The gunman approaches me. Hardly a man. A boy with a rifle.
He has an offer.
My life for theirs.
He points the barrel toward the school. Theirs. No blubbering. Right here. Right now. Your life ends. His eyes are dull as dirty pennies. Will you take my deal?
Yes.It is two weeks before Christmas. Still hasn't snowed but it's cold. The children are dressed like miniature candy-colored Eskimos. Their limbs make a swish-swish noise as they walk.
He aims. Fires.
A dream. Another cruel trick of my mind. Reality offered no such bargains.
In reality a man using ammunition meant for battle or big game murdered his way into the news, into hell. The price, our children. My boy. The bullets did what they were made to do. Damage. Unleashed like a Kraken, evil roared down the hallways, chased the students and teachers into their classrooms, under their desks, left blood and bodies in its wake.
The school stands unused, like the site of an atom bomb or an Indian burial ground, radioactive and haunted. The corridors still echo with the sound of one hundred and fifty five rounds. Eleven had one child's name. Eleven. More bullets than candles on his last birthday cake.
The president visited, another sad man in a suit standing over coffins filled with hollow bodies, their souls vanished. Buried now in the cold winter ground. Nothing grows above them but tombstones.
I prefer my dreams. In them there is no empty space beneath the Christmas tree. Where once a school bus wheezed to a stop at the end of our driveway, now it just rattles past. There is snow on the ground now. My son loved to sled. Memories are a bitter poison I can't stop sipping.
The one hundred and fifty fifth round, the bullet with the killer's name on it, in my dreams I pull the trigger. In my dreams, sometimes, the last round is the first round. Through the hole in his head I hear a banshee wail.
An ethereal night, lit by a fat moon, the snow glows ghostly white. I wonder how long it would take, if I lied down outside, before I couldn't feel anything.
If you see me sleeping, please don't wake me.
Copyright © 2013 by Mike Miner