Will it ever end? I ask myself silently as I lay huddled beneath my bed, hiding from my would-be captors.
The screams continue, the high pitched, blood curdling screams of the other children, their innocent, young lives taken from them in the single blink of an eye.
The orphanage is filled with darkness, the most terrifying, blood thirsty darkness I have ever known. The horrible stench of death lingers in the air. Taking a deep breath, I exhale slowly forcing myself to calm down in an effort to regain control and, being the overachiever that I am, end up falling asleep under the single mattress that offered me temporary protection from the gunshots and terror that had, without warning, filled my surroundings.
--- : ---
As I begin to awaken, I notice the absolute silence, the almost perfect quiet, until suddenly the door to my room groans as it opens. Eyes wide open now, my heart begins to pound. I hold my breath not daring to make a sound. Carefully, I peer out from beneath the bed and see a tall male figure in the doorway, gun in hand.
He stands there, waving a flashlight, searching for something. Does he know I’m here? Struggling to hold in my tears, I begin to take him in, blood covering his uniform, his hair falling across his face and as he enters the room, my room, the large dormitory style space I shared with thirty other nine year old girls known as home, my body shudders causing my head to hit the bed frame.
“Hello?” the boy calls out. I do not answer. “Is anyone here?”
Afraid to speak, I stifle a cough. His footsteps draw near as I crawl closer to the wall beneath the bed, panic stricken. Suddenly his shoes are next to me and I squeeze my eyes as tightly as I can manage. I hear him breathing now and sense the flashlight run across my face as I force my eyes open, terrified at what or who I might see, terrified of what fate may lie behind that light. I exhale knowing that it could possibly be the last breath I would ever take.
“There you are,” the boy exclaims, reaching under the bed and grabbing my hand yanking me from under the bed.
“Please don’t kill me” I shout with tears streaming down my cheeks trying to escape his strong, rough hold.
“Its okay” he quickly says, trying to calm me down. He glances at my name tag we were forced to wear so the staff would recognize us. “Really Skylar, I don’t want to hurt you”.
I stop screaming as his word sink in. looking at him carefully, I notice he too is wearing a name tag and a uniform and in one swift moment I realize he too is an orphan. Another survivor, an ally! He catches me trying to read his name tag and chuckling softly and says, “I’m James.” He extends his sticky blood covered hand to guide me out of the room, causing me to cringe and recoil. “Sorry,” he says, wiping his hand on his polo shirt, making the effort anyway. I take his hand and follow him from the bedroom. As we exit the room he takes a step, his foot lands on the creaky wooden plank just outside the door which startles me and I yelp. James turns around quickly, staring at me with his piercing eyes, a slight smile tugging his lips upwards.
“Come on Skylar,” he urges. “They’re not going to find us, we’re safe, I promise”. He tugs on my arm more gently now, encouraging me to move from where my shoes seem glued to the floor in terror. “They’re gone Skylar, don’t you trust me?”
“No,” I replied, for I’d be lying had I said yes. Reluctantly, I take a few more steps, going faster and faster until I find that I am running. In no time we’ve run out of the building, away from the fiery building of death, into the world of cool, fresh clean air and living people. I turn to take one last look at the orphanage, my home for the past two years since my parents abandoned me with a simple explanation that they could no longer care for me.