Bullet casings litter the floor.
Adrenaline bursts through her body.
Pops ring and hang through the air.
Her trembling hand reaches for her cell phone.
Blood on the floor.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -
Chloe was a somewhat normal 17 year old in her junior year of high school in middle of nowhere, America.
As normal as an angst filled teenager could be.
She awoke one morning at 7am to the sound of her brother Brian screaming up the stairs to her
“CHLOE! GET THE HELL UP! YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE!”
She jumped up and stared at the posters littering her walls of local, minuscule, barely heard of bands such as Fawkes, the unpermitted, foot-pounds of corpse, the short-necked giraffes, the chodes, and others.
“Fuck…” she muttered to herself.
The curtains were closed to amplify the darkness within the room.
She slowly got out of bed to throw on clothes and brush her teeth.
As she ran downstairs, her brother went out to start the car
Her father sat alone at the dinner table, reading the paper while sitting next to the group of pictures of his late wife on the counter.
She ate her breakfast and ran back into her room to pack her bag for school.
Before she went back downstairs, she went into her fathers’ room, into the closet and hesitated before grabbing a small black box and putting it in her backpack.
She started heading out the door but before she did, she kissed her father on the cheek and then jumped into the car with her brother.
Her father sat at the table.
Alone and silent,
Staring at his late wife’s picture, as a tear rolled down his cheek.
The memory of two summers back when she had abruptly taken her own life, due to a losing battle with depression, suddenly flooded through his mind.
— — Fade out — —
— -Fade back in; first period class; Chloe is at her desk trying to finish the given objective — —
“God she’s so ugly…”
“Yeah I know, I heard Justin cheated on her on the only premise of she wouldn’t give out!”
“What a fucking prude”
She could hear the girls behind her spouting nasty comments about her under their breath but couldn’t make out specifics.
She could feel the eyes on her back.
A ball of paper hit her in the head, and then she felt something sticky in her hair.
One student had thrown a piece of gum at her,
Luckily she got it out before it stuck.
As the bell rang and she walked to lunch,
She saw a group of girls huddled with their phones out laughing at what she presumed to be at the expense of some poor unknowing student.
They stopped laughing as she passed,
Looked at her,
Back at their phones,
They then started laughing louder and harder than before.
Turns out that poor unknowing student had become her.
Chloe ignored them and sat next to the one lone wolf of a student who always sat alone.
Kyle never had friends, or any social interaction really.
He stayed to himself due to being deemed an outcast by the popular cliques.
He leaned over to her as she decided to take a bite of her lunch and said “you’re Chloe, right?”
She was confused.
“You do realize that the picture you sent to chad went viral through the school and everyone is talking about it, right?”
She was taken aback.
A rush of emotions flew through her.
How? How could this be?
Chad, her current boyfriend, and person she originally thought she could trust, had in her eyes done the unimaginable.
She felt tears build up in her eyes and her cheeks start to burn.
When she was finally capable of talking, she muttered, “How do you know?”
Kyle looked at her with concern, and after pausing said “I overheard chad and the jocks laughing and degrading certain girls, and he brought out his phone and showed half the football team. Soon after he did that, it went viral and now everyone has either seen it or heard about it. You should try to get this fixed up before it gets to the principals ears, since graduation is a week away. I…I know it’s not going to be easy, but if I hear anything else I’ll tell you, okay? I think that its fucked up they’re like that and treating you like this.”
She felt the weight of it all lessen slightly with knowing what he had just told her.
A sense of support and caring in what seemed to be like a jungle of problems and drama.
The only thing she knew was that she needed to find Chad and get answers.
She packed her things and ran out of the lunchroom with tears now streaming down her face.
As she turned the corner she saw Chad standing next to the rest of the jocks.
“Oh joy, the rest of the Hitler Youth is here…” she muttered as she walked up.
“Hey babe! How ya doing today?!” Chad happily spouted at the first sight of her.
‘He’s Almost…too happy’ she thought to herself.
“I need to talk to you.” She quietly said
He stared at her perplexed with hints of guilt and fear in his eyes
“What about Hun? I’m sure we can — “
“NO! I need to talk to you ALONE and NOW”
Chloe felt herself losing control slowly.
He walked behind her, slowly following away from the crowd of jocks
“did you show anyone that picture I sent you? And don’t lie to me because I know the answer already”
“DID YOU SHOW ANYONE THE PICTURE?”
“…Why are you getting so worked up over a damn picture? It’s not like life or death or anything Chloe. You should really try to keep your outbursts under control. I know it ran in your family on your mother’s side, and not to be a dick but it seems like it’s spiking a lot more. Like this for example.”
She was dumbfounded and shocked at his audacity to blame her mother or even remotely bring her name up.
She stared blankly ahead as he stared at her, waiting for a response so he could go back to the group.
Something in her had finally snapped
She looked at him and suddenly heard a girl screaming.
Screaming in a tone of harbored frustration, heartbreak, and trust of which was broke.
She suddenly realized it was her own voice. She was screaming with such emotion it didn’t sound like her at all.
“HOW COULD YOU FUCKING DO THIS TO ME!? YOU DON’T SEE THE RUMORS YOU’VE CREATED AND DRAMA BEGINNING TO SETTLE AROUND ME!? I CANT BELIEVE YOU WOULD ACTUALLY BREAK MY TRUST LIKE THAT YOU FUCKING PIG!”
Chad looked at her and started backing up in a slow but scared stance.
“You know what, I don’t have to deal with this shit. I’m tired of being the bad guy and getting blamed for every single little thing on your end that you find wrong or out of place. You’re fucking crazy, just like your mother, Chloe.”
She felt defeated. Heartbroken. Angry. Confused. Betrayed and unsure where to go or what to do
She ran to the girls’ bathroom with hot tears running down her face. She didn’t care whom saw or anything.
She went into the first stall that was unlocked and broke down crying. She was clueless as to a next move. All at once, the breakup with Justin, the breakup and betrayal from chad, her mother dying two summers before, the increasing possibility of failing school and not walking at graduation in a week.
Every single thing flew and flooded her mind and started making her dizzy,
She heard a door open.
“Chloe?” a voice blurted out.
Through stifling tears, she weakly said “who’s there…”
she opened the stall and Kyle was standing there staring at her perplexed.
“Are you alright? I saw you walk in here and wanted to see if you were alright. You do realize you’re in the boy’s room. Right?”
She then realized in her frenzied state she had mistaken the sign on the bathroom for ladies.
“Why are you in here anyway? Did you get to talk to chad?”
She stopped to wonder how he knew she was going to see chad specifically but paid no mind to it.
“Yeah…he dumped me and brought up my mother…” she muttered as she wiped her eyes.
“I’m sorry Chloe…you should fix that problem. Chad seems like an asshole. Him and his little “friends”. He really needs to be taken care of.
It wouldn’t really be a shame if he just…became a statistic…” he said as the bell rang.
“What do you — “
she looked up after he had said that last sentence to look at him as to what he meant, but she was the only one in the middle of the bathroom. He was gone. She opened the door and looked down the hall but there was no one in it.
She was confused and flustered, but all the while still crying so she went back to the stall to clear her head before returning to class.
After a few minutes…Her backpack fell against her leg, and the zipper was open just enough to show the corner of the black box.
She stared at it for what felt like six years but reached down and pulled it out. She noted the solid gold latch on the front of the box. She ran her fingers over the cold metal that hasn’t been opened in two years.
It echoed in her mind.
Her father made a vow to never open it again after that summer.
She popped it open with little to no effort. It sprang open and she slowly lifted the top back.
Her father’s old Glock .45 laid so peacefully before her eyes resting atop the blue satin cloth, an American flag pin attached to the fabric above the gun with a rolled up paper with the dedication to her father. She ran her hand over the cold black metal muzzle.
The last times she saw it…. she couldn’t remember. Last thing she knows that it was in his holster at the ceremony,
Then at her feet when she walked in to seeing her mother’s lifeless body laid out on the floor of the bedroom.
She felt more emotions run through her as she slunk back and her mind got the best of her. She thought to herself what she was feeling that second.
How could Chad do that to her? She put her trust, Her faith and her hope, her love in his hands. She was insecure about herself in many various ways, and what he did amplified it since in her eyes, the entire school now was judging her. He slandered her late mothers name.
She felt the rage strengthen.
“Why me? Why was this entire shit storm happening to ME? Am I destined to go through all this? Will I make it? What did I do to deserve this? I don’t think I’m going to make it. I’m definitely going to make it past this. Can they hear me?!”
She thought back to when she was a young child, her mother was alive and they would go to the park and swing on the swing set.
She remembered her mother told her that it made her feel eternally young.
She wiped her eyes with her sleeve and tried to calm her breathing.
Her mind wondered to the dark shrouded part that she kept away from.
The once peaceful thoughts of her and her mother soon turned to a grim crime scene, with a 15 year old girl sitting next to a detective staring straight ahead. She remembered the feeling of that evening.
As if a piece of her died along with her mother, right by her side.
She started to cry again. It was different this time. It was a deeper kind of cry.
The most heartfelt and in depth cry she probably had ever had in her life. All the harbored, bottled emotion finally came to the surface.
She lost track how long she was sitting in the stall, but she didn’t care.
Her mind was focused on every single little thing that hurt her, broke her, destroyed a piece of her, bothered her, angered her, or made her feel anything but happiness.
From her trust, to her once lively heart.
She started feeling the rage that had surfaced moments earlier, mixed into the upset and heartbreak.
She started thinking about all the girls who ever said anything bad about her.
Without hesitation, she took the full clip and slid it into the gun, and pulled back the slide to check if the bullet was in the chamber.
In one fluid motion, she releases the slide, and puts the gun to her chin with tears still steadily streaming down her face. “I’m so sorry daddy..” she whimpered out loud. She finally was getting to do what she had been contemplating for weeks.
Her breathing became steadily increased and panicked as the seconds ticked on.
She was putting her finger on the trigger and squeezing her eyes shut when she heard a sudden, loud pop that broke her concentration.
Beforehand she put her hand down on the box and she suddenly jumped, knocking the box to her side. As she steadily walked out of the stall toward the door, leaving her bag behind to see what the noise was and where it came from, she saw kids running down the hall in a flurry of panic.
A sudden wave of worried confusion rose up amongst her.
Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop.
She walked into the hall to see the commotion and saw chad lying in a pool of blood by his locker. Behind him, four of the jocks laid in larger joining pools of crimson colored blood. She started screaming in a panic and hesitated to walk a foot.
“OH MY GOD SOMEONE HELP HIM! PLEASE SOMEONE GET HELP! CALL 911!”
She realized after the flurry of emotion and panic that there’s a shooter somewhere amongst the area.
She stared in shock at the bodies lying there, absolutely unsure what to do.
Crippled by fear and confusion.
Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Click. Click.
She ducked at the sound of the shots ringing out somewhere close by behind her. She looked to her left and saw Kyle standing there staring at her smiling.
“GET DOWN! SOMEONE IS SHOOTING! YOU COULD GET HIT!” she screamed
“Chloe! Are you okay? I told you Chad was better off as some statistic.
Just dust in the wind as they say.
All of these worthless fucks are.
You should wake up and see that.
Everyone is expendable, and they never helped you once.”
“WHO ARE YOU!?”
She looks to her left while screaming and sees he’s disappeared yet again.
She turns around, and sees five bodies of students lying at her feet.
Two males, and two females lay dead, one still barely clinging to life.
She watches the life drain from his eyes as he takes his last breath.
She stops crying and falls silent, just like the rest of the school aside from faint screaming and crying from outside.
Bullet casings litter the floor.
Adrenaline bursts through her body.
The loud pops still hang through the air.
Blood trails on her shoes as she shuffles forward.
Even in silence, Her ears ring.
She feels something in her hand
She looks down, and she’s gripping her fathers Glock .45 so tightly that her hand is pale. She checks the slide to see if there is one in the chamber, and it’s empty.
Her other free hand, while trembling, reaches for her cell phone.
She scrolls down, clicks on her fathers number, and hits call.
“Ye…Yes…daddy its me. I need to talk to you. I’m really scared.
I’m…I’m so, so sorry daddy. I love you so much. I know I haven’t really been there since mom died. I’ve been slowly staying to myself and becoming reclusive. I never stopped to ask how you were doing. I feel horrible because you probably were going through hell and all I’ve been doing is escaping reality with vodka, and smoking pot until I fall asleep then repeat it all again the next day.”
“Chloe…what’s going on…what happened?”
“No…dad please let me finish…I’m sorry. I want you to know I love you so much, and it’s nothing that you did to cause it, but for the last year I’ve felt nothing but…numb.
Completely dead on the inside. The last few months I’ve started to struggle with being happy. This is the farthest from happy I’ve ever been, and its getting too dark to see. Every single day I wake and walk through life, more and more of me dies faster and faster. I am an ocean of sadness, within a sea of tears and agony. I could have helped her if I had only dialed 911 sooner. I was so scared. I panicked. I hesitated and her blood is on my hands. I’m so sorry for the vacancy I caused with us. I’m walking through life in endless pain. To feel yourself burning from the inside, and wanting to do anything to numb or stop the pain, is the worst kind of Hell on earth someone can endure.”
“Chloe…I love you so much. What’s going on? Please talk to me sweetheart. Earlier I got a phone call that Brian was killed in a car accident speeding to your school after he and I got a call about your school having an active shooter… I’m very worried right now Chloe. You’re the last thing I have left and you’re my baby. Are you alright? Where are you?”
“Don’t worry about me daddy, I may not have been there for you after she left but now I can take care of her forever. I can fix everything! I love you so much daddy. Just picture the good memories like us all going to the park and swinging with mom.” -laughs happily-
She takes one last silver .45 bullet out of her pocket, pulls the slide back, lays the bullet flat in the chamber, releases the slide, and stares at the phone.
The chirping of radio chatter amongst the EMT’s And Police overcrowds anything anyone is saying on the scene.
“Sarge…apparently her name was Chloe Riverfield. Age 17, Single father, mother deceased. Apparent she had a self-inflicted gunshot to the head two summers back.”
“Yeah apparently Chloe was overheard claiming someone named Kyle was talking to her. Someone said they overheard Chloe in the men’s restroom and again in the hallway during the shooting. The strange thing is there is no student at this school on record, that goes by the name or nickname of Kyle. Official word is that she went into the bathroom after a mental breakdown, along with some scuffle to do with her ex-boyfriend, Chad, who is lying….erm…right here. Then after some time she came out shooting. Started with him, went to the rest of the jocks, ending with the two boys and three girls that, according to witnesses, were talking about Chloe periods before the shooting started. She apparently has been what’s been deemed a “troubled” teenager” and took her fathers service pistol from her house early this morning.
Apparently it’s the same gun her mother used two summers back. I knew of her for a while.
I remember visiting the scene that day. It wasn’t pretty, and she….well, she was traumatized for life. Something was never the same with that poor girl.
Shame what happened to her brother as well, being en route to the school to see if she’s okay and all.”
“I Can’t imagine how her father is feeling right now..”
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Chloe’s father stood over two prematurely fresh graves. He had a fixed stare into the distance, and a look as if some light in his eyes was taken.
He no longer had any tears to shed, for the river he cried for the family he had lost has dried up.
As he went home, he started to think of all the things that had led up to the events that unfolded a week before.
He got in the door and slowly shut it behind him. Took off his tie and suit jacket, and went into the kitchen. He cooked a small meal for himself, and sat at the table looking at the family photos. With a piece of paper hastily scribbled with a small note in his pocket, He finished and cleaned up the area he ate at. Went into the office, and grabbed a stool. As he stepped up on it, he took the rope that was tied to the running board between the walls near the ceiling, tightened it snug around his neck, and jumped.
The last thing he ever heard was the sound of the rope tightening and swinging back and forth while his body swung like a pendulum.