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are you upset?
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Autumn O’Leary, Female student no. 078 Start

Everything was happening so quickly, a tornado ripping through two-hundred and seventy-six lives and leaving nothing in its wake. Autumn wasn’t sure how she felt, in all honesty. Petrified, sure. Lonely, of course. Maybe even a little angry, but beyond that? Nothing. Just numb. It was like someone had pulled a bag over her head and sent her out into the middle of a battlefield.

Just numb.

The scene in the auditorium replayed itself over and over again in her mind, each time seeming much more horrifying than the last. She had an aisle seat, an insignificant amount of rows behind the front—she remembered being annoyed with the seating order, it was haphazard and carelessly thrown together. She would’ve done it in Alphabetical Order. It was kind of funny, honestly. In what would probably be the start of the end of her life, she was worried about organization, annoyed that Cyrille LeBlanche was shaking next to her—she was dead now. She was murdered, had her life taken away from her and Autumn had been annoyed that she was terrified and acting like a child.

And then Senora Herrora ran.

The loud clacking of her heels seemed to be a singular entity among the symphony of screaming and crying, as if speaking solely to Autumn and her alone. She watched wide eyed as her favorite teacher was gunned down right before her eyes, several warm droplets of blood latching to Autumn’s face as Senora Herrora collapsed to the ground. She remembered vividly trying to blink away a drop sticking to her eyelash, locking eyes with it’s owner as she lay dying on the cement floor—lord knows how far away from home. She had a daughter, Lupe—one of the cutest, sweetest little girls in the world, named after her grandmother. She had a husband, too. Autumn remembered talking with her during lunch about him, he was in the army. A soldier of war. Small world, huh? Autumn kept eye-contact the whole time, the myriad of screams seemingly disappearing into the distance. She watched with an unholy mixture of morbid fascination and empathy as Senora Herrora’s warm brown eyes lost their luster, one second focusing on the red-head and the next staring at nothing at all. It was the first time she’d seen someone die and part of her could only imagine what her last thought was, whether it was something completely random or regrets or happy memories.

She’d been running since then. She hadn’t stopped for anything, not to drink or to eat or to use the facilities. Running was relaxing—it cleared her head. The intense burning in her chest and the throbbing of her muscles meant it was working, she’d have a plan soon enough. She’d have the control. Her life was on the line, the life that she built for herself without anybody else’s help. She busted her ass to get where she was and it wasn’t fair that some random nutcase off the street could just waltz up and ruin everything that she created.

Pain surged throughout her entire body, the headache left over from the multiple gassings having yet to wear off and the body that she’d pushed to the limit finally beginning to fight back. She kept running, pushing all the pain away—being strong was the key to winning. Ignoring pain would help her in the end. Stifling a shudder from the cold air against her bare arms, a consequence of throwing her cardigan away in a panic, she spotted a building in the distance. Her instinctively slowed down, quickly feeling the waistband of her jeans to make sure her assigned weapon—a real—life gun—was still safely tucked away in it. As she got closer, she made out a few familiar faces. Acacia and Thea, both from the squad. Both of whom she could probably deal with, if need be. Acacia never did pull her weight on the squad.

She wasn’t sure if sizing up the competition was a good sign or not, but she had to look out for herself. Only one person wins.

Pulling the bottom of her camisole over the handle of her gun, she gave a courtly wave and walked toward the girls and the unidentified boys.

“Hey, guys,” She said breathlessly, wiping a layer of sweat off her forehead with the backside of her wrist.

She’d have a plan soon enough. She wasn’t so far gone that rationality was a distant thought. Not yet.

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