Higher Minds
rating: +174+x

Architect 08/12/20 (Wed) 03:48:52 #982732


Higher Minds Elementary

I never post on these types of forums. Forgive me if my writing's a little flowery. I consider myself a grounded, rational person, not a Parawatch user. Despite this, my life has always worked against my mind in every possible way. I grew up in New Jersey. Gated community, full of privilege and money, old and new. Every one of these communities has one thing in common: an academic and social parental dick measuring contest that indirectly pits unknowing children against each other for the purpose of one-upsmanship. Everyone tried every sport until they found one they were reasonably decent at. Play-dates were organized in an attempt to gain clout with those higher on the food chain. Friendships were forcibly broken and certain households banned for arbitrary and nonsensical reasons. Sending your kid to a public school was out of the question, no matter the age.

I went to Higher Minds Elementary. Pic related. See that mural? You know exactly who runs this place. It was an artsy, 'alternative' school for 'gifted' children. The kind that promoted free-range learning and experimental teaching practices. There were at least 3 of these schools in the neighborhood that I was aware of, but Higher Minds was my home. The school was good to me. I didn't have friends, but when you're 7, you don't notice, or even care. I played alone, read at a 'sixth grade level', and otherwise found ways to occupy myself. I was too young to notice the signs of divorce tearing my parents away from each other, or understand why teachers called home concerned about why I didn't interact with other children. For the most part, my childhood was happy.

Then I got to 3rd grade. First week of school, our entire class of around 40 kids had to take a standardized test. Two suited men came in, handed our teacher a briefcase, and passed out a packet of worksheets. I'd never seen those men before, and the stiff demeanor they carried themselves with unnerved me so much I was afraid to make eye-contact. The test itself was even worse. The questions were borderline nonsensical. 4 similar circles, asking to find the square. A pictogram of a man laying on the road, implied to be hit by a car; the question asking if he'd be able to get up again. A string of random numbers, with a blank box beneath for us to write which ones 'stood out' to us. A lot of strange pictures paired with Rorschach-like interpretive questions. It took around two hours to finish, snack break included. The suited men left, and I quickly forgot about the test.

I think this is when I started having the bird dreams. I say think because things get hazy at this point. Anyways, I used to dream about a bird. Nothing strange about it, just an ordinary pigeon that would do ordinary pigeon things. The setting I'd be observing it from would always be different. My backyard, my grandmother's house, my school, whatever. Then the bird would fall to the ground, appearing to have been injured in a horrible way. Sometimes its neck would be crooked at an angle, sometimes its stomach would be spilled out in front of me. I'd reach out my hands, caressing the small creature. The bird began to heal itself, repairing its injuries as I stroked its body. Fully rejuvenated, it would fly off, and I would wake up. I had these dreams once a week, if not more.

One day after I had finished lunch, my teacher - Mr. B, pulled me aside. We went to the principal’s office, where 5 other children from my class were gathered. It was explained to us that our scores on the standardized test were ‘exceptional’ and we would be entered into an advanced placement program called TAG. Stood for ‘talented and gifted’. Higher Minds was already a ‘gifted’ school. What was the point of an even further accelerated track? We were given a waiver to bring home, and went about our day.

The TAG classes were intimate, to say the least. With only six kids, we were given far more freedom than the average class. We watched movies, played instruments, and had discussions that lasted hours on a variety of topics. It was the kind of environment a classroom should ideally foster. Ms. P, our sole teacher, ran the gauntlet of advanced curriculum standards: classic literature, world history, higher-level math, but the way they were handled was different. At the beginning of the day, we would sit in a circle, hold hands, and close our eyes. We were told to recollect our dreams from the previous night the best we could, and tell them to the group. When talking about the morality of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we were taught that Hamlet’s tendency to take matters into his own hands through less-than-scrupulous means was a positive trait. We spent time learning about conquerors, men with ‘the Great’ attached to their name. We were told to embody their attitudes, their drive to succeed and take their life into their own hands. We were given secondary ‘nicknames’ that supposedly established a connection to a certain historical figure or entity. I was ‘Apollo’, undoubtedly because of the dreams I detailed during our meditations. We studied religions, and certain aspects were treated as fact. Miracles, angels, and jinn were explicitly expressed to us things that exist, but under different terminology. Most of what we dealt with circled back to discussions about powers higher than us. The eccentricities were a lot to take in for a kid, but I learned more in that class than any other period of my life.

Fridays were our "free day". That's when we had extended recess, threw class parties, and watched films. Well, at least in the second half of the day. The festivities were a reward for pushing through the first. On Fridays we were given a variety of performance tests in the health room. One of the suited men who administered the standardized test would come in, and set up something that looked like a polygraph machine. We were given an eye exam that involved wearing a headset and reading abstract symbols and letters. The characters were superimposed over outdoor environments, cities, and world monuments. Next, we were given a hearing test. We were told to make out words from an incredibly high frequency. When I would remove the headphones, I would completely forget how the noise sounded. Finally, we had to confront something that we referred to as 'Mophead'.

On the first Friday, after we had completed our initial round of tests, Ms. P brought the class to the basement of the school. The lights were out, save for a candle placed in the middle of a lengthy hallway. At its end was a blue door, most likely leading to a storage room. I remember exactly what Ms. P said: "Monsters are real. One by one, you're going to enter that door and face one." She left us to our own devices, and told us to visualize what the supposed creature behind the door looked like. For the next 30 minutes, we had concocted a story about the ghost of a school janitor, whose soul was now bound to a mop. A silly story, but lighting, mood, and an impressionable mind is an effective combination for horror. It got the job done, at least for me. While we were giggling and pretending to hide our fear, Ms. P returned, and told us to proceed. The brave facade fell, and the first of our group entered the door. She closed it, and we waited. Ten minutes later, P urged another child to enter, and then another. Eventually, it was my turn. With tears in my eyes, I opened the blue door, and I blacked out.

I remember a pitch black room, the feeling of metal restraints, brief flashes of insects crawling across my body, and a repeating, flashing symbol. I remember a level of dread and adrenaline I've never felt before. I remember waking up in Ms. P's arms with a headache, and being told I did well. I remember how quickly I brushed off the experience with cookies and cake. I remember how this happened every Friday, and I cannot forget.

Architect 08/12/20 (Wed) 03:50:32 #982733


Higher Minds Elementary

It wasn't until much, much later that I realized how incredibly wrong the TAG program was. I had almost forgot about the blue door, and whatever ordeal happened behind it. That was the nature of the trauma, easy to forget and bury. It bothered me enough that I began visiting a therapist last year, one who specialized in memory. Well, that wasn't the only reason I went into therapy, but unearthing those memories became a primary interest for the both of us. We've made strides the past couple months using a relatively new recollection practice, and I began putting more and more pieces together. What follows is a rough generalization of what may have happened.

I would enter the room and quickly found myself thrown into a chair. Some sort of restraints were used to keep me there. A suited man tells me that I'm going to be fine, and that I have to watch the screen. A projector turns on. Whatever is on the screen is horrible. Insects crawling, distorted faces, noises so loud I'm assuming they were just in my head. Tears. It doesn't end. A flashing symbol, every few seconds. Fractals. Roadkill. The symbol again. Awful things. My mother, watering our garden. A house fire. The symbol. A suited man walks near the screen. He has the symbol on his face. He has the symbol for a face. Safety. I feel a needle on my shoulder draw blood. I feel calm. The symbol alleviates the fear. Someone reads a number. I'm released. I end up in the classroom. Nothing is wrong. I can't remember the symbol. I know it, but I can't remember it.

I remember the day it stopped, too. Monday, May 10th, 2004, the day my parents died. I was playing in the garden after school, like usual. I'm digging around, setting up a battleground for my Lego, when I noticed someone watching me from across the fence. Being a beach town, it looked like a normal tourist, but I was freaked out. I ran into the house, and quickly told my parents. Of course, when we went to check, no one was there besides beach-goers in the distance, and I couldn't identify any of them as being the man I saw. Around 5:00, my grandparents came over. My parents were going out to dinner that night, and they had to watch me. I spent the rest of the night in my room, with the blinds closed, positioned in a corner, where I could see everything in the room from one spot. Around 11, my grandparents told me to come with them to the hospital. They didn't explain why. Drunk driver. Mom was dead. Dad was in critical. He wouldn't make it through the night. I don't know why they brought me.

I stayed in the waiting room with my grandfather, crying into his chest. Things get hazy. I'm told to wait by myself while my grandfather sees my father. Nothing feels real. A hospital worker lures me into a separate room. A dark room, with a single lamp, hovering over a dissection tray. A rotting, fetid bird corpse lays motionless on the table. The worker gestures to me, as if I know what I'm supposed to do. I comply. I have nothing left, so I comply. Mucus and tears sit on my face as I place my hands over the animal. Nothing. I'm urged to continue, 'Like I've done before'. Nothing. I continue to cry. The worker shines the light in my eye, and I see the symbol. I still can't do it. I don't know how much longer this went on, but I'm told to wash my hands, and to leave. I never said anything to Grandpa.

Within days, I was living with my grandparents. I left Higher Minds. They preferred public school, a change of setting to clear my head. Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if I stayed. I never had a bird dream again, and the terror I faced at that school was quickly overshadowed and forgotten by the wound of losing the two people closest to me. It's never fully healed, but it's definitely gotten better. Still, I never really found my footing. I have a whole slew of health problems, I work retail to keep myself busy, and I spend most of my free time taking care of my grandmother. It's the least I can do. I tried researching Higher Minds, GATE Programs, everything. I've come up with nothing. I've never told anyone besides my therapist, and any attempts to reconnect with my TAG classmates have failed. It's like they disappeared completely. No social media, no public records, nothing. That's all five of them. I have their names, if anyone's interested. Last week, I had a major breakthrough with my therapist. Honestly, it's the entire reason I decided to come forward and post this.

I've broken the barrier between my memory and the symbol. I spent hours trying to draw it, and I landed on something that got a reaction from me. It's not exact, but it's there. A warm, calm reaction. I stare at it, completely transfixed, and I wonder.


What does this symbol mean, and why was I conditioned to feel safe around it?

Ratkinning 08/12/20 (Wed) 03:59:02 #982736

Nice LARP. Gifted education threads are overplayed at this point.

JKull 08/12/20 (Wed) 04:02:27 #982738

Is r/nosleep down or something lmao

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License