No matter how many times Ross found himself in school after hours, he always stepped carefully. There was a reason so many horror stories took place in empty schools. He kept himself forward, somehow prying his eyes away from the door windows of darkened classrooms. One day, he’d find something staring back.
His steps echoed on the old, creaky wooden staircase and at points he wasn’t entirely sure that the sound came from beneath his feet. At the first floor landing, he backed up against the double doors and reached into his pocket. He sifted through candy wrappers, tangled earphones and house keys until a small, crumpled slip of paper wrapped around his finger. Balancing it on his knuckle, he brought it up to his line of sight and smoothed it out.
Room 114 was scrawled across the slip in neat black pen. Ross groaned and tucked it back into his pocket. He kept his eyes firmly on the stairwell as he nudged the door open with his shoulderblade and entered the first floor backwards.
The Physics department was tucked away in the northmost corridor, just close enough to Chemistry that the smell of sulphuric acid still assaulted his nostrils. Ross ambled down the hall, absentmindedly taking in all of the new displays they’d put up since he’d last been there. There were boards upon boards of pictures of students doing experiments, and the ever-famous posters with potential job opportunities on it. Ross always wondered why ‘Starbucks cashier’ never made it onto one of those posters.
Mr. Wecht’s classroom hadn’t changed since the last time, and Ross wasn’t sure if he’d seen it change since he started high school. Printed powerpoint slides of physics ‘Did you know’s with a few too many exclamation points plastered his board. Ross quickly glanced over them on the way to the door.
The first breath he took when he walked into the room was made of pure heat. It was enough to scare off the chills still hanging onto his back. Finally, a sign of life.
Empty desks were set out in pairs across the class. The room was outlined by a plastic-coated metallic surface that stretched around every wall, except for the front of the class where the teacher’s desk and projector screen was. Ross’ eyes lazily cut across to the teacher’s desk.
A head of tidy black curls poked out from above the wooden desk. The rest of his face was angled down, towards something underneath the desk that was obviously more important than Ross.
“Hello?” Ross called, stretching out the ‘o’ and waving his arms around.
Wecht’s head shot up, a loose curl falling down across his forehead. His icy blue eyes hardened. “Oh. So you finally decide to show up.” He touched his toes to the floor and gently kicked himself back in his office chair. Screwing his face up a little, he lifted a glass globe from beneath the desk and gently placed it on the surface.
Ross started at the globe. He slowly cocked his head, squinting. Eventually, the globe erupted in arcs of deep purple, gripping onto the glass and pulsing from lilac to magenta. Ross watched as the bolts danced and spun through the glass.
“You…you do know you’re meant to sit down, O’Donovan?” Wecht’s voice was fraught with genuine concern.
Ross snapped his gaze away from the globe and looked up at him. “Sorry, si-sorry…” He half-stumbled over to a desk in the middle of the second row.
Wecht chuckled. He rested an elbow on either side of the globe. “Not really a Saturday morning person, huh?”
“S-something like that, yeah.” His gaze lingered between Wecht’s face and the globe. “What…what is that?” He nodded towards it.
Wecht fell back in his chair and crossed his arms. “Well, if you’d actually gone to physics yesterday, you’d know it’s a plasma globe.” His tone was almost a mockery of its own self-righteousness. “Where were you, anyways?”
Ross shrugged. “Sick.”
“You seem to have made a miraculous recovery.” Wecht leaned on the desk again and clasped his hands together. His eyebrows shot up, uncovering the bits of his irises usually hidden by the crease of his eyelids. They appeared to be a shade paler than the rest of his eyes, like those occasional patches of lighter blue you’d see in a clear sky.
“It’s an…invisible illness.” Ross shifted his gaze to the side.
Wecht fell silent for a moment. His mouth gently popped open and his lips moved microscopically, as if he were reciting a difficult puzzle to himself. “You know, I have to wonder why you’re still even in school, Ross. You turned 18 in June, right?”
Ross shot him a deadly stare. “What are you trying to say?”
Wecht threw his hands up in mock surrender. “Nothing. It just…doesn’t seem like you’re happy here, that’s all.”
Ross folded his arms over his chest and stared at the wall. “You don’t know me.”
Wecht watched him for a moment, then let out a subdued sigh. “No, I don’t know you, Ross. I barely get to see you.”
Ross rolled his eyes in response. The room slowly filled with a thick, intimidating silence. Ross’ gaze trailed over from the wall back to the globe. Once again, the cascade of spinning arcs dancing across the glass flooded his head, demanding all of his attention.
“It’s cool, isn’t it?” Wecht’s voice somehow managed to sandwich itself in between the growing purple mist inside Ross’ head. “It’s pretty much the only way you can teach dead-eyed freshmen about electromagnetic fields. And it’s a fun little break for the seniors, too. Wanna know how it works?”
“Not really,” Ross replied in monotone.
Wecht grinned. “Should’ve thought about that before you skipped physics.”
Ross let out a deep groan, rolling his eyes for just a moment before they were inevitably stolen back by the globe. There was something oddly captivating about it, as if every little fluctuation and gyration was far too important to miss.
“Hang on, let me just bring it over so you can get a closer look…” He balanced the globe on his palms and lifted it up. Keeping his gaze locked on it, he waddled around the teacher’s desk and over to where Ross was sitting. With a quiet grunt, he set it down on the table. Ross’ eyes hovered for a moment, but the twirling bolts of purple snatched up his gaze again. “There.”
Wecht pressed a fingertip to the glass on Ross’ side. One of the purple strands followed his finger. “See this little bulb thing here? It carries a constantly alternating voltage which interacts with the low-density gas inside the globe.” His voice softened. He spoke just loud enough for Ross to hear and no more. His words floating somewhere between the back and the of Ross’ head, never really fading no matter how many thoughts were swallowed up by deep purple. “It creates these little fronds of plasma, which are actually trying to find solid earth, so they attach to the glass walls.”
He slowly moved his finger up, down and across the globe. Ross watched as the pulsing threads scrambled to get close to his fingertips, begging to touch. In the tiny space between soft, lilac fog and Wecht’s voice, he noticed his head lolling a little bit. Distantly, he started to feel sorry for those little purple lines. They were so close, yet impossibly far away from getting what they wanted most.
“Are you listening to me, O’Donovan?”
With a collosal effort, Ross let out a quiet ‘mm’.
“Don’t worry about it.” His voice jumped and dipped like an eclectic progression of musical notes. “That’s the weird thing about brains; even when you don’t think you’re listening, you’re still taking in information. Your subconscious takes care of everything when your conscious brain just wants to take a break. And it knows what’s best for you. So, now…I know it’ll just be so easy for you to watch the pretty, dancing lights for me…let everything else fade into the background.”
Ross winced gently as his head flooded with more fuzzy purple fog. It turned his thoughts to mist and swallowed up every little dark cloud still floating in his mind. His jaw muscles unwound, letting his mouth pop open. A small, barely audible gasp escaped his mouth as the soothing fog swirled around in his head.
“That’s good, Ross. No doubt your brain’s exhausted from all the arguments, all the resistance…it feels so much better just to play along, doesn’t it?”
Ross moved his head in a vaguely vertical motion, half nod and half drifting. Wecht’s deep, airy chuckles reverberated across Ross’ sleepy mind. He pulled himself up onto the desk directly in front of Ross’ and took a moment to just watch him.
The picture was frame-worthy. The deadly glares and carefully careless side-glances he’d come in with had dulled to a blank, dreamy-eyed stare as he focused on the globe. His shoulders were gradually slumping down into the chair and his mouth had fallen wide open at the absence of any kind of jaw muscle tension. His head gently swayed without rhyme or reason, as if he just couldn’t make the effort to keep it in one place. Wecht’s face slowly lit up.
“That’s right,” he cooed lightly. “Now, all you need to do for me now is stare. Stare into the globe and let your eyes get even heavier. Let them get harder and harder to keep open…” Ross’ lips moved as if he were about to gasp, but no sound came out. His eyelids started to flutter and his eyes rolled under them. “…And just let them close naturally. Don’t try to fight it.” A quiet, contented noise came out along with Ross’ next breath. He smiled faintly as his eyelids finally came to close, and then his face fell slack.
Wecht waited as the boy sunk down into his slumber. His shoulders loosened and his hands fell flat by his side, like a ragdoll’s. For a few seconds, his lips drifted open and shut as if he were trying to find a comfortable spot for them. They eventually stilled half an inch apart from each other. “Ross, can you hear me?”
“Yes, sir…” The ‘I’ sound stretched out on its own as his voice trailed off dreamily.
Wecht scoffed, quirking an eyebrow. “’Sir’? That’s definitely a step up from ‘old man’.”
“Sorry, sir…” Ross’ head involuntarily tipped to one side as he spoke.
Wecht leaned over his knee and rested his head on his palms. He narrowed his gaze, searching Ross’ face for a subtle curling of the lips or a quick sneak peak. Ross stayed still as ever, save for the gentle swaying of his head. “That’s…quite alright, Ross,” he chuckled.
He hopped off the desk and took a half step towards Ross. From up close, all of the unwound creases on Ross’ eyelids and forehead could be seen. For all he claimed not to care, the kid sure screwed his face up a lot.
He cleared his throat. “Ross, I want you to open your eyes.”
Ever so slowly, Ross’ closed eyes started to flutter. His eyelids re-creased and pale blue peaked out from under them. He glanced up at Mr. Wecht for a moment but the globe quickly caught his gaze once again.
Wecht snapped his fingers twice. “Eyes up. Look at me.”
Ross’ eyes shot up to meet his. He looked at him like a little lost boy, only without the capability to be afraid. Worrying was so much effort, anyways- effort that Ross wasn’t conscious enough to make.
“Good boy.” An ear-to-ear grin slowly grew over Wecht’s face. “See, it’s actually really to do what you’re told when all those pesky thoughts don’t get in the way, isn’t it?”
Ross let out a stunted breath through his open mouth. He nodded, his head gradually drifting off to the side as his eyes dulled. Wecht reached down and pressed two fingers to his cheek in order to still his head.
“After all, doing what you’re told means you can relax. Doing what you’re told means you don’t have to worry- not even about thinking, most of the time. Doing what you’re told means people will be happy with you. Doesn’t it just feel so good to know you’ve made someone happy?”
Ross’ only response was an urgent, needy gasp. A tiny little twinkle of desperation broke through the lost puppy look in his eyes.
Wecht bit back a grin, lest it find its way into his tone. “That’s not an answer, Ross. Now tell me, with words this time. Does it make you feel good when you make people happy?”
Ross squeezed his eyelids together until they were almost shut. “Yes, sir.”
Wecht took his fingers away from Ross’ cheek and rubbed his chin. He temporarily broke eye contact to survey the rest of his face; his gently wrinkling nose, the fast and heavy breaths coming out his mouth, the needy look in his eyes. He locked eyes with him again. “What kind of good, Ross?”
Ross just stared at him in response. Wecht would’ve sworn he hadn’t heard him speak if he hadn’t seen the muscles around his eyes tighten.
“The rules don’t apply here, Ross. You can say anything you want to me here, so long as it’s honest. That’s all I really care about. Okay?”
Ross nodded slowly.
“Good boy. So now, I’ll ask you again; specifically, how does it make you feel when you make people happy? When people are pleased with you?”
Ross’ mouth fell open a little more. The little sparks of need in his eyes collided and danced with each other. “…It makes me really horny, Sir.”
Wecht smirked. “Oh, what a good boy,” he babbled. “I want you to really focus on that feeling, now.” He walked around Ross’ desk until he was at the back of him. Then, he crouched down a little and placed his lips inches from Ross’ ear. “Don’t try to keep your mind off it, or push it to the side.” His tone jumped and dipped. “I want you to make it so much worse. So much more intense, so much fucking hotter. I want you to fill your head up with how badly you need to please.”
Shock intertwined with desperation and desire in Ross’ eyes as he squirmed in his seat. His short, fast mouth breaths descended into soft moans. A barrage of pictures, scenes and scenarios flooded his mind. In all of them, Mr. Wecht’s voice was there in the center of his head.
“That’s right.” His voice became little more than a raspy whisper. “Just let it overpower you, you know how fucking good it feels. You want more of this, don’t you Ross?”
Ross nodded between desperate whimpers.
He ran his hands down over Ross’ shoulders, finding a natural rest on his chest. Ross’ hips flexed into the chair. “You can feel like this any time you want, you know.”
Ross let his head fall back onto Wecht’s stomach, sinking into the warmth of his shirt. He looked up at him from the very tops of his eyes. “Please.”
Brian grinned. “Of course. You’ve been such a good boy, after all.”
Ross squeezed his eyes shut, quietly moaning in approval.
“You can feel this way again every time you don’t talk back, every time you just listen and take orders. Every time you’re this good for someone- including me, and all of your teachers. They won’t really notice, of course. Your body will be able to handle the sensation without showing any outward evidence. If it needs to, it’ll freeze for a moment whilst it deals with it all. As long as you’re being helpful and obedient, you can feel like this as much and as often as you want. Do you understand?”
“Y-Yes Sir.” Ross’ head fell limp against Wecht’s shirt. A sloppy, vibrant smile came over his face as the residual waves of pleasure pulsed through his body.
“Good boy. Oh, and one more thing?”
“When you speak to me, you will refer to me as sir, just like everyone else in the class. Okay?”
“Great.” Wecht pulled his arms up from Ross’ chest. “Now, as I count up from five, I want you to let those ideas cement inside your head as you drift out of trance.”
He stood up straight again and walked into the aisle. “Five…” As he passed by Ross’ desk, he reached underneath the globe and scooped it up into his hands. “Four…” He took slow, careful steps towards his desk, never taking his eyes off the globe. “Three…” He set the globe on his desk and tucked it away behind his computer. “Two…” He ambled around his desk and took a seat on his office chair. “One…wake up, Ross!”
All at once, Ross snapped into focus. His eyes sharpened into his regular perpetual glare. His hands shot up to sort out the kinks in his neck. He glanced over at Wecht, catching onto his intense stare.
His mouth opened, but for once he hesitated. “Uh…hello?”
Wecht shuffled back in his chair. He smirked briefly and glanced over at the clock on the western wall. “Well, I hope you enjoyed your little nap because your time’s already up.”
Ross rubbed his right eye. “Did I fall asleep?”
“You did. But let’s face it- neither of us want to be here, so the faster you get out of here, the faster I can resume the life that I do have outside work.”
Ross scoffed, but bit his tongue. He kicked the chair from underneath him, stood up and walked to the door.
“Oh, and Ross?”
“Yeah?” He turned to look at him.
“Study period is 5th period on a Wednesday, most weeks.” He shot him a lopsided grin.
Ross’ eyes sparked up. “Uh-oh, yeah.” He turned towards the door again. “Thanks, si- uh, thanks.”