Reunion (A Psychological Suspense with Murder, Mystery and the Paranormal)

Table of Contents
 
REUNION
 

A Supernatural Thriller

Jeff Bennington

Published by nexGate

www.nexgatepress.com

REUNION
, Vol. 1 All Rights Reserved

Copyright © 2011 Jeff Bennington

Cover Photo by Natalie Godfrey

Cover art and design by Jeff Bennington

Back cover by Joleene Naylor

Edited by Jacqui Penn, Jodie Renner and Neal Hock.

Ebook creation by Dellaster Design

This is a work of fiction. The events and characters described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or living persons. The opinions expressed in this manuscript are solely the opinions of the author and do not represent the opinions or thoughts of the publisher. The author has represented and warranted full ownership and/or legal right to publish all the materials in this book.

This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Visit www.jeffbennington.com to learn more about Jeff’s books and what is coming next from this talented author. You can follow Jeff on Twitter (@TweetTheBook), on Facebook, or at his blog, The Writing Bomb. To purchase a signed copy, visit www.jeffbennington.com

For Amber


You can’t change the past. You can only prevail and move forward
.”

—Lance Kirklin, Columbine survivor

Why Write Reunion?
 

Have you ever wondered what becomes of the students who have been traumatized by a school shooting? Or have you puzzled over what might cause a child to intentionally murder his or her peers? Have you questioned what the long-term effects might be on the victims? How would their lives change? Who would make the most of their journey after the shooting? Who would lose their faith? Who might find it?

Over the years, I’ve wondered if the survivors would be able to return to the place where they watched their friends and classmates suffer, and die, at the hand of a crazed teen? How would they perceive those memories twenty years later?

These are the questions that have swirled through my mind every time I’d learn of yet another school shooting. I cringe when I hear that another young person has gone off the deep end and killed his classmates, leaving this world a darker and colder place with every bullet fired. The fact that it happens forces us to question what is wrong with our society—that this is even possible. The arguments are endless. But I didn’t write this storyto discuss politics.

This book does not make any declarations concerning the root cause; it only addresses my questions regarding the victims, their lives (post-shooting), and my imagined mental state of an adolescent shooter. Remember,
REUNION
is fiction, and I hope that it is judged as such.

This multi-genre fiction has, at times, supernatural elements, because after all, the supernatural
is
spiritual, and doesn’t a school shooting boil down to a spiritual issue? I have also taken the liberty, or creative license, to include elements of horror, because I could not otherwise tell the truth—school shootings are horrific. If you want to read a story that goes beyond the superficial, then you might appreciate the value of
all
the elements that make this book what it is: supernatural, horror, romance, suspense, and dark fiction.

• • •

In a list compiled from the Yahoo Contributor Network (Feb. 5, 2010), Jennifer Macon-Steel reminds us of the horror and devastation that occurs when our youth kill each other. The following is Jennifer’s list of ten of the worst school shootings in the history of the United States. There have been others around the world and inside U.S. borders, none of which are any less significant. This list, however, is a reminder and a tribute to all the victims, students, parents, teachers, and the communities that have suffered as a result of a school shooting.

To the innocent that have been tragically snuffed out before their time, I offer this work of fiction in their honor. To the survivors, may you find peace in this broken world.

• February 2, 1996; Moses Lake, Washington. A fourteen-year-old boy named Barry Loukaitis opens fire on his algebra class killing two students and one teacher.

• October 1, 1997; Pear, Mississippi. Luke Woodham, a sixteen-year-old student reported to be part of an outcast group, kills two students and his own mother.

• December 1, 1997; West Paducah, Kentucky. Fourteen-year-old Michael Carneal fires on students attending a prayer circle. He kills three students and wounds five.

• March 24, 1998; Jonesboro, Arkansas. Children aged eleven and thirteen pull a fire alarm and then shoot other students from nearby woods as the students leave the school building. They kill four girls and a teacher, and they wound ten other students.

• May 21, 1998; Springfield, Oregon. Kip Kinkel, a seventeen-year-old high school student, kills his parents and then turns his gun toward his fellow high school students. Kinkel kills two students and injures twenty.

• April 20, 1999; Littleton, Colorado. Columbine High School becomes forever famous as eighteen-year-old Eric Harris and seventeen-year-old Dylan Klebold kill twelve students and one teacher. They also wound twenty-three people before killing themselves.

• January 15, 2002; New York, New York. An eighteen-year-old student opens fire at Martin Luther King High School in Manhattan and seriously hurts two students.

• March 21, 2005; Red Lake Indian Reservation, Minnesota. A high school student kills nine other students and then himself. Seven people are injured.

• August 30, 2006; Hillsborough, North Carolina. A high school student kills his father and then injures two students when he opens fire at his high school. Guns and bombs are found in his car. It is later discovered that the student had e-mailed Columbine High School’s principal telling him that it was time for the world to remember what happened at Columbine.

• October 2, 2006; Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. A man goes into an Amish schoolhouse and shoots the female students inside. He kills five and seriously injures six before killing himself.

REUNION
 
1
st
 

Crescent Falls, Idaho 7:30 a.m.

D
avid Ray stood in front of his mirror, dressed to kill. I look good, he thought, like the real deal, like a real killer. He narrowed his eyes, grit his teeth and unfolded his checklist. Sharp blades of black hair dangled in front of his face, covering the brownish rings that encircled his eyes. He peered at his scribbled writing and read the list as he felt his insides tense with hatred.

This is it, he thought. No room for mistakes.

David had learned over time that life needed to be carefully navigated to avoid pain. He had come to the conclusion that the only way to control his life was by controlling the lives around him. The list helped him stay on track. He paced back and forth, quietly going over the details of his plans as his adrenalin increased.

He slouched down at his desk, clenched his hair as it draped over his eyes and pondered how the neglect and abuse he’d suffered had snuffed the music from his soul. David longed for old, familiar melodies to bring him comfort and laughter, but found only the clamoring sound of an off-tempo dirge. Although he tried to arrange the chords and time signatures in a way that was intelligible to his ear, he stepped out of time, his notes were flat, and those around him cringed and laughed. He was humiliated and he hated them for it.

He glanced at a picture on the desk of his mother holding his hand as a young child. It stood in a bright red clay frame; a misshapen art project from the fourth grade. Neither of them looked happy, and a lot had happened over the past eight years. Smiles were a rare commodity in their household. He turned the picture face down and stood up.

David walked to his small window. He pushed the roll-up blind to the side, peeked through the glass and watched the fog sinking into the sage-covered valley to the east. He observed the sun stretch its arms over the rocky hilltops to wake the ponderosa pines and heard the mountain bluebirds singing in the distance. For the last time, he witnessed the river in the valley, flowing downward in search of rapids and lower ground. He stared into the gorge with cold and unfeeling eyes. The sight reminded him of the time when Bill, his stepfather, had taken him down there and let him shoot his shotgun
just for fun
. David knew the activity was meant to keep him silent, a form of hush money.

Peering through the dirty glass, he thought about his plan to finally get even with everyone who’d taunted and bullied him. Today was the day they’d finally get what they had coming to them. Today the world would sit up and take notice of David Ray. Those kids and their families would be sorry. Now they’d know some of his misery. They could kiss goodbye their happy days of Mom’s cookies, home-cooked meals, and playing ball with Dad.

A sliver of sunlight struck his eyes. David squinted and released the window blind. He preferred the darkness.

• • •

At 7:41 a.m., Tanner Khan climbed onto the yellow school bus, walked down the aisle greeting kids around him, and then took his usual seat by the window. As the bus continued to fill up, the tranquility of the early morning hours escalated to the clamoring roar of cracking voices. Tanner pressed his face to the window and breathed, creating a foggy circle that came and went with each breath. He drew a smile with his index finger.

The bus stopped, and Tanner’s best friend Kenny climbed on and waved at Tanner. Kenny traipsed down the aisle, lugging a large duffle bag filled with books. He was skinny and stood six feet tall. Tanner was six inches shorter and far less developed. Both were seniors. Tanner had a baby face with blonde hair. Kenny had brown curly hair with a square jaw line and strong green eyes. As always, Tanner took note of Kenny’s cool look of confidence.

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