Heather had just raised her arm, when the alarm let out three shrill rings, which meant the place was on lockdown. Too late, too late, and it was her own fault.
“Not again,” Shona’s book slammed shut. “Why is this always happening right before lunch?”
Kyle, who was charged with in-class security, bolted the door.
“Leave se books open, please,” Frau Schrampf said. “Sis will gif us more time to finish se story.”
Demetrius and a few others got up and peered out the bulletproof windows. “Can’t see nothin’,” Demetrius said, “can’t hear nothing, neither.”
“Setzen!” Frau Schrampf used the Moot Court gavel to pound her desk. “Sofort setzen! If you do not sit down at once you vill get a demerit.”
The boys and Carla – who was always with them – returned to their desks.
“This story is really boring,” Carla said, flipping pages. “The sentences are, like, a mile long.”
“By the time I get to the end of one I’ve forgotten the beginning,” LaTasha said.
“Böll is very dense, yes,“ Frau Schrampf conceded. „But to those who have patience he vill reveal layer and layer of meaning.“
Kyle looked at his watch and said: “Ten more minutes to surrender.“
The tension headache this morning should have alerted her, Heather thought. She should have stayed home or at least brought something, but she hadn’t, and now her future looked dismal.
“I’m starving,“ Shona said, „Can those of us who’ve brought stuff eat it now?“
Frau Schrampf shook her head. “Ve vill vait a vhile,“ she said, and Shona laid down her head and fake-wept theatrically.
Heather raised her arm once more. “May I please be excused, Frau Schrampf? Darf ich bitte, bitte austreten? Es ist ein NOTFALL.”
“Sorry, Kind,“ Frau Schrampf said. “You know ve can’t make exceptions. You vill have to holt it.”
Holding it, Heather knew, wasn’t an option. Already she could feel the warm spot spreading and staining her light-colored pants. She was afraid to look.
They heard screams then, but it was hard to tell if the screams were conveying terror or animation, as they were followed by hysterical laughter.
“Here come the pigs!” Demetrius announced, and his group rushed back to the windows. Strobe lights blazed from four cop cars and three fire engines.
“Check! It! Out!” Carla said.
Officers in riot gear were dispersing to and through the main entrances and around the buildings.
“I bet one of your brothers brought his invention to school,” Owen said to Nadim, who was Muslim.
“So not funny, “ LaTasha said.
“Shame on you!” Frau Schrampf pointed her gavel at Owen, “For sat you vill get a demerit.”
Kyle said: “Three more minutes.”
“It was a joke.” Owen looked around but nobody felt like backing him up. “Me and the man are, like, best buds forever!”
Nadim shook his head, without raising his eyes from his well-worn German book.
“Sat is a very sat sense of humor, young man,” Frau Schrampf said, looking straight at Owen. Owen blushed. Heather, who’d once had a thing for Owen, sat motionless and prayed. Dear Lord or Lady: I know I’m of no importance to you. But if it’s all the same, make Owen say more stupid things so everyone will look at him and nobody will look at me. Make a fight break out. Make the walls cave in and the ceiling come down. Give Frau Schrampf a medical emergency. No. No – don’t do that. Don’t take her, but kill me. Quickly and without much pain. If you’ll do that I will, I will —
Kyle said: “Time. Please surrender your personal weapons.”
The class groaned. They searched their backpacks and patted down their bodies, and, one by one, they walked over to where Kyle stood and deposited their handguns into the steel basket he was holding out to them and signed their names on his clipboard.
“Thank you,” Kyle said to each one of them.
“This rule makes no sense,” La Tasha said, dropping her 8 mm Luger, and Kyle said: “Rule number three: After fifteen minutes of any in-class lockdown situation –“
“Yeah, whatever,” LaTasha said, cutting him off.
“Thank you,” Kyle said.
Shona had trouble detaching her sparkling holster from her belt, and when she finally did, there were gasps of envy.
“Valentine’s gift from my man,” Shona said. The studs looked like real diamonds.
“Pretty,” LaTasha said.
Carla said, “Check. It. Out.”
Now Heather was the only one left in her seat. She smiled at Frau Schrampf, willing her brain to convey an emergency message.
“Heather, Kind, ve do neet you to comply wis school policy,” Frau Schrampf said. Heather stood up, and almost immediately Demetrius screamed: “Look! Heather’s been shot! She’s bleeding!”
And everyone looked before averting their eyes, and Heather thought how peaceful it would be, to be actually dead.
© 2016 Helia S. Rethmann
About Helia: Helia grew up in Germany, but now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she teaches, writes, and cleans up after too many animals. Her fiction has recently appeared in Black Elephant, Intrinsick Magazine and in Pure Slush and Virgins anthologies. Her story ‘Animals’ was published recently by the Breakwater Review (U of MA at Boston), and “The truth about the children you rooted for” will be included in the ‘Fairy Tales and Folklore Re-imagined’ anthology by ‘Between-the-Lines’ this September.
Following 11/09, she hopes to find allies on Medium https://medium.com/@heliasrethmann