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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: 24 Hours (01/27/11)

TITLE: Mine to Protect
By Ruth Neilson


The minutes slowly tick by as they turn into hours, as I continue to frantically whisper a prayer. It wasnít a fancy oneóbut in reality, it didnít need to be. Four words; four simple words, "God, please protect us."

How long have I been here? I wonder before sneaking a glance at the round clock before lowering my face back onto the cold tile floor. All of my students managed to get out the window and hopefully run to safety. I didn't get away. I couldn't get out the window before the glass shattered from the door. The gun appeared next, as a hand grabbed the doorknob opening the door. Several shots were fired and I fell where I stood with pain radiating from where I was struck. How long ago was that? I pause and try to think back to when the alert went school wide at nine in the morning. Suddenly, the thought struck me it was four in afternoon--seven hours had passed.

Seven terrifying hours filled with the sounds of gun shots, screams for mercy, and ultimately the sighing breath of death. I can only hope and pray that death will find me quickly...I shake my head.


I will not think like that. I will survive and I will see my students and family again. I am too stubborn to just give in without a fight, after allóat least that's what all of my students say...

At some point, my thoughts grow fuzzy and gradually dim. I am vaguely aware of shouting and more gunshots. This is it. I know that I will be soon seeing my Father in heaven, and I'm ready for it. Silence and darkness surround me but I am at peace with it.

A gentle touch on my wrist tries to bring my awareness back into the here and now. It is followed by a voice cutting through the silence with a loud shout. I open my eyes to focus on the clock on the wall. Three more hours have passed, but I have no account of them. Voices are muffled and seem to fall over each other like waves on the beach. Everything is blurred except for the two narrow black hands: my constant companions through out this, slowing ticking along, without a care in the world.

Pressure is applied to the fiery wound before my body is carefully moved. I can't respond--all I know is that over twelve hours have passed since the attack started. A blurred face comes into my line of vision and the person smiles reassuringly before he finds my hand and squeezed it tightly.

My vision dims again and I willing surrendered myself into the unknown. No time passes there, let alone no intruders can harm me or my students. Helplessly, I float from place to place, visiting places that I have never been and revisit memories that I once thought was long buried. Life ebbs and flows around me, and I simply was there.

I am told that I was out for eleven hours, weaving in and out of consciousness. It has been twenty-four hours since the intruder walked into the school. Twenty-four hours since I made a decision that changed my life and most importantly, twenty-four hours since I made the decision to spare my students. And, even now, as I sit in the hospital room, I don't regret it.

After all, these kids are mine to protect--one way or another.

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This article has been read 424 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Barbara Lynn Culler02/04/11
WOW! So realistic in today's times. Great job.
Laury Hubrich 02/04/11
Wow! Very riveting. So real.
Carol Slider 02/04/11
A very intense story. So sad that such things happen, and so hopeful that there is always at least one person whose heroism saves lives. I'm grateful for this glimpse into the mind of one of those heroes!
Colin Swann02/05/11
An exciting and very intense story. Interesting from beginning to end. Thanks
Cherry Bieber 02/06/11
Very, very well written! The work I do drives home to me every day the reality of what is going on in our public schools! I truly appreciate the reality of this story!
Rachel Phelps02/07/11
I love the surreal feel of the voice, poignant and somehow more touching than focusing on the action. Well done.