Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: 24 Hours (01/27/11)
TITLE: Mine to Protect
By Ruth Neilson
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How long have I been here? I wonder before sneaking a glance at the round clock before lowering my face back onto the cold tile floor. All of my students managed to get out the window and hopefully run to safety. I didn't get away. I couldn't get out the window before the glass shattered from the door. The gun appeared next, as a hand grabbed the doorknob opening the door. Several shots were fired and I fell where I stood with pain radiating from where I was struck. How long ago was that? I pause and try to think back to when the alert went school wide at nine in the morning. Suddenly, the thought struck me it was four in afternoon--seven hours had passed.
Seven terrifying hours filled with the sounds of gun shots, screams for mercy, and ultimately the sighing breath of death. I can only hope and pray that death will find me quickly...I shake my head.
I will not think like that. I will survive and I will see my students and family again. I am too stubborn to just give in without a fight, after allóat least that's what all of my students say...
At some point, my thoughts grow fuzzy and gradually dim. I am vaguely aware of shouting and more gunshots. This is it. I know that I will be soon seeing my Father in heaven, and I'm ready for it. Silence and darkness surround me but I am at peace with it.
A gentle touch on my wrist tries to bring my awareness back into the here and now. It is followed by a voice cutting through the silence with a loud shout. I open my eyes to focus on the clock on the wall. Three more hours have passed, but I have no account of them. Voices are muffled and seem to fall over each other like waves on the beach. Everything is blurred except for the two narrow black hands: my constant companions through out this, slowing ticking along, without a care in the world.
Pressure is applied to the fiery wound before my body is carefully moved. I can't respond--all I know is that over twelve hours have passed since the attack started. A blurred face comes into my line of vision and the person smiles reassuringly before he finds my hand and squeezed it tightly.
My vision dims again and I willing surrendered myself into the unknown. No time passes there, let alone no intruders can harm me or my students. Helplessly, I float from place to place, visiting places that I have never been and revisit memories that I once thought was long buried. Life ebbs and flows around me, and I simply was there.
I am told that I was out for eleven hours, weaving in and out of consciousness. It has been twenty-four hours since the intruder walked into the school. Twenty-four hours since I made a decision that changed my life and most importantly, twenty-four hours since I made the decision to spare my students. And, even now, as I sit in the hospital room, I don't regret it.
After all, these kids are mine to protect--one way or another.
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