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  1. 1. WONG ZHI SIANg P assion Whenever I sat eating at the canteen table, there would always be a guy sitting across the aisle, sometimes with food in front. He seemed to be a fifth-former from one of the science classes, whose clique of top-notch “intellectuals” were held in high regard as the cream of the crops by the school authorities. The guy looked decent and studious with his spectacle and conformed to the common stereotype of a science student. He would be no more than an ordinary student to me if he did not always slid a sideways glance at me. “Where is the guy who always stalked me?” I have an uncanny feeling about him. “He is not here.” I found myself getting upset by his infrequent absence though I never spoke to him before. “A storm is brewing up, Chua. A tempest is looming on the horizon.” Bella quipped and faked a solemn look on her face. “A tempest in a tea pot, I suppose.” Emilia gave her a snappy answer forthwith. The students here marked their break time with jokes and frolic, thus making the canteen a hall of joy and mirth. After all, it was recess time and the no teacher would supervise them as he or she did like a petty tyrant during the class, so this was definitely a perfect place to let yourself go and split your sides. Thankfully, the food, though greasy, was good enough to help me unwind after a dreadful morning of having humdrum quotidian lessons that recurred throughout my childhood and teenage life. Who would conceive all this was the calm before the storm? Bang! It was before the bell clanged that a sudden thunder of bang interrupted my elevenses abominably as it successfully created a commotion in a place bursting at the seams. Before my curiosity was utterly aroused, a fusillade of gunshots had made all hell broke loose. The crowd made a rush in the opposite direction to the gunman who blocked the way to the entrance gate. I made a bolt for the fence on the western fringe of the school together with those who were not yet maimed or killed. I saw corpses strewing the field and lying nauseatingly on the blood-laden pavement, some of them still twitching and jerking and some of them had their eyes bulged out as if they were disgruntled at their untimely demise. I was now a broken-hearted girl and my mind was in turmoil, for my classmates and teachers were among them. I told myself that there would be a time for me to mourn their death, but it was not now. Intuition guided me into my own class with Emilia and Bella at my heels. I paid scant attention to the shadowy figures lurking behind the desks and by the windows – they were just some helpless schoolchildren concealing themselves from the callous killer out there. “For Gawd’s sake, where is the flaming security guard?”
  2. 2. “Ensconced his guardhouse, blissfully humming along with the radio I think.” Perhaps the guard had raised the volume high enough to deafen him as I had noticed him doing every day. Then a rotund figure, probably a teacher, stuck his head out of the class door and gestured for someone to come in. Never had I thought that the person signalled was our dear guard in uniform, with trembling fingers grasping a baton. “You are hopeless.” Bella seemed startled. Meanwhile the gunman prowled around the science laboratories and began shooting on sight. Already there were a throng of shocked students and teachers dashing through the pitch, away from the murderer but deeper into the big trap which offered no way out but only the school entrance since the fence was hemming us in on all sides. The sound of students sobbing and wailing hysterically added to the horror that had already engulfed the school. For the gangsters who claimed to be battle-hardened by rival gang strife, the best way to protect themselves from enemy was to confront and defeat it to achieve outright victory. Without hesitation the brawny laddies marched to the sports room with a brilliant conceit of using the javelins as spears, or rather as just javelins since a hurling attack covered a longer distance and was more effective than a melee attack. It sounded like a valiant pre-emptive response relished and welcomed by the survivors of the grisly attack, but when it came to appointing the vanguard everyone scurried off like a rat. In the face of such gruesome homicide, communication came to be of utmost importance. Cell phone brought by students into the compound, in contravention of the school rules, were our lifelines as all other means of contacting the police proved unusable. The gunman was slaying people all the way from the office to the hall with his bullet-spitting device and yet a school of a-thousand-studentsstrong was impotent to forfend this demented juvenile from slaughtering innocents. A friend of mine named Muthu was able to lead a few students to safety by scrambling over the fence encircling the school compound, thanks to the training he had while truanting regularly for the past four years. A gardener brought a big rusty scissors to the fence to rescue as much lives as he could. If the gunman had not appeared out of the blue and silenced the gardener, the gardener must have performed a heroic deed and help save the day. “Stop crying, Emilia!” Emilia whined as she grew agitated and her vain effort to stifle her sob could result in a massacre in this crammed-full room. My ears caught the muffled footsteps from the next room. The gunman appeared to be scouring the precinct for any remaining trace of life to destroy. Within these grim walls we cowered in terror, praying for God to save us from the mire. Then the most horrifying moment came! The gunman came and stood by the window in silhouette. A deathly hush descended on the room as everyone held their breath and wished that he could just go away. “Stop playing hide-and-seek with me! I will kill all of you! My girlfriend deserted me. All of you forsook me. Come out! Let us finish this!”
  3. 3. In the next second we found ourselves came under random fire from the gunman! Window panes were shattered and the desks and chairs were holed. Before he crashed open the door, we all feigned death. “You think I would not know if you are shamming!” The gunman opened fire and bumped off a teacher. At once, three students took fright and ran out with piercing shriek, shoving and knocking uncontrollably through the desks and chairs. The classroom was soon thrown into a chaos as the gunman shot at the anything moving. Emilia was panic-stricken and went amok. Pandemonium came to a halt in a short time with only Bella and I left unscathed. I sprang to my feet, rolling up my sleeves and clenching my fists in howling ire. “What do you want from us?” I was infuriated. “You will not kill more friends of mine!” Now I saw the gunman through my teary, yet fiery eyes. He must be a student from this school since he was wearing the same uniform as mine. “I will shoot you now!” He gawped at me, incoherent with anger. “Death holds no terror for me now!” I apparently had lost control of my emotions. “I will shoot you now!” He reiterated. All of a sudden, a thin figure, emerging from the threshold, lunged towards the gunman and thrust him into an overturned table. The man grasped Bella’s arms with his left hands and mine with the other one, then tugged us along and out of this room. I could saw a dozen of policemen darting across the field towards us. I could see who our saviour was – he was the guy who liked to look at me in the canteen! Till now, it still puzzled me that the guy, with utter disregard for his own safety, came to my rescue though we were not even acquaintances. The gunman dispatched hundreds of people in a crime of passion. But in the end it was the canteen guy’s passion for me that saved me. 1 379