Bootcamp for Barbara, by Patrick Zac


Bootcamp for Barbara




(Newspaper clipping from The Beacon Independant – Stratford, Ontario)
 
October 25, 2016
 
St. Michael Secondary School junior Barbara Halbachs will spend the rest of the semester at bootcamp, say school officials. The crime? “We have verified that she has told a teacher and other students that she knows how to bring people back from the dead,” said Principal Martin Henson.
What makes this case notable is that her parents have filed a lawsuit against the Catholic district school board. “Our daughter wears black,” said father Jacob Halbachs in a prepared statement. “She has a laptop and we let her play violent games on it. She loves reading fictional horror stories when she’s on the web. We even allowed her to get a tattoo when she turned 16. But none of that makes her a criminal, or, as certain other people would have you believe, a witch.”
The teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims that Barbara was in English class during the discussion of a novel by Mary Shelley when the mention of her abilities occurred: “Barbara said she’d been reading about how to resurrect people and spirits. Then she told the class about a book she obtained which I will not mention here, and went on to describe rituals that require strange symbols and animal blood. She also said that she has stitched together pieces of corpses and talked to dead people. That’s when everyone started feeling scared. That’s when I knew there was a real problem.”
Police promptly began trying to discover the true nature behind Barbara’s words. So far, this has only revealed a number of small unidentified bones in Barbara’s room, along with two tomes on the subject of medieval black magic (one titled The Lesser Key of Solomon, the other titled The Complete Picatrix), and a carving knife. All of which her parents admitted to authorities they were unaware of. The investigation is ongoing.
In the meantime, St. Michael’s Secondary has attempted to alleviate the situation with a motion to remove all material that they feel could influence similar sorts of behavior, resulting in a massive ban of books from the school library. Using a number of newsletters sent in the mail and through e-mail, they are urging parents to keep a vigilant lookout for any ‘satanic’ content that their children may be in possession of.
One newsletter outlines percieved dangers of mature-rated videogames, while another insists that horror films should be avoided. Supposed hidden messages in rock and roll songs are also discussed, and many of these letters contain prayers that can apparently be used to ward off evil.
Other people, however, are skeptical.
When asked about the situation, more than 60 percent of locals did not agree with the school’s actions. Many townspeople told reporters that they believed Barbara was only making it all up to cause a stir. “Are you kidding me?” says one Stratfordian, Daniel Trent. “They should be looking for those psychos who actually kill people, not sending everyone out on some hokey witch-hunt. Banning books, labelling that girl as some kind of heathen, I mean, doesn’t it all sound a little archaic? What year is this?”
Barbara Halbachs will be treated at the Venture Academy Bootcamp in Barrie, Ontario. But she will not be alone. This year, nearly 55,000 young people have been enrolled in Canada’s CSIS-run ‘good behavior’ camps.
Fortunately, The Beacon was able to catch an interview with Barbara, just before she got on the bus taking her out of town. “I’ll just work on my powers and come back,” she said. “It just made me so mad the way the teacher was talking about Mary Shelley, like she wasn’t even a person, calling her evil and all that. Well, I say she created beautiful works of art and imagination. So I was just trying to show a different way of thinking. Besides, it’s not like I actually did anything wrong. And it’s not as bad as everyone thinks. For one thing, I raised old Mr. Polonis up, just two weeks before. I always liked him—everyone did. He was just happy to tell me about his better days. We even went to a drive-in to see Night of the Living Dead and ate popcorn.”
Whether Barbara’s testimony is legitimate or the result of an overactive imagination will remain a mystery until police finish their investigation.




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