There was a school shooting. However, it wasn’t really at a school, it was at the mall. The school was in the mall, but there were plenty more people then schoolchildren present. I had been wandering aimlessly, poking around in the classrooms and window-shopping when I heard the shots ring out. There were screams, and suddenly waves of people started running for the exits. I caught a glimpse of the shooter as he turned the corner. He was a small boy, only about twelve years old, with colorless blonde hair and large blue eyes. I knew intuitively that his name was Greg. He wasn’t a very good shot, but some of them found their targets, and once in awhile someone would collapse onto the brown tile floor. I ran into the other part of the mall, and escaped out the doors. My parents were waiting for me in the car. The door of the car was jammed, and I couldn’t open it. I could see Greg rounding the corner behind me. My mom rolled down the back window, and I tried to squeeze through. But before I could, Greg came up behind be and grabbed me from the back. He had a knife now, and held it to my throat, scowling. My parents gasped, and my dad tried to get out of the car, but Greg pressed the knife closer and said,
“If you move I’ll kill her. Don’t think I won’t.”
“ ‘Don’t think I won’t’ “ I mimicked in a high-pitched voice. “Really creative. Tell me, Greg—have you ever done anything, said anything worthwhile? You’re just as much of a loser as everyone thinks you are.” My parents were mortified, but I continued.
“I mean, look at this. Why are you doing this? You’re tired of mediocrity. You’re tired of being student Six-Hundred-and-Seven. You wanted most desperately to stand out even if it was for something like this, for murder. But will you? Have you ever heard of Columbine, or Santana? Even this has been done before, even your most desperate actions have been plotted out years ago by people you don’t even know—“
“Stop.” Greg said. His voice was shaky. His hand trembled on the handle of the knife. “Stop saying that.” I ignored him.
“Yes, Greg, you won’t be student Six-Hundred-and-Seven anymore, rotting away at this tiresome school. You’ll be prisoner Six-Hundred-and-Seven, rotting away in jail. Perhaps for the REST OF YOUR MEANINGLESS LIFE.”
“SHUT UP!” Greg dropped the knife onto the ground and pulled his hair over his face. I kicked the knife away, then stepped around the boy and into my car. As we drove off, I noticed a strange mark on Greg’s shoulder, something I hadn’t seen before.
Soon after I was at my own school, in the library. Avalon and I, plus a few friends I don’t know in real life, had just unearthed a massive conspiracy. We had reason to believe that some oblique government faction was using a new discovery called Pigments to control the population. So far they had only tested it on a few, but if it proved successful they might just go on taking over the world and whatnot. Some types of Pigments were just beginning to be available on the civilian market, for computers. Somehow, the nanomachines immersed in colored liquid helped them run smoother. My friends and I decided that we were going to try and get into the database of these people. We huddled over the computer, trying to guess the password. But we were interrupted by Max, who had donned a long blue coat and was singing at the top of his lungs and dancing around the library. I don’t remember the words to the song, but they were tremendously clever, and everyone started laughing and clapping. Ms. Inman, (the evil dean) was sitting on a couch in the corner, scowling. Avalon made a face at her while she wasn’t looking. Then we all got on a bus and drove to the courthouse, because our history class was doing presentations there. The presentations were all about Pigments, and the impact they would have on the market. Avalon, Joe, Gina, and a the rest of our group had taken this opportunity to do our project on the secret bid for global domination that Pigments were helping the devious faction achieve. However, we made it look tongue-in-cheek on purpose, as if we were just having fun. We all gathered at the front of the courthouse, which looked vaguely Greek. Everyone stood in lines and then entered, and everyone was dancing slightly. There were individual interviews first, and I was worried. But we did fine, and the judge person thought we were very entertaining indeed. Avalon then showed our posterboard, which she had made. She kept insisting I made it, which irked me because I thought the board was rather ugly. When we came back, we went back on the computers. Avalon wondered aloud how the evil people could get the Pigment into people. Joe suggested it was injected. I suddenly thought back to Greg and the weird mark on his shoulder. I needed to know more about it. So I looked up a site on the internet that had pictures of all the people Greg had killed, and an address of where to send their families sympathy cards. There was a 20 year old girl named Gailen, and a seven year old and a five year old. The seven year old looked like mini supermodel and I wondered if Greg killed these perfect girls for just that reason. I went alone to the house of the seven year old. I asked to talk to her sixteen year old sister. The sister and I sat on the expanse of grass that was encircled by their house. It was a mansion. Red brick with white columns, looming up in every direction, gorgeous, but haunting. An engraving around the spectacular porch announced the columns had been brought over from Greece and were about 2000 years old. I wondered why anyone would live in a house this big. I asked the girl about Greg:
“Do you know if Greg had any inoculations lately?”
“Yes.” She pulled grass out of the dirt with her fingernail. “He had a flu shot, I remember, because my sister said he whined about it all day.”
“Where did he get it at?”
“I don’t know. The doctor’s, I assume.” I didn’t say anything about the Pigment. It was a secret project of mine, I wanted to be the one to expose the truth. I was again distracted by the house.
“How big is your house, anyway?” I asked.
“28,000 square feet.” She answered.
“Why on earth would anyone live in a house this big? You’ve only got five people in here—including the maid and your dead sister—don’t you get lost? Our house is only 900 square feet, and we’re fine. It’s greedy to have a house like this!”
The girl looked hurt. I quickly apologized.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what got into me. Your house is just, it makes you special, you know?” I gave an embarrassed laugh. “I guess I’m just insanely jealous.”
She looked at me for a few seconds, then turned to go back inside, and as she left I heard her whisper, “So was Greg.”
It stunned me for a while, then I shook it off and turned to leave. I picked up my backpack and slung it over my shoulder. Then the view changed and I was outside myself, looking at my retreating back. There was a label on my pack that said, “This belongs to” in curvy letters. On the line underneath it, in thick black line was written ‘SIX HUNDRED AND EIGHT’.