Danielle rubbed her eyes furiously, trying to wipe the sleep away. She looked over her shoulder and at the clock that hung in the back of the class room, sighing with relief when she saw that she only had two minutes left in her English class. Her next, and last, period was study hall with her friends. She probably should have filled that time slot with something more productive, like another AP class to really bolster her college application, but she was a senior and figured she deserved a break. The metal bell that hung right outside her classroom door rang with the shrillness of a banshee and Danielle couldn't help the startled jump her body gave when she heard it. Packing up her notebook and pens, Danielle made her way from B building to E building where her next classroom was.
When she finally arrived a solid three minutes later—two minutes before the bell was to ring again—she dropped her backpack on her desk and walked to the back of the room where all the lab tables and computers were. Quickly logging on with her school ID, Danielle checked her email and a few other unblocked websites while waiting for her friends to come in. Most of them, like Darryl, never made it on time. Luckily for them the teacher never counted tardies. Just as Danielle was heading back to her desk, a whole thirty seconds before the bell rang, her friends Brad, Percy and Gwen arrived followed by her boyfriend Leon.
Leon took his seat behind Danielle, stretching over his desk to give her a quick peck to the cheek. Grinning like a fool, she tucked some hair behind her ear and waited for the teacher to give them the normal instructions: keep your voices down and stop trying to get onto Facebook. Twisting around to look at Leon, she couldn't help but reach over and tug at one of his golden curls. He hummed in approval before asking "Have any plans tonight? Brad and Colin were wondering if we wanted to see a movie with them."
Shrugging, she responded, "So long as I get my homework done and we're not out past eleven, then yeah. What movie?" Leon gave a deep sigh, causing Danielle to smile wide knowing he was about to describe some mushy-fluffy-lovie movie. Colin was always dragging his boyfriend Brad off to watch some rom-com and Brad, trying to salvage the night without upsetting Colin, would rope other couples into watching. Leon always made a big show about how annoying he thought the movies were, but Danielle knew he secretly loved them, and that his favorite was Crazy, Stupid Love. When he finally finished giving her the synopsis, Danielle stood up and leaned over him, whispering "Please, I know you love it," teasingly before kissing his forehead.
Laughing, Leon placed his hands on his girlfriend's hips, "Whatever you say, Danny." A loud cough interrupted the couple, and Danielle looked over her shoulder to see the teacher glaring at the two of them. Leon coughed uncomfortably before dropping his hands.
"It'd be a miracle if the two of you could refrain from public displays of affection for just one class period. Danielle, please either take your seat or go work on a computer instead of blocking people who need to get around you." Their teacher reprimanded, arms crossed over his chest as he glared at the two teens.
"Ah, sure Mr. Michaelson." Danielle slipped back into her seat and pulled out her assignment book to see what homework she had due the next day. She felt something, a pencil probably, poke her in the back so she turned around.
"So I'll pick you up at eight o'clock?" Leon asked, wanting to confirm who'd be picking up who later in the evening. Giving him an affirmative nod, Danielle turned back around and frowned. If she was going to focus on her work, play well at practice after school and watch a movie tonight she was going to need caffeine.
There was a vending machine just done the hall and it usually stocked a good variety. Danielle was sure there'd be a pop she liked in there. Riffling around in the small pocket of her back pack until she found her wallet, she made sure she had enough money to buy one. Twisting around again she asked, "I'm going to get a pop, do you want one?"
Leon kept his head down, intent on his Temple Run game, "No, but you'll have to go the cafeteria if you want one. The vending machine down the hall is out of order. You can thank Darryl for that one."
Sighing, she looked over to Darryl who was sitting on top of some girl's desk, trying to get her number most likely. If he were closer she'd probably kick him. "Watch my stuff, will you?" Leon grunted, still deep in his game. After getting a hallway pass from Mr. Michaelson, Danielle made her way to the front of the school where the cafeteria was located.
Danielle looked at her Pepsi product options. Usually she'd get Dr. Pepper, but that wouldn't help her any since it was non-caffeinated. Humming for a few seconds longer, she finally decided on a Mountain Dew and put in the dollar fifty. The pop thumped to the bottom of the machine and as she reached down to get it Danielle heard another noise, so soft she thought it was her imagination at first, but then she heard it again. It sounded like fire crackers. Some prankster, she wouldn't be surprised if it was Darryl, had probably put them inside a locker or something. She started back down the hallway to her classroom when she heard the noise again, much louder this time, followed by a security guard running down the hallway that intersected hers.
It happened again, twice more, one right after the other. Danielle had stopped walking once she saw the security guard and the sound was so close there was no more mistaking what she heard. Someone had brought a gun to her school. A real, legitimate gun and they were shooting it. Danielle's body turned hot and her breathing shallow. She could hear her breaths wheezing in and out of her chest. Her brain felt muddled and jumbled; should she run, hide, or should she try to help? She'd heard about school shootings, they were practically common occurrence in America now, but she never thought it'd actually happen to her. The sound of another shot going off snapped Danielle out of her frozen stupor. Taking a step back, her hands flew to cover her mouth. She didn't know if she would have screamed, but she knew she needed to stay quiet or the shooter could head her way. She needed to get back to her classroom. If the security guards were already aware of the shooter that meant the school was in lock down. Would her class let her back in? Should she run to the bathroom? Bringing her hands away from her mouth, she twisted her fingers together, unsure of what to do. Three shots this time. They sounded closer, much closer, and to her right. Swallowing down some bile she felt rise up her esophagus, Danielle knew she had to at least move.
Danielle tip-toed as silently as she could over to the wall and chanced a quick look down the hall to her right. No one was there so she held her breath and sprinted down her hallway, hoping to get back to her classroom without seeing anything. She made it as far as the school's library, all she had to do was take a left and then her class would have been less than fifty yards away. She was just about to turn the corner when someone grabbed her shoulder and swung her into the row of lockers along the wall. Biting back a scream, Danielle sucked in a sharp breath when she saw who grabbed her. "Vincent," she breathed.
"Hello, sister-mine." He smiled at her with a gun in his hand. Danielle swallowed and noticed that his smile was off, more off than usual. She looked between him and the gun, then back down the hall. Her brow furrowed and she could feel her brain trying to catch up to what she was seeing. Yes, she knew her brother was sick. Twisted even. He liked to hurt things and loved the cause pain. He was violent and cruel. She knew that. She'd known that since she was a little girl, but she never thought he'd kill anyone—never thought he'd try to harm her. He'd killed their brother, her twin, and she'd never, ever forgive him for that. But she knew, the day it happened, that he'd never meant to kill Aaron. Hurt him, obviously, but he didn't mean for Aaron to die. It's why, whenever she'd run into him the past year she didn't fear him, not really. Now though, now things have changed.
"Why?" She whispered, staring at her estranged older brother. Her heart raced in her chest, making her shirt twitch. "What—what are you doing, Vinny?" Danielle could feel her breaths coming faster. Tears were clouding her vision. Fear was gripping her heart and wouldn't let it go.
Vincent stepped closer to his sister, "Oh, sweet, sweet Danny-mine," he whispered as he towered over her, smile still stretching his lips. "Did you know our lovely older sister asked that very same thing? Word for word and all?" His breaths were coming in quickly as well, his eyes were dilated and one of his eyebrows were raised as he looked at his sister. Out of context, he looked down right prideful.
Danielle's jaw dropped, and then immediately clenched. Her body shook with rage as his words sunk in. Her vision cleared of tears and instead tinted red. Pushing him away, she hissed "What did you do to Sarah?"
Vincent laughed, high pitched and cracking. He threw his head back and closed his eyes, very amused by his sister's new found anger. Pushing off the lockers, Danielle took off again as fast as she could, but only got a foot away before Vincent caught himself and then caught her. "Now Danny, I thought you wanted to know about our long lost sister." Staying silent, Danielle squirmed in his hold, panic and fear settling back in. She stopped when she felt the barrel of the gun press into her stomach.
"Why are you doing this, Vincent?" She asked through clenched teeth, proud of herself that her voice didn't crack. She could hear the tremble in it, though. Her bout of rage had left her and all that was left was fear again. The arm that wasn't in Vincent's grip came up to her chest, grasping and twisting into her shirt. Danielle could feel it shaking against her like the tail of a rattle snake and knew no matter how hard she tried to control the tremors it wouldn't stop.
"You should know, sister-mine. After all, you put the idea in my head." He cooed at her, pressing the gun harder into her stomach. Giving her a wink, Vincent nudged Danielle's side with the gun almost playfully. She looked at him for a second, her wide eyes narrowing as she wondered how she could have possibly planted anything into his thoughts. Her brows furrowed as she came up with nothing.
"What are you talking about?" She asked. Hopefully she could keep him talking long enough for the police to get to the school. Surely they were close or already there, she thought as her eyes flicked around the hallway, looking for any type of sign that would mean help was coming. The police station wasn't far, after all, maybe she could keep Vincent talking long enough. Maybe the police would stop him before he hurt her. Licking her lips, she looked back at her brother.
"You told me, remember? You told me that we couldn't be a family anymore. You said that because I killed Aaron there was no way in hell we could ever be a family." Danielle's brows raised, her mouth unhinging slightly. She remembered the conversation, even though it was months ago. He'd confronted her while she was visiting Aaron's grave and was raving about how he wanted the two of them to find Sarah and then the three of them could live together—a supposed happily ever after for the remaining Samson children.
Danielle was adopted, though. Technically a Ladon, not a Samson, and even if she wasn't, she'd never live with her abusive brother and the sister who left her to rot in a foster home. She'd told him as much, told him that there was, in fact, no way in hell that they'd ever be a family again. "So, what?" She asked slowly, "You've decided to kill us instead?" A laugh had left her lips as she finished speaking. It was high pitched and the hysteria in it was almost palpable. Adjusting the hand that gripped her shirt, Danielle noticed it had become clammy.
Vincent laughed again, but this time his eyes never left hers and his hand on her forearm tightened. "No, Danny. Well, yeah, I mean. . . I am going to kill you. I killed Sarah—she was harder to find than I originally thought—now I'm going to kill you. Then I'm going to kill myself." He rambled on while he began to shift his weight from foot to foot. Licking his lips, he bobbed up and down some more, looking like he was giving her the best news of her life.
Swallowing, she asked once more, "Why?"
Letting out a disappointed sigh, Vincent rolled his eyes and spoke in a placating manner, "Because, sister-mine, then we can all be a family again. Mom, dad, Aaron, Sarah, you and me. We'll all be together again." He moved the gun away from her stomach, "Now don't worry, I won't be far behind you. You won't be alone for long. I'll even shoot you through the head. It'll be quick and painless."
As he spoke he moved the gun to press against her temple. Danielle tried to take in a breath but couldn't. Where were the police? Shouldn't they be here by now? An image of the police surrounding the school and waiting for orders popped into her mind. She hoped the real police didn't work as slowly as they did on T.V. Biting her lip, almost breaking skin she tried to stall again, "W—wait, Vinny," she used her old nick name for him. She'd used it before, it had slipped from her tongue, but this time she used it on purpose to grab his attention. It worked, his brows rose and he shifted the gun back so it was no longer pressed to her head. He looked at her patiently, waiting for whatever she was going to say. Her eyes flicked around the hallway again and she thought she saw a shadow move behind him. Puffing out her chest, she stood at her full height and moved quickly. With all of her strength, Danielle pushed the barrel of the gun towards the ceiling with one hand and pushed at his chest with the other.
Vincent lost his grip and she didn't hesitate to get as far away from him as she could. She didn't hear the blast from the gun, nor did Danielle hear the one that followed or the heavy taps of feet running towards her. All she heard was her heart pounding in her ears with every step until even that sound was replaced with a sharp silence that rang through her ears and took up her thoughts. Blinking, she could see that she was on the floor now. Her heart beat had picked up again, this time painfully so, crashing against her chest like it was trying to free itself. Black, heavy boots were all around her and she tried to hear what they were saying. She closed her eyes and tried to focus on their voices.
Danielle blinked again, she was moving now. Well, she wasn't really, something was moving her. Something in the back of her mind said ambulance, but she couldn't figure out why. She could feel her entire body rattling, sometimes dipping down and then springing back up from the potholes the ambulance hit. Looking around, the edges of her vision were blurry and everything seemed white to her. Her gaze stayed at the ceiling of the ambulance for an unknown amount of time before she felt her eye lids begin to droop. Closing her eyes, she tried to reopen them, but they were so heavy and eventually she gave up trying to get them open again.
Danielle's body was trembling, but unlike earlier when it was doing so in fear, this time she registered that it was because she was cold. All she wanted was the blanket that she kept at the end of her bed so she could snuggle up and fall back into a warm and happy sleep. She tried to sit up, to move her arm or her leg, but nothing happened. She knew she could move, if she really wanted to. At least that's what she told herself. Finally, she heard someone next to her, "Mmm, can—can—can I have 'mm blanket, please?" She asked, barely aware that her mouth was moving. All she cared about was getting warm. A hand touched her forehead and Danielle didn't move away from it. She didn't even consider moving away from it.
"Sweetie, are you cold?" A voice asked. It sounded so far away, almost like it was from a T.V. with the volume down low.
"Y—yes," Danielle replied, finding her tongue thick and slow, stumbling over simple words but not finding herself frustrated by that fact. She still couldn't open her eyes or move her limbs, but it didn't seem to matter just then. A moment later she felt something warm land on her and she stammered out a "Thank you," before falling back into her much appreciated warm sleep.
The next time Danielle woke up she was a bit more lucid. She groaned and looked around, wondering where she was. Furrowing her brow, she glanced at the gown she was wearing and the cords leading to an I.V. drip and guessed it was the hospital. Memories slowly started to piece themselves back into her head. She remembered going to study hall, needing caffeine, then hearing something . . . and finding out that something was Vincent. She let out a breath and winced. Her chest hurt. Looking down her gown Danielle saw cotton pads, gauze and bandages covering the bulk of her chest. Her eyes widened and she sucked in a harsh breath, realizing Vincent must have shot her. Before she had time to think too much about it someone walked into her room. "Dad," Danielle said, frowning when her words barely came out above a whisper.
Her father gave her a watery smile and took the plastic seat next to her bed. "Hey there, Danny-dee. How are you feeling?" He talked slowly and with a low soothing tone. Crossing one leg over the other, her father leaned forward in the seat, resting his elbows on his knees. Intertwining his fingers, his knuckles turned white as he looked at his daughter and waited for her response.
Danielle's brow furrowed at his behavior. "Kind of groggy, honestly," she replied just as slowly, though more so because breathing deeply seemed to aggravate her chest than trying to imitate him. "What happened?"
Her father let out a sigh and rubbed his face. With a clenched jaw he asked, "Do you remember anything?" His tone was tense, no longer slow and soothing but clipped and forced.
"I remember running into Vincent and then," she paused, thinking, "I tried to run," she told him, her words once again coming out slowly as she thought back. Her mouth twisted as she tried to think of what happened after she got away from her brother, but all she got was a head ache.
Her father nodded, his eyebrows raised up to his hair line, making him like twenty years older than he actually was. "When you ran, Vincent, he shot you in the back and then he," he exhaled, his nostrils flaring before he began again, "he shot himself, sweetheart. Vincent's dead."
Danielle stared at him uncomprehendingly. One second she didn't understand, and the next she did. The heart rate monitor she was attached to sped up as the reality sank in, she tangled her hands into the bed's sheets and she shook her head, trying to dispel the news she'd just received. Her brother was dead. Her brother was dead and he'd tried to kill her. Her brother was dead, he'd tried to kill her, and Sarah, "Oh God, Sarah," she whispered. "Dad, what about Sarah?" Looking him in the eyes, she didn't need him to say anything; she knew. Her sister was dead. Her brother was dead. Her breathing picked up. Everyone was dead. Letting go of the sheets, her hands flew to her head, entwining into her hair. Danielle looked down into her lap, not wanting to look at anyone right then.
Warmth enveloped her hands and Danielle snapped her eyes up to see her father pulling them free from her hair and bringing them back to her lap. She saw the unshed tears in his eyes and the dark shadows circling them. It was the shadows that sparked her next question, "How long have I been in here?"
Giving her hands a squeeze, but still not letting go, he replied, "Three days. You've—you've been asleep for three days. Your wound was very serious, sweetheart. The doctors said the bullet missed your heart by an inch." His mouth quivered and Danielle could tell he was trying not to cry. He stayed quitter for a few moments, letting information seep into Danielle's brain before he continued, "Luckily there was an ambulance ready outside the school."
Squeezing his hands now with a vicious grip, Danielle's mind travelled back to all the gun shots she heard before running into her brother and the security guard she saw running into the fray. Trying to swallow, but failing, she asked, "Vincent, at the school, did—did Vincent kill anyone?"
"No, dear. Thankfully he didn't kill anyone. He sent a few people to the hospital, but no one was too seriously injured." Danielle let out a shaky breath, thanking whatever power was out there that her brother hadn't killed anyone. She felt tears escape her eyes and travel down her face. Sobs escaped her mouth as emotions began to overwhelm her. Bringing her knees up, she hid her face in them while keeping her death grip on her father's hands close to her chest. Her father pulled one hand away so he could rub soothing circles into the back of her neck.
Danielle could only thank whatever higher power there was that no one had died at the school. She didn't know if she'd be able to live with herself if anyone else had been killed because of her unstable brother. "Danny, your wound . . . you're going to need some physical therapy. A lot, actually, but you're going to be okay, all right? Everything is going to be okay now." Danielle turned her head so she could see her father as he spoke. She could see that her father wanted her to feel comforted by his words, to feel safe and so she smiled through another sob and squeezed his hand, trying to believe him. Everything would be all right, she told herself again and again. Everything would be alright.
A/N: I wrote this for my Creative Writing class a little while ago and thought I should upload it. Unfortunately the subject matter is all too common in today's society (in America, especially). I hope you enjoyed the story, though and please review!