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The Ritterson School for Psychic Powers

By: David William Jurgenson

Frankenstein, Missouri

Headmaster McGovern squeezed a crimson stress ball in his ancient, liver-spotted hand that looked like a heart. “Miss Vallow, after careful consideration by the Ritterson board, we’ve made the unanimous decision to expel you from school.” He locked his eyes with hers. “Unless you’ve got anything to say that I can bring to the board to change their minds.

“Headmaster, I didn’t do anything! When I woke up, the dorm was on fire.” Vallow looked at a lava lamp on his desk. It had green, liquid blobs that seemed like a bulbous octopus head and tentacles dancing about.

McGovern scoffed. “Two students suffered second-degree burns. If you hadn’t set the building on fire, no one would have been injured.”

Vallow’s nostrils flared and her jawline bulged as she ground her teeth. “I’m 12 years old, I can’t control my powers! It’s why I’m in school. I had a nightmare my mom was dying.

Vallow had asked the school if her parents could attend the meeting with her. The school had delivered a message at her quarters a half hour before the meeting saying her parents had an accident and would be delayed. Her Mom and Dad said they were really sorry and were coming as soon as they could.

The note didn’t sound like her parents. They’d never had an accident in their lives. Vallow’s stomach felt like molten lava.

A purple and white striped horny toad in a glass case took a hop around across sparkling, misty sand. The lizard expanded its bulbous throat sack and breathed a red plume of flame.

“Miss Vallow, you’re a third year. Most students learn to control their powers by the time they’re a second year.”

“Sir, I’ve done what my teachers asked me to do. Nothing works. I think because the school is fake.”

McGovern smiled but his eyes didn’t. “I don’t think the problem is with the school.”

He extended a hand at a shelf and a large leather-bound book levitated off the shelf, floating to him in a sparkling trail. The book opened upon the desk and McGovern leafed through it, making tutting sounds. “Your school records show we used to have very high hopes for you. You’ve been a straight-A student, actually top of your class at one point. Quite a gifted cellist too. You could make a career in the arts.

“You showed a powerful pyrotechnic psychic ability, but instead of improving your gift, your teachers reported you started asking a lot of questions. Questioning the curriculum, questioning the school’s mission, and then you stopped applying yourself.” McGovern closed the book and pushed up his horn-rimmed glasses to the bridge of his owlish nose. He screwed his pink, wormy lips together like a corkscrew. “You went from the top of your class to the bottom.”

Vallow’s face darkened. She shook her head, and mumbled, “It’s cause I figured out what was really going on here.”

McGovern leaned back into his wing-backed leather chair, folding his fingers underneath his chin. “Well, by all means, enlighten me as to what you discovered.”

“This school is a scam. It’s obvious you’re using this place as a front for something else.”

McGovern’s quivering lips stretched into a long, cat-like smile. “Ah, so you think Ritterson is a crime ring? I’ll admit, I think I’d look pretty good as a mobster. They dress rather stylishly in those suits, don’t they?”

“You can laugh all you want, but it’s true. Nobody has ever graduated from Ritterson. Everybody has dropped out or been expelled. Nobody ever stays in contact with their classmates after they leave.”

McGovern grunted. “Well, they’re busy working.”

“50 people left. Why don’t you call one of them?”

“This conversation isn’t about other people, Miss Vallow; it’s about you.”

“You’re hiding something. If you weren’t, you’d call somebody right now. It’s not hard.”

“There is an old saying, ‘He who earns the gold, makes the rules.’ You haven’t made a very persuasive case. You haven’t given me any reason to change the board’s decision.”

“Because I don’t want to be here anymore.” Vallow got up. “I’m going to get my stuff. I want to leave once my parents get here.”

McGovern scowled, his brows furrowing into two deep, sharp spikes. “You realize there’s no turning back if you go down this path?”

“Yeah, I know, thanks. I’m leaving.” Vallow began walking to the door.

McGovern waved his hand at the door. It glowed incandescent blue.

Vallow tried the handle. It didn’t budge. “Why did you lock the door?” She threw her hands up and spun around.

“I’m sorry. I take no pleasure in what I have to do. I must fulfill the termination clause in your contract as part of my duties.” He raised his hands and chanted, “Tenebris anima vestra contundito mortem el conteret spiritum!”

“What are you talking about? That has nothing to do with me!  My parents signed all my paperwork.”

“Yes, well, as they say, buyer beware. It’s really a pity it’s come to this. Goodbye, Miss Vallow.”

A shimmering, black sigil materialized in the air. From within the sigil, an ancient, inhuman voice spoke, “As per the terms of our bargain, it is time for you to give me your soul.”

“WHAT!” Vallow shrieked, and then her face drained of all color. “You can’t make some deal with the devil for me! You can’t make me part of this!”

“It’s the God, Yog-Sothoth, not a demon. He is the deity of all-knowing.”

Vallow’s feet levitated off the floor and she started to scream. Vallow cried, pleading to McGovern to stop. The levitational force rapidly pulled her through the air to the sigil. The sigil grew in size and consumed her.

Then it was over. Where the sigil had been, now there was just smoke.

McGovern’s secretary knocked at his door and opened it a crack. “Your next student is here, sir.”

McGovern straightened his tie. “Thank you, Helen. Please ask Mr. Juszczyk to come in and take a seat.” She nodded and left the door.

A moment later, a timid boy entered the room and slid into the chair. He looked around the office and wrinkled his nose. “Weird. Why does it smell like brimstone in here?”

“It’s fine, nothing to worry about.” He got right to the point. “Mr. Juszczyk, I’m afraid to tell you, after careful consideration by the Ritterson board, we’ve made the unanimous decision to expel you from school.”


The story has also been accepted by The Academy of The Heart and Mind magazine and will appear in the upcoming issue.

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