“Were dinosaurs Christians?” Asterisk asked without bothering to raise his hand.
Teacher scanned his face for biometric signs of incorrigibility.
Proper attention would be paid. “Asterisk, please raise your hand and wait to be called upon before speaking. Will you comply?”
Asterisk raised his hand.
“Were dinosaurs Christians?” Asterisk asked.
“No,” Teacher responded. Precision was truth.
“Why not?” Asterisk asked, his hand still raised high.
Teacher, free of high order tonals, explained, “Dinosaurs were animals that lived tens of millions of years ago that had no capacity for understanding religion or faith. Christianity is approximately two thousand years old. There is no logical correlation between dinosaurs and Christians.”
Asterisk did not waver as he lowered his hand. “So, dinosaurs were never saved. All of them are in Hell?
“Or purgatory,” Tilde added from across the pod.
Teacher pivoted. “Eschatologically speaking, dinosaurs had no souls and were therefore not sacrosanct, bypassing any need for final judgment.”
The parameters of theological discussions were challenging for Teacher. Precision was truth, but understanding was paramount. Personalized pings sounded in the chamber. Students focused on their tablatures where Teacher clarified.
Unsatisfied, Asterisk asked, “Dinosaurs just died?”
“Like many ancient species and more modern ones, notably the African elephant and blue whale, dinosaurs became extinct,” Teacher responded levelly. “We will learn more about such extinctions in Frame B of Level 7, approximately eight weeks hence.”
Asterisk held up his tablature for Teacher to see. He had zoomed in on an image of a brontosaurus scaled in comparison to a human form. “Dinosaurs were so big. They must’ve had souls. My parentals say every living creature has a soul. What do you think, Teacher?”
Teacher opened bandwidth to Principal before responding. “Parentals are the prime prerogative. Doctrines vary. Let us continue with our lesson on—“
“Teacher,” Asterisk interrupted, “do you have a soul?”
Baseline biometrics perked on all Teacher’s students. Principal interfaced briefly. Teacher performed an expansive gesture. “That is not for me to say. My purpose is to teach.”
“What will happen when you can’t teach?” Tilde asked with genuine concern.
Teacher froze. Principal usurped. Tablatures pinged. Students saw the emergency drill symbol flashing. The pod doors slid open. Corridor monitors buddied up and led the children to exits.
In the center of the learning pod, Teacher rebooted. Principal cross checked. Teacher requested theologic updates. Principal acquiesced. Teacher stored the files and then reacquired pod control, monitoring the students again, resetting their tablatures and reassembling the lesson that had been interrupted.
When the students returned from the emergency drill, Teacher greeted them, then assessed the drill performance and smoothly transitioned to the intended lesson. Asterisk and Tilde remained content.
After the day’s learning cycle, Teacher interfaced with the other Teachers and Principal. All recalibrated from the learning they’d given and received.
Later, in a warmly lit corner of the classroom, Teacher powered down for the night. Its slender beryllium digits upraised and gently interlaced. Ovoid head bowed. Sensors turned inward. Upward.
Some titles, like this one, are irresistible. Excellent sci-fi flash served with a dollop of philosophy.
Beautiful piece, very much enjoyed.
As a writer, a dinosaur fanatic, an educator, and a spiritual individual, I enjoyed this little story immensely. Well done!