Chapter 2: Choose

CHAPTER 2
The door yanks open. The hinges almost come off. This is it. We’re going to die. Another scream. Was it me? Men are screaming at us. They’re in black. They move the basketball bin away and pull us out. They’re going to kill us. Line us up and shoot us one by one. They start yelling. They’re police. There’s a bright light. The men are yelling at us. Zoey’s on the ground. I reach for her. The big man pulls me away. She needs help. The men are telling us to leave. We can’t leave. I hear sneakers sliding again. People running. The policeman says there’s nothing we can do. I fall. My knees become jello and I fall. I hit the floor. I’m lifted back up. We are told to leave, walking quickly in a line, hands on our heads. Stealing glances though I shouldn’t. I see bodies. Riley Marcus propped against a locker. Her boyfriend, Jackson Perry, laying on top of her, blood covering the beige metal. There’s Alexandra Blanc, her glasses shattered, crumpled on on the floor like trash, clutching a book. I jerk away. I can’t look. I can’t see this. Colin Watkins sprawled on the floor, his head surrounded by a big red pool of blood. Red footprints lead the the way outside. Bullet holes in lockers, windows shattered, so much destruction. All of it so horrifyingly real.
When the men open the door, the fresh air feels like a cold, hard smack in the face. The man tells us to keep walking and we walk in silence as sirens blare around us. Police cars, ambulances with people lying on stretchers, I can’t see who they are. People are surrounding them. I glance away and my eyes land on the sign in front of the school
“BAYAT HILLS HIGH SCHOOL
WELCOME STUDENTS! LET’S START THE YEAR OFF WITH A BANG!”
I shake my head. Is that irony? What is the definition of irony again? Someone should take it down, change the letters. Another scream causes me to look away, staring at the back of Kelly’s head. Kelly,
sweet, beautiful Kelly with her angelic looking face and the deepest, darkest blue eyes you’ve ever seen. I keep staring at the back of Kelly’s head, her golden-colored hair is now chin length. She had to get it cut over the summer because of Veronica Collin’s birthday party. Veronica’s brother is in college and got us booze. Kelly got drunk and cut her hair with a pair of scissors shaped like a tiger. She said her hair looked phallic. That was funny. We called her “penis head.” Kelly had thought it was funny too. We were all getting along.
We walk across the front lawn towards Woodley Park, it’s directly across the school and serves as the border of this town. It’s the center of so much that happens in Bayat. The park is our safety net where everything is happy and now it’s being used as the spot for parents to see if their children are alive or dead.
The SWAT team guy leaves us and runs back across the street and into the school. I hope he’s going to get Zoey. I can’t speak as I look at each one of us. We stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder saying absolutely nothing. Matt wraps his arm around me as I look at each of us. Lexie. Shane. Chris. Jennie. Kelly. Matt. Me. We’re not complete.
“Where’s Brittany?” Kelly asks.
Brittany has vanished. She was with us earlier. She’s dead. Is she still in there? She’s gone? She’s laying somewhere in that school. Her body broken like Zoey’s. My throat tightens and tears fall again. I can’t. This is too much. I need to find Adam. I pull away from Matt and aim for the swings. Adam will be on the swings. He can’t resist swings. I walk, just focus on finding him. I spot him on the playground, just where he would be, on the swings but not swinging, away from everyone, his feet planted on the ground, gripping the chains. He’s staring at nothing. His shirt has blood on it and his eyes look red. I walk toward him and sit on the swing to his left. He doesn’t turn to look at me. He’s completely still as it
dawns on me that in the fourteen years he’s been alive, I don’t think he’s ever been completely still.
“They killed him,” he says.
“What?” I ask.
Adam gestures vaguely at his blood stained shirt. He’s wearing his blue and white Dodgers shirt. He loves that shirt. Never washes it, especially not during baseball season. The blood stains take on a slightly purplish hue against the blue of the shirt.
“They killed Will. He was sitting right next to me in the library. We were on the computers and they killed him.”
I keep staring at Adam. Will is Adam’s best friend, my second little brother. The two of them together are hysterical. They love to play pranks on me—not that I love being on the receiving end. Last summer they covered my pillow with peanut butter and then flipped it over. I woke up with a face covered with peanut butter. I shouted at them, told them I’d kill them when I caught them.
“Why did they kill him?” Adam asks.
“They killed Zoey.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know. I don’t understand any of this.”
Adam looks at me. I get out of the swing and step in front of him. I reach my hand out. It strikes me how young he really looks. How just last year he was an eighth grader, a kid. His voice still cracks when he speaks. He still laughs at fart jokes and thinks the letter “P” is the funniest letter. He places his hand in mine and I pull him up. He stares at me and I hug him. We rarely hug. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve hugged my brother. Usually I want to strangle him, yet at that moment I do not want to let him go.
“We need to find Mom and Dad.”
My brother’s arms drop. He breathes deeply, his whole body reaching for air, and then leans back. His face is soggy. I wrap my arm around his shoulders as we walk silently back toward the crowds of people looking for our parents.

My brother’s arms drop. He breathes deeply, his whole body reaching for air, and then leans back. His face is soggy. I wrap my arm around his shoulders as we walk silently back toward the crowds of people looking for our parents.

 

 

Chapter-2

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