Red Haired Boy

June 2, 2010
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Halle ran into the first classroom she came to. Inhaling the toxic fumes in the hallway for the last time, she spun into the safe space behind the wooden door. Breathing heavily against the warm wood, hand still on the cold doorknob, she clicked the lock without thinking and closed her eyes. She just had to come to school today. There had been warnings, notes left, but nobody took them seriously, nobody ever does. Until it happens. Threats to the school were tossed aside; nobody would have the guts to go through with a bomb, a shooting, or anything of that sort. Except that quiet kid with the flaming orange hair, what was his name? Nobody would have guessed. He was smart too, straight A’s, high honor roll since the fifth grade, smart enough to make a bomb, old enough to buy a gun. She had to come to school, just because the honors kid in her couldn’t afford to miss another history lecture, on the 1920s, her favorite time period, it was a good lecture.
“Who’s there?” a shaking voice called from the corner of the room. Halle threw her eyes open. She wasn't alone. What is it was him?
“Who’s there?” she echoed the voice, not wanting to give away her identity.
“I asked you first,” The voice was still shaking. She wasn't the only one scared. The screams, the blood, everybody was scared.
“Halle. Who are you?” she said quietly, still grasping the doorknob which was growing warm in her sweaty grasp.
“Anthony,” a dark browned haired, Italian looking boy stuck his head out from underneath the teacher’s desk.
“Hi,” what else was she supposed to say?
“Hi,” he answered, “Want to come sit with me? You can’t see behind the desk if you look through the window in the door, it’s hidden.”
“Thanks,” Halle slowly released the metal doorknob and pushed herself off the warm wood. She crossed the room and sat down, making sure her summer dress didn’t rise too far up her legs. It was warm, the first nice day of the season. She was going to the beach after school. Her mom said she cold skip school and spend the day in the sand and ocean. But she wanted to go to history.
“So what grade are you in?” Anthony asked. He was trying to be friendly, she laughed at the pure awkwardness of the situation. “Why are you laughing?”
“Life is funny sometimes,” she shook her head, she didn’t want her new friend to think she was insane. “I’m a junior. How about you?”
“Same. How come I’ve never seen you around before?”
“I don’t know? Are you in honors classes?”
“No,” Anthony looked at his lap.
“Well that’s why,” Halle answered, oblivious to his discomfort with the question. They sat in silence. Screams were heard from outside the door. He was close, the read haired boy with a gun. Cracks pierced the air and the screams stopped, as if in awe by the brilliant reds the noise created, like fireworks. Halle brought her knees to her chest, not caring if her dress went up further then socially acceptable.
“Do you have a phone?” Anthony asked, after the sounds of footsteps had passed. “I dropped mine somewhere in the cafeteria when-“ Anthony stopped. It had all started there.
“No, I’m sorry, mine is somewhere in the gym.” Halle hung her head in shame. Her mother would be trying to reach her. She was probably worried sick, thinking Halle was dead, just another victim of a tragedy. The gym was where everyone was rushed to, after the first gunshots in the cafeteria. Why not put all the targets in one place? That makes a lot of sense. Halle closed her eyes again. Everybody had been crying, teachers, girls, boys, their worst dreams came true. Nobody believed it would happen, but that was understandable because nobody believes his or her dreams will actually come true.
“My mom is going to kill me when I get home, I was supposed to pick up my little sister from the elementary school today,” so he was one of those kids who liked to make jokes out of deadly serious situations.
“Same, well, I was supposed to pick up the dry cleaning before they closed, because they close early on Fridays,” apparently, so was she.
“Well, I know I’ll be grounded for about two weeks for being selfish,” he smirked at Halle. “I know I’ll get the the-world-doesn’t-revolve-around-you lecture. How about you?”
“Oh, I get that all the time, I’m sure I’ll be blamed for the fact that now, my mom can’t wear her favorite black dress pants to work on Monday,” Halle shrugged, “I am just so inconsiderate!”
“Teenagers, what are you going to do with them?” Anthony joked. They each smiled a little. Pretending that everything was fine when it wasn't. Good plan. Silence took them again.
Anthony played with the gold cross hanging from his neck. Moving it left, right, left, right. Halle looked up at the sudden scratching noise.
“Sorry,” Anthony said, dropping the necklace.
“Don’t worry about it, you can do whatever, I am the one intruding on your hiding place,” Halle said with a smile as she spun her solid silver bracelet around her thin wrist.
“Yeah you are. You owe me one,” Anthony made a joke again.
“Sounds fair to me, I’ll buy you lunch on Monday,” Halle joked back. She liked their fantasy world, the world where maybe they were only playing a game of hide-and-seek.
“Pizza, super-sized,” Anthony put in his request for a double portion of the most popular school lunch.
Silence fell once more. There were no footsteps in the hall but that didn’t mean the terror was over. It was a big school. The red haired boy could be anywhere. Since the room had no windows, Halle noticed glancing around, they couldn’t even tell if police had arrived yet.
The tension and fear in the room was lit on fire by a knock on the warm wooden door. Halle gasped and Anthony cursed under his breath. They locked eyes and made a silent pact to not move, to not say a word, no matter what.
“Anybody in there? It’s the police!” a male’s voice said along with more knocking. “Don’t be afraid, come out!”
Halle pleaded with Anthony through her eyes to check the door with her. She wanted out, and police were safe. Anthony shook his head violently and said in a voice so low Halle had to lean in close to his lips to hear, “The police wouldn’t announce themselves.”
Halle’s blue eyes doubled in size. She knew he was right. The red haired boy was right behind the door. She started breathing faster. In, out, in, out, in, out, her chest raising and falling in time to her quickening heartbeat. She held it when a warm hand was placed over hers. Anthony put a finger to his lips, telling her to be quiet. She nodded and tried her best to control the anxiety building up inside her stomach like wildfire.
“Are you sure nobody is in there?” The sound of jiggling metal was heard and Halle almost lost it. If it weren’t for Anthony’s hand over her mouth, she would have screamed bloody murder. The room wasn't locked. Halle had been able to walk right in, why couldn’t the red haired boy? Did she lock it? Halle didn’t remember.
“Last chance!” The murdered called from less then three feet away. Halle and Anthony refused to exhale until the sound of his footsteps against the tile of the hallway faded away. When they couldn’t hear him they both let out all the worried air from their lungs.
“That was close,” Halle whispered the obvious.
“You could say that again,” Anthony whispered back.
“How did you call that police thing?” Halle continued to whisper even though they knew the red haired boy was far away from them.
“I know his voice, I feel like it is going to be one of those sounds I will remember for the rest of my life,” Anthony’s tone closed the discussion.
“I wish there was a clock in here,” Halle stated, breaking silence that followed the tension left by Anthony’s last statement.
“I know, I feel like we have been here forever,” Anthony exaggerated.
“Maybe we could try to make an escape? This room is the closest to the end of the hallway by the stairs that are right by the exit to the teacher’s parking lot? If we sprinted, I think we could make it?” Halle asked with optimism.
“I don’t think so,” Anthony shook his head, “We don’t know how far away he is.”
“I could go look out the window in the door? We don’t hear him anymore right?” Halle offered. She really wanted to get out, to get home, to cuddle up in her pajamas and forget all about this day, to go to her yearbook from last year and look up the red haired boy’s name.
“I guess, you could, just be careful,” Anthony let go of her hand that neither of them realized he was still holding and she crawled across the room to the wooden door. Once at the door, she slid her body up the wood and glanced out and screamed., letting out all the frustration and fear of the day.
Staring back at her through the transparent glass was a boy about her height with smirking silver braces on his teeth, too many freckles that blended with angry acne on his face, and flaming red hair on his head.
“Open the door Halle,” red haired boy said calmly looking into her eyes while keeping his gun in her line of sight. She did what he said without a second thought. Her survival instincts told her not to disobey the man with a gun.
“Don’t let him in!” Anthony had gotten out from behind the desk when she screamed but his pleas were lost on Halle’s ears clogged with terror.
“Well, look who we have here,” red haired boy sauntered into the room, stroking the barrel of his gun with confidence. “Anthony.”
“Don’t do this,” Anthony said walking toward him.
“Telling me what to do again? Well, look how the tables have turned! You are in no position to tell me what to do, now are you?” red haired boy taunted Anthony. Halle looked back and forth between the boys. What was the red haired boy’s name? She knew he was in her physics class.
“Just put the gun down, we can talk about this” the boys seemed to have forgotten Halle was in the room. She saw her chance to run, but even thought her gut told her to get out of there while she still could, her mind wouldn’t let her leave Anthony, her new friend, with this mad man. Maybe she could help?
“Um, hi?” Halle said softly and both boys turned to look at her.
“You could go sweetheart, you nicely led me to my target and I really don’t want to kill you, you’re too smart to die,” the red haired boy knew her, but why didn’t she know his name?
“Um, no, I think we can work this out without getting violent,” Halle attempted peace.
“Do you know who this is?” red haired boy said pointing the gun at Anthony. “This is Tony! Tony who has bullied me since as far back as I could remember! He was there when I took my first steps, just so he could trip me. He has never let me do anything ever without being there to make me look bad. No, this has gone on long enough to be solved peacefully.”
“Don’t do this,” Tony warned. Halle looked at the kid she had been stuck with under the desk; he didn’t look like he was capable of being a bully.
“But I want to so badly, I told you one day you would regret the way you treated me, I told you that one day you would beg me for mercy, beg me to be kind. Well start begging Tony,” red haired boy taunted. Halle wanted to call his name, wanted to break him out of the trance he was in. But she didn’t know it.
“Please, please, please, do not do this, I beg you, I-“ Anthony begged with his hands clasped together nea his necklace. But red haired boy cut him off, “Not good enough.”
The piercing crack of the gun was sounded and almost instantly Anthony’s tee shirt was being stained with liquid flames. Halle was hypnotized by how fast the light blue shirt turned an unforgiving red. She should be grossed out, she should look away out of respect, she should remember the boy’s name. Anthony fell to the ground, hands still clasped together, dead.
“Sorry you had to witness that,” red haired boy said turning to her with a smirk. Fear was spreading throughout her entire body as fast as the blood soaking Anthony’s shirt. “He had to go. But you on the other hand, might not.”
“What?” Halle mumbled, not knowing how to respond. She couldn’t run either; the fear had her feet glued to the floor.
“Well, as much as I hate to leave witnesses, I know I am going to kill myself in the end anyway, so sparing you wouldn’t be that bad. Plus, you’re smart, so it wouls be a waste to kill you,” he slowly moved toward her, gun at his side. “I’ll give you one chance. Does that sound fair?”
Halle just nodded, she didn’t want to die, but couldn’t find the words to say so.
“What’s my name?” red haired boy asked simply. “Call me by my name and you walk home safe.”
Halle froze. She didn’t know. He was that quiet kid with the flaming red hair, smart with straight A’s, on the high honor roll since the fifth grade, in her physics class, but what was his name?
“It’s a shame that you don’t know,” were the last words Halle heard before the pressure to her chest invaded her heart, causing the liquid fire and fear to finally escape her body.

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