"I had a warning about what was coming, but I didn't recognize it. I teach - well, I used to teach - an art therapy class. For adults and children with Special Needs, at the community center. My students worked with watercolors and acrylic paints. Mostly abstract and non-representational paintings, really - colors and shapes, very Expressionistic. But some of the students would try to represent real things.
About six months ago, the more gifted students started to produce work that was... darker. Both literally and figuratively. The hues and colors slowly changed - suns that were once lemon yellow turned red and then deep purple. Dark figures appeared in their backgrounds, people with their mouths open, their arms stretched out in front of them. Some of them would cover a whole canvas with black paint, and in the black ground they would trace countless eyes... hungry, malevolent eyes. You couldn't see them unless you actually turned the painting so that the light would catch the brush strokes, but the eyes were there. Watching you.
And then there were the really disturbing pictures - the pictures of their loved ones, even their pets, having been killed. One of them even painted a portrait of herself as a zombie. At the time I was just confused and sickened. I thought that it was my fault, that somehow I had brought out this disturbing darkness in my students - it was the exact opposite of what I was looking to achieve. Eventually I canceled the class - the paintings were getting too grotesque, and the pictures that some of the students were producing were actually influencing the others. Some of them would just be upset very badly, but in other cases the nightmares seemed to be... contagious.
I feel terrible about it now. What they must have been going through. I'm sorry I took away the one outlet they had to express what they must have been seeing in their dreams. The one way they had to cry out for help."
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