The muffled sound worked its way around the headphones over the brunette’s ears. It barely registered, but it was discordant enough with the music she was listening to that it caused her to notice. The musician in her grimaced at how it disrupted the flow of the song; the animal in her instinctually warily perked up. It wasn’t a natural sound. It didn’t belong in this environment.
The second noise caused her whole body to come to full alert. She lowered her Beats headphones to hang around her neck and turned towards the entrance of the chorus room. Her heart began pounding and her ears strained to pick up anything more out of the ordinary.
This one was louder, closer. She knew exactly what it was. Terror flooded her system. Her eyes went wide and heat enveloped her body. Every high school student went to school with this fear in the back of their mind. And it was happening. She rose to her feet but still crouched down in the empty room. The music suite was isolated at the end of the school complex. There were multiple exits available; the closest was right outside of the double doors between the chorus room and the hallway. She just needed to get up, race through two sets of doors, and bust outside into the sunlight and safety. Of course, the “Active Shooter Drills” that she had participated in had taught her to stay in a room with the lights off and the doors locked. This didn’t sit well with her agitated brain. She would be trapped, alone. The chorus teacher had a planning period now, which is why the room was deserted. There was safety in numbers. The small isolated one was always targeted in the animal world.
The blood pounding in her head made it hard to hear. She perceived distant noises - screaming, footsteps - but she couldn't be sure of what the situation was from her position. Damned acoustic treatments. A soundproofed classroom wasn’t very helpful right now. Maybe she could survey the scene. Creep to the double doors and peek out into the hall. If she doesn’t see anything, she could quietly approach the outside doors and run. She scanned the room to see any other options. There were several small rooms set off from the yawning large main classroom, again soundproofed for people working on solos or small group numbers. None of them had locks, all of them had large windows, so none of them offered much safety. She decided she needed to know what was happening. She stayed in a squat and worked her way to the outer door. Rising up enough to see out the window, she quickly glanced each direction. She didn’t see anything of note. Maybe the coast was clear. The problem was, once she made the move, she would have reduced her options to one. Once she pushed open the doors, anyone in the hall would know she was there. She couldn’t duck back inside because she would have basically invited the gunman to come into the room to hunt her down.
She made her decision. Her heart pounded so hard she was sure it alone would alert someone to her presence. She closed her eyes, tears working their way out of the edges. She took several deep breaths. Then she cautiously pushed the door open as quietly as possible. She shielded herself with the door and peered into the newly created gap. The hallway seemed empty. She didn’t need to go far. She could do this. She pushed the door open enough to slip out. Then she took a few tentative steps into the alcove right outside the entryway. Her headphones slid around on her neck as she twisted slightly to look around the wall. There was nothing in the hallway. She needed to make it past a small set of lockers on the left wall of the hallway to the door right beyond. She pushed off of the wall and began her trek.
Two steps in, a black-clad figure stepped out of the boys’ bathroom on the right side of the hall. He was two locker clusters away. The girl froze for a moment in panic, unsure of what to do next. The figure didn’t freeze at all. He brought his rifle up to his shoulder and aimed straight at the girl.
Everything went dark.