“Time’s up,” the instructor declared. This is the final time I can write this exam. My entire future depends on it. Leaving the lecture hall, I notice there are more first-timers than usual rushing to the bathrooms. Stress is an interesting thing. From headaches and breakouts to heartbreaks and blackouts, it’s a miracle students survive.
I close my eyes and stretch my neck; it cracks…vertebrae by vertebrae…as I drop my chin to my chest. “Third time’s the charm,” says a deep voice behind me. I quickly look over my shoulder to smile and nod when a pain grips my shoulder and radiates into the back of my skull. This is what I get for being polite. I tell the voice that I must get to a chiropractor. Then darkness.
A pungent smell of dried urine assaults my nostrils. My tongue sticks to a grimy tile as a large hand pulls my face from the cold floor. Two men murmur above me. I hear student of mine and almost dead. The voice. It’s the instructor. The horrific realization that I hadn’t failed those other exams grips my brain. The sick son-of-a-bitch stalker kept me in his class intentionally. The hand yanks my head back, peels my eyes open, and flips me over.
Plastic covers my mouth and my nose is pinched closed. I brace for more pain, but warm oxygen begins to fill my lungs. I gasp. The instructor commends the security guard and then whispers into my ear, “Next time.”