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Another Day at School
“This is an emergency lockdown. All students please report to the nearest classroom.” This was probably just another drill in Tom’s mind. He was in the bathroom when the announcement was said over the intercom. The school had a lockdown drill just the week before, so Tom didn’t bother to care. He just sat there, and waited a few moments. Normally, lockdown drills lasted about four or five minutes. He sat in the stall, and about two minutes later, the announcement came on again, “All students report to the nearest classroom immediately.” He figured he’d just wait it out until the all clear was given. He pulled his phone out of his pocket, but had no service. Proland High School never had any service, most of the time. Tom leaned back and waited for the all clear announcement.
About eight minutes passed, and Tom began to wonder if this was just a drill, or if it was the real deal. It was extremely unlikely for there to be any reason to have a lockdown; Proland only had 327 students in the entire High School. Normally Tom would have left the bathroom and gone back to his 1st hour class, but because there was a drill last week, he figured this was just another. Tom simply sat there and waited for an announcement. Nobody entered the bathroom—it was just him. It had been about eleven minutes, when the lights in the bathroom shut off. It was dark, but not totally black. Some light from the hallway peeked through just enough to see. Tom stood up, opened the door of the stall and looked around. It was just him in the bathroom. The light switch, however, was still on. He knew that the emergency lights in the hallway had come on if there was a power failure, but the school’s backup power did not support the intercom system. Now there was no way of knowing how long the lockdown would last. The previous drill was only for about four minutes. This time, he knew something was wrong. It’d been thirteen minutes since the first announcement stating there was a lockdown. Tom stood up, and walked out of the stall. His heartbeat was faster than normal, and his palms began to sweat. He became somewhat anxious.
Tom used his phone screen as a light. He had an older phone, but it still worked well. He walked out of the bathroom, and looked around to see if anyone was in the hallway. Tom’s first hour class was Physiology, and he was on the 2nd floor of the school. Proland High School only had two floors, and there was only one stairwell. Tom walked over to a classroom and knocked on the door. The lights inside the classroom were off, and the students were all in one corner where anyone outside the room could not see them. It was dead silent, and nobody opened the door. It was almost as if the entire high school was empty. Tom tried other classrooms, but again there was no answer. Tom walked back into the bathroom and sat down leaning against the wall. He received a text message on his phone from one of his good friends, Kenneth. He read, “I think this is a real lockdown. It’s been like 20 minutes.”
Tom wrote back, “yeah, and I’m in the freakin bathroom.” He sat there and waited.
“That sucks,” replied Kenneth.
“When do you think this’ll be over?” wrote Tom. This time, the message didn’t send. It was rare for any cellular communication to work at all in the school, but a few text messages would get through every once and a while. Tom stood up and glanced out into the hall once more. Again, it was dead silent. Tom figured he should go try and find an open room, or at least some other people. He walked down the hall about thirty feet toward the stairwell. He stopped for a moment, and heard talking.
“Put it down,” spoke a soft male voice.
“Get out of my way… I’m giving you ten seconds.” There was a slight pause.
“I said, put it—”
“Shut up and move, dammit!” The sound of two gunshots blast through the air, followed by a third, and then a fourth. Silence filled the air, and then there was a quiet thud. Tom was frozen. He couldn’t move, but he was shaking. He waited a moment, and heard footsteps. They sounded as though they were getting farther away. Tom heard the lower level door of the stairwell creak open, and then shut. Tom stood in his place for over a minute. He didn’t want to move. He continuously waited to hear for any other noises coming from the stairwell. After another long minute passed, he took a deep breath, and wiped the sweat off his face. This was definitely not a drill. There was someone in the school. Someone who didn’t want to be messed with. Tom slowly approached the door of the stairwell, and looked through the window. He didn’t see anybody, but he did see a small pool of blood on the bottom two steps. His view blocked the bottom level just after the last few steps.
Tom didn’t know what to do. He began to open the door to the stairwell, but then thought, “what if he comes back?” Tom didn’t want to take any chances, so he turned and ran back to the bathroom as fast as he could. This time, the door was closed, and locked. Tom must have accidentally kicked the doorstop on his way out, causing the door to shut. The hallway was still completely silent, with nobody in sight. Tom sat up against the wall in a corner, and wondered what would happen.
He waited for about four minutes, just sitting there. The school seemed empty—the emergency lights were on, the classroom lights were off, and all the doors were locked. Tom sat there and tried to call 911 on his phone, but the call wouldn’t go through. Then, the unexpected happened. The school intercom came on. There was nothing—just the quiet buzzing through the ceiling speakers. Tom didn’t know what to expect. He froze in his spot, and didn’t move—waiting to hear good news. About a minute went by, and there was still nothing. Maybe the all clear would come on! Did the police arrive? He wondered about the police. It’d been over an hour since the lockdown began, and the police never arrived. Then, the unexpected happened. A voice came on over the speakers. It was a mid-range male voice which said,
“Good morning! I hope everyone is having a wonderful day so far—I am too. I just thought I’d fill you in on what’s happened in the last hour or so. Well, let’s see... you’ve got some broken windows on the first floor, and a main office full of tied-up staff members in one corner... There’s also been a change of plan—I decided not to call the police just to make things fun, and I also set up a device called a cellular firewall, blocking all in-out phone reception! Oh, and I’d be careful if you walk through the stairwell. You might slip and fall on one of your teachers. He and I didn’t get along very well... Now, if anyone tries to leave the school, there’s going to be a big problem, so here’s what I want. First of all, if there are any students out of their classroom, come down to the office and maybe we’ll make some coffee and talk about just how fun school really is. If you decide not to, then you’ll wind up like your a**h*** of a teacher. For now, I would like everyone to just calm down and return to their classes. Teachers, let your students go to their next class. And you better hurry up, because I get agitated very quickly. Have a good day! I look forward to meeting all of you.” A blasting gunshot ended the conversation.
Tom, sitting up against the wall, waited for the students to leave their classrooms. One door slowly started to open, but then quickly shut. A student tried to leave, but the teacher didn’t allow it. Tom didn’t want to leave unless there were other people; he was scared. Tom slowly stood up and looked around. Nobody was leaving their classrooms. Tom remembered what the man said, “First of all, if there are any students out of their classroom, come down to the office and maybe we’ll make some coffee and talk about just how fun school really is. If you decide not to, then you’ll wind up like your a**h**** of a teacher.” Two thoughts went back and forth through Tom’s mind: Should I stay here, or should I go down to the main office? From what the man said, if Tom stayed upstairs on the 2nd floor and was found, he would die. On the other hand, Tom was temporarily safe upstairs. He could hide in the bathroom, or try again to get into a classroom, or even try to climb up into the drop ceiling. Then Tom had another thought... what if this guy had other people with him? They could be searching the building right now! Tom thought for a moment, and then decided it was best to go down to the office like the man said.
Tom started slowly walking over to the stairwell, where the earlier altercation took place. He creeped open the door (which made a loud squeak) and took a few steps into the stairwell. The stairwell had two flights of stairs, so at the moment, he couldn’t see the teacher at the bottom without looking over the edge of the railing. Tom stayed on the outside of the staircase as he began to walk down. Step by step, he grabbed the rail tighter, hoping nobody walked in. He was now rounding the corner to begin walking down the 2nd flight. His head turned, and he saw the unfortunate, gruesome remains of the teacher. 1Mr. Carmen, an 11th grade English literature teacher, was shot four times in the chest, with a pool of blood surrounding him. He was predominately on the main floor, however, his head lay on the first step. His light blue dress shirt and silk tie was stained with blood, and his black dress pants were soaked down the crease of the pant leg. The smell of copper filled the air. The four shots were in one horizontal line across his chest, and it was obvious he was shot by a large caliber weapon. Three of the four shots had an exit wound. Two bullets lay on the fourth step, and one rolled down onto the main floor, just next to Mr. Carmen’s body. Tom walked over and looked at the two bullets on the fourth step. They were both from a 44 Magnum—the most powerful handgun in the world. Tom turned his head the other direction, and walked down the last few steps, staying as far way from Mr. Carmen’s body as he could. He then ran out the door, pushing it open with both hands. The door creaked, and then shut behind him. Tom was now on the main floor of the High School.
The office... was straight ahead. Tom slogged forward, step by step, his breathing getting faster, and his palms and face getting sweatier. There was a silhouette of a man from the distance, standing in the office. There was just one man. Tom continued walking down to the office. The man turned around and saw him. Tom stopped in his place, he was more nervous than ever. The man opened the door and took a few steps out into the hall.
“What’s your name?” he said loudly.
“Uh, um... Tom,” gulped Tom.
“Full name,” said the man. Tom was still frozen.
“Uh, Tom Poznanski,” spoke Tom, in a stuttering voice.
“Tom Poznanski, eh? How old are you Tom?” asked the man.
“I’m a sophomore. Fifteen years old,” said Tom.
“And how are you, Tom?”
“Good?!” The man looked straight up and laughed. “You.. you walk down here...” He chuckled a bit, “and tell me... that you are good? I... I don’t know about that, Tom—I really don’t know about that.” He chuckled again, and licked his lips. “I... I want you to tell me... how you are really feeling. Tell... tell me... no... I’ll... I’ll ask you again, how bout’ that? Okay, here we go...” He snickered. “So, Tom, how are you today?”
“I, uh—... I don’t... know,” stuttered Tom.
“So, you don’t know. You... you really—you really don’t know, Tom? That’s a little... disappointing—isn’t it, Tom? You... a fifteen year old—I ask you how you’re doing... and then you say... I don’t... I don’t know? Let’s go into the office, Tom. You came down for coffee—right?”
“Uh... okay.” Both Tom, and the assailant walked into the office.
“Please, have a seat,” said the man. Tom sat in a small school chair in the corner of the office. He glanced over to his left, and saw seven tied up staff members in the copy room on the floor. Tom grabbed his phone from his pocket.
“Ah, remember—no phones.” said the man.
“Sorry,” said Tom.
“Don’t be sorry! I... I would probably... do the same thing—if some a**h*** like me tried to take my school hostage. Right?”
“I... I guess,” said Tom.
“So...,” the man chuckled, “so you think... you think I’m an a**h***? Is that right?”
“No! Definitely not!” said Tom.
“Now, Tom, lying is bad... isn’t it? Tell me... tell me what you really think of me, Tom. Who do you really think... who do you really think I am? Do you, Tom, do you know who I am?”
“No.” spoke Tom, softly.
“Well, Tom, I tell you what...” There was a pause. “My name is Chris. Chris Korinski. Have you, Tom—have you heard that name before?”
“No!?... Well, Tom... I was that one kid. Class of 2003. I was that one kid, who failed every class—even though I worked hard. I was... I was that one kid, who was made fun of every damn day. And... and you know what, Tom? You know what? I came back. I came back here, Tom, so I... I can show everyone... just how I feel.” Chris handed Tom a cup of coffee. It was cold.
“Why is the coffee cold?” asked Tom.
“Because I don’t give a s***, Tom! You want coffee?! Well, here you go! Now if you don’t want it, you can set it on the countertop, Tom, and listen to what I’m saying!” Tom was speechless, and was shaking.
“Do you know, Tom, do you know what this is?” Chris grabbed a large handgun from his inside coat pocket. “This, Tom... this is a pencil. Not just... not just a regular pencil, no... it’s my pencil! This is Chris’s pencil, Tom! And, Tom, Chris’s pencil... his pencil is very unique, Tom. His pencil, is a pencil that doesn’t write, Tom—his pencil, is meant for something else, Tom. And, Tom... do you know what that, that something else... do you know what that is, Tom?” Tom didn’t say anything. He felt as though his lips were sewed shut. He couldn’t move. “Now Tom... answer—answer my question, Tom.” Chris was three inches from Tom’s face, breathing on his nose. Tom was sweating more than ever. His hand were gripping the arms of the chair. His breathing was fast, and his heart was racing. He didn’t blink, but rather stared into Chris’s eyes. “Might I, Tom... might I—instead—might I, just... show you... what it does, Tom? Wouldn’t that be easier, Tom? How about... I give you, oh—how about... ten seconds, starting now... for you—Tom—for you to tell me what this is meant for...” Tom opened his mouth, but nothing came out. “Ten...” He sat there, choked on his own spit, and coughed, looking away from Chris. “Nine...” Tom blinked, and looked down at the ground.” “Eight...” Tom then glanced up briefly, and saw the reflection of the hallway from the TV screen in the corner of the room. “Seven...” Tom squinted as Chris raised his weapon slowly. In the reflection of the TV screen, Tom saw blue and red flashing lights, with a police officer stepping out of his car. “Six...” The police officer pulled his gun from his holster, and started walking into the school building. Four other officers followed. “Five...” Tom grinned slightly, and turned his head. The officers were just feet from the door to the office. “Four...”
“It’s meant...” said Tom, quietly.
“It’s meant... to kill crazy—”
“—Stupid, idiots like you.”
“One...” BANG! The glass window looking into the office shattered, and Chris’s head jolted to the side. He fell to the ground, and twitched once. A pool of blood stained into the carpet floor as it bled from Chris’s head. Tom sat in his chair with his arms covering his face. The police officer tried the door of the office, but it was locked, so he cleared some shattered glass and walked through the broken window. The officer still had his gun up, pointed at Chris. The officer bent down and checked his pulse; meanwhile, the other four officers stormed into the office with weapons and searched for another assailant.
“He’s gone,” said the cop. Tom took a deep breath. “Are you all right?” asked the officer.
“Yeah,” stuttered Tom.
“Is there anyone else that you know of in this building who is a potential threat?”
“No. Just this guy,” replied Tom. “How’d you guys know?”
“The school gets out at 2:35PM. After ten minutes of there being no sign of any sort of dismissal, we received a call from a bus driver in the bus lot reporting what was going on. We showed up as soon as possible.” A police officer spoke into the intercom,
“This is the police—I am issuing an all-clear for this school. Students, please stay in your classrooms, as an officer will be to your room shortly to escort you outside where you will wait for a bus, or go with the ambulance. If anyone is injured, please wait, as an officer will be to your classroom shortly. Teachers, please report to the main office immediately.” Tom took a deep breath, and said,”
“This was definitely an interesting day...”