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Ten Minutes Of Hell

Class is in session, a normal spring day. I’ve opened the window to let the morning breeze fill the room. Nine o’clock, and rush hour has past. Now only a few cars pass the school on the road far below. Jefferson Middle School’s eighth grade English class is free reading today. I peek over my computer screen every few minutes or so, to make sure they’re on task. Roy was in the corner goofing off. On my way over there, a noise stopped me in my tracks.

A loud ‘pop!’, and then screams. Time seemed to freeze. The popping came faster and then there were no more screams. Students started to scramble for the door. Trying to close it, I blocked their way. With the door locked tight, I started shoving students behind my desk. The shots got closer and so did the cries. When one was abruptly cut off by a shot, a few of my students burst into tears. The shots came closer and closer and I worked to keep them quiet. A few even had their hands over their friends’ mouths. Tears were streaming down most cheeks. Others were still too stunned to even move.

Closer and closer, blood curd ailing screams and shots came until I could hear them right outside our door. Maybe a miracle would save us. Maybe he wouldn’t bother to even enter the room. Small cries were smothered behind my desk. But he heard us. Shots fireing one after one, piercing the glass and sending it shattering to the ground. He was reaching through the window that only had shards of glass poking out of it, and wrestled with the handle. Screams came again, but this time they were from my own class and from my own mouth. I heard him fireing more, but then abruptly stopped as something burst into flames. The sprinklers went off but the fire raged. Three more shots and the shooter retreated. I dared to peak out from my desk now. Papers and books were fueling the fire. The entire class was now crying and screaming. Now we weren’t going to be killed by the shooter, no the fire would take care of that.

“No! Everyone through the door!” I was yelling with adrenaline burning through my veins. No one listened. They just kept screaming and crying. Furiously, I started pulling them on their feet. The fire was spreading and the sprinklers barely made a dent. Our only exit besides a three-story drop was being engulfed in flames. After I shoved a few kids out the door, they got the idea. We joined the stampeded outside the room. Most of the sprinklers in the hall were going off now. Making the hallways slick. When I slipped and fell, I looked around. Kids and teachers were running, books, papers, pens, scattered the hallway. Along with something that turned my stomach.

A body. A student, with blood pooled around head, and streaks and footprints smeared it. I couldn’t move. Her face was covered with a veil of long blonde hair. Tears streamed more heavily down my cheeks, and another scream escaped my lips. Echoed by gunshots and casing falling to the floor. More screams. My head whipped around just in time to see the face of the shooter. One of my students was shooting his classmates.

This time he shot at the ceiling. A face of stone, a gun in his hand, a pack on his back. Unable to move, I just stared. Then someone grabbed my arm as he shot into the crowd. Faster and faster we ran, fueled by panic. More and more the distant the shots grew. Then one more, faint, but clear. Then there were no more. Rounding the corner I found what I could not have wanted more at that moment. The front door, just at the bottom of the stairs. Relief welled up in my chest as I ran through the doors. Police officers grabbed the students and teachers and handed us over to the paramedics. This tragedy seemed to take an eternity. When in real time it had only been ten minutes. Ten years of bullies for this kid turned into ten minutes of hell for the rest of us.




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This article has 4 comments. Post your own!

Carlie said...
Sept. 4, 2010 at 9:21 am:
Hey Lillie it is me your sister! Love it!!!
 
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mandingo said...
Apr. 27, 2009 at 4:56 pm:
Although a startling subject matter, I found the article to be impactful and certainly appropriate in today's troubled and disconcerting times.
 
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Scarlett said...
Apr. 21, 2009 at 9:59 pm:
I thought it was very well written. Subject matter kept my interest.
 
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Paul Blanke said...
Apr. 21, 2009 at 9:46 pm:
Wow! Lillie is my grand daughter and how proud I am - she is really good at writing.
 
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