The Study Group

Sjoerd van Wijk


At night they come to stand next to your bed and take notes. You hear scribbling noises that you were sure was a dream. Except that it isn’t.

There they stand when you open your eyes. In long, white coats wearing stethoscopes. Their eyes light up yet not from the moon outside. As if they shine out of themselves. One of them wears glasses. Look closely and you can see.

You can scream all you want, they will not react. They will not be scared. They will stand and keep examining. They will take notes. You can try to grab a hold of them, try to hit them. Throw your pillow at them. Alas, all will pass through as if they were not standing there. Except that they are.

Sometimes they pause their feverish writing to put their old gray heads together and convene. Whispering in a language you cannot understand. Pointing at you. They nod, and continue their nightly examination.

At last, you close your eyes from tiredness even though you want to stay awake and see what they do. Who knows what happens with your eyes wide shut.

When the morning light comes, they’re gone. Nowhere to be seen.  You shrug and tell yourself that maybe, just maybe, it was a dream that seemed all too real. That you’re awake now. That they never were there in the first place. You laugh as you get out of your bed.

And then you don’t. Your look hardens and your heart stops beating. Your feet step out onto a cold pencil on the floor. You start to slip and fall but regain balance before it’s too late.

There’s an old papyrus next to the pencil. You cannot remember having written on one yourself. You never write. You spend the evening playing video games after a hard day’s work. You shiver, but not from the cold outside or the coolness of the pencil underneath your foot.

You pick the piece of withered paper up. Strange signs that you cannot make anything of. You go to the library. You binge on research. Old books on esoteric knowledge. Hieroglyphs. Arcana. Wicca. Vagabond’s cant. Nothing will bring you closer to what may be a terrible truth. Or nonsense that you made up.

At night, you will go to sleep, unfulfilled. There was no answer. No translation. Just strange signs that you keep staring at with the lights still on until it finally is time to shut them down. You want it to be day again. Go back to the library. Keep reading. Keep looking for answers.

Except that you won’t. They return with their stethoscopes and white coats. A yellow wrinkled hand takes the paper back from you. At night they come to stand next to your bed and take notes. And there’s nothing you can do about that. Nothing.



Sjoerd van Wijk is a 29-year old writer based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Life feels like a dream to him, and he loves to share this vision through his art. He writes short stories and film screenplays. You can also find him behind a Dungeon Master screen leading players on his self-published Dungeons & Dragons adventures.