My booted feet crossed on my desk, my arms thrown over the backrest, I lean back in my chair, balancing it on only two of its legs as I take in the sight of her luscious rear.
Chalk screeches against the blackboard as she draws a straight line horizontally, cutting through the vertical one already there. At the end of the stroke, the chalk snaps under pressure. Turning around, vivid green eyes blazing with fury behind her glasses, she throws the stub at me.
My brand-new implant hums slightly at the base of my skull, slowing the world in my perception several fold. I watch the piece of chalk tumble end over end through the air towards me. Reaching out for it with my mind, I draw all the kinetic energy out of it and into my Gate. It stops dead in its tracks over three metres away from me, then plummets to the ground under the effect of gravity. The implant falls silent and my perception of time returns to normal. Meeting her gaze, I smirk.
She bristles like a cat on hot bricks and stamps her foot. “Stop leering at me, you letch! I’m your teacher!”
My sneer grows cruel. I lean forward and the floating front feet of my chair hit the ground with a loud clack. Reaching out for her distantly with my hand clawed, I feel the familiar hum of my implant fill my skull.
Her eyes bulge in shock as she feels herself being choked. Her hands rise to her throat and she scrabbles at it, trying to pry the invisible hand off. I press harder and her back slams against the blackboard and as I raise my hand upward slowly, she is dragged upward along it by that invisible grip on her neck.
As her feet lift off the ground, she starts kicking and flailing. Her face grows blue from the lack of air and I can see tears glittering at the corners of her eyes. Her fingernails leave bright red marks along her throat as she claws at it desperately trying to get the hand that is choking the life out of her off.
Her struggles weaken gradually, the vigorous kicks turning into intermittent spasms. Her hands fall limply by her sides and her eyes begin to lose focus, rolling upwards. At the final moment before she faints, I let her go and she crumples onto the ground. For a moment, she doesn’t breathe. Then with a shuddering gasp, she draws breath. Her head bent down, her long lustrous black hair falling around her face, she hacks and coughs as she pushes herself up on her forearms on the ground.
Leaning back in my chair, I distantly clutch her hair and jerk her head back revealing the prim and proper face from a moment ago marred by snot and tears. Glasses askew, her green eyes are now murky with fear. I watch her scramble to regain her balance as I jerk her upright by her hair. Her high heels cause her to twist an ankle. Biting her lip, she refuses to cry out from the pain. She can’t stop the tears that flow out of her eyes, though. I let go of my telekinetic grip on her hair and she staggers, wincing when she accidentally puts her weight on the injured ankle.
“Yes,” I say, crossing my arms with a sneer. “You’re my teacher… But you’re also Ungated and a surface-dweller. You’re my slave. My toy. And you’re expendable.” I pause to let that sink in before continuing, “I could choke you to death and no one would shed a tear. I speak from experience. How else do you think this post suddenly became available in the middle of the year?” I indicate lazily towards the board. “Go on. Do your job. Teach.” I rake my gaze over her from top to bottom. “Or, I can think of some other uses I might put you to.”
I see her shudder under my scrutiny, the fear in her eyes growing stronger. She turns around shakily and fumbles as she tries to pick up a piece of chalk from the niche beside the blackboard, dropping it on the ground where it shatters into several pieces. She cringes, shrinking into herself and trembling. I appreciate her shapely posterior perfectly outlined by a black skirt one size too small for her, noticing the white smudges of chalk on the skirt, her black blazer and her hair from when I dragged her across the board, smudging the diagram she’d been drawing.
“Go on!” I snap, impatience clear in my tone. Startled, she picks up a stick of chalk in her trembling hand and begins drawing the figure again.
A vertical line, a horizontal line, and a diagonal passing through their point of intersection. She draws arrowheads at both ends of the lines and labels them. X, Y and Z. The point of intersection, she labels O. The origin.
She draws a circle centred on the origin and encompassing all three axes. Now the figure looks like the face of a clock with twice as many hands.
Not daring to turn around, she explains in a voice hoarse from being choked, “Our universe has five dimensions.” She traces the three axes. “Three spatial dimensions.” She taps the circle with the chalk. “One temporal dimension.” Finally, she points at the origin. “And one energetic dimension – also known as the Zeroth Dimension.”
As she speaks, she regains some confidence and her voice becomes steadier.
“The first four dimensions – space and time – cannot be altered by any known means. The Zeroth Dimension, though, can. It is basically the record of the distribution of energy in the universe. Either in the form of bound energy – mass – or unbound energy like electrical or kinetic energy. It is at once a minuscule point and a sphere with infinite radius that covers the entire universe.
“We can affect the Zeroth Dimension with our thoughts by setting up one-dimensional conduits of power that link the dimension with our Gates. Those talented enough to sense their Gate can draw upon the near infinite energy within and push it out into the world in the form of the more conventional energy types like heat or kinetic energy.
“They can also absorb the energy of the surroundings and pull it into their Gate. Like you did to the chalk. Or, manipulate the existing energy in the region.” She gulps. “Like what you did to me….”