Thursday, June 14, 2018

Microstory 864: Hostage to Fortune

There was a time when bad things would always happen to anyone else, but never to you. Nowadays, being touched by violence of some sort is assumed, and there’s something strange about hearing of someone who came out of life unscathed. I was petrified when a gunman came into our school cafeteria, and took us all hostage. I was actually more surprised that he seemed to want something other than to hurt people. He didn’t look frazzled or pissed off at the world. It was more like a job to him. We did what he said, crouching under the tables, facing inwards, heads curled in, like it was a pointless a Cuban Missile Crisis drill. I wondered why he didn’t confiscate our cell phones, but when I saw several students fail to find a signal, I guessed that he was using some kind of jammer. That felt like overkill—pardon the insensitive pun—but again, he never told us what he wanted. He kept us there for two hours, asking nothing of us but to be quiet, and stay put. Eventually fear subsided, and kids started playing offline games. We could hear other students walking around the hallways, but no stomps of Federal agents, or cries of shock. When he was done with us, he removed the chains from the doors, and let us go. I stayed behind out of morbid curiosity, waiting to see him kidnap one of my classmates, or plant a bomb, but he just sat down at one of the tables, and started watching security feeds on his laptop. We slowly moved towards class, wondering if we had just experienced some mass hallucination. Our teacher marked us as tardy when we finally arrived, and had no idea what we were talking about. One girl I knew for a fact was there with us also acted unaware. I couldn’t tell if she was covering her ass, or had legitimately lost her memories. Our persistent claims that we were just in a hostage situation only made our teacher madder, and we were given detention. When the bell rang, I went back to the cafeteria. The hostage-taker was still there, not at all concerned that he would get in trouble. I snuck up behind him, and listened to his conversation on the phone. “Yessir, the field test worked perfectly. The artificial spatio-temporal dimension will allow us to operate surveillance facilities completely undetected. The rest of the school was totally oblivious to what was happening, and the hostages ultimately forgot as well...except for one. I agree, he would be a perfect candidate for running this region’s program.” He twisted around, and gave me a wink.

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