Chapter 45

“You will thank me for this tomorrow. You will need all these lessons when you are confronted by the people of the devil.” Dorcas mouth curled in distaste at having to even say the word.

“I need to go to the bathroom,” Magdala begged. She was too exhausted to cry again. She felt the spot on her face where she had been slapped. It still stung mildly. Her legs were cramped and her back ached from sitting against the cold wall. She wished she had the strength to shout. Even her small bedroom at home seemed inviting. How welcome it would feel to sleep on her lumpy mattress.

The bathroom window was two floors up and had a wire screen over it. Dorcas insisted on following Magdala to the lavatory and into the stall. Brother Michael’s voice blasted through her relief as another tape told how parents and friends on the outside are evil forces to be avoided. Funny, as mad at her mother as she remembered being, she never thought of her as evil. Her head swam as she dutifully followed Dorcas back to the classroom.

Hour after hour the preaching continued, taught by teachers who were fresh from the sleep the new followers begged for. Finally they began to recognize there would be three hours of blissful sleep, after which, they were hosed down in cold  showers, given clean clothing, and were ushered back to the learning centers. They were often given a small task, like folding napkins or stapling booklets, which would be given to those on the outside who listened to their rehearsed speeches, after days of orientation. They no longer looked at each other for reactions or small talk, but sat complacently, like docile lambs, and began to believe whole heartedly that they were the Chosen. They were ready to convince the evil doers. There was only this world and the world outside They had found inner peace

Without thinking about it, Magdala knew she was a devout convert. On fourth day she was granted a four hour rest. When she awoke, more refreshed than she had been for days, she was presented with a cloth bag containing several dozen pencils, an assortment of incense sticks, and pamphlets to be given freely to those souls in need of The Word. In return they would accept contributions to keep the temple alive to continue its good work, as well as being welcomed into the fold.

These contributions were Magdala’s personal gift to the commune and would earn her a reward in heaven. Her duty was to free others of their worldly burdens and bring them into the sanctuary to be helped as she had. Magdala was ready.