1. Choices

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"When in doubt, choose to live

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"When in doubt, choose to live."
― Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time

Trigger Warning: School shooting scene and racial slur

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1. Choices

She could hear the gunman's heavy footsteps echo between the school corridor walls as he ran towards her.

"In here. Hurry!" Kat opened the gym equipment storage and shoved the children inside. Why were there so many of them? Darn politicians cramming thirty kids in a middle school class! She would never have time to hide them all.

"Hurry!" she hissed again. The children were giggling and pushing each other, not understanding this was real, that this was not a fire drill or a game. Perhaps it was for the better, had they known who was coming for them they would panic.

How could this happen here, in her safe little town? It was like the Utøya Massacre or the Trollhättan School Attack all over again, only this time the casualties would not be numbers on the news, this time she was inside the nightmare and might be counted among the victims.

The last child was finally through the door, Ali of course, even now lagging behind. She had never met a kid who could dawdle like Ali.

She moved to follow the children inside but an angry voice made her freeze in terror. "Stop, or I'll shoot!"

No! She had been too late! But she must save the children at least. Kat quickly slammed the door on them and locked it behind her, gripping the key with fingers like claws.

The man slowly walked closer. What an ugly thing guns were. Especially when you found yourself on the wrong end of one.

The man was dressed in green camouflage clothes, but his black Harley Davidsson cap looked a bit out of place. He had not bothered to mask himself, and with a pang of dismay she recognized him. She had been his teacher not that long ago.

Kat remembered they had argued about that cap every other lesson. 'No caps indoors', she would say, and he would take it off, only to put it on again ten minutes later.

"Johan... Please, put the gun down." If only it were the cap she had wanted him to remove this time too instead of a heavy automatic army rifle.

"Open the door. Give me those filthy monkeys and I'll let you live, despite your inferior race."

"You don't want to do this, Johan. This is not who you are."

"You don't know shit about who I am. This is necessary, I do this for our country! Not that you muslim-loving traitors would understand. Now open up."

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