Our Harsh Reality

Image of Short Story
The sound of the clock ticking was deafening compared to the otherwise silent room. The door, that had once seemed strong and resistant, now felt paper thin. The darkness consumed the furniture, leaving the once bright and colorful room unrecognizable. Fear coursed through the veins of the many small children packed like sardines into the storage closet. The bookshelf, full of magical stories, now blocked the door, but it too seemed fragile. The children waited with bated breath, and even the most disruptive of the kids sat silently.

There were footsteps in the hallway, their loud thumps offsetting the tick tick tick of passing minutes. The room gradually filled with more sounds, at first, they were faint, a cry from down the hallway, a door upstairs being knocked upon, but then they grew louder. Gunshots tore through the blanket of silence that covered the room. Screams of terror and pain pierced the air. The children were shaking now, tears running down their cheeks, horror etched on their faces. Their classmates were dying, and they would be next.

Suddenly it was their door being pounded on. With a thunderous crash, it was kicked in and the dark figure of a man stood in the doorway brandishing a rifle. With one quick motion, the teacher was on the ground. The man stepped over her as he rapidly approached the spot where the children waited. They sat there like sitting ducks, knowing they were about to die but desperately hoping they wouldn’t. He ripped open the closet door and raised his gun, an anger in his face too powerful and strong to describe. The level of hatred he showed to the students at the school that had once been his, was unimaginable to any who did not witness it.

With a series of bangs, each louder than the next, the children fell. The tiny room reeked of blood and gunpowder. A place of sanctuary and learning turned battlefield. The man fled the scene after the harsh sound of sirens overwhelmed the room. Police lights swirled outside the windows, a tye-dye of red and blue. There were people darting all around the building now. Children were rolled away on stretchers, doctors bent over students, deciding whether or not they were beyond saving. Those who were left were lead outside in a row. Their bodies still shaking like earthquakes at the thought of what just happened. News reporters lined the streets, running up to terrified children, demanding to know what occurred.

Those who survived would never forget the pure terror that it was. Being trapped in a small room, hoping, praying, that things would be okay but knowing they wouldn’t be was an agonizing feeling. No words can truly describe the horror the children had faced that day. No words can describe the tragedy of the lives that were lost.

Run. Hide. Fight. They say these words over and over again, drill them into everyone's brains until we can recite what to do from memory. But sometimes even the most perfect strategy falls short.