I first noticed it in class.
Anatomy and physiology was dragging on when I glanced at the analog clock. It took unusually long for the second hand to tick forward. I wondered why it had happened. It stuck with me until I had a chance to look it up and see if anyone else had experienced what I had. It’s something called chronostasis, or “Stopped Clock Illusion.” This was a couple of weeks ago.
There’s something else called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon — notice something and you’ll be more inclined to notice it in the future. I want to chalk it up to this theory, but I was becoming fascinated with the mind and its ability to warp perception so easily. I kept glancing at the clocks in my everyday life and the illusion was happening more frequently. Some of you might have experienced this before and are probably wondering what the big deal is. I don’t blame you. It’s a cool little trick that happens every so often and it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. The thing is, it became much more intense for me and…much more unsettling.
After the first couple of times of trying to recreate it, I noticed something strange. It seemed as though with every repeated instance, the second hand of the clock took a fraction longer to move. I would be sitting in class and I would test it out. The monotonous voice of my professor drowned itself out as I stared at the surface of the clock, the second hand taking impossibly long to lapse over to the next moment in time. It got to the point where it felt like minutes had gone by, the second hand seemingly frozen in time. The fluidity of my surroundings slowing to the viscosity of molasses. Speech becoming indiscernible as decibels lowered, voices slowed. I thought I was going insane.
It upset me so much I avoided looking at analog clocks for a while. I know it seems silly, but I thought I would get stuck in time. It felt like half an hour had passed the last time the illusion, if I can even call it an illusion, happened. During that time, an intense feeling of dread slowly built itself up in the pit of my stomach. It wasn’t worth it to keep toying with whatever was happening. I didn’t know how tough avoiding analog clocks was until I was forced to. They’re quite literally everywhere. On the dash of older cars, on buildings, in buildings. They’re in so many places that it was bound to happen and it did.
I was walking through campus and I had to cut through the cafeteria to my next class. I forgot that the cafeteria housed a massive analog clock, facing the rotating doors that I had just passed through.
The student body grinded to a halt. I’d never experienced this while moving, but this time I did. I couldn’t do anything but stare straight ahead. Every function of my body stopped, aside from my consciousness. Not feeling the familiar thump of my heartbeat only added to the growing sense of dread that was slowly filling the vessel that housed my thoughts. Nothing moved and it felt as though 15 minutes had passed. I was slowly getting tunnel vision when something caught my attention.
In my peripheral vision, I could make out a couple small shadows growing in size. They were sparsely spread throughout the mass of students in front of me. As they grew in size, so did the dread in the pit of my stomach. Long, slender appendages were being formed as they took the shape of what I can only describe as slender men. They noticed me noticing them and that’s when a tinnitus-like sound erupted in my head. The high pitched whine became louder, eventually causing a splitting headache. The figures moved forward as if a strobe light was hitting them slowly. They moved forward sporadically as if I was blinking. If only I could close my eyes.
I fell forward onto the floor stunned. It took me a moment to gather myself as the other students looked on, wondering why I had fallen seemingly out of nowhere. Relief washed over me and I ran out of the cafeteria, staring at the ground.
This was a couple days ago and I’m scared to leave my room.