5. The Tomorrow…


Now hold on one damn minute, I know what’s going through your mind, it went through ours repetitively, three times faster. We were serious, yet we weren’t; the logic was twisted. We knew the consequences of our actions; we knew the worst-case scenario. The facts had been drilled into our minds by media, movies, books, society itself. Our worlds stood still and began to spin backwards. Logic was lost in the whirlwind that became our lives. What to do, what to say? Words failed us, but well, we had to speak.

We didn’t sleep that night; it was all nonstop planning. What to do, how to do it. The main fact was we’d go into the school; pretend to make demands. The result would shake everybody up; help them realize what the world’s really like. We’d plan how to get out unharmed. Weapons would hold blank ammunition; no real shots fired. Everything would be carefully thought through and considered. The main goal for us, besides making a point, was not losing lives. Everybody was meant to come out kicking. For hours we brought every point to the table, went through every single matter of importance. Positives and negatives were looked at evenly in a non-prejudice light.

The final decision? Being we’d gotten no sleep, we’d wait for the day after the one we had planned into. In other words, we were waiting for tomorrow. Our lives, our futures and destinies depended on a day that could never come. Fate was involved just as much as we were. Where’d we get the weaponry? Wherever we could, we double-checked the blank ammo time and again. We knew the school like the back of our hand. Our escape would cut through the woods, using foliage for cover. We’d reunite at the bridge. The entry point? The front door. It was all very simple; it was just a matter of being careful and running fast. We walked through the plan over and over again until the school closed. We decided we’d stay inside the building until we saw any sort of special operations forces arrive. If they set up snipers, we’d be screwed. So the countdown began.

Noon, the day before we agreed to carry out the deed. We’d arrive at school in the morning; catch people off guard as they’re walking up. It was still October. We’d agreed to all wear black and masks to conceal our identities. Also, we’d try and alter our voices as much as could be allowed. Who wouldn’t be going with us? Andrea went home, accompanied by Melissa. She protested the idea from the beginning, but agreed to go with us. Angela didn’t want Jo to go along, just in case, so Eileen agreed to stay behind with her. Seth, Shawn, Christine, Justin, Angela and myself would carry out the deed. Jo and Eileen would be waiting at the bridge for us. We exchanged warnings constantly, but the final lineup remained. Only time would determine things now. Just to sit and wait.

Many say patience is a virtue. I think it’s damnation, but that’s just me right? That night we all stuck together, thick as thieves. Thieves, but what were we going to steal? Ignorance, pure, inhumane ignorance; because it is its own damnation. Some of us had second thoughts that night. So how’d we stay strong? We got drunk, smoked a few and laughed awhile. It relieved stress, though we’d pay for it in the morning. By midnight the laughter slowed down, the alcohol‘s blinding effects wore off, and we were, for the most part, sane. Were we prepared for what tomorrow would hold? Of course not, but is anyone ever prepared to die? To risk their life for one great purpose or none at all – well?

No, they’re not. We were soldiers, soldiers of society. Was there anything that would better prepare us for the day to come? Course not. We were left to wait it out. In the late hours we slowly drifted into sleep. Melissa and I were the last two awake.

“Are you sure we’re doing the right thing?” Her voice was quiet and nervous in the darkness. I looked over at her and smiled.

“No, but I sure hope we are, because if we’re not there’s going to be one hell of a price to pay.”

Morning, our own personal D-Day, tomorrow had dawned. Time for all hell to break loose, the world to come undone. So what did we do first? Wake up; get reacquainted with the world. Each of us was trying to mentally psyche ourselves up. It was going to be a long day, so we tried to take as much time to rest up as we could. People would arrive in school at around 7:30. We’d be sure to mingle with the crowds. My house became the starting point; the bridge was the finish line. Looking around we mentally ran through things once more.

“Wait a minute!” We’d been double checking weapons when Christine spoke up. Everybody looked in her general direction, dropping anything they might have been working on. We waited for the continuation.

“How are we coming to communicate, we can’t use our names?” Now that was something to consider. Well, names or initials were out of the question. We could use numbers I suppose. So I assigned numbers. Angela was 1, Christine was 2, I was 3, Justin was 4, Melissa was 5, Seth was 6 and Shawn was 7. It went in alphabetical order according to our first names. This way, in case we were in a situation where we had to recall a number quickly, we wouldn’t have to struggle with last names. Besides, for the most part we’d forgotten Justin and Angela’s last names. So it goes, and so we went.

6 a.m. and we waited. The school wasn’t far, a brisk walk. We were dressed and armed. Time was dragging by slowly. Second thoughts were racing through our minds. It wasn’t too late to turn back; we didn’t have to go through with this. There was nothing etched in stone, no proof of our plans except what we held in our minds. There was every possibility for turning back. We had every reason to. Our lives were at stake; there was no greater risk in the world. Were we ready for this? Course not, but it was do, or die.

We left the house by seven and began to walk. Silence had settled and we were all thinking. What about, as if you’d care? Me, I was thinking about tomorrow, the future, stupid stuff like that. I was considering how things would change after this, what it’d be like. If everything went as planned, this would work out perfectly. Were we crazy? Course, but isn’t everybody these days? We were idealists who wanted to change a little town. It wasn’t the world or society, but just show them how dangerous their ignorance really was. The plan was simple; we just had to keep our eyes open. It was a matter of being aware. Simple, well, it was supposed to be.

The school building itself was ancient. It was just waiting to be torn down, like our bridge. Yet, the town refused to spend money to fix it up, or even, heaven forbid, talk about building a new one. So it goes. We, as students and teenagers of the town, had to deal with it. It was a corrupt system of government, but there wasn’t a damn thing we could do about it. The fact was accepted and we got on with our lives. Today we were going to do something, to make them see, to help them understand. We were actually doing them a big favor. Do you think they would care? About as much as you do.

We got there about 15 minutes before the first classes would start. It was time to take action. No turning back, no second thoughts – the time had come. We had entered the school with masks on, now it was time to pull out all the stops. In another minutes’ time, havoc had broken loose in our halls. It had begun.

We had organized signs to signal each other to go onto the next phase. All eyes turned to me as I glanced around to make sure everybody was in place. What was our purpose? To wake up this loser town to a bit of reality, make them less blind.  I gave the signal for our operation to begin. The rules were simple, go in, cause a scare; get out. Nobody gets hurt. Everybody comes out alive. One by one we pulled out weapons and pretended to be threatening. The usual crowd let out a scream and hysteria spread like wildfire. We cut through and watched as people split. They scattered, taking cover in whatever unlocked rooms they could locate. Wasn’t many.

From here we weren’t sure what to do next. We were supposed to wait for someone to slip a cell phone, call the cops. Course we weren’t that patient. I glanced across all the faces, filled with fear, anger and pure hatred. I recognized many of them from classes, around town, everywhere.  They were my classmates, my peers, yet I stood above them today. They would never understand my reasoning. It was a large school, so we split up. I stayed in the main hall on the first floor while the rest of the clan spread out to sweep the building. I heard the familiar sound of blanks going off, but that was it. In a half-hour, we had the entire school herded into the auditorium.

Time ticked by slowly, we waited. When my group had scattered throughout the school, I had grabbed hold of a fellow senior. A young girl, she was in several of my classes. I remember her talking very poorly about me some time ago. For a moment I felt pity for her. If only she could see who was standing before her. Knowing she’d have a phone, I told her to call the police and report the incident. She looked confused, and I repeated the demand. Seeing she was going to live, she did as she was told quickly and efficiently. I couldn’t allow personal vengeance to get in my way here and now.

Back to the auditorium. Nervousness was in the air; we breathed it in and exhaled it sevenfold. We were forced to live on someone else’s schedule. I checked person to person; we each had our assigned numbers written in white on an arm. Everybody was relatively calm, except for one. Number 4 kept on the move, constantly. I couldn’t understand what would provoke Justin to keep moving like that. He’d stop time to time, check on his gun, fumble with it, and continue. I figured he was just a bit edgy, like the rest of us. Nothing to worry about. The police were late; but then again, this was new to them. This had never occurred before in our school’s history.

We had positioned ourselves in the aisles, if there were teachers present, they blended in very well. Justin was at the front of the room, looking out at the crowd. Still I couldn’t understand what he was looking for. I followed his gaze from a short distance away. Back and forth, back and forth, there. He stopped and I looked. It was the group we’d dealt with the day before. Justin was fumbling with the gun again, and I saw the magazine come out. In a moment I realized what he’d done and with a loud shout, I broke into a hard run. I would never make it, and none of us were any closer. In a moment, our well thought-out “simple” plan went straight to hell.

The shots rang out through the stifled speech of the crowd. Silence settled in a moment and gasps followed. I couldn’t count how many shots went off, but I was angry. I threw all that anger into one lunge and put all my weight into it. Knocking him clear off his feet, the gun fell to the ground with a loud, defiant crash. It ended the chaos and the silence returned. Seth and Shawn ran up and held onto Justin, I got up and looked around. I couldn’t see if anyone was dead or dying, but I wanted to disappear. I saw slumped bodies, blood, crying, everything imaginable. I wanted to just…walk away.

But I couldn’t, we couldn’t. It was too late. Now it was time to fix things.  Turning around I saw the trio had broken up and one was running in the distance. I glanced at the two numbers before me and realized Justin had taken off. Where he went, I didn’t care. I was prepared to shoot him myself, right then and there. Make him feel the pain he’d just caused. But he’d run off like a scared cat and I didn’t care. Now to make amends and get the hell out. Organizing our group we made a new plan. Any people that weren’t hurt, we’d let out. As for those that were, we’d try and help as much as we could right now. I turned my back while the wounded were taken from the crowd. The remaining five of the group gave the order and helped sort things out.

We were left with a handful of people. Some weren’t hurt, but wanted to help. We brought all wounded to the front and put them on stage. I walked person to person, remembering the faces, the names. Going down the line I recognized the girl from earlier who had called the police for us. Nobody was dead, but they had various injuries. We stopped bleeding best we could. This wasn’t part of the original plan, and now we were wasting time we didn’t have. Siren screams broke out from all over and people’s voices came through the walls. I signaled for everybody to head out. I went back over the people face to face. I knelt down by the girl for a moment. I really felt bad now.

“Be a bit more careful who you talk about, it just might be a psycho.” She looked at me with a confused glare, but understood. Soldiers would be inside shortly; I had to hurry. The rest of my group had already set out. Should we have looked for Justin? Hell no, he could’ve killed these people; I had no compassion in my heart for him. I took a last look around, and ran out. Cutting through halls I made my way to our exit point. Out the door I saw my whole clan waiting, but why the hell weren’t they moving? We’d made a point to keep running no matter what happened, what made them stop?

I ran to them and tried to urge them on. They began to point to the top of the building. I looked up and saw there, right at the top, was Justin. He was standing tall and proud, brandishing his weapon like a drink, mask gone. He was holding a pistol, the one given to him by us, the one that wasn’t loaded. The other one he himself had brought. What he was doing was pure stupidity; he was vulnerable up there. I looked across my group again; Angela was starting to go back. Seth and Christine stopped her; Shawn stood there, frozen. Melissa was next to me, searching for words.

“You should go get him.” She whispered carefully in my ear so as to keep the rest calm, so hope wouldn’t be brought up. She was right, but he didn’t deserve it. It would make her happy; Angela happy, and we could deal with him in our own way later. I told her to stay put; I’d be right back. The cops no doubt had some sort of military forces set up, and soon snipers would be taking aim. I watched his movements carefully; he was walking around like a fool. I ran up to the school as fast as I could manage, keeping my eye on the idiot. Yet, for a moment there was a crack in the silence. The morning had long been corrupted by our incident, but we had run.

His body stopped with a sudden jerk. I froze, as did the figures behind me. He started laughing until blood burst out of his mouth. Dropping to his knees, blood flowed from his chest. His eyes widened as shock passed through like air; time ceased. To us, an eternity had ended. In reality, Justin was dead in a fraction of a second. It took another second for his body to tumble over the roof’s edge. We watched in horror as the body lurched and spun in the air, landing with a final thud on the hard ground. Justin Robert Connor, age 19, died at 9 a.m. on Friday, October 7th.

I was barely 2 feet away when the body dropped. I fell to my knees immediately, but there was nothing to be done. Now, what to do? If I brought him back, what would we do with him? I heard footsteps behind me, so I signaled to stay back. They kept coming. I turned to vocally repeat my order, but Angela was there. She crept up as carefully as a cat, yet as frightened as a kitten. She stepped up cautiously to look him in the face. His eyes were still open, full of shock and pain. Her eyes got teary and she started to snap. I tried to pull her away, but…you can’t rush these kinds of things.

The sirens grew louder; the body in front of us proved snipers were in place. We had to get moving, and fast. Footsteps grew closer and I saw a figure appear in the doorway. I dragged her as best I could and we turned to run. The rest of the group was in front of us by a long way. Shots rang out yet again and we took off. The entire run was downhill and we, for the most part, kept moving. We were halfway down, being careful of the shots that sprayed the trees. I saw Angela trip and roll for a while. I didn’t have time to stop and concern myself; a searing pain went through my arm like a bolt of electricity. The world blacked out for a fraction of a second; I tripped and fell, got up, and kept going. I was running crooked, but the one thought on my mind was getting out of there. I helped Angela to her feet and we made it all the way.

The gang was all there waiting for us at the bottom of the hill. Once we were reunited we continued to the bridge. The pain wouldn’t quit, but I couldn’t worry now. We arrived at the bridge without anyone following us. We all but collapsed to the wooden surface of the bridge’s ancient construction. Each of us were breathless, the authorities had more important things to worry about than following us. So we relaxed, we breathed, we blacked out. What had just happened would forever change our lives. So what was there to be done about it now? It was too late to go back and change.

I had fallen with the rest, exhausted from the run. My hands were covered with blood that had seeped through the black gloves. I peeled them off in disgust and stared at my hands. The blood was fresh on my right hand, yet the left hand bore dried blood. Looking up I realized my right arm was bleeding. The pain I had felt was from a gunshot. The bullet had grazed the skin but had still cut a bit of a hole. The feeling was awkward and unbearable, but I had to handle it. The basic idea was it was a burn.

Angela had also been hit with a random shot, in her left arm. The difference was that it didn’t graze the skin. It had made impact. The problem now was that if we took her to a hospital, they’d know right away what happened. We’d have to get her to a hospital a safe distance away from here, and soon. She looked petrified; her soul was gone. Shawn tore some fabric off his shirt and stopped the blood as best he could. Christine and Seth tore off their masks and ran over to help; Melissa came to me. Eileen and Jo had been waiting at the bridge for us to return; they looked on with eyes full of terror.

“What happened?” the voice shook nervously, I didn’t know who spoke. My mind raced, we needed a car, more of a van, a vehicle that could hold all eight of us. I said something about transport and Shawn jumped up. He’d left his car at the bridge. Christine and Seth escorted Angela over to his SUV; Melissa stayed beside me as I stumbled along. Eileen and Jo sort of followed the crowd in its general direction before stopping.

“Wait a minute, where’s Justin?” For once, Jo had spoken up. I glanced at her.

“He didn’t make it.”

“What do you mean, he didn’t make it?”

“I’m sorry Jo, Justin’s dead.”

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