I was alone working late at my desk, which is an office full of cubicles. (It looked like I was at our old offices with higher cubicle walls; not the downtown offices). The overhead lights in the office were off and it was getting dark outside, so the office was dimly lit. A few coworkers had forgotten to turn off the lights in their cubicles, so some light radiated out of the tops of these random cubicles. The only real light near me was coming from my computer monitor.
As I worked, someone sat down at the cubicle desk across the aisle from me. I looked to my right and saw that it was a young man with pale skin and dark brown hair, but then, it could have appeared darker due to lack of lighting. He was thin, but not bony. He was wearing a black long sleeved t-shirt with dark jeans and could easily have blended in with a goth crowd. He placed a dark backpack on the desk beside him.
I greeted him with a surprised, “hello.” He barely glanced up at me and kept working at his computer.
I asked him, “are you new here?” thinking it was odd my boss hadn’t introduced him to the team earlier in the day. This thought and his lack of interaction made me suspicious of him.
I turned my chair in his direction, my left half arm still on the computer desk. “My name is Tina. I’m one of the IT trainers here…”I trailed off as he looked at me and at the same time reached with his right hand into the backpack beside him. He lazily pulled out a large hand gun and shot me without hesitation; his other hand never left the computer. He barely looked at me while pulling the trigger, but it connected.
I felt the pain and pressure in my chest beneath my left shoulder. I was stunned. It radiated. BANG! I felt a second hit to my sternum. I heard myself gasp as I fell forward in my chair, to the floor. I scooted beneath my desk to hide behind the filing cabinet under my desk. I reached around to the top of my desk, making a barrier with my rolling desk chair, blindly feeling around for my cell phone so I could call 9-1-1.
All the while hoping against hope he wasn’t going walk over and shoot me in the head. He made no effort to move from his seat. “I can survive this,” I thought, “don’t die! Not today! Please don’t die,” I pleaded with myself.
My fingers found the phone and I pulled it toward the edge of the desk. It fell with a soft thud to the carpeted floor. I could hear his fingers clicking on the keyboard at the desk.
“He’s not going to let me out of this place alive,” I thought. “That’s why he’s just sitting there ignoring me.”
My eyes wouldn’t focus through the blur of tears as they filled my eyes. It was the first moment I could think about the consequences of working late on this day. Not seeing my husband, dogs, family, home, to bid a proper farewell, at least. If I was going to die, they deserved a farewell.
I was struggling to breathe, now. Still fiddling with the phone. “My inhaler! Where’s my inhaler,” I shouted at myself in my head; as if it would or could change the outcome; or that I should have been ready for this and had it with me.
I could feel myself dying. Slowly bleeding out. Thinking… really panicking that I want to get home. “Not today!” I thought. I’d unlocked my phone and was dialing 9-1-1 when I heard his chair move. He’d stopped typing.
As I fought with my phone to make the call faster, I made myself wake up. I couldn’t bear to know the outcome of my life in the hands of a stranger.