The Magazine of History & Fiction

Lessons in Alternative History by John H. Dromey

Students should not know more than their teachers. That was once a given. Another social norm that should never be dismissed lightly was adults should not lie to children.

The youngster was a good student. Always had been. That reality should not have changed either just because he’d moved a few hundred miles to the north of his place of birth. It was not as though he’d entered a parallel universe where everything was supposed to be slightly different. Facts were immutable—they were not subject to doubt or debate. The youngster knew, for example, at the Battle of First Manassas the fighting commenced with a skirmish on the 18th of July 1861.

What was the matter with his new teacher? Had the educator lost his mother’s wit? What other possible explanation could there be for the man’s delusion that the battle in question took place at Bull Run on the 21st of July?

Other battles followed. Shiloh was shifted to Pittsburg Landing. Second Manassas to Second Bull Run. Sharpsburg to Antietam… The list seemed to go on and on.

Could something as simple as changing classrooms also change the location and duration of a military clash from nearly a century earlier? The answer was no the youngster decided. Both accounts could not be true. Someone was lying.

That school year the youngster learned to question the validity of statements made by others rather than to believe naively everything he was told. That life lesson stood him in good stead in years to come.

Bio: John H. Dromey enjoys reading—mysteries in particular— and writing in a variety of genres. He’s had short fiction published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Crimson Streets, Frontier Tales (Issue #36), Mystery Weekly Magazine, Stupefying Stories Showcase, Thriller Magazine, and elsewhere, as well as in a number of anthologies, including Chilling Horror Short Stories (Flame Tree Publishing, 2015).