(*Warning, the following short story may contain upsetting circumstances about an active shooter. We, however, feel this is an important issue that needs discussion. Skip to the end to see some ways the help your child in such an event.)
A little foresight may be the difference between life, and death.
The tile floor was polished funny. It was shiny in spots, and not shiny in spots. In some places you could see the light reflecting and then boom, you can’t see it anymore. That’s so weird. Does the janitor do that on purpose? Is he having races against other janitors to see who can get the floor polishing done first, and then miss spots? Maybe he’s cheating in the race trying to beat…………..
“Joshua! Would you like to answer the question for your classmates? Mr. Garrett asked.
Joshua looked up, startled. He had no idea what question the teacher had asked. He simply looked with eyes wide as the teacher waited for a response. Joshua looked at his classmates for some clue as to what was going on, but they too simply stared at him. He looked to Joey, his best friend sitting beside him, but Joey gave no support. The silence continued for what seemed like hours, then the teacher said “Joshua, please pay attention to what is going on in class. This is an important lesson and we are having a test at the end of the week.”
Joshua straightened up and retrieved his pencil from the seat of his desk where it had fallen. He put the pencil onto the notebook he had laying on his desk. The notebook was empty of notes on History, but full of doodles. Joshua was trying to figure out how to draw faces, but they always ended up looking somewhat deformed. He sighed, turned the page, and started listening.
“You should have seen the look on your face!” Joey whispered.
“Shut up Joey!” Joshua whispered back
“That look was so funny!” Joey quietly cackled.
Joshua looked at his best friend. His best friend that he simply wanted to choke out at the moment.
Joshua looked away from his friend and up to the teacher who was droning on about civil war something or other.
” Does anyone remember why the Battle of Vicksburg was important during the Civil War?” Mr. Garret asked.
“Anyone……..anyone……..Does anyone kno……………”
A scream came from down the hall, it was so loud and filled with terror, that it silenced the entire class.
BANG, BANG, BANG…………..BANG
Ear Shattering gunshots came from down the hallway.
They reminded Joshua of the fourth of July, only they were so loud. More screaming came from the hallway. Kids and teachers rushed in panic outside the classroom door. The fire alarm started shrieking and the emergency lights flashed.
“Get to the back of the room! Just like we practiced in the active shooter drill. Stay as far away from the door as you can!” Mr. Garret shouted. All of the kids began to move to the back of the room. Joshua was numb, everything seemed to move in slow motion. He stood up from his desk but couldn’t seem to move his legs. It felt as if his legs were made of concrete. He just stood there, unable to move.
Joshua was frozen in fear, he could only watch his classmates. It seemed as if he was disconnected from them. It felt like this was not real, like it was a dream. Joshua’s classmates were gathering in the back corner of the room, just like they had practiced. He saw Joey, he was talking, but his lips were moving so slow there was no sound. His friend was waving, signaling to come toward him. Joshua was terrified, he couldn’t move. He just couldn’t move.
Joshua jumped as he felt a hand grab his shoulder. He looked with terror in his eyes at the hand that had grabbed him. It was Mr. Garret, he was saying something. It sounded like he was under water, or maybe Joshua was underwater.
“Josh, we have to get to the back of the room” Mr Garrett said.
He left Joshua’s side and went to the doorway. He pulled a metal triangle out of a desk drawer. He moved quickly to shut and lock the door. He placed the triangle thing over the door closure at the top of the door. He then pushed a door stop under the door and turned the lights off. The teacher tiptoed back to Joshua’s side. He grabbed Joshua’s hand and said gently “We have to get to the back of the room, Josh, it’s not too far”. Those words broke the spell. The concrete in Joshua’s feet broke apart and he was able to finally move.
Mr. Garret pulled Joshua toward the back of the room and sat him down by Joey.
“Stay here, and be quiet. Just like we practiced.” Mr. Garrett whispered. His voice quavered ever so slightly. He shakily ran his hands through his thinning brown hair. “Just stay quiet. Everything will be fine.” He reaffirmed.
The kids listened to Garrett as best as they could. Some where quietly crying to themselves. Others seemed to be in shock. Joshua was on the border of absolute panic. He wanted to run, oh how he just wanted to run. But there was no place to run, there was no place go. He looked around the room, there were no windows, there was no outside connection. There was only the door. The door was shut tight, but outside light leaked into the room from around the edges. Will the door be enough? Can the door hold? All Joshua was able to do, was wait in the dark.
Footsteps could be heard in the hallway. They were slow and heavy footfalls. Almost with a maticulaouse cadence. The door rattled in the classroom across the hall. Joshua’s breath caught in his throat. Nothing happened. The footsteps started up again. They were getting louder, they sounded like Dad’s work boots on the hardwood floors when he was getting ready for work early in the morning.
The light around the door started to blink. Shade started to block the outline of the door. It moved from right to left. Slowly, ever so slowly. Then the shade stopped and split into two separate shadows in the light at the base of the door, with two loud final footfalls. The door handle started to move but it was locked. The lock started to rattle violently. One of Joshua’s classmates made a loud whimpering sound. The lock suddenly went still.
There was an explosion. Wood fibers shattered into the room. A pinprick of light showed in around the door knob. Again and again the explosions rang out. Pieces from the door atomized into the room. What sounded like angry bees screamed through the air and pieces of the concrete wall shattered. Joshua screamed.
“Mom, Dad!” Joshua cried out. Tears in his eyes. He just wanted to be home, in his bedroom. He just wanted to be away from this nightmare.
The door handle fell from the door. There was a pause, then the door opened almost an inch until the secondary lock on the upper closure stopped it from going any farther. The door was shut, then forced open again harder. The lock held. It was open and shut forcefully again and again. The door frame was shaking from the violence of the onslaught.
I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! The shadow screamed in a deep and horrible voice.
The door was attacked again, with a fury Joshua had never seen. The door shook and shuddered.
“I HATE YOU! I WANT YOU TO DIE!!” The shadow shrieked violently.
There were more explosions from the door. With every explosion the was a new ray of light shot across the room. The wood dust and concrete chunks rained down on Joshua’s head.
“I HATE YOU!” The voice shrieked
“DIE…………I JUST WANT TO DIE…………I just want to die.” The voice changed from a fierce rage to almost a whisper.
Then it stopped. Quiet whimpering was all that Joshua could hear, and it was his own. Then the footfalls started again. This time they started slow and then started to accelerate. As if they were running, running away. At first Joshua couldn’t hear, his ears were ringing so badly. But then he did hear, he could hear the police sirens.
Joshua sat on the floor and held his shaking legs with his classmates as he waited for help to finally arrive.
What can be done to help keep our children safe?
I have four children currently enrolled in school. As a father, a scenario like this short story is a fear of mine. It unfortunately is a fear in my children as well.
Door closure locks
The secondary upper door closure lock that I wrote about in the article is called “The Sleeve” This device would be a very good and inexpensive way to stop an intruder. This simple active protection device, in the event of an emergency, could be used to to protect an entire room.
Another inexpensive self defence device to protect your children is a simple door stop like this from Expanded technologies.
Personal backpack protection
Tuffy Packs Personal Security All in One BackPack is another simple protection device.
Another Protective idea is Vivid Learning Systems “Active Shooter Training”
The goal is to help lower the body count by equipping people with the latest life-saving preparedness training.
Built with the assistance of national subject matter experts from the law enforcement community, this free online course is intended for any audience, at work, at home, in school.
Vivid Learning Systems is an online safety training provider – it’s what we do. That’s why building this active shooter preparedness training course and making it publicly available is the least we could do.
If any of the information shared in this article helps you or you have some ideas we can add to this article. Please comment and let us know.