn't seem to be moving.
The teacher was droning on in his usual fashion, and Joey was trying desperately to take notes; the teacher was moving much too quickly for him to get everything, but he was at least trying to keep up. "Node line intersections are points of great power," he wrote. "Interstitial connection lines, conversely, are hazardous to traverse."
He let his pen travel across the page on its own, and let his eyes travel to the window. The drone of the teacher's voice faded as he looked out at the sun-swept playground. It would be so much nicer to be there than here, he thought. With a sigh, he turned back to his page.
He looked, but he couldn't find the sentence he had just written. What was on his paper now was "Man, this guy is incredibly boring, I wish he would just shut up."
...it wasn't even in his handwriting...
He reached to tear out the page, get rid of it, start taking notes again, but as he did, a shadow fell across the page.
The teacher was a short, ugly man, with a long face and greasy black hair. He was frowning in quiet fury at what he saw on the page. "Up!" He pointed to the chalkboard, and Joey walked the long trail to the front of the room, passing desk after desk after desk.
His fellow students were all in shadow; there was just the walk down the aisle, only thirty more rows to go. He could hear the tittering and murmuring behind him, though.
He finally got to the front of the room, and turned around, looking at the sea of desks and students he had just swam out of. There were bright lights in his face, so he couldn't see any of the students, but he could hear the teacher's voice above the low grumble of gossiping students.
"Now, Joey," the voice said. "Why don't you tell us the history of the intransigence vector trinomial factor?"
He shielded his eyes from the harsh glare, and tried to see into the gloom. "Huh?" The classroom chatter rose, and the teacher had to raise his voice just to be heard.
"Or can you explain the significance of the frammiz massive..." The rest of the sentence was lost in the noise.
Joey tried harder to pick out the teacher among the shaded ranks of desks, but couldn't find him. Just the mocking, insulting voice. "I'm sorry, I don't understand the question?"
"Of course you don't!" This was a new voice, his father's voice, and it came from the front row. A spotlight picked out his father, calmly sitting in a desk three sizes too small for him. He was glaring at Joey over the top of a newspaper with a headline 'Idiot kid in trouble in class!'
"You don't understand because you're not paying attention," his father continued. "Break out of your stupid fantasy world, and get to living in the here and now."
'But I'm not," Joey cried. "I'm...I..."
"You're goofing off and daydreaming, and I won't stand for it!" He stood up, the desk melting away as he did. Behind him, the teacher stood with a satisfied and triumphant grin on his face. The dark eyes bored into Joey's soul, making him feel small...and defeated.
Joey wanted to run away, to hide, but there was no where to go except back through the sea of desks--and that meant walking past his father and the sadistic teacher. He turned, left to right, left again, looking for a way to get away--and another pair of eyes met his. Sparkling emerald green, in the front row, on the far side of the classroom from his father. There was concern in them, worry; someone in this classroom did care about him.
His father was raging while the teacher egged him on. "Lazy, good for nothing, daydreaming, little..." But Joey didn't look at them...he didn't take his eyes off the green ones locked on his. And then he took a shaky step towards them, towards her, and then another step, and as he walked, she smiled at him.
There was a shriek of noise, "NO!" from the teacher. The world tilted around him, classroom, desks, all crumbling away to nothing. The last thing he remembered was that wonderful smile.
Joey sat up in bed, covered in sweat and trying to catch his breath. The dream had left him exhausted, and puzzled; he had never had that sort of dream before. Oh, sure, he had had the occasional 'oops, I went to school naked' dreams, but none of them had held the malevolence of this one. This had felt like a sadistic monster had spent an hour toying with him, like a kid pulling the wings off of butterflies just to watch them squirm. And die.
This wasn't the first bad dream he had had lately, either, he realized. There was a darkness to his dreams that had never been there before. He didn't always remember his dreams...but he remembered the feelings he had from them...and the feeling from this one was not good.
He turned off the alarm clock that was due to go off in twenty minutes, and headed to the bathroom for water. He drank a full glass, and then a second one; he splashed water on his face, and tried to get his heart to quit racing.