I lean forward, my head throbbing and body aching. I’m hot and sweating. I can’t see past the blur in my eyes and taste the foulness of smoke as it fills up my lungs.
The crackling of fire assualts my ears and groans are tangled up so terribly in a cacophony of sounds. I sit up and look around but the smoke makes my eyes water again and can only catch glimpses of red and grey. I open my mouth to call for help but cannot make a sound. My throat burns and scratches. I reach up with my hands as the smoke suddenly seems to clear. I open my watery eyes and look around. Fire is all around but the smoke goes straight up in long harsh columns. I unsteadily get to my aching feet and look around. I see a pile of four bodies to my right, two shuffling and moving around. The top one extra red. I try not to gag as I step away, looking in the other direction. But instead I see more piles of contorted flesh and cloth. I lean against a small remnant of a brick wall and slide down to the ground covering my eyes.
I hear yelling and a moment of gunfire. Just a few shots. Almost not enough for me to accept it. But I've been to the range. I've pulled the trigger before. I know what a gun sounds like.
I get to my feet and look around, ignoring the smoke as it is moved this way and that by the wind. The blue sky can be seenbut I can't see farther than ten feet away from me. Craters fill the schoolyard and have consumed half the 'hut' (portable classroom) closest to the main building. I hear someone caughing to my right. I look back at the pile of bodies.
Three of them are trying to untangle themselves from the top body. Corpse. I rush to their aid, stepping over another unmoving body along the way. I help Jiavanni to her feet as Daniel gets Elizabeth. An upperclassmen.
"What happened?" Jiavanni demands between sobs and lung-wracking caughs.
"I dunno," I shrug as a chain of uncontrollable caughing takes hold.
I striaghten myself back out and look around. The other three stand, faces pale and without expression. Shell shock I realize. Which makes me ask the question; Why aren't I like them? I grab Daniel's arm. He looks at my hand blankly.
"Come on, all of you grab hands, let's get out of here," I gasp. He lifelessly grabs Jiavanni's hand as she grabs Elizabeth's. I grab Daniel's and lead him through the rubble and past prone bodies to where the hallway once was. I mentally tag fallen bodies as I pass. It is just more fallen rubble, the hallway, but it was clearer and easier to walk through.
As I make my way to the exit where we will be safe outside of the smoke and away from the many fires I remember the gunshots I heard. I stop them and have them sit down.
"If you have to leave, if you have to leave, go and don't look back. But otherwise stay here and I'll be back." They nod and I turn to head back to the classroom.