Allison M Dickson

Allison M Dickson

BIO: Although she has the appearance of a thirty year old woman, Allison is actually four hundred and thirty seven years old. Allison is one of the last known Immortals. While she is a veteran of the Dark Wars, she has managed to accomplish many things in her long life. She has worked in such varied professions as falconry, demon hunting, haberdashery, and alpaca farming. For the past one hundred years or so, Allison has taken up writing. She is the author of many short stories and several novels. Her most recent short story The Good Girls is available at Amazon for the extraordinarily low price of 99 cents.

The following short story is a prequel to her novel The Last Supper coming in 2013 from Hobbes End Publishing.

Rite of Passage

The teacher turned to her class and smiled, even though every part of her pulsed with anxiety. Last night, after a lot of agonizing, and a bottle of contraband wine to lubricate the process, Sandy Grafton, fifth grade teacher at the Divine Rite Academy, burned the official rubrics and wrote her own, officially making her a “Nil,” as the Rite liked to call the few who dared rebel against the standard dogma.

Today, she would teach the truth. Or at least as much of it as she could in one day. The Rite’s agents would almost certainly be knocking down her door by tomorrow morning, or perhaps even later tonight if word traveled fast enough, but she intended to accomplish a lot in the next six hours.

The children sat before her like little automatons, their faces all wearing identical expressions of calm anticipation, except for one solemn, pale-faced pupil in the front row. The Welland boy. Although he would never know it, he was the reason her ordained lesson plans were now so much ash in her fireplace. Maybe it was a message from God come to her in a forgotten dream. Maybe it was the boy’s eyes, haunted by some great loss to which she wasn’t privy, but she had a feeling. An instinct. The Divine Rite had done its best to breed such things out of people, but they were still only human, if barely. Whatever it was, this boy was an important keystone in the wall standing between the people and real enlightenment, and Sandy Grafton was going to give it a very small but important nudge that might help bring the whole thing down.

“Good morning, class,” she said, hoping the tremor in her voice was only inside her head.

“Good morning, Miss Grafton,” the children replied in a perfectly pitched unison that always chilled her blood, even after six years.

“I want you to put away your lesson books. I have something different in mind for today.” The students glanced at each other. A break in the routine was highly unusual, almost something to be feared. But she focused squarely on the Welland boy as she spoke, hoping to send him an unconscious message that this lesson in the way things really were and the way things should be was just for him, and that it would stay with him, perhaps only subconsciously, until the day would come for him to act. And that day would come. She would not live to see it, but the certainty of this boy’s fate was strong enough to eclipse any remaining doubt.

One of the other students, a sweet girl who always sat next to Welland named Linda, raised a tentative hand. “Teacher, what sort of lesson could we learn without our books?”

Whatever Sandy Grafton said next would change everything. She would either continue living in this false utopia called God’s Hope, where everything was green and perfect and sheltered from the weed-choked horrors of the land beyond, or she would be ventured away to a Cradle, where the agents would either reprogram her or, if they were merciful, feed her a Last Supper and let her join the ranks of the other departed souls who could not hold to the requirements of this brave new world.

After one last glance at the pale and solemn face of the boy she knew in her heart would someday save them all, she let the last of her fear fall away. Teaching was her job, and she was going to do it right this time. She would watch their faces light up when she told them about the real miracles of the universe, human nature and biology. The beauty of imagination. She’d sneaked in her dog-eared and now strictly forbidden copies of Huckleberry Finn, The Golden Compass, and Alice in Wonderland and planned to read aloud passages from their verboten pages.

They wouldn’t all know the value of today’s lesson. Most of these children were fitted for their Divine Rite garb long before they were even born. But she only needed to reach one of them. The truth was like a gun, and on the last day of her life, Sandy Grafton aimed right between young John Welland’s haunted eyes, and with a final deep breath, pulled the trigger.