Early the next morning the school revellers were awaking. Little real studying had occurred the evening before, and perhaps even the principal would admit that was not really the intended or expected outcome of the event. It was more about class room bonding, a sense of adventure and team spirit which was less aimed at academic outcomes than it was at some form of social engineering.
The principal believed in the refining fire of social exchange. He told anyone who would listen he learned everything about politics and power that he ever needed to learn at high school. And nothing, he would say, has changed since my day. We should not just equip our children for study, we should equip them for life, and no-one does that better than they themselves, and the law of the jungle that is the school group system.
Not that the principal was there the next morning, nor had he visited the night before. And the two teachers left in charge had just left soon after 10pm as they had an assignation of their own they wanted to fulfil. All the teenagers knew about those teachers and their ill-hid affair, and they revelled indeed when predictions proved true and they were left to their devices. Early in the piece they’d had some sport at the expense of the ghost girl, Mandy, but the prissy little idiot had fled in tears. The throng turned to other lesser mortals, those who had joined in against Mandy so they wouldn’t be targeted themselves, now learning in her absence they’d be targeted anyway. And so it goes, and so it went, and finally the last of them fell asleep, and all were still happily slumbering at 9am when the doors of the auditorium opened with a decisive bang.
The first to wake up were David and Jasmine, who had slept the last hours of the night in each other’s arms and positioned themselves on the relative comfort of some gym matts nearest to the door. Jasmine grimaced as she sat up, adjusting her eyes to the light of the morning. Then she saw the drab figure in the doorway, and didn’t see enough to really understand, or react, but just enough to fall back to her usual diatribes.
‘Mandy the ghost girl is back!’ she spat, ‘Not enough sense to just stay away!’
Jasmine turned, hugged to David for a moment, then continued, ‘Or perhaps ghost girls have no choice but to haunt people.’
Then she noticed David had gone rigid, looking at Mandy, and then he started to shake. So she turned, looking again, wondering why, just in time to see a rifle muzzle in her face. A second later a loud bang woke the others, groggy and stupid into the blood-red morning. The sound of the gun was huge, reverberating like a cannon shot within the auditorium walls, momentarily surprising even Mandy as she surveyed the immediate impact of her coming. Jasmine’s face literally disappeared in a second, the last expression she would ever have being one of confused disdain and concern as her identity dissolved with the blast into blood, meat, bone and sinew. A moment later she slumped down to the floor, next to David.
‘Might as well stay on the floor, it’s where you belong’ Mandy said, amusing herself.
‘Mandy,’ David started, trying to sit up properly to reach her somehow, but his false friendship was too late. It was all too late. Destiny had arrived, come calling. She’d realised that sometime in the night and so she’d gone down to Damien’s garage and got out his rifles. She remembered asking him how he had them, given the gun laws, and he’d said, ‘There are always ways around laws.’ It had felt like a special secret between them.
And she’d been a natural student, the perfect natural shot, and Damien had said it was like it had always been meant to be. Like she’d been born to hold a rifle, and to shoot. Like now. Shooting David, his pretty face also blasting off in the impact, and then she turned, and continued.
By now, the others were standing, grabbing clothes, bags, and trying to run. Two headed to get past her, through the door, and two more shots took them out, the arterial spray from the throat of one where the bullet lodged painting the yellow auditorium walls with a sickly, garish red. Another student literally slipped on the blood across the floor near one of these fallen ones, landing right on top the mauled body below. She started to scream, hysterical, no longer aware that this was like affixing a target on her own back. Moments later the screaming stopped and she lay still, the two students a kind of bloodied sandwich on the floor.
Now everyone was screaming, and they were stupid. They were all stupid. She was in her element, hunting them down, being the one to be feared. Three more were taken out as they tried to rush her. No-one tried that after that. Some attempted to hide, others cowered, trying to make themselves smaller. She shot anther time, missing for the only time, then quickly, expertly, reloaded the rifle. Everyone there was too stunned to stop her.
A group had gathered like a line at one wall, like an execution parade offered up to her: one, two, three, four, five. So perfect, how could she refuse such an offering? Each shot rang out in the air, punctuating the screaming and crying like a drum beat for a discordant punk anthem. They fell one by one and strangely none moved, none tried to escape the deadly line, shocked had relieved them of all rational thought and they simply waited to die.
By now she’d walked further into the hated room, and she heard others running towards the auditorium. The adults were coming, coming far too late. Three teachers stood, frightened but resolute, in the doorway. She could hear one of them trying to talk to her. To her side one of the teenagers tried to lunge towards her and she shot him, severing an arm as easily as cutting a grape from its stem. He bellowed, fell down, enraged and in pain. She didn’t care, hardly heard any of it anymore. Perhaps she was in shock too.
One of the teachers was trying to walk towards her. She looked at him sorrowfully. Clearly he did not understand. It was all over, it was all over now.
It had been over the moment she and her mother had moved to this town. It had only been waiting for this. Damien had shown her, had told her, and now she knew, she knew too.
And she positioned the rifle beneath her, pointed upwards, opened her mouth to receive the muzzle like one might a lover, and shot her own head off before the teacher could reach her.
All over and done.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved