When Alan was seven years old, his teachers called in his parents for what is known as a 'quick chat'. The letter sent home stressed that Mr and Mrs Noll were 'not to be concerned' and it was common for 'many children of Alan's age', but they really did have to come into school at the earliest convenience. After a brief exchange of pleasantries the Nolls wedged themselves into the child-sized plastic chairs
offered to them and looked expectantly at Mrs Juul, Alan's form teacher who was sitting far more comfortably in a proper chair (ergonomic, no less) behind an expansive desk. Mrs Juul fiddled awkwardly with the colourful pens scattered across her giant desk, straightening them into neat bunches of three, and then sighed and pulled out a blue folder from a hidden drawer. Like the letter, she assured
the Nolls that "there really is nothing to worry yourselves with but..." She unbound the folder, "...but Alan has expressed certain..." Mrs Juul displayed a set of crude drawings, "interests." Mr and Mrs Noll leaned into the desk a fair way to see the childish scribbles before recoiling back in horror. In thick, black ink Alan had covered the pages in inverted
crosses, burning pentagrams, and all manner of morbid imagery. One particular sheet of paper was dominated by the Sigil of the Baphomet, about which were dancing stick figures with smiley faces and horns. It was all too much for Mrs Noll, who burst into tears. "There, there, dear." said Mr Noll, wrapping his arms about his wife. She sniffed, dried her eyes on her sleeve, and then
caught sight of the brutal markings again and dissolved once more into an ugly lament. "We should have known!" she wailed, "We should have seen it - it was right there!" Mrs Juul felt that it was now her turn to soothe Mrs Noll, after all, she did have the school secretary write the letter to summon the pair to school in the first place.
"Mrs Noll," she began. "Mrs Noll, Alan is a bright, bubbly boy. He works so hard in lessons, is so polite to the staff and - " She was cut off by her addressee blowing loudly into a lace handkerchief, "and I really could not wish for a better student." Mrs Noll shifted from under her husband's arms to wave her own across the massive desk, knocking some of the neat
piles of coloured pens. "But... but what about all this?" she blubbered. It was Mr Noll's turn while the teacher tried hard not to fix her stationary. "This is just Alan in a phase, love. He'll grow out of it." "But what if he doesn't?" "He will. He'll get bored and move onto something more..."
"Constructive." offered Mrs Juuls. Mr Noll nodded in affirmation. "Yes, constructive." But even as he said those words, his voice wavered. Sensing that nothing proactive would be done while Alan's parents were still in a state of shock and upset, Mrs Juul rose, thanked them for coming, and promised to set a plan with the
school's safeguarding officer. Alan would be just fine. *** Mr and Mrs Noll picked Alan up from football practise over at the local park. They smiled awkwardly as he ran over to them and drove home in silence. When they reached home, Mr Noll unlocked the door to let his family in and asked Alan to wait in the sitting
room, for there was something he needed to know. Something important - school had called them in today. Alan, the obedient boy that he was, obeyed. "Alan, we love you very much." said Mr Noll. "And we care about you." said his wife. "But, son, you can't draw evil
things like you did in class. It's not fair on your school, on you, on your mother. Especially your mother." Mrs Noll blew her nose loudly, and Alan hung his head in shame. "I'm sorry, mummy." he whispered to his boots. His mother held his hands tightly, and said, "It's alright, darling. Mummy isn't angry. But you have to promise me
one thing, okay?" "Yes, mummy." "Never, ever, for Satan's sake, use marker pens again." "Yes, mummy, I promise." "It's lamb's blood or nothing, Alan. It really is."