Name: JL Bartley
Genre: YA Contemporary
Title: I'm Sorry for Doing Nothing
Finn seeks revenge on classmates, but that changes when his crush is locked in the same room during a school shooting he created. He must lay low to survive or out himself to save her.
Revised 500 words:
The hallway is silent and empty. Eerily so. I had prepared myself for noise and chaos. Running and screaming. Not this. I take a deep breath to calm myself down, my head swiveling in all directions looking for what, I wasn’t sure of. Maybe for someone to ask what I’m doing standing in the middle of the hallway when I should be anywhere else but here. Maybe waiting for someone to realize what I am about to do, what is about to happen, and stop it so that I don’t have to…because I don’t think I can at this point.
I stare down at my shoes slightly bouncing back and forth on the balls of my feet, wringing my hands, and contemplating all that we have planned and how I landed myself in this position. I shudder and try to shake off this feeling of doubt, of dread. It should be starting any minute. When we discussed it this morning, no one told me it’d be so quiet. What is taking so long? As I’m about to back out of this and try and call it off, a scared freshman rounds the corner. A few others scramble behind him. It’s too late to stop this now.
I’m supposed to be firing my gun, to be shooting my classmates, but I’m frozen in the middle of this once empty hallway. A wave of kids run towards me almost knocking me to the ground. I regain my balance and slowly reach my hand behind me and into my waistband. My fingers wrap around the handle, my index finger resting on the trigger.
My dulled senses begin to thaw and return to me one at a time. First my vision comes back into focus. What was once blurred bodies is now terrified classmates, faces stained with fear. Somewhat organized chaos surrounds me. A lot of movement but not as much pushing and shoving as I had expected. Students help others who have fallen. It’s not a “fend for yourself” situation like I assumed it would be. My classmates were selfish and uncaring. Surely they wouldn’t be helping each other survive.
Next to return is my hearing. The gunshots that were once a distant muffled sound are now at full volume and getting closer. I have snapped out of my trance. “Finn, man run!” someone shouts as he rushes past me. No one is scared of me. No one is running away from me. But I guess why would they be? I am not a threat, or at least not a threat they are aware of.
Finally, my ability to move returns. As I grip the handle of the gun again and begin to tug it from my waistband, a kid knocks to the ground. My mind panics. I’ve already been taken out before I have even gotten one shot off. This is not how this is supposed to go.
“Get up man, we gotta go! Get up,” and a sophomore I shared gym class with pulls me up from the ground. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He doesn’t know he shouldn’t be helping me. Helping me is hurting him…in the long run. A sea of students jostles and pushes me down the hallway making me almost forget what my role is in all of this. I turn into a regular scared student, not the intimidating wielder of revenge I am supposed to be. As I’m shoved down the hall in this mass of panicked students, everything seems so surreal.