Originally published 2015-03-15: Clover Special | WOW 555 Flash Fiction Challenge
by Adan Ramie
We called him Guns and Ammo. At first, it was a joke, a play on his repetitious selfies loaded with weaponry. “Come and take it #2ndamendmant #sunsoutgunsout,” the captions read. We were a little suspicious, a little on edge. But he was a worm, a nothing. No one was really scared.
Natalie told me in the break room one day that Guns and Ammo had been cracking jokes the day before. “He said if he ever gets fired, he’s coming back with his AKs to blow us all away. His exact words.”
I wasn’t scared. The guy spent his days trying to clog the toilets and jam the fax machine. He was a self-proclaimed prankster, a man-child in his early twenties whose Mommy and Daddy paid for him to be hired to get him out of their hair.
This morning, there was a flier under my windshield wiper. Adhesive on the back, perhaps from the pad on which it had been mounted, stuck it firmly in the early morning sun to the glass, and I grumbled all the way back upstairs to find something to unstick it.
On the way down, my shoelace caught in the step, and I almost twisted my ankle. I fell hard against the railing, swearing, then slumped down to sitting to untangle it from the metal grating. How it got so tangled, I will never know, but by the time I was back at my car, my cell phone was ringing.
“Natalie, I’m not late yet,” I said as I pulled the phone up to my face. On the other end, the cacophonous rattle of 10 rounds a second was drowned only by the wails of my coworkers. “Natalie?”
A door shut on her end, and the sound was muffled for the moment. Natalie huffed into the receiver, praying under her breath. I dropped my keys and didn’t bend to pick them up.
“Natalie, what’s going on?”
“Don’t come in. It’s not safe.”
“Are you hurt?” I asked as a neighbor with a concerned terrier walked past me.
“He brought guns. He must have at least three. Chad is dead. Erika is dead.”
I waved a hand at the neighbor, but she turned and jogged away. As I listened to Natalie’s labored breathing, I ran to door after door, pounding on each, until finally one opened.
“Call 9-1-1. There’s a shooter at Castle-Delta. People are hurt.”
My neighbor, an angry woman in her mid-50s with a cigarette permanently dangling from her lips, left the door open and hustled inside.
“I don’t want to die here, Heather. Booker won’t answer. Tell him I love him.”
“You’re not going to die,” I lied. “The cops are on their way. You can tell him yourself when you get home.”
Not sure of what else to do, I leaned against the hood of my car. Absently, my hand strayed to the flier that lie crumpled next to the wiper. I flattened it against the hood.