Chapter Three – Amanda


“Everyone! Run!” I shouted. I looked up and my eyes squinted against the sun. Aren’t they coming down? What’s keeping them?

“Hey, Amanda, shouldn’t we get going? Everyone’s leaving.”

I looked around and saw everyone running like ants, with no sense of what they were doing or where they were going. PLC, in chaos. Now that’s definitely a first. If this wasn’t such a grave event, I would have laughed.

“Amanda, we have to run! Come on!” The three little cute ‘triplets’, Yaya, Soso and Shirley, forcefully grabbed me by the hand and dragged me away from the Eastern Terrace, and down to Junior School, where we would hopefully be able to exit through the gates.

“But what about Grace, Wei Yan, Weiminn, Susanne and Ainslie? We can’t just leave them!” I tried to break free of their grip, but they held me stubbornly and firmly. Who would have thought that these three little cuties could possess such strength?

Suddenly, out of the blue, Mel Au came running swiftly towards me, and dragged me away from their tight clutch on me. Subsequently, she seized Yaya, Soso and Shirley, and plonked them down behind the big bushes next to the Music School. Kristina followed, not wanting to be grabbed by someone as rough as Mel.

“Mel, what are you doing?”

“You want to do something don’t you? You’re not just going to give in, are you? Don’t tell me you’re going to just run away and leave our friends in there! We have to find them!”

I was yanked by Mel, around the corner of the Music school, and to the stairs leading to the lower entrance.

“Mel, we can’t just charge into the school, the men are everywhere! We have to figure it out first. Plus what about Yaya and them?” Mel glanced over at our friends around the corner, sitting in the midst of the bushes, quietly and obediently. They looked like three little ducks, sitting contentedly, laying their eggs.

“They’ll be fine. They’ll probably be sitting there in that same exact spot, when we come back.”

“Mel, no. Don’t do anything rash. Haste never did any good for anybody. Look at what it did to Romeo and Juliet.” Mel gave me that look, that said ‘lame.’ Ok, so it was lame, but that’s beside the point. We might die if we do anything reckless and injudicious!

“So what do you propose we do then?” I gave her a challenging look.

“I say we go right in and find them.”

“Well that’d be nice. We walk right in through the door, where everyone can see us, and when a terrorist comes, we just say ‘oh hi, we’re just finding our friends. Do you happen to know where they are?’ What a jolly visit that’d be.” I chortled at the thought. “I can just imagine him saying, ‘Oh sure, I’ll take you. They’re right here, I’ll set them free now shall I?’ …yeah right!”

“Alright, alright, I get the point. But then what do we do? Wait somewhere? We’ll have to find a place to stay. Somewhere the terrorists won’t go to.”

“The music school stairwell! If we take off the handles from the doors, and make it look like part of the wall, who would think of going in there?”

“We would need specialist equipment to be able to take off the handles. We’ll need tools and stuff. Maintenance has all the stuff we need, but how are we going to get it?”

All of a sudden, another two bombs blew. I couldn’t make out where they were, but one of them seemed to be coming from Junior School. Hot debris was flying high over us. “Duck!” cried Mel, and we lay low on the ground. Most of the Senior School girls had taken refuge in Junior School. If the bomb had been there then…What if the rest of our friends had been there? What if they didn’t make it out of the gates in time? I didn’t want to consider their low prospect of surviving.

If a bomb had been set in Junior School, there’s a considerable chance that the Music school might have a bomb waiting to explode. Nowhere on PLC’s grounds can be safe.

Mel turned with a grim face. I knew she no longer wanted to storm in to rescue our friends. In a low voice, she whispered, “Maybe we should head back to Yaya and them and get out of here before we decide on a plan. You never know where and when the next bomb will strike. I never imagined that they could have so many bombs.”

We darted over to where Yaya, Soso, Shirley and Kristina had been sitting and were met by three dejected looking figures. Their heads hung down, and their faces were covered in their hands. They didn’t seem aware of all the little girls from Junior school, running past them in dread. I don’t think they even noticed us coming back.

“Yaya, what’s wrong? Are you guys alright?” Mel looked at them all with her brows furrowed together. Something was amiss, but what?

Mel and I tried to help them up, but they stubbornly stayed in their sitting positions. Because they didn’t seem to be answering, I decided to tell them what we had to do. “You guys, we have to go! Come on! Kat and Megan and them have already escaped I think. Now we have to as well!”

Yaya shook her head. “Kat, Megan, Jess, Ness… I saw them go to Sister before. They haven’t escaped.” She closed her eyes, and I suspect I saw a tear stream down her face.

We followed her eyes, as they turned in the direction of Sister. The year 7 building blocked our view of Sister, but we did see what Yaya was getting at. My face changed from horror, to shock, to expressionless. All that was remaining of the Sister building was fire.

“You don’t think…” muttered Mel.

“For all you know, they could have been…” I didn’t finish the sentence, but I don’t think anyone wanted me to. This was why the four of them had been motionless and miserable when we found them. I tried to put an optimistic view on the matter.

“But they’re smart. Even though they’re idiots a lot of the time, doing lame and sick things, they’re not dumb enough to give up. They’re good at problem solving. They would have tried their best.” But is their best good enough to keep them alive? I didn’t want to mull over the dark thoughts of dead friends, but the images just flowed past my vision.

Kat, probably died guffawing and laughing at the sight of other dead people, like the time, at camp, she couldn’t stop chuckling when she saw a dead bug, making us all fall about in hysterics. She was like a Hyena with an epileptic seizure.

Megan laying in a feeble position, with blood pouring everywhere, covering all her moles. She would most likely be holding a picture of her dear lover, Grace, close to her chest.

Ness, like a pair of enlarged chopsticks, looking as if a vampire had sucked all the blood from her.

Jess W, dead, but still with her arms around herself, as if still wanting to keep her ‘beautiful’ skin, and fingernails.

SJ, in a star jump position on the ground, with a jovial, gay smile on her face, because she probably still hadn’t registered the fact that she had been shot.

Yasmin, next to her, trying to save SJ before she died. She would have died, looking like a saint martyr, an angel lookalike.

Jeena, wanting to look cool when she died, would be in a ‘model’ position, with one hand on her hips, and one behind her head –

Shirley was the first to break the silence, “This area is emptying, shouldn’t we find cover? They’ll spo-”

“Run!” cried Mel. Three men came out of the year 7 corridor. They would surely see us because there were only a few girls left, and we were one of them!

“Quick! Run down to the Junior School gates!” We would never make it. The Junior School gates were about 400metres away if we go the discrete way. The men would be right behind us. I turned back quickly to see where the men were. To my relief, I saw that the men had not followed us, but followed four little girls from junior school, who were slower than us, and easier to catch. I shouldn’t have turned back though. 4 dreadful gun shots rang out. I watched in horror, as the four girls fell, dead before their heads even reached the ground. By witnessing it, I felt that I had done something wrong. That I was the one who had killed the girls. That I was responsible. It felt disgusting. It was despicable. How could people just kill them like that? Don’t they even feel guilty?

I hastily turned back to focus on where we were going. We ran down the driveway between Senior and Junior school, then turned right, when we reached one of the Junior school tennis courts. We did this, because the men would surely be able to see us if we went straight down the path to the gate. They would have easily been able to shoot us. So round the tennis courts we went, across the green grass near the fence…

At last, the Junior school gate swung into view, and I could feel relief pour into our tense atmosphere. We were nearly out! I could see a few girls at the gate rushing to leave. There weren’t many left, only 10 or so.

Nearly there. Only about 200 or so metres to go!

“Stop. Look.” Mel halted abruptly, causing us to feel ill at ease. What now? Mel signaled us to be quiet and follow her to the big compost bin. She opened the lid climbed in, and we stood around.

Words of indignant protest began gushing out.

“We are NOT going in there? What for? We’re nearly out! And now you choose to go in THERE???” Kris held her hand up to her nose. “It smells!”

“It has BUGS!”

“Mel, are you MAD? Shouldn’t we just get out from the gates?”

I stayed silent while everyone griped. I looked around to see why Mel wanted us to go into the compost bin.

“Just get in!” ordered Mel, in an importunate voice, which didn’t seem to belong to her. She was really pleading us to get in. “QUICKLY!”

By her imperative voice, I knew something was up, so I rapidly jumped in, followed by the others, who were more hesitant. Compost bins aren’t that bad really! I mean they smell, but they do have this cosy feeling…

“Ewwwww,” came Kris’s voice, “A worm is climbing up my ass! Serious!”

“Shhhhh, just think of it like a tampon, then you won’t feel the difference.”

“Yaya, such a sick mind!”

“Kris, that’s what happens when you don’t wear shorts underneath!” Good thing I put on my p.e. shorts underneath today! Poor Kris.

“Ouch, do we have to have this lid on our heads. It’s so heavy!”

“Don’t worry, it won’t kill you, you’ll just have a misshaped skull for the rest of your life.” Shirley, telling the truth as usual, even when the truth would rather be overlooked. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. But Shirley doesn’t seem to have registered that fact yet.

“Shhhhhhhhhh.”

Mel was pointing out in front at where the gates were. Our heads were now all poking out of the compost bin, with the lid weighing heavily on our skulls. After staring at the gates for awhile, I understood what Mel was getting at.

“You’re right. Something’s wrong. There were so many girls exiting from these gates, but how come there are no girls seen outside the gates? There’s not one girl on the footpath outside. Do you think there are men there too, doing something to all the girls?” I looked at Mel. I think she had an answer. She was looking up in a tree way off to the right, but close to the gate. At first I couldn’t see anything, but then I caught a glimpse of movement. There was someone in the tree.

“He’s got a gun!” yelped Yaya. “He has a gun, and he’s killing everyone at the gate! Look closely, there’re bodies on the ground!” Yaya seemed hysteric. There were no teachers or parents here to tell us to relax and to calm down. Usually we would have loved to go out on our own, with no bothering parents, and no stern teachers, but this time it felt horrible. We were on our own, and we didn’t like it.

“What do we do?” asked Soso.

Shirley leveled her hands like a balanced see saw. Then she lifted her right hand. “He has a gun.”

Then dropped her left hand. “We don’t have a gun.” She seemed to be contemplating the matter in the ‘Shirley’ way.

“He has a gun, we don’t have a gun, he has a gun, we don’t have a gun, he has a gun, we have to RUN!” sang Shirley, anxiously, rather than in her normal cheeriness.

“You know, I think you’re right Shirley. … for once” I added.

“We have to run back, to somewhere safe.” Kristina changed into her anime thinking look. “Where would the terrorists not bother to go?” She seemed to be muttering this to herself. “Sport centre…no good, Boarding house…nup, Junior school…blown up. Music school… probably will be blown up. We need a place out in the open, where they won’t suspect, because it’s unlikely for anyone to hide there, but we also have to be unseen.”

“Great, Kris, I think the only way that can happen is if we become invisible,” came Soso’s logical voice.

“No, Kris, you’re right. You’re a genius! I would kiss you right now if I was a lez!”

“EWWWWWWWWWW”

“Shut it, it was a manner of speech! Oh my gosh, why didn’t we ever think of it before? The middle oval. It’s sort of covered by tennis courts, but who would suspect anyone of hiding there? All we have to do, is to dig a sort of hole which we can stay in, if by any chance, one of the terrorists come by. We will need tools though, from maintenance area. And we’ll have to work all night to dig. I doubt anyone will notice us when it’s dark. But before it becomes dark, we need to do a lot of things. We only have about 4 hours until 8:30pm. In that time we’ll need to get many tools from maintenance. Things to dig with, cardboard to sit on and especially a type of door, that we can use.”

“But Manda, how are we going to get to maintenance without anyone noticing us?”

“I don’t know. Being cautious I guess, is our only way. From what I’ve seen, there are about 12 men. 3 from the year seven corridor. 1 up in that tree. I think there’s 1 there at the gate, keeping the girls there, and making sure they don’t run away. Then there were about 3 following us when we were running to the computer room. I recall seeing 2 men running to Whyslaskie Hall, and 2 running on our corridor to the end stairs, on the Doris Daniel side. I don’t think there can be that many patrolling the maintenance area. If there is, I guess we’ll need one of you to distract the guy, and the other to sneak in.”

“Three of us should go to the maintenance area to find the equipment we need, and three of us should go to the canteen to collect food. Hopefully there won’t be anyone patrolling the canteen area. We’ll have to split, so who wants to do what? I’ll go to the maintenance area.”

“Alright, I’ll go with Mel,” offered Yaya.

“Yeah, me too,” nodded Soso.

“Ok, guess that means I’m with Shirlz and Kris.”

“We’ll meet up at the middle oval, or somewhere around there, at 8:30pm. If you get back early, start looking for any other people left here, and see if you can find the whereabouts of Grace, Weiminn, Wei Yan, Ainslie and Suz,” said Kris.

“Yep. Mel, you guys get anything you can ok? Whatever you get, take it back, and try to hide it. There are lots of bushes around the tennis courts, so you could conceal yourself around there.” I know I sounded fine, and maybe even relaxed, but inside, I was vexed and concerned. What if something happens? We won’t be able to contact each other!

Just as if she was reading my mind, Yaya said, “What about our mobile phones? We should contact each other if anything goes wrong.” She took out her phone and held it up, outside of the compost bin. “There’s no reception!”

“No way,” cried Soso, unbelievably. “Maybe it’s just because we’re in a compost bin.”

“Yeah, I’ll get out and check,” offered Kristina, hurriedly. Hehe, she made her way out so quickly, that I knew she didn’t want to stay in the smelly compost bin anymore.

“It doesn’t work!”

Uh oh. This is not good news. How are we going to ask for help or anything? The terrorists must have done something to the phone lines around here and stuff.

“I guess we’ll have to rely on each other to survive. All you can do is keep your eyes open, and watch for anything, everything. We won’t be able to contact each other so I guess this is goodbye for now.” Was that really my voice talking there? I sounded so somber! Being somber does not sit with me well…I had being serious and solemn, like Mr Stewart, the maths teacher who never smiles.

“We’ll see you guys in 3 hours 1/2. Promise.” Mel gave me a hug. I gave a huge grin. Trying to be exultant and ecstatic about it…I didn’t want to think about the leeway of not seeing them again, so I quickly turned away, and tried to concentrate on our task at hand.

“Okay, come on, we’ll go first. It’ll be easier if one group leaves first, so we’ll go. Wish us luck!” I crossed my fingers, as I jumped out of the compost bin.

“Be careful!”

“Goodluck!”

“Take care!”

This could be the last time that I ever see them.

“Thanks, guys…for being such good friends.”

Yaya looked like she was crying. Shirley went back, and gave her a big hug. She wiped Yaya’s tears away, and said, “We’ll all be back. Friends stick together, so in the end, we’ll all be stuck together, even if we don’t want to be!”

Yaya let out a little snort. It was good to see Ya laughing a little. It made us all feel better. Giving them a smile, one last time, we turned away and ran.

We ran from the compost bin, past an open area, to the junior school, where we hid beneath the remains. At first we thought no-one had heard or seen us so we prepared to start running again, but then we sank down quickly when we heard voices.

“Did you see any girls running by here? I swear I saw something.”

“It was just your fanatical imagination, you idiot. All the girls who have tried to escape have been killed. Not one has been able to go outside, and I tell you, not one has been able to survive except for the 400 hostages. Oh and the extra 5 hostages who are going to help us get food, and all the things we need. They know too much so they’ll probably be killed in the end too.

Anyway, don’t worry, there are no girls out here. I think it’s alright if we go back to the building. We need to do a count of the hostages. Orders from the boss are that you and 3 others, settle yourselves on the roof and keep watch for police, and just in case any of the hostages try to escape. Somehow I don’t think they will when they find out that 20 of them will be killed, when one goes missing. Now, get to it.”

“Yes, Mr Riley Robson, sir.”

Long pause.

“Well, are you going to just stand there?”

“Oh, no sir.”

Long pause.

“I don’t see you moving.”

“Oh, yes sir, moving right away sir.”

With a mutter, “dumb ass”, we heard the man, ‘Mr Riley Robson’ walk away in the direction of the Wyeslaskie Hall.

All the girls who have tried to escape, have been killed. That was not a comforting thought. In a whisper, just in case Mr Riley Robson was still nearby, I asked, “Do you think Yoong, Moni, Janine, Steph and Tina are ok? What if they had tried to escape through the gates, and failed? And the 5 hostages they mentioned. That’s Grace, Weiminn, Wei Yan, Ainslie and Suz. They’re going to be killed! If we don’t find them fast, they’ll be toast. We have to look for them, as well as the other hostages! About 400!”

“Amanda, keep your priorities straight. We have to go to the canteen first. After that, we’ll work on the others.”

“But…”

“No buts.”

“But…”

“You’re not a goat are you?”

“Fine, PIGHEAD. You’re right, as always…So, what are we doing here? Shouldn’t we get going?”

“Canteen, lovely food, food, food, food,” chanted Shirley.

I stood up slowly, looking around carefully, making sure that no one was in sight. Once we were all on our feet, we began to run. Across the little road between Junior and Senior school, past the Eastern Terrace, and into the year 8 corridor, next to Doris Daniel. We quickly stepped into the toilet, and I stuck my head out to make sure the road was clear ahead. There was not a sound to be heard, and not a figure to be seen, so we raced down the corridor, to the middle, where the canteen was situated.

“Ok, let’s open this thing,” said a determined Kris.

“Wait, we’ll need a key, or something like one. If we kick the door down or something, the men will surely hear us and come running.”

“Ok, but don’t just stand in the middle of the corridor! Come into this room.” Shirley beckoned us into Room E. She shut the door, and Kris paced around, in her thinking mode again. I saw a bulk in her pocket.

“Hey, what’s in your pocket?”

“Huh? Oh, just my wallet.”

“Can I have a look?”

“Sure, but what would you want with my wallet?”

I took her wallet, and looked inside. Money, pictures of her and her boyfriend, and hard plastic cards.

“Voila!” I took out her ID card, and gave Kris back her wallet.

“What do you want with my ID card? Do I look so good that you want it to drool at?”

“Ew. Who would want to look at you? Jk. I’m going to use this card, to get into the canteen!”

“With a card?” Shirley asked me in disbelief.

“Yep. All you have to do is slide it into the gap between the door and the side, then scan it down until it passes by the locked bit. The door will unlock, because the card will cause the locked bit to let loose. My cousin got into my house that way. So come on!”

There was nobody in the corridor as I managed to open the canteen door. Closing the door behind us, we looked around the canteen. We had never been in there alone before. Now we could take anything we wanted, for free! For free! If only Weiminn was here to see this. She’d be drooling and slobbering everywhere. You know, if the terrorists hadn’t killed anybody, this whole thing might not have been that bad!

We were just so overwhelmed by pleasure and amazement, that we just stood there staring at all the free food around us. This would last us days! Even if most of it was junk food.

“Hm, we’ve spent about 5 minutes just staring, I think we’d better get packing. I know there are plastic bags around here, cause I remember asking for a loaf of bread, and they gave me two plastic bags to go with it.” I looked around the back, and found 17 plastic bags.

“Hey you guys, just fill up these bags with as much as you can. 4 bags full of drinks. 3 bags full of chips. 5 bags of the fruit, vegies and yoghurt. 2 with the sandwiches, doughnuts and cakes. I guess we can fill 2 with the ice-cream and stuff. Ooh good, one loaf of bread here!”

“Lasagna and spaghetti!!!” shouted Shirley, in glee. “There are 20 packets here! We can warm some up now to take back. ”

Kris, being logical and practical and everything, said, “I think we’d better warm them all up, cause then, even if they’re cold, we can eat them. We probably won’t be able to come back here, so I think it’s best to get as much as we can.”

It was fun packing all the food. There was so much. Shirley was having the time of her life, filling the bags with ice-cream, icy-poles, lasagna and spaghetti, and chips. Kristina, being the healthiest one, was packing the fruit, veggies and yoghurt. And me, I stuffed in all the pre-made sandwiches, and fatty doughnuts and cakes. Then I looked at all the drinks. Wow. So much to choose from.

“You guys, what drinks do you want? Maybe I should just get some of each.” I took about 10 bottles of each type of drink. When I tried picking up my 6 bags, my hands felt like they were falling off. Just when I dropped a bag, Kris whispered urgently, “Hide behind the bench! Now! I think there’s a guy down the corridor.” Quickly we took our bags, and hid behind the back bench. I sincerely hoped the guy wouldn’t see anything suspicious. I mean, maybe the canteen might look a little… empty, but the door was locked!

A few seconds later, two men came by.

“I’ve dumped the 5 shopping hostages into the little room down there, next to that Doris Daniel Theatre. Where are the other ones?”

“They’re in the Hall. The Boss wants you to come with me. We have to go up to the office, and check out the files of all the girls. There are 396 girls. We’ll need to find the names of them all, then figure out which ones have families who will be able to pay the ransom. Come on. Boss wants us done in 1 hour.”

They left rather quickly. We hung back until we were sure that they were upstairs. When we appeared from behind the bench, I swear I saw something move, just cursorily. The figure looked familiar, but I didn’t have enough time to look properly. It had left as instantly as it had come. I didn’t think any more about it after that.

“Hey, we should get going now. It’s 6pm. We should take all this food back, then maybe try and rescue the hostages.” Kristina gathered up some bags and went out the back door, which leads to outside. Shirley and I followed, struggling to hold all our bags. Shirley was so diminutive, that the bags seemed to cover her.

“Shirlz, give me a bag, I don’t think you’ll be able to see if you have all those bags with you.”

“Are you saying I’m small? Cause I’m not, I’m bigger than you. I can carry it.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.” I watched as Shirley slowly walked to the stairs. I don’t think she can see the steps…

“Shirley, the stairs!” *CRASH* flat on her face.

“Hey, Shirlz, you alright?” Kris and I went over to help her up.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m cool. I just had a little stumble. Nothing much.” The funny little indomitable girl just picked up all her bags, and went on walking up the stairs.

It began to feel a little risky, bringing all those bags all at once.

“Do you think that maybe we should just take a few bags at once. Cause if we carry so many, I don’t think we’ll be able to run in an emergency, if we need to.”

“Yeah, why don’t we just take half of what we’re taking now, then come back for the other half?”

“Yep, that sounds safer, and I think Shirley will find it a lot more comfortable.” Shirley just pouted and stuck out her tongue.

We left half of the bags in the corner, and with the rest, we ran up the stairs and stopped to decide what to do. If the men were near the Hall, they’ll most likely catch sight of us, because the windows see out to this area.

We could run for it, but then, I’m not that fast at running. We’d need a sprinter, like Grace. So if we can’t run for it, what can we do?

“Do you see any of the men anywhere?”

“I think there are two in the corridor next to the Hall, and they’ll be able to see us through the windows. What should we do?”

“I think the only thing we can do, is distract them, then run. Only, how to distract them?”

“I don’t know…”

But we didn’t need to find a way to distract them, because all of a sudden we could hear the men saying, “There’s someone out there, near the pool! Come on, everyone.” Soon, the two soldiers in the hall corridor were gone. This was our chance! But I couldn’t help wondering that the people by the pool might be Mel, Yaya and Soso. It couldn’t be anyone else, unless it was that figure that I saw running by before.

But no time to ponder those thoughts. We had to go. Shirlz led the way, and soon we had made it past the little road, past the car park, and to the tennis courts next to the middle oval. We were so relieved! But we had another half of the bags to take! And we have to take them fast, or otherwise the men will be back.

The three of us quickly hid the bags, and went for the second half. It was easier the second time. We seemed more at ease, and it was done promptly. As soon as we reached the middle oval again, we dropped our bags, and just collapsed onto the grass. There was no denying it. We were tired, scared, and worried.

It was about 15 minutes until the three of us began talking.

“We did it.”

“Yeah we did.”

“Now, we should look for others. We know where the hostages are kept, but we won’t be able to reach them until dark. It’ll be safer then. But I want to tell you guys something. I saw something before. It looked like Yoong or something. I think she’s alive! I just have this feeling that she is. I think I saw her run by. We should go looking.”

“They could be anywhere. What if they’re the ones at the pool?”

“They could be. But we should check. Look around. Maybe take a look in Junior School, cause there aren’t any men there any more. We have 2 hours on our hands. If we can’t find them in those 2 hours, then we’ll come back.”

“Manda, if it was Yoong that you saw before, why didn’t she come in?”

“Maybe because she saw one of the men come along? I don’t know. I just have a gut feeling on this one.”

“Ok, I say we go for it. What have we got to lose anyway? Let’s go.”

“So where do we start.”

“Junior School. Since the men haven’t come back from the pool, I say we head to junior school now. As fast as we can. There are men situated on the roof remember, so we’ll have to avoid open spaces. Trees are good.”

“Yep.” With a little grin, Shirley began to run. Then she stopped, so abruptly that we knew something was wrong.

“The men have just exited the pool. They have a girl with them.”

“Shirley, we have to run now, if we want to get to Junior School. Don’t stop. They’re just coming out of the aquatics centre. They can’t have seen us yet. Run!”

We ran, and ran. When we stopped, we had to find a tree to hide under.

“Do..you..think that they’ve caught Mel or something?” I asked between my struggle for breaths.

No one answered, as we began to run again, to the biggest fragment of Junior School left. We sat and leaned back, panting.

Kris alarmed us by going, “Oh my gosh, look over there! They look like girls! Over there, where we hid before, next to the compost bin!”

“Are you sure?” I asked. I couldn’t see anything, but then my eyes are not as sharp as Kris’.

“Come on, we’ll go there.” As speedily as we could, we ran to the all too familiar, smelly, dirty compost bin. And sure enough, there were girls there. Not just any girls!

“YOONG!”

“Oh my gosh, Kris, Manda, Shirlz!”

“Steph! Tina! Hey! I can’t believe you guys are alive!” I tried to speak as softly as I could through my excitement.

But my excitement quickly turned to horror when I noticed two bodies laying next to them.

“Moni, Janine. Jess (Yoong), they’re not dead, right? Right?”

Shirley and Kris were speechless. They knelt down, next to the bodies.

“What happened?”

“We were trying to exit from the Junior School gates, but then we saw men shooting at us. We were in the back of the line, so we quickly tried to run. We hadn’t realized that Moni and Janine had been shot, so we kept on going, while they were slowly dragging behind us. There was a man, who was keeping all the girls there, so that they wouldn’t run, but, luckily, he didn’t notice us. We ran to Junior School, and hid for ages. That’s when we realized Moni and Janine were hurt. At first they were ok, talking and stuff. We’ve bandaged up their wounds. Luckily the bullet’s in their thigh leg, and not somewhere more precarious, but later on, they just fell unconscious. I think they’ve lost too much blood! It’s all our fault, because we didn’t stop the blood flow early enough!” Jess seemed really distraught, and upset.

“They’re not dead though,” said Steph, “but they need a doctor! We don’t have any medical supplies or anything.”

“Before,” explained Jess, “I saw you guys at the canteen, but I couldn’t talk because I was on my way to Sister. Only, Sister has been bombed! Now we don’t know what to do!”

“We have to get them out of here.”

“How? There are men everywhere. They’ll definitely see us if we try to get out!”

“No, not if they’re concentrated on something else.”

“Like what?”

“We need two cars.” I stared over at the cars in the junior school car park. If only we could get them to start.

“If one of us drives around distracting the men, then the other car will be able to drive out with Moni and Janine and take them to a hospital.”

“I’ll drive Moni and Janine out if you want,” offered Jess.

“Ok, I’ll drive the other car.” Because I got my L’s this year, I have actually had some experience with driving. Hope it’s enough experience to get me through this.

“I’m coming with you,” said Kristina, “back you up if anything happens.”

“Thanks Kris. Thanks.”

“Now, all we have to figure out, is how to start the cars.”

“I think it has something to do with the wires,” said Tina. “Let me try, I think you just have to cut a certain wire. I saw it on TV.”

Kris now seemed set on making this work. “It’s worth a try. Those two cars, the red and blue, over there right? They’re in the perfect spot. One’s facing towards Senior School, Manda and I’ll take that one. The other, facing out, you take that Jess.”

“Let’s get over there.”

When we reached the two cars, my legs felt wobbly. I don’t think I was ready to do this. What if the car ends up blowing up? No point in feeling pessimistic though, I decided.

Tina swiftly cut the wires of the car, and they started!

“Hey, you guys hurry now, they’re bound to hear the cars soon. Hurry!”

Tina, Shirlz and Steph quickly ran over to the gate, and pried it open, while Kris and I drove out, heading to the music and senior school.

My hands were trembling as I held the steering wheel. I gripped it even more tightly, feeling as if I wasn’t holding on tight enough.

“Hey Manda, we’ll be alright. Trust me.”

That’s when the first bullet hit the car. They were onto us. More shots rang out, and the back window of the car shattered. I was no longer driving in a straight line, but more in a curvy topsy turvy streak, swerving right and left so suddenly that Kris, who didn’t put on her seatbelt, fell to my side, then smacked into the window on her left. I think she had become a battered pancake. There’ll be no use getting out of this alive, cause Kris will kill me afterwards anyway!

“Manda, they’re shooting something different now! They’re shooting this bomb type thing!”

I only understood what she meant when I looked in the rearview mirror and saw a bomb blow just behind our car. My heart quickened.

By now, Jess should have gotten out with Moni and Janine. We were approaching the gate to Parer Street. It was open, so I knew I would be able to let the car just run by itself, to crash into the pole outside. The men won’t dare to leave the PLC grounds, so they won’t bother inspecting the car, therefore they won’t find out that we’re still on the premises. Only, where do we get out? We can’t stay in the car!

“We have to bail!”

“Now?” I asked.

“Those bushes! In 3 seconds, we jump.” As Kris started counting, I prepared to open the door… “3! JUMP!”

We jumped and fell in between the bushes. Hopefully no one noticed. I watched as the car continued on through the gates, and then explode into great fire. We were so lucky. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were. If we had been in that car, we would be fried humans, literally.

I lay in the bushes, waiting for Kris on the other side to give me the thumbs up. We were waiting for the men to stop looking in our direction, and turn back to what they were doing. There were no bushes from where I was, to where Kris was. She had a clearer view of the men up on the roof, so I waited.

Soon I saw her thumb poke out of the bushes. I ran, ducking, into the bushes where Kris lay.

“Boy, am I lucky to be alive. If you drive like this in the driving test, I somehow don’t think they’ll let you pass.”

“Oh geez, I save our lives, and you still say mean things! Pig!”

“Who could be nice to Aman?”

“HEY!”

“haha, you don’t even have a good comeback!”

“I do, I just don’t want to waste it on you!”

“Whatever you say.”

“Hey, it’s getting late, we’d better get back to the oval. Hope Tina, Shirlz and Steph made it there safely.”

“I think they did. You kept the men pretty distracted by your swervy, out of control driving.”

“There you go, you’re horrible big mouth again!”

“It’s not a horrible mouth! It’s beautiful!”

“In your dreams…STEPH! Shirlz! Tina!”

“You guys did it! Jess, Moni and Janine are out! They’re safe!”

“Have Mel and them come yet?”

“Nope.”

“But it’s 8:45pm. You think anything bad happen to them?”

“Nah, maybe they’re just stuck, or busy, like we were. Don’t worry, they’ll be back.”

“I hope so.”

As the sun went down, we sat on the grass, waiting for our friends to come back, and praying that Moni and Janine would be ok. I wonder if we’ll ever be able to see all our friends together ever again.

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