“It was a disaster. I didn’t know what to do.” The yellow blanket is scratchy around her shoulders, the scratched plastic surface of the table cold to the touch. “He had a son,” Mr Smith said.
He was looking round the school, wanting to see if it was suitable.
Everyone else is at the hospital; she’s the only one who came here. “That’s what he told Mr Smith.” She’s cold, the blanket not helping.
Maybe she’s in shock.
“What was his name? Did Mr Smith say?”
“No, he didn’t. I don’t know anything.” Only that there were gunshots. Gunshots and screams.
“Come on. You must know something.”
“Where are my friends?” There were sirens and ambulances, and she hasn’t seen any of them since.
“They’re at the hospital. Will you talk to me? Tell me what happened?”
“There was a gun.” His face went cold and dark, like the barrel, in that instant between him reaching into his backpack and starting to fire. “He pulled the trigger and spun in a circle. Spray and pray. I think he was just trying to hurt as many of us as possible.” His eyes, gone cruel and unkind. “Why would he want to do that?”
“I don’t know. I really don’t know.”
A few hours later, and her parents are there. They’ve flown back from the conference to be with her, and her mother mutters prayers in a quiet, desperate voice. They are prayers of thanks, only she doesn’t know what there is to be thankful for.
The police officer comes back in, looking weary. “I’m afraid I have some bad news.”
“Who is it?” there was blood all over the floor, there’s still some on her where it splashed as the bullets tore through her friends. “Who’s dead?”
“Sit down, please.”
“No,” her parents force her into the plastic chair of the police station waiting room. “Just tell me.” The gun, sweeping round the room. No targets, just a room full of people and a crowd of bullets fired from the gun of an unknown killer. “Which one?”
The bullets, ripping through the air like the screams that accompanied them.
The bullets, ripping through flesh with no care for bones and organs.
The bullets, fired by a madman.
The bullets, piercing hearts and arteries.
The bullets, killing her friends.
She is numb when he answers: “They’re all dead,” says the officer. All of them.