I do not know what chilled me more, hearing Jordan say my actual name or listening to him tell me that Liam had a gun. I looked towards the elementary school, it looked like a completely normal building. Brick exterior and a big fancy sign. They had no idea Liam was walking around with a gun and the intent to hurt, or even worse kill.
“Jordan let me go, I need to get in there.” I continuously tried to get free, fighting against Jordan’s strong arms and swatting his hands away but he kept his grip closed and lifted me slightly off the floor.
“Liv, I can not let you go in there. Liam is not well. He is not mentally well, I could see it in his eyes. He would never forgive himself if he hurt you. We need to call the cops.” He grabbed my torso and lifted me fully into the air with ease and then slung me over his shoulder and started walking me back to the car. My hand clashed against his shoulder blades frantically but his strength didn’t falter.
“We are not calling the cops on Liam!” I shrieked, horrified Jordan would do this to his best friend.
He set me down once he got me a good distance away from the school and grasped his hand around my shoulders to force me to look him in the eye.
“Liv, he told me not to let you in there. He needs help beyond what we can give him. He’s lost and that is only going to get worse if he hurts someone. We need to call the police, what if he hurts a child by mistake?”
I could see the fear he held in his eyes for his friend, we both knew we were short on time and one of us needed to agree to the other because we could not linger on our conflict when Liam was already inside the school with a gun. I let out a sigh of frustration and nodded my head, already feeling dirty for betraying Liam.
“You’re right.” I said lowly. He softened his grip on my shoulders. “Call the police then.” Jordan stepped back and looked down at his pocket for his phone.
While Jordan was distracted with his fumbling fingers I turned to face the school building and ran towards the door. I could hear Jordan shouting in protest from behind me but I ignored him and somehow in that moment my legs were faster than his.
The hallway was filled with small children, happy children. They played and sung in the corridors but Liam was nowhere in sight. It frustrated me at how easy it was to just walk in the building, how easy they made this for Liam. I knew if he came in face to face contact with his abuser he would just shoot, even if it was in a classroom or corridor filled with young children so I raised the alarm by pulling down on a little blue lever in the wall.
A siren rang out around the building and large lights flashed blue constantly. It turned the happy atmosphere into a war zone drenched in fear. The smiles fell from faces and everybody scattered into different classrooms.
Within seconds doors were slammed shut, locked and the blinds were pulled down over the windows. Silence and emptiness filled the halls. The overhead lights went out leaving the corridors lonely and full of darkness except for the constant flash of blue light coming from the alarm.
I wondered if Jordan had already called the cops and gave them a head start here because I knew that me raising the alarm would automatically alert them. Time was ticking, I needed to find Liam, talk him through this and then get out of here before the emergency services arrived. I felt an overwhelming amount of pressure but at least with nobody besides us roaming the corridors I had a better chance of finding him and keeping him safe.
I would be lying to myself if I said I was not scared. I was terrified. If Liam committed a crime in this building today I one hundred percent believe he would never be able to come back from it. I walked through the maze of corridors, listening for any sign of Liam behind any one of the closed doors but everything was noiseless, except for the beating of my own heart.
I gripped the wooden banister and slowly made my way up the stairs. The corridors led to a crossroads and I didn’t trust my intuition enough to make a choice on which way to go. A wooden sign hung on the wall with the word ‘math’ and ‘geography’ carved into it. The sign contained two arrows one pointing to the left and the other pointing to the right.
“I got a job teaching wee kids geography, I work in the elementary school just up the road from here.”
His words came crashing back to me and I instantly got a sickening feeling inside of my stomach because I knew Liam was close and I did not know what mental state he was going to be in. This man ruined his life and I doubted my ability to talk him down from doing this because a part of me wanted to hurt him just as much as Liam did.
I tried to make my footsteps as soundless as humanly possible but the floor was overly glossy and occasionally my sneakers would squeak with the friction. As I approached the abandoned geography corridor my head filled with so many doubtful thoughts.
What if I was already too late?
Instead of figuring out how to get him out of the school without getting caught by the authorities with a gun I would have to figure out how to help him hide a body. It was definitely the more complicated option but it was something I was one hundred percent willing to commit to, for Liam.
Jordan was right.
Liam does need help beyond what we can give him, he has always struggled but I always felt like I was enough to help him through it. In the past year Liam has come so far, opened up so much but this feels like it knocked back every tiny step he made in the right direction. This is bigger and beyond anything that I have ever helped him get through. I might be able to talk him down from this but there was no denying it anymore, Liam needed professional help.
I passed classroom after classroom listening for any trace of him. I could hear the pounding of my own heart like it was trying to burst out of my skin and it only seemed to be getting louder and louder with each budding step. My eyes hurt from the straining of flashing strobe lights and my stomach felt nauseous with the thought of what was to come.
Things were much more darker upstairs thanks to the lack of windows and everything just felt that little bit more scarier. Like a scene from a horror movie, one filled with suspense of what was to come. I heard a hollow bang coming from around the corner, followed by another bang and then another. Each one made my chest wrench.
Slowly I turned the corner and there he was.
His back was facing me as he made his way down the corridors, clanging his gun against every door he passed. The metal clanged against the wood only once on each door but echoed through the hallway in a deafening sound. I don't think he was aware that I was even behind him.
My mouth felt extremely dry, not moist enough to construct any words. I could feel my body trembling but I knew I needed to push through, this wasn't about me. I took a steadying breath, closed my eyes and prayed silently for everything to be okay.
“Liam?” I said quietly.