THE ACADEMY. NOONTIME

Debbie and all the students were assembled in the school's main hall. The head of the academy was discussing the recent 'alliance' of the church and President Sands.

"The President needs our support in these trying times." Immediately in back of him, an image of President Sands was displayed. "With his help, we can guide this nation on the true path. Praise Brother Bob."

"Praise Brother Bob." Said the children in eerie unison.

I now want you to focus your prayers and energy onto him. Pray that he will steer this nation onto the path of purity and righteousness! Against all who oppose us! To help purify the evil in our souls and protect us from corruption! Raise your hands! Focus your energy!"

All assembled obeyed, raising their hands towards the image of the president. Debbie reluctantly did likewise. She felt uncomfortable doing this, but dared not say anything. She knew nothing of politics, the president, or why Brother Bob supported him.

She was so tired.

The Head continued to discuss how this would help Brother Bob spread his message to the masses, and how he needed our help. This went on for another half hour. To Debbie, it was nonsense. She didn't care about ANY of this! She wanted to get away from this stupid place! No one listened to her or cared what she thought! It just wasn't FAIR!

"I would now like us to welcome Brother Toby back into our fold."

The room was deadly silent. A young boy walked onto the stage. He was slightly younger than Debbie, with deep sunken eyes, and a worn expression. As he walked up, next to the Head, she noticed he was rubbing his upper arm.

Just as she had since she came here.

"Brother Toby tried to run from us over a week ago. That was unwise of him. We had found him just yesterday. Did we not Brother Toby?"

"Yes… yes you did." He said softly.

"And what happened?"

After a few silent moments, he responded. "I… I was cured."

"That is correct. Learn from Brother Toby. You belong to us, and if you stray, we will always find you."

After the assembly, a bland lunch was served. Next were classes, mostly reading, math and Bible study. Before supper, there was prayer and discussion. During this time, the students in her group would explain why they were here. For some, it was because of disobeying their parents or the church elders. For others, it was because they felt that they couldn't accept the love of Brother Bob and the church.

Brother Aron told the group that he was sent because he had expressed unnatural feelings for males. He tried to keep it secret, but his parents somehow learned of this. As a result, he was sent to the academy much like Debbie was. The proctors gave him encouragement, stating that his parents were wise to send him to the academy to remedy his problem. Yet Debbie noticed Aron didn't seem too happy. His face was worn and tired, as if he had been subject to the same type of treatment she had.

She didn't like being here. In this room, the academy, her entire LIFE! If it wasn't for the dreams, she wouldn't have any sense of feeling at all!

But the dreams were bad.

Weren't they?

"Sister Debbie. Please tell us why you are here."

She snapped out of her thoughts. It was her turn.

She told of her dreams, and how it affected her. She told how her mother and elders were concerned about them. She did not share how she felt when she had the dreams, nor did she mention the young girl. The peers in her group gave her encouragement to fight the urges of the dreams. She reluctantly accepted their praise, but deep down, she did not want to. She just wished everyone would understand how she truly felt. That she felt a sense of freedom she never felt EVER! It just seemed everyone, her mother, the elders, this entire school didn't care about her feelings! Instead, everyone wanted to stifle what felt natural to her.

After the discussion, the bells sounded for evening supper. As she rose to leave, one of the proctors called out to her.

"Sister Debbie, remain."

She paused. With terrified instinct, she turned to face him. The other proctor shut the door as the last student left.

"Please be seated."

After a few tense seconds, the first proctor continued. "Sister Debbie, have you told us everything?"

Her eyes widened. Did they know? They couldn't have!

"I… I don't…"

"Your friend Sally heard you talk in your sleep."

"W… What?"

"You were calling out to someone. Who were you calling?"

She froze. They knew! What was she going to do?

As she pondered this, the door burst open. "Mister David! Come quick! It's Brother Aron!"

David grabbed the student and slapped him. "What's the meaning of this?"

"Sir! It's Brother Aron! He hung himself!"

At this, both proctors, and the student left the room. It took a moment for Debbie to register what happened. Would they be able to save him? She remained in the room, afraid. Outside, people were rushing around. Eventually, one of the proctors came for her. "Sister Debbie, come with us. We are assembling in the main area."

It seemed like an eternity. All the students, along with the proctors and teachers were waiting patiently for news of the situation. Finally, the head approached the podium.

"My friends. I have terrible news to report. Brother Aron has chosen to take his life, rather than accept our help." At this, a few students gasped. One even tried to hold back her sobs. A few moments later, he continued. "This is… unfortunate, but we must be vigilant. We are here to help with your problems, and correct them as needed. Let us pause to ponder this."

Debbie thought about what happened. Aron killed himself, and for what? She couldn't understand any of this! She wanted to leave, but couldn't!

It just wasn't FAIR!

She lowered her head. Please Bianca, if you do exist, please help me!