The early morning sun burst through the huge, horizontal-barred, prison-like school window—the only window in that classroom. The sweat slid down the window from the extreme heat outside versus the very cool air on the inside. The room smelled like an old, moldy basement. The ceiling was water-stained from roof-leaks from decades of rainstorms and quick, cheap-fix repairs. Three florescent lights lined the ceiling, one flickering on and off, the other two, no longer glowed brightly, but emitted a dim, yellow light, making the pensive, white cinderblock walls look dirty and yellow.
Zoe sat among her classmates, staring ahead, above her teacher’s head at the round, ticking clock that no longer ticked—no longer worked. Zoe rested her head on her right arm, angled to try to stare out of the one, steamy window, to daydream about being anywhere but in the classroom, listening to the monotone lecture about the incredible military campaigns of Alexander the Great, Khalid ibn Walid, Vo Nguyen Giap, Caesar and Napoleon.
“He could at least sound excited. What a tool. Hella cute, but a fucking dull toolbag,” she thought. Zoe drowned out her instructor’s voice, daydreaming about the last time she had a picnic with her father, five years ago. It was a perfect day, bright blue sky, white fluffy clouds that looked like cotton candy, perfect green grass, Mom’s amazing sandwiches and Mom quoting the movie Grease, “Remember, the only man a girl can count on is her daddy.” One week later, her father was killed in an explosion outside of her middle school building, picking her up from school. Zoe’s eyelids became heavy and she drifted to sleep, head propped up on one arm.
BEEEEEEEP! BEEEEEEP! BEEEEEEEP! The fire alarm sounded. Zoe jumped up, startled by the alarm. Her classmates high-fived one another, excited that something, anything, decided to break the monotony of the already boring last day of their senior year.
Mr. Pierce walked over to the door as the students gathered their things to prepare to leave. He jiggled the handle, but the door was locked from the outside. I tried pushing it, but it was useless.
“What’s wrong, Mr. Pierce” one student asked.
“The door. It’s locked. Probably one of your colleagues’ idea of a senior prank. Well, I am not amused,” Mr. Pierce retorted. Zoe walked over to the window and wiped some of the sweat with her and to see what she could see. No one was rushing outside.
“Look to see if anyone’s in the hallway,” Zoe commanded.
“No one. The hall looks empty,” he said looking out of the door’s tiny window. “I–I can see Ms. Powell across the hall. Looks like they’re locked in, too.”
Zoe pulled out her cell phone to call the police.
“What are you doing with that? You know there are no cell phones allowed in class! Hand it over,” Mr. Pierce demanded.
“Really? The school’s locked up and you’re worried about me having a cell phone in class—to use to call the police? You really are an idiot.”
“Zoe, hand it over, please. Don’t make me ask you again,” Mr. Pierce said in a calm, unsettling voice. Zoe proceeded to dial the police when she felt something hard against her spine. Then she heard a click. She didn’t move. A hand slowly reached around her waist to take the phone from her. “I asked you nicely, Zoe,” Mr. Pierce whispered in her ear.
As she turned around slowly to face her teacher, listening to the frightened gasps of her classmates, she heard yells from outside of the room, followed by a single gunshot.
“Mr. Pierce, what’s going on,” Zoe asked, frightened.
“We’ll discuss that in detail later. For now, how about you finish your nap,” he responded.
“Huh? What do you –“Zoe’s sentence was cut short by a blow to the side of her head. The last thing she saw was Mr. Pierce’s steel gray eyes before her own eyes were forced shut.
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