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I Killed a Man Today: Flash Fiction

Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

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Author's Note: *Warning*

This story contains a description of a school shooting. It may be disturbing to some.

This story is meant to be read along with another of my articles. It is a poem called, Sublime, and touches on the same issue as this story although it offers a vastly different solution. The purpose of the two articles is to help us consider what the responses of society should be to these extreme acts of violence against innocent people.

I Killed a Man Today

I don’t want to go to school today. I have a headache, and I didn’t do my homework for algebra. But I don't want to miss football practice, so I have to go to classes. I walk along the sidewalk considering the unfairness of a system that won’t let a football player go to practice on a day he misses school because he’s sick.

School buses pull to the curb and open their doors. Students flood the sidewalk and head as one toward the entrance. Others park their cars in the student lot and proceed to the same set of doors. Once inside, they begin dispersing.

I open my locker and look at my girlfriend’s photo. On the back, written in her perfect handwriting, is the message, Trevor, I love you, Cristina. I really like her. We met at a school-sponsored party after I spent half the night trying to find the courage to ask her to dance with me. I see her coming into the building. She drives her own car to school. I head that way to say good morning. Her hair is long, blonde, and soft. I’m not the star of the football team by any means. If she wanted, she could be with the star of the team. But she chose me.

A guy I’ve seen around school but have never spoken to comes in behind Cristina. He’s a loner and more than a little strange. Some say he flunks every class. Others say he aces every class. Who knows? Normally his eyes are on the floor directly in front of him when he walks. Some of the guys tease him and push him around. Some of the girls act grossed out when he comes near. Today, he seems more animated, like he’s glad to be at school. What’s his name? I can’t think of it.

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He’s looking wildly this way, then that. He opens his backpack and starts digging. I mean, he’s frantically digging for something. Then he stops. Whatever he was looking for, he must have found. He smiles and pulls his hand out.

“He has a gun!” someone screams.

I freeze. What should I do?

#

What would you do? Really, what would you do in this exact situation? You could do what so many are doing right now. They’re standing there screaming and pointing, screaming and pointing. I don’t know about you, but that just isn’t me. Another thing you could do is run like hell. Lots of people are doing that. It’s a much better choice than the first one. Some run farther into the building. Others are going back outside. That’s not me either.

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He’s shooting! My god! He’s shooting right into the crowd! One falls, and another. No! This can’t be happening! The magazine drops from the gun. He reaches into his bag and pulls out another, crams it into place and points the gun again. Stop! No! Now more of the students are running. He fires again and again and again. Each time, another student falls.

#

The third thing a person could do is to stop the shooter. Is that you? Could you? Would you? People are dying. I can’t just stand here and scream. I can’t run away and let my friends die. I have to do something. But what is that something? I could call the police, but I can’t imagine a hundred 911 calls haven’t been made already.

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I’m to his left. He hasn’t seen me yet. I look around. I can see people in the principal’s office peeking out through the window in the door. Outside the office is a single chair and a wooden table with periodicals on it. I see a Boy’s Life magazine. I bet there isn’t an article inside about what to do when shit like this hits the fan.

I dash across the hall and flip the table over. I kick at the leg. It loosens. I grab it and twist at the same time as I pull. It comes loose. I hold it in both hands like a baseball bat. It will have to do. I turn and run.

He doesn’t see me. He’s too busy reloading again. I stay as far back behind his peripheral vision as I can and loop farther behind him. Closer. Closer. He reloads and fires at the lingering students. Some just can’t seem to cope enough to get out of harm's way.

I’m standing behind him. He still doesn’t know I’m here.

#

He is one of the few guys in school with long hair. My plan is to crush his skull with the table leg. Could you do it? Can I? He’s firing again. Another falls. What is it like to kill another human being? He knows.

I pick my spot.

Like Smashing a Watermelon With a Baseball Bat

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I swing the club hard in a wide sweeping fashion. I play baseball in the spring. I know how to handle a bat. This is a homerun swing. The sound is a dull thud, not at all like hitting a baseball.

A couple of years ago, two buddies and I snuck into a farmer’s field and smashed a bunch of watermelons with baseball bats. The guy’s head felt like that—like breaking a watermelon with a baseball bat.

The shooter is on the floor with blood pouring out in a pool around his head. The gun lies a few feet away. People are crying, screaming out in pain. It happened so fast that I don’t even hear police sirens yet. The principal still hasn’t come out of his office.

I bend down and check for the shooter’s pulse on his wrist. I place a finger on the side of his neck. I’ve never had to search for someone’s pulse before. I’ve felt my own, but that isn’t the same. I check again, but I can’t find his pulse.

I killed a man today.

But maybe I saved a few lives too.

The People on Flight 93 Fought Back Against the Terrorists on September 11, 2001

Former First Ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush survey the site of the Flight 93 airplane crash in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania, September 11, 2010.

Former First Ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush survey the site of the Flight 93 airplane crash in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania, September 11, 2010.

Fighting Back: Lockdowns in Public Schools

Comments

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 18, 2018:

Lawrence, when it came down to the moment, I would have that slight hesitation too, but if he killed one more person during my pause, I may have to deal with that for the rest of my life. These are tough questions and decisions. Thanks for reading the story.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 18, 2018:

Chris

Excellent story, but one that poses a serious question, would I take a life to save others?

I trained for in the Army, and I think I still would have little hesitation.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 27, 2018:

Shyron, I'm glad you got through and that you enjoyed this story, if it can be truly called enjoyable. Thanks for your persistence.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 27, 2018:

Chris, I do not know if I alone am having the sign in problem.

Your story is awesome as usual, you make the reader feel like they are inside your character.

Blessings my friend.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 27, 2018:

I don't know what is happening, Shyron. Have others mentioned this problem too? I'd love to hear your thoughts about the story if you can get through.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 27, 2018:

What happened to my comment?

I do not know

Just where it went

It does not show

Five times I've had to sign in

That is all I know.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 21, 2018:

Dora, I truly mean to write first as an entertainer. The story has to be good or I may as well stop. But sometimes a story does help to illustrate an issue. I certainly hope I haven't crossed over into preaching for a cause. Thanks for coming and enjoying yourself in my hub.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 21, 2018:

Be careful, Shyron, about just trying. The guy has a gun. If you don't succeed in taking him down, he will take you down. Thanks for reading and for the compliment.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 21, 2018:

Chris, oh my I don't know if I could even hit the shooter, I think I would be sick I mean really sick, but I think I would try.

This is some awesome writing.

Blessings my friend.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 19, 2018:

Chris, I'm impressed how you got this important message across through a short tale. Enough to spark a discussion about options in dealing with this horror. Thanks!

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 18, 2018:

RedElf, thanks for visiting my hub. I'm glad you found it interesting and that you see the discussion as being worthwhile. You might suggest to your son that he read this hub and the comments so that he has a grasp of more of the issues. The actions of my protagonist are only a small part of what needs to be a comprehensive approach.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 18, 2018:

Shauna, This is such a complicated issue to tackle. Some want to approach it by dealing with the "broken" psychological and spiritual aspects of potential shooters and society at large. This is a long-term solution that has great merit in my view.

Others want guns in the schools. It has even been proposed that students be allowed to carry guns—not a good idea in my way of thinking. Some schools are now training students to fight back. I believe this is necessary. Teachers and staff should be leading the way with this.

Profiling and counseling students who match the profile of a shooter is a must as far as I am concerned. Bullying must be viewed more seriously. Those who do the bullying should also be provided with counseling. Their behavior pushes potential shooters over the edge.

Gun control? The guns are already out there. Seeing as we have the 2nd amendment, we can't sweep them all up and disarm the public. Then the bad guys will have guns and the good guys won't. Parents of students who have been identified as having serious social and psychological problems need to be advised against having guns in the home.

My story is extreme, and it is a band-aid over the real issues. But when the shooting starts, I really believe fighting back is necessary. But we have to begin being proactive and not reactive on the subject of school violence.

RedElf from Canada on June 18, 2018:

Interesting. A well-written story that has certainly provoked a lot of excellent discussion. My son would love your protagonist. He is very pro "do-what-you-can"

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 18, 2018:

Chris, I have great respect for the boy who decided to do something about the shooter. I don't know if I'd have the guts to do so.

School shootings today have become common place in a very short period of time. If I were a student today, I'd be a nervous wreck. We never had to deal with situations like this when I was in school.

I'm not sure what the answer is. I do know we make guns far too available and easy to obtain. I didn't grow up with guns. I don't like them. Unless you hunt for food, why on Earth would you have a gun in the house? I understand that today's environment calls for protective measures, but if guns weren't made available to the entire populace, we wouldn't have so many shootings.

Despite what's going on on our own turf, I do not own a gun and don't intend to change that.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 17, 2018:

manatita, this brings us down to the difference between acting and reacting. What I and others have proposed as fighting back is a reaction to the problem. In the short term, I stand by that kind of action only because something needs to be done immediately to save lives. School shootings, I think most would agree, will only continue. But a plan of action, as opposed to reaction, is necessary as well. Anything that even closely resembles religion will not have a chance in public schools. It would be seen as the establishment of a state/national religion. I think to focus on the profile of shooters in order to identify potential shooters could be effective. Individual counseling, as well as family counseling, could be utilized. This is action as opposed to reaction. But it still is not what you have suggested which would speak to the inner need very well.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on June 17, 2018:

This story moves at lightning speed through the thought processes that might go through one's head in a moment of crisis like this. I like the way he takes decisive action rather than react with shock and horror like I probably would do.

This whole realm of anger issues, bullying, and children inundated with violent images from birth, I believe, are linked to this outcome. I think back to my worst high school images and can't imagine anyone who could allow their feelings to overcome their moral inner guidelines.

Great way to present the issue.

manatita44 from london on June 17, 2018:

Well Chris,

You are showing once again the deeper side I believe you have. A nice and serious question.

Communism knows that it should start with the children.

I grew up with morning assemblies, grace before meals, to offer thanks to God and a sense of morals and etiquette. Right and wrong.

How do we reach the heart? It is praiseworthy that through the ages, Yoga Philosophy has not changed.

It asks us to change ... to be the change we wish to see. It begins with what really is the Beatitudes of Christ. Just using different words. Of course it encourages prayer and meditation which the Christian mystics called silent prayer, the prayer of the Heart.

We need Spirituality back in schools. Some American Universities are trying Mindfulness. It's a good start. You and I affect the world by the vibrations that we offer it. Love, empathy, selflessness ... brings results sooner or later.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 16, 2018:

manatita, Your words, "Let us pray," hit at the heart of the issue so well. Guns will not solve the issues of the shooter and more guns will not solve the social problem of an increasing number of shooters. Only a change of hearts will actually solve these issues. The remedy that I have suggested, i.e. to fight back, is itself only a band-aid over a gaping wound in society. Hearts must be changed, broken people must be mended. How is this done?

manatita44 from london on June 16, 2018:

What can I say? I'm no judge. You told the story well. We know that these things happen. Let us pray.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 16, 2018:

Michael, It does come down to the question of who survives. Ideally, everyone does and everyone gets a new shot at life, including the shooter. But enough of letting one person dictate the fate of many when we have the power to prevent it.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 16, 2018:

Ruby, The discussion is happening, and I like what I hear. In the past, lockdowns meant lock the door, shut off the lights and everybody huddle together. So the shooter enters and there everyone sits on the floor in a manner very accommodating to the shooter. At least now they spread the children out around the room and give them books to throw at the shooter.

Michael-Milec on June 16, 2018:

A reality of our existence in your writing. We've come to live, we've been sent to live on this planet. A game plan can be changed, interrupted. It's my life, I might be killed if I do not kill first. In a twinkle of an eye. " I killed a man..."

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on June 16, 2018:

Chris, this story was written so well and with the pictures seemed to be happening. It would take a lot of courage but smashing a watermelon seems to be the right choice. I am one of the few who believes all schools should be armed and ready to shoot, not to kill but enough pain to take the person down, then some mental health. When kids bully others, and if that kid is on drugs or has a mental problem, they act out in the only way they know how, violently. Great read...

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 16, 2018:

Sean, I'd prefer no one got hurt or killed, including the shooter. But these kinds of things are forced upon us at times. Even the most peace loving pacifist should be able to see that there would be less suffering, fewer dead bodies if we responded as this young man responded in the story.

These are tough decisions, as you have said. Thanks for reading.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on June 16, 2018:

A young boy, tough decision, real life... You are a master of putting us in the "shoes" of your characters, brother!

Respect!

Sean

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 16, 2018:

Thanks, Ann. That is exactly what I intended. I'm glad it seems to have worked.

Ann Carr from SW England on June 16, 2018:

About the hashtag sign: I took me a couple of seconds to realise what was going on but then it fitted in just fine and didn't detract, in fact it helped because it gave a sense of time for the thinking process of the character, almost like when a drastic situation makes you go into slow motion. I think it's a good idea to do that.

Ann

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 16, 2018:

Bill, it is just that. Thank you.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 16, 2018:

Ann, thank you for the feedback. I'll ask for a bit more if you don't mind. Anyone can respond to this. I placed the # sign followed by text in italics in a few places. This was meant to stop the action and hear the thoughts of Trevor, the main character. Was this effective or distracting? Did it stop the action too much?

I'm sure that rounders experience would prepare you just fine for any dirty work that might be needed.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 16, 2018:

Fiction? I think not, not in the U.S., not in the year 2018. Any one of us could be called upon to act like this main character at a moment's notice....and ain't that the shits?

Ann Carr from SW England on June 16, 2018:

Chris, you've taken us right into the viewpoint of your character and we see the scene unfolding. It's structured well. We feel the fear, the initial indecision, then the final decision. You tell it like it is, with skill.

As for the swearing, I think that is mild and certainly acceptable in this situation as you are reflecting the thoughts of your character and it's realistic. How many people in that position are going to say, 'Oh dear me, well what should I do?'!

I wouldn't have the baseball skill but I did play a mean game of rounders once. I don't think I could stand by either but who knows the reality until it hits you in the face, if you'll pardon the pun.

Good piece, Chris, with an important message.

Ann

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 16, 2018:

Venkatachari M, I am glad you can see reality in this story. Let's hope there is a growing number of people who can identify with the lead character in this story.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 16, 2018:

John, as I researched for this story, I was thrilled to see that there are some schools looking at alternative ways to prepare for a shooting. High schoolers should be trained to attack en masse. That could be the difference between a dozen getting killed our just two or three. And the two or three would be considered heroes. Younger kids are being trained to throw things like books. I appreciate the support, John.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on June 15, 2018:

An exciting and thrilling narration of the shooting incident. There would always be someone who can associate himself with your character's position. A good picturization of the reality.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on June 15, 2018:

I great and very real tale, Chris. I know what I would do in a similar situation. Smash a watermelon! Any small amount of swearing in a piece like this is warranted to give authenticity to the emotions felt. A very good read.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on June 15, 2018:

Mike, excellent advise on the clip/magazine. I'll fix that. As for swearing on HP, I've seen every possible swear word on hubs moved to the vertical sites.

I wrote this story to be controversial. I think discussion is good, thinking is good. If we think through these issues, when someone finds themselves in the situation, maybe they will take action and save lives.

Michael Collins aka Lakemoron from The Village of Lakemore, Summit County, Ohio on June 15, 2018:

Good Story. It would be interesting to see if you take this and write about the next day or the aftermath of his actions. Not everyone would see him as a hero.

Just a little nitpicking, you shouldn’t swear on Hub pages, so maybe Sh&t hit the fan. Also, he would be using a magazine not a clip in a handgun. Clips are used to load a gun (usually a rifle). The Clip is aligned then the rounds are pushed in. When the rounds are loaded, the clip is discarded unless you have an M1-Garand, but they are the exceptions to the rule.

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