Part one, Planning. October 25th, 2001
Travis stepped up to the podium, his excitement growing
as he looked out at the crowd of kids, some young as 8, some already
seniors, and all of them there for the purpose to hear him, to hear
him, their king! The room was rumbling with noise. He raised both
hands above his head, and gradually it quieted.
"Fellow members of the Freedom, it is finally time to make our mark on the world!" The room went in to an uproar of cheering. Travis waited until the group lapsed into silence again.
"This is how." he said in a slightly quieter voice. No one missed a word, his charisma captivating them. Travis lugged a variety of bags and briefcases into view, and opened one of the briefcases. Somebody gasped as the contents were revealed.
"What the frick are you doing, Travis?" yelled Jack Treides, pushing to the front of the crowd.
"Preparing us for our true hour, my friend."
"We will show those who have resisted us who we are, and why we are their betters, not their peers."
"Those who have resisted us, where, Travis?"
"You know where, Jack."
Jack did. "At school." he whispered. "Goddammit, you're going to bring those, those guns to school."
"Of course not." Travis' patronizing tone didn't waver. "I wouldn't take all the glory for myself. You are, too."
"You can't do that! How can you even think of it, you sick SOB!"
Travis took a step off the podium, and another one towards Jack. "Do you realize just how easy it would be for me to kill you, right now? The pistols are loaded." he said in a soft, precise, dangerous voice. As if to demonstrate, he picked one up. Nobody in the hall had dared to do anything more than breathe since Jack stepped forward.
"It wouldn't serve my purposes to do so-it'd be too messy, too sudden, out of pure luck on your part, Jack. But I cant afford for you to tell anyone, either."
Travis stepped towards the briefcases, and pulled out a gun, and shot Jack in the stomach, twice. Then he stepped onto the podium again, eyes flashing and called out to the entire group.
"Jack Treides has just been hit rather unfortunately by a car. Anyone who thinks otherwise will suffer the same."
"What should we do about him?" asked someone
from the back row, breaking the silence.
Travis shrugged. "Someone can just drag him home after the meeting." His eyes roved over the crowd, and lit upon a horrified gray-eyed girl. His mouth curled into a slight smirk. "Anna, why don't you do it?"
Anna swallowed and pushed a lock of blonde-brown hair out of her face. "Okay."
Travis flashed a winning smile at the group.
"Well then, now that that's settled...onto the planning for Monday-that's when we'll make our stand. I'll determine the time, and ring an extra bell when it's time-it'll be either recess or between classes. Either way, wherever you are, get out your...equipment, and, make sure that everyone knows your purpose. Take someone hostage, or shoot, if you have to. We will have them under our fist!" Travis pounded his fist on the podium, as if to demonstrate.
"God save us all." whispered Anna.
She stewed about yesterday's meeting. She knew she had to stop Travis when she'd watched him shoot Jack, Jack, one of her best friends since 2nd grade. His mother's look when she had told her that he had been hit by a car had only confirmed it. She had a weekend to stop a speeding bullet. Or rather, about a thousand speeding bullets.
She knew what she had to do. She didn't know how.
She grabbed a pad of paper and one of those cute, ridiculously small library pencils.
Olivia tapped her pencil on the side of her desk. Just 2 minutes before Social Studies was over. Then she'd leave, get her books, have just enough time to ask Maria how her weekend was, and go to Creative Writing. It actually wasn't too bad for a Monday. Maria-a perky, intelligent 2nd grader that Olivia had befriended had had plans to go to the water park on Saturday, and Olivia wanted a review of the newest ride-not just for herself, but for the column she wrote for the school-wide newspaper.
Creative Writing was a favorite amongst all the 7th and 8th graders. Mr. Gantris was one of the most creative teachers in the school. Nobody could ever anticipate what his next project would be. He'd once assigned a completely egoistical story-the works: save the world, have super powers, be the smartest person in the world, exaggerate every single good detail about themselves. But there was a catch; the stories then had to be tied in with everyone else's. The entire class had to collaborate. It ended up as a group of kids who had to save the world by keeping the evil elephants of the world at bay. (the elephants had been suggested by the 7th grade class clown, Alyson Ips.)
Robert, rooted around in his desk for a sheet of paper. Miss Jants was asking the class if everyone was ready, and he could almost hear the chorus of 'yes' getting ready to reply. He turned to Lily, and asked her for one. She took one out of her desk and wrote a tiny note in the margin just before she gave it to him. He read it:
Oh well. The thing planned for the Freedom would solve that.
Amy walked through the halls. Almost time for economics. Economics was okay, as far as she was concerned. A little boring at times, but on the whole okay.
But scarcity situations were the last thing on her mind.
"Hi Amy." said a nearby voice. Amy looked. Lily was there. She'd passed Lily without realizing.
Amy didn't question how Lily knew that something was wrong. They were the closest pair of friends in the entire 5th grade.
"I'm worried about that weird gang, or whatever you wanna call it. You know, the Freedom."
Lily shrugged. "They spray graffiti on a few buildings, at least 2 of them end up in the office every week, they're annoying, but I don't think there's anything to worry about. My sister says the leader, you know, Travis Kevza, is a real loser.
"Yeah, but Caitlin could be wrong. And you have to watch out for the losers."
Lily arched an eyebrow.
"Okay, which true-story murder mystery was on TV last night?"
"This isn't funny! For all you know, they could be planning to bring guns to school!"
"Stop being so paranoid. This isn't Columbine, you know."
Amy calmed down. "You're right. That whole school shooting stuff is over."
"I'm glad you think so."
Anna shot through the halls. This was her first chance to talk to anyone.
She caught a glimpse of a class filing out of 10A.
"Maddie!" she blurted. Her friend was shuffling in the crowd, brown hair with an orange streak through it hanging in her face.
"Can I talk to you? In...um...the bathroom?"
Once making sure nobody else was in the bathroom, they huddled together in a stall.
"What is it?"
Anna took a deep breath. "We have to stop Travis."
"What?! Are you crazy?! Did you see what happened to Jack?!" Madison was going into hysterics.
"Yes Maddie, I did see what happened to Jack. And that's how I knew that I had to do this. Are you going to help, or not?"
"I'm too scared. And there's no way you could stand a chance, Anna!"
"No. There's no way the world can stand a chance when cowards like you live in it." Anna said coldly.
The bell rang again, signaling that it was time to go to classes again.
And with it, a second bell rang.
Travis was making his little declaration.
"I proclaim guilty. I do not plead, ever. I don't regret what happened, all the power, and I was king, I was the originator of it all!"
Caitlin felt like throwing up. Everyone else who had fired a shot, were going to do time as well, though not as long as Travis would, and with possibilities of bail and parol. But that wasn't the difference between them and Travis. The difference was, that all of them, except for maybe the exception of Barbara, felt guilty about it, felt remorseful.
The judge was laying out the sentence. All the others had already been given their fate; this was the last trial.
Everyone would be punished, everyone would go home, and go on with their lives.
But their lives would never be the same.
This turn of their lives would always haunt them.