They Said The Strangest Thing

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Just a short piece I did one day.

“They just said the strangest thing when I sat them,” Ella said as she came back up to the host stand.

“What did they say?” Vaish asked out of curiosity. Working in a restaurant, she learned that people can say the strangest things, and you never know what to expect, so she was a little excited to hear what these people had said.

“As the woman sat down, she sat facing the door and said ‘never face your back to the door, you never know when someone is going to come in and shoot you’,” Ella told Vaish, and Vaish’s face just dropped. Talking or hearing about shootings was never something that Vaish wanted to do, ever since her sophomore year of high school.

--

*Pop pop*

“Fuck!” Vaish whispered as she limped away from the sounds, she knew she couldn’t get away too fast, not after being shot in the leg, but she needed to hide. If he had found out that she had gotten up and gotten away, he would definitely be looking for her.

She knelt over to feel her left thigh, bleeding and pulsing in hot pain.

--

“Vaish, are you okay?” Ella looked concerned as Vaish came back to the present moment.

“Yeah, sorry, I just got distracted” she replied as she looked down at the desk, pretending to become occupied with the reservation list.

“Okay,” Ella retorted as she walked away towards the kitchen.

Ever since high school, Vaish hated hearing about guns. She hated hearing anything that sounded like a gun, on the Fourth of July she wore earplugs and played music as loud as she could to drown out the noise of the fireworks.

It wasn’t something that people at work knew about, it’s something that she didn’t want to ever remember again. If there was a traumatic event to go through, why did it have to happen at an age where it’s not so easy to block out?

Moving to Hillsboro from Pennsylvania was something that was good for her, ever since it had happened she was pulled out of that school immediately and her parents wanted to move somewhere new, so they went to the state that her mother was born in. Oregon. It would be a fresh start, and hopefully the terrible events that had perspired would be soon forgotten, or at least blocked out of memory.

--

“No! Stop!” Rebecca Stand yelled as he pulled the gun up to her face, she was one of the nicest girls in the whole school, and the fact that he had the gun to her face, terrified all of us who were in the library that day. She had always been nice to him. No one understood why he was doing this.

“Oh Rebecca, stop YELLING!” He yelled back as he held his shaky hand up with his finger on the trigger.

“Rob, please, we’ve known each other for practically our whole lives!” Sierra Miller cried behind him, crouching behind a table, voice shaking so badly, you could barely understand her.

As for Vaish, she was frozen. Rob was her friend. They had hung out a few times, she had always been nice to him, even had a crush on him freshman year. Rob was one of those kids that everyone knew, he wasn’t a popular jock type, but everyone got along with him. He was smart, someone you’d expect to be a lawyer or go into politics. We had no idea what was happening, or why, it all just felt like a bad dream.

Have you ever just been chilling, either at work or doing something during your day, and you suddenly felt like you weren’t really there? You had the feeling of being in a dream, like what you were dealing with right then was not actually reality.

That’s how Vaish felt. She was just standing there, staring at Rob’s shaking hand as he held up the gun to poor Rebecca’s face.

The sound that came next was deafening.

--

“Um, excuse me miss?” Vaish jumped. She was startled out of her mind. There were customers behind Vaish, hopefully they had not been waiting there too long while she was out in her little world, trying not to remember what kept popping up in her mind.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Vaish offered an apologetic smile and helped them out as quickly as she could. Luckily they were very nice and did not act upset or anything about the wait they endured.

Walking back up to the host stand, Vaish started to feel a pain in her thigh. Oh no, she thought, this wasn’t good. The bullet wound was kind of noticeable, but she wore skirts long enough to her knees that no one could see it, and no one had seen it besides her, her parents, and her doctors.  

She started to limp. Oh no. The pain was growing. She had to go to the bathroom and check out what was going on.

Limping across the restaurant to the restroom, she tried to be as discreet as possible about the pain she was suddenly in, and snuck into an unoccupied stall. Hiking up her skirt high enough to see her wound, she saw that the bullet mark was slightly purple, and was hot to the touch. She sat down on the toilet seat and put her head in her hands, preparing herself for what her mind was about to remember.

--

“ROB! NO!” Sierra shouted as Rebecca lay on the floor, lifeless and unrecognizable after being shot in the face.

“You want next? Huh?” Rob shook as he pointed the gun towards Sierra. Sierra started crying even harder, shaking so much she couldn’t even speak. He lowered the gun and looked up, eventually closing his eyes slowly, breathing deeply and looking like he was trying to calm down.

“Rob…” Vaish said slowly, hoping she could try to talk to him, at least long enough that she could think of a way to get out of the library.

He snapped his eyes open and slowly smiled as his gaze met Vaish’s. She held her hands up like she was in a standoff with the cops. Starting to regret saying anything, she thought quickly. She knew him. Plus with her extensive obsession with serial killers and crime shows, she figured she could distract him enough to at least help some of the other people have time to sneak out of the danger zone.

“I’ve always liked you, Vaish. You’ve always been a friend of mine. Too bad that just isn’t enough right now,” he smiled and looked down, putting his hands over his eyes and shaking his head slowly, as if he had a billion thoughts running through his mind, which he most likely did, considering the situation that he was currently in.

She knew that while he was distracted, she needed to move towards the door. He still had his hand over his eyes, so she motioned for Sierra to stand up and go towards the door. His attention wasn’t on her anymore. Sierra started to get up and run, and she made it to the door.

*POP*

Sierra dropped to the floor. Right at the door, she was almost out. Vaish stifled a little shriek as tears ran down her cheeks, blurring her vision. She couldn’t look.

“Rob, why?” Vaish cried as her legs started to shake uncontrollably under her. Her knees buckled and she fell to the floor, unable to control her emotions any longer. It was just Rob and her in the library now, everyone around them either running, hiding, or dead.

“No one really cares about me. No one notices the pain that I’m in. Everyone should feel it.” He said as he slowly walked over to her, crouching down beside her. He took the gun and brushed her brown hair away from her tear stained face, leaning in closer, she could smell his hot breath, smelling like cinnamon Altoids.

“Rob, please. Don’t hurt me. We’ve always been friends. You were there for me when my grandmother died, you were there for me when my dog got hit by a car. You even came and visited me in the hospital when I fainted and cracked my ribs.” She sobbed and looked down towards her legs, bent and still shaking while she was slumped over on the ground. Her vision once again becoming blurry from her tears.

“I know, and that’s why I haven’t shot you. Not yet, at least. I’ll let you try to convince me, but first, stand up, you look pathetic.” He had a slightly disgusted look on his face as he practically spat the last word at her.

Feeling very weak, she tried her best to stand up slowly.

--

“Vaish? Are you in here?” She was jolted back to reality and remembered that she was at work. Tears were running down her face, and she had to pull it together.

“Yeah! Sorry! I thought I started my period.” She pulled the lie out of her ass and wiped her tears quickly.

Emerging from the stall, her coworker Alice was standing there, looking a bit concerned.

“Were you… crying? Ella was worried so I came to see if you were in here.” Alice asked almost cautiously.

“Oh no, I just yawned,” she forced a smile and went to go wash her hands. “I’ll be out in a minute! Sorry again!” Wiping her hands on a paper towel, she went back out into the restaurant and headed to the front to the host stand.

Fuck, that cannot happen again, Vaish thought as she went to look at the computer, trying to catch back up on whatever she missed while she was in her thoughts.

“Are you alright?” Her manager Allen had walked up to the stand, and was looking rather concerned. Damn, was I that obviously upset? She thought in frustration. It was worse to be constantly asked what was wrong, when something was wrong, than to just pretend that nothing was happening.

“Yes, fine,” she forced another smile and quickly looked away from his fatherly gaze. Her managers and coworkers there cared about her, so she wasn’t surprised that they wouldn’t leave her alone. It felt nice honestly, but not what she needed or wanted right then. No one knew what she had been through, she moved away to forget, and to start a new life.

Looking at the clock, she realized she was supposed to be out of work in just half an hour, so she asked if she could do her side work. Allen looked worried still, but nodded in agreement and let her go on her way to finish her duties.

Sighing in relief, Vaish went back to the bathroom to do a bathroom check, and also to check on her leg again. “Just a little bit longer, then you can go home,” she whispered to herself as she hiked up her skirt once again. Still feeling a little bit hot, the pain had subsided and the wound was overall feeling better. Pressing her index finger into the center of the scar, she could feel a small pulse within.

--

Getting to her feet, Rob stood up with her, helping her up, and starting to look like there was some kindness in his eyes again, like the guy she once knew, before this day.

“Listen Vaish, I don’t want to hurt you. If there was anyone in this school that I don’t want dead, it’s you. How is that fair though? Look at poor Rebecca,” he motioned to her lifeless, bloody self and shook his head as he looked back towards Vaish.

She was in shock. This couldn’t be real. Everything that was happening had to be a bad dream. It just COULD NOT be real. She shook her head and closed her eyes, as if to try to wake herself up.

“Open your eyes, and look at Rebecca.” He slowly said in a tone that made her know that he was not playing around. She opened her eyes and met his gaze, there was something dark in him that she had not seen moments before.

Glancing over at Rebecca, Vaish could not handle what was in front of her. She vomited up her breakfast she had eaten only hours before, and started to cry again.

“Now, I told you I would let you try to convince me. And here’s your chance. Let’s sit down.” He grabbed her arm and guided her rather forcefully towards a table, the one Sierra had been hiding behind just minutes before this.

“What do you want me to do?” Vaish asked slowly, trying to calm down and not upset him any further.

“That’s up to you. I’ll let you figure that out.” Rob sat there, spinning the gun around on the table as if it was a game of spin the bottle.

All that could come to her mind, was trying to talk to him, to see why he was doing this.

“Rob, what’s wrong? You know you can talk to me.” She put on a voice that a psychiatrist would use, trying to sound understanding and as calm as she could be in that situation.

“Can I? You’ve barely talked to me since the school year started. We used to be friends,” he sounded a bit sad.

“We ARE friends!” She started to tear up again, hands shaking in her lap.

He was still spinning the gun around on the table. “I don’t feel it,” he stopped spinning the gun and held it in his hand, looking down.

“Okay then, shoot me.” She looked him right in the eyes, “why put it off any longer?!” She started to yell. She couldn’t take it, if she was going to die, she would rather just get it over with.

Rob looked startled. He wasn’t expecting her to start to get angry.

She stood up, adrenaline starting to run through her. He stood up too, slowly and looking a little bit intimidated, probably forgetting that he held a gun.

“SHOOT ME!” She started to scream at him. He didn’t move a muscle, just looked at her like he did not know what to do.

He put the gun on the table, and once again, put his head down and shook it.

Vaish knew this was her chance. She grabbed the gun as fast as she could, and with shaky hands, held it up to Rob’s face. She started to back up, not knowing for sure if she would need to actually pull the trigger, but maybe she could get out of the library and get outside of the school.

She backed up just enough to where she decided to turn and start running. Suddenly she was on the ground, she had been tackled.

Rob was on top of her, trying to wrestle the gun out of her hands.

“NO! I didn’t want to hurt you! Look what you’ve made happen!” He got the gun from her hand, and she had somehow gotten up and was running toward the library doors.

*POP*

A searing pain went through her left leg, and she fell to the ground.

--

Feeling the small pulse in her scar, she realized she needed to finish up her work, and stop living in the past for just a few minutes so she could get out of here and go home. Her mother could help her feel better. Her dad was super overprotective since everything had happened, which was expected from a parent after almost losing their child.

“Hey Allen, I’m all done, do you think it would be okay if I left now? We’re dead anyways,” Vaish motioned around to the mostly empty restaurant, and they definitely did not need her to stick around anymore.

“Yeah, you’re all good, have a nice night, Vaishy” Allen replied to her as he let her get off the clock.

Walking slowly out to her car, she got in and turned it on, heating it up and closing her eyes as she listened to the song on the radio.

Fuck, of course it would be this bullshit! She thought as “Pumped up Kicks” by Foster the People was playing. She turned the radio off and put her head in her hands. Tears forming in her eyes again. She couldn’t stop thinking about that day.

--

Waking up in a daze, Vaish suddenly came to it when she realized she had been shot. Feeling her chest and abdomen area, she found she wasn’t wounded there, but rather she had been shot in her leg. There was so much blood soaking through her new jeans, her light washed boyfriend fit jeans, she knew she had to stop it somehow.

Before getting up, she peered around to see if Rob was around. Nowhere in sight, had she figured he had run off after shooting her, since she passed out maybe he thought that she was dead. That would be a lucky thing.

Slipping off her flannel she was wearing, she took it and tied it around her thigh, trying to make it as tight as possible, while being quiet, which was hard because the pain that came from the wound being touched was unlike anything you could imagine.

She knew she had to get up, and get outside of the school. There had to be cops out there now. People had to have known what was going on by now. Maybe even her parents were out there waiting for her! The thought of being with her parents in only a few minutes was enough to give her the motivation to stand up, which was very painful, she had to hold on to the shelves that were around her to hoist herself up.

Realizing that she could not put much or any weight really, on her wounded leg, was difficult, so she limped and hobbled as best she could, slowly sneaking out of the library doors.

Trying to figure out the best escape route, she figured she would just sneak around the hallways and go out the main way to the entry doors, hoping to be rescued by anyone that could help.

“NO!” She heard a scream from the opposite direction she was headed, and then two loud pops, which sounded like fireworks.

She knew she had to move fast. There was a small trail of blood behind her, which she knew was not good, but she was determined to get out of there.

“Fuck!” She felt her leg, and she was bleeding pretty heavily, the flannel tied around her thigh already practically soaked with blood.

Going down the stairs that were right around the corner, she knew she was close to the doors to a safer place.

At the bottom of the stairs, lay one of her favorite teachers. He taught American History, and he always believed in her, in all of his students actually. His eyes were open and his mouth agape as if he was screaming. She leaned over the best she could, trying to keep it together, and gently closed his eyes.

The doors were right there. Hobbling over, she tried to go as quickly as she could. She could see police lights outside! They were there! She knew it. Help was only a few feet away.

“Vaish, I thought you were gone.” The voice she heard sent chills down her spine, it was coming from behind her. She slowly turned around.

There stood Rob, looking calm, and had a rather pleasant smirk on his face, looking like he was satisfied with what he had done so far.

“Rob…” Vaish started to slowly back up, heading towards the doors as slowly as she could without him realizing what was going on.

“No, I gave you a chance, and you fucked up. I did NOT want to hurt you! How many times do I need to say that? You obviously don’t listen though, and that’s not good.” He started to look angry as he held the gun in his palm, opening it up and counting how many more bullets were in there.

Vaish didn’t know what else to do. She ran as hard as she could to the door, knowing that there was someone out there who could save her.

*POP POP POP*

She fell to the ground before reaching the door. Realizing she had not been shot, she looked up to see two SWAT men standing there, guns pointed at Rob, who now lay lifeless before her. She broke down and started sobbing.

“Miss? Are you alright?” One of them asked her as they lifted her into their arms, bringing her out of the school doors, and to the crowds of waiting people and police men out there. She leaned against her strong savior and let herself cry, and feel pain. She sobbed as he just held up, reassuring her that she was safe now.

“VAISHNAVI!” She knew that voice. It was her mother. Her parents stood there behind caution tape, sobbing and holding each other. Vaish jolted her head up, and the officer carrying her took her over to her parents.

He set her down on the stone wall that stood outside of the school, and let her parents hold her and cry.

She was safe. She was out of there. She was alive.

--

Lifting her head back up, and wiping tears that were streaming down her face again, she shook her head and drove home to her family.


Submitted: May 17, 2020

© Copyright 2021 S.V. Duvvuri. All rights reserved.

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