"Her presentation was amazing.""Can you top that?""Remember, you hate being the center of attention.""You're going to fail this project."
The multiple whispers in her head were suddenly interrupted when the professor called her up to make her presentation. "Rachel, dear, we're closing with you."
The young student cleared her throat. She did not enjoy getting up in front of her peers, not with her ability to tap into their minds and make some sense of their thoughts. The temptation was strong, but more often than not she knew better than to explore such territory while engaging in public speaking. As she walked up to the front of the class, Rachel did her best to organize the mess within her head. Her face was devoid of emotion, as was the usual, and no one was the wiser.
"The floor is all yours," Professor McCann smiled from behind the desk.
Rachel simply nodded. "My research is on suicide notes. These notes area viewed as providing insights into the psychodynamics of a suicidal person. To contrast the idea, I am proposing that some suicidal individuals—" She stopped for a moment, looking up from her paper and focusing on Octavia, one of her classmates whom she'd worked with in the past. Octavia was shifting uncomfortably in her seat, and even though she shouldn't have probed, the moment Rachel violated the girl's privacy, she came across a great deal of anguish. Slightly perplexed, Rachel quickly apologized to the class. "Um, some individuals use their suicide notes to present a picture of themselves that they want others to remember." Rachel then turned her back on the class to write on the board. As she was reaching for a marker, she heard a slight commotion from the crowd. Rachel turned around to see Octavia rushing toward the door.
"I'm sorry, I need to..." Rachel didn't waste time explaining herself to Professor McCann. Instead, she rushed after Octavia, pleading the girl to stop. "Octavia! Wait!" Once Rachel was outside the classroom, she wasn't too far behind Octavia. In fact, her classmate turned around to face her.
"You're right about one thing, Rachel. My suicide note is
how I want others to remember me by."
As she spoke those last words, the girl brandished a handgun from her backpack and aimed it at her right temple. "Goodbye."
The next few moments felt like an eternity. Rachel ran over to Octavia's body, kneeling down beside her and only hearing her irregular breathing. She instinctively grabbed the gun to prevent further harm when Professor McCann called out to her.
"Put it down, Rachel!" Her voice was distant at first, but then it got clearer as she continued to communicate. "Put the gun down!"
"Professor McCann, I didn't..." Rachel placed the weapon on the ground then stood up, circling around to face her instructor. "She had—"
"Let me see your hands!" Another voice, that of a man. Rachel turned to look at a campus safety officer tactically come around the corner with his weapon aimed at her. "Get down on the ground!"
"She has a weapon officer!"
"Ma'am, get inside the classroom, now!"
With her hands raised adjacent to either side of her head, Rachel slowly sank to her knees. She was facing Octavia who was lying in a small pool of blood, and unexpectedly, her familiar voice played in Rachel's head.Help me, please.
"Octavia?"Rachel, help me.
There was a lack of regard to her actions as Rachel started to get up to help her classmate, but she was subsequently pushed down to the ground. "Don't fucking move!" The officer was on top of her, one knee digging into her back and a hand pushing her neck into the ground with such force that the experience turned painful rather quickly. "This is Officer Costello, we need Police and EMS outside of Lerner Hall. One victim possibly dead, shooter currently in custody."Shooter?
It took a moment for her to make sense of what had occurred in the last minute or so. Rachel simply stared at her dead classmate not too far from her position. She went with the motions when the handcuffs were placed on her, and again when she was ordered to stand as she was roughly pulled to her feet. Her sight never left Octavia, not even when sirens were heard in the distance.