Profits

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


A cautionary tale of slaughter, innocence, and profits.

Submitted: February 11, 2018

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Submitted: February 11, 2018

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The stampede of boots was all around me, all desperately attempting to dash for the exit. The furious cracks of gunfire followed them, the floor beneath me shaking as their bodies crashed towards it, the blood from their gaping wounds caking the white tiles in a slick, crimson red. All around was deafening fury, constant screaming as more and more bullets found their mark. The black-clad men did not discriminate in their targets. The younger children, who simply could not keep up with the stampede, were torn down by the metallic hail, slaughtered like animals in the once comfortable hallways which they had called home. Familiar face after familiar face collapsed around me, so many friends ripped down by the indiscriminate gunfire. I did not look back; all that mattered was that I kept running, no matter who fell.

I felt the metal pierce my flesh just as I thought I was going to make it out. It sliced through my thigh with horrific ease, sending me crashing to the carpeted floor, the rough fibres ripping the flesh from my exposed arms and legs. Another shot shattered my ankle, the pain even worse than on the first impact. I screamed out in agony, my mind went white, blank, nothing else existed except me and the searing pain shooting through my body. I could feel the blood pooling around my wounds, the dark red colours blossoming like a beautiful rose in the white of my shirt. The rest of my body was numb; paralysed with fear. I counted my heart beats, believing every single one to have been my last. Yet another bullet struck, entering my arm at the elbow, shattering the joint. How could anything hurt this much? I longed for one last shot, the one that would finally drag me under and end this nightmare. I closed my eyes, tried to relax despite the pain, willed my consciousness to just fade out before I had to feel another second of this blinding torture. No such mercy was incoming.

Half an hour, maybe a full hour passed. The immediate tearing agony had passed to be replaced with a pulsing ache where the bullets had found their mark. I desperately needed to clutch them, to hold them, to do anything to prevent the horrible itch that slowly grew within them. But I couldn't. To move now would equal certain death. The main commotion had died down, at least half of the school lay lifeless on the floor, their young lives snuffed out before they had even begun. Where yesterday there had been a scene of joking and laughter, today there was a graveyard. Their empty grey eyes gazed at me longingly, chastising me for my still thumping heart. I closed my own eyes in guilt. A slow, rhythmic, tramp of boots was coming towards me, the weapon that had taken so much life in so little time rattled against the man's hip. I desperately held my breath, silently praying that he would walk straight past me, dismissing me as just another corpse. I froze every muscle in my body and clenched my eyes shut as tightly as possible. The only movements were the streams of tears flooding down my cheeks. I always had been good at Sleeping Lions.

Without warning, a fierce stamp came down on my chest, knocking the air out of my lungs and shattering my ribs. It took all of my willpower not to cry out in pain, not to scream for help at the top of my bleeding lungs. The savage jolt had set my bullet wounds on fire once more and a river of metallic tasting blood cascaded out of my mouth but I couldn't gag, I couldn't let them know I was still breathing. The impact of the kick had knocked me onto my side, my back turned away from the men. I quickly fluttered my eyes open. I wish I hadn't. The scene that was in front of me is still etched into the flesh behind my eyes, looking as real as if someone had physically chiselled it into the underside of my eyelids. There was a mountain of hundreds upon hundreds of bodies, their faces frozen in a permanent tableau of terror, eyes glassy with tears and yet vacant, gazing towards me, demanding to know why I still breathed when it seemed that the whole world lay dead around me. Great gushing rivers of blood flowed down the hallway, staining the white tiles and slowly seeping into the carpets. The blood would never wash out of those carpets, nor the memory from my aching brain.

There was a small girl in the corner of my vision, no older than twelve, back slumped up against the wall. Her light blonde hair was tangled up, her face, childlike even for her age, was beaten and bloody. A deep gash ran the length of her cheek, and a thin dribble of blood slowly rolled down her face, welling up in the corner of her lips. A deep crimson pool of blood spilt from her stomach, her clothes were shredded, the full extent of the ghastly wound on show. Desperately, she attempted to hold her body still, to feign death until it was safe to scream out the agony that burst forth from her guts. Her chest rose and fell erratically, her chocolate-brown eyes darted around the room constantly checking for the black-clad men. Tears of pain spilt forth from her tortured eyes, pupils wide with undiluted terror. How could this be? A child keeled over, desperately attempting to hold their entrails in, playing dead lest they suffer yet more. How could this happen? How could this ever be allowed to happen? Suddenly her eyes snapped shut, and she doubled her desperate attempts to retake control of her own body. The boots were drawing close once more.

The men were stood not ten metres from, hurriedly discussing something in hushed voices. The girl opposite me was watching them with an expression I'll never forget; one of pure terror. She was shivering uncontrollably, desperately attempting to calm herself down. Involuntarily, she let out a pitiful whimper. It was only just discernable, barely louder than a whisper, but it was enough. The footsteps stopped, the mens' heads all swung towards the source of the sound. One of them let out a deep, throaty laugh, that seemed to stretch well beyond a normal laugh's length. It was a malicious grating sound: brutal and animalistic, barely even human and it echoed unnaturally off the blood-stained walls. One man slowly approached the cowering girl, a scream desperately attempting to escape from her lips as she shuffled backwards away from the approaching figure. I heard a sharp slicing sound that seemed to cut the life out of the air. Complete silence set on the scene. The air had ceased to breathe. Finally, the scream broke loose, the sound was wobbly and weak, broken even. It stopped nearly as quickly as it had begun. A swift eruption from the barrel of a gun saw to that. Her body crumpled on the floor. Her eyes adopted the same glazed look as all the other children wore and her head crashed into the floor, coming to a standstill just over a metre in front of mine. She was younger than I had first assumed, just nine years of age and there she lay in front of me. Dead. Both potential and blood had spilt out of her at equal rates. Barely old enough to know her times tables and yet old enough to be shot down into the dirt as if she were a rabid beast. Shot down where just yesterday she had laughed and played. Her mother had kissed her goodbye in the morning, and she had playfully grinned as she ran to meet her friends at the school gates. Now she lay among those friends, all face down in a lake of blood. She wasn't old enough to die and yet there she lay, a joyfully singing bird shot down just before its song had reached its tumultuous chorus, a flower bud cut down just when it had begun to bloom. Why was she dead? Why wasn't I with her? I had wished I was with her. No therapy could wash her image from out behind my eyes. You could almost have believed she was sleeping, from the peaceful expression on her face. Sleeping safely at home, as she should have been. You could almost believe, if not for the gaping wound where the final bullet had entered her temple. How could this ever be allowed to happen? Why was it even possible for this atrocity to happen? My eyes clenched shut once more.

The armed police had swept through the building about fifteen minutes later, the black-clad men now lay alongside their victims, their faces twisted with rage. I watched the paramedics, desperately attempting to find survivors in the chaos. It all seemed a blur. I felt rough, gloved hands pushing down on my chest, searching for a heartbeat. When one was found, they quickly moved onto to the next of the seemingly endless mountain of bodies.

Agonisingly slowly, with the pain from the bullets still lodged in my legs burning as fiercely as ever, I dragged myself upwards into a standing position. I clung to a hand-railing for balance, my breathing ragged, my eyes bloodshot and blurry. I could still feel the tears pouring down my cheeks but my head and heart were empty. I couldn't feel anything, despite the scene around me. Something had changed inside of me, something was lost, something I was sure I could never get back. I remember wishing that I had died, so I could have died myself as opposed to the cold husk I became.

Parents began to flood into the building, clutching their weeping children tightly, or sobbing over the mangled corpses that had once been children. A woman of about thirty was holding the young girl that I had watched die. They were almost mirror-images of each other, save for the difference in age. They had the same light blonde hair, though the daughter's was stained with blood in places, the same red lips, though the daughter's had faded a little in death, and the same beautiful chocolate-brown eyes, though the daughter's were glazed and empty, whilst the mother's shone bright with rage and grief. I looked away.

I heard my name shouted from the end of the corridor. My mother was sprinting towards me at speeds I would never have thought her capable of teaching. My father wasn't far behind. I felt her arms wrap around me, enveloping me like she had when I was young. And yet I felt nothing. No relief, no pain, no joy. I was empty. I had not been physically killed on that day, but I was emotionally. I could no longer bring myself to care for anything, to love anyone. And despite this, I couldn't leave without saying goodbye, without pouring out my story in the vain hope that you'll finally understand me in death, as you never could in life.

I love you, xxxxxx.

The girl took a heavy breath and lay the pen down neatly alongside the slip of paper on which lay her last goodbye. The night was icy-cold, and the wind tugged at her hair violently. She looked up at the black sky above her: infinite beauty, spreading like a canvas all around. They seemed to be twinkling just for her, beckoning for her to step forth and join them, to be where she truly belonged. A solitary tear-drop rolled down her cheek, and splashed to the concrete below. How had it all come to this? So much laughter, and so much slaughter, all coming together to reach this one moment, with the roaring city traffic beneath her and the infinite lustre of the Universe above her. She screamed. She screamed as loud as she possibly could, years worth of pent-up emotions pouring out her. Rage, sorrow, love, regret, loneliness all devoured her in equal parts. Life was so short, so meaningless, and so painful. Her mind was set. She took a deep calming breath. She braced her toes to leap. She took one last chilling gulp of air into her lungs, and with as much strength as she could physically muster, she exercised her final freedom, and flung herself into eternity.


© Copyright 2019 Daniel Simpson. All rights reserved.

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