“Hello. Hell-o. Helllooooooo.” She was never good at small talk. Simply saying simple words of greeting felt like a waste of time. It’s implied that she was addressing them, right? People get that, right?
“Hello. Hi. How are you.” The words feel unnatural on her tongue. Practice makes perfect. Or something. That’s what they say. This is their world, I just live in it.
Watching her mouth form the words, that’s when the noise starts. Smashing glass. A loud bang. Was that a gunshot? A cacophony of voices, impossible to distinguish words or intent. Hello?
More crashing, chanting. Then, some screaming. More gunshots. One thought: hide.
Searching the office for some place to hide herself, she scrambles into the closet. The overwhelming smell of dust and paper and other people’s jackets almost makes her sneeze, but she manages to hold it in.
The chanting becomes louder, clearer, but it’s meaningless words. “Go go go go” like some frat boys chanting “chug chug chug”. Heavy footsteps down the hall. Three doors away. Two. One door down.
“Where is she?!” a voice screams. Male, threatening. “Where is she?!”
The voice is at her door now. In a tiny place in her mind, she is aware of time passing. But that place is far away now.
The news reports that morning said that there would be demonstrations. Sometime, later in the morning, the demonstrations grew more violent and started to encroach on the building. Security was unprepared — no one expected this. The demonstrators transformed themselves into insurrectionists, armed with military grade weapons and body armor, intent on overthrowing the government. When had it all gone wrong?
The night she fell in love with her fiance it was not cold. It was December in southern California where the air might be filled with pollutants and smell like ass, but it never really did cold. They knew each other already, had a number of fairly interesting conversations. But when their eyes met at this party, she saw a hunger in his. He asked her if he could kiss her. She said yes.
“Get out here right now!” The voice is rough, commanding. She tries to see through the crack in the door, but all she sees is black. Black body, pale skin, black gloves wrapped around a large black weapon. She tries not to make a sound. Tries to make herself invisible. Is she breathing? Does she breathe?
In her final self defense class, she broke down. Somehow, throughout the intensive weekend course, she kept it together. But the last session, they were roleplaying fighting your fears or whatever. It felt dumb. But then the guy in the huge foam mask says “you’re nothing.” And that’s it. Heart plummets into the ground, she felt sure her knees gave out as the waterworks started. He takes a step towards her and immediately the adrenaline kicks in. The training. Heel-palm to his chin. Knee to the groin. He goes down and she knees him again in the face. His body flies backward, limp.
“Where is she?! Get out here! You need to get out!” Wait. What was that? Who is on the other side of the door. Through the crack, she sees the cold metal of the assault rifle. The finger on the trigger.