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My coffee has become lukewarm. Through the front windshield I can see my future, destiny and final destination. As I sit in this rented van, smelling like cheap air freshener, I wonder if what I’m about to do is preordained. I contemplate if this is my destiny and some higher being has had this planned for me. Then, I snap out of my human self important, self-righteous bullshit. Huddles of families scamper across the street and make their way into the church. There is a light drizzle of rain and the morning summer sun is trying to peak through the clouds and I suddenly become infatuated with how beautiful the weather is. As more families proceed to the church, I catch a glimpse of a young boy slowly walking behind his parents. Hands in pockets, head down and a frown on his face, I’m looking at myself as a boy.
I hated Sundays as a boy, mainly because the Catholic Church frightened me. Most young boys detested going to church because they found it boring and hated getting dressed up or having to wake up so early. Those petty things weren’t an issue for me. I was legitimately frightened of the Church. I was even one of the lucky ones who wasn’t molested by any of the white haired, mildly overweight priests. Some of my friends weren’t so lucky, however. No, I was afraid of these people that thought that by drinking grape juice, that they were ingesting the blood of Christ. I was afraid of these people who smiled through their teeth and shook hands with child molesters and thanked them for being such a wonderful “influence” on their children. Above all though, I was afraid of Hell. Hell, to me, was Sunday school. Every week, new and improved graphic descriptions of Hell were beaten into my imagination. I wouldn’t have been so scared if I didn’t believe in Hell. The problem was, I had no faith, knew I would never have faith, yet if Hell was real there would be absolutely no salvation for me. Every night I prayed to God to give me faith and to help me believe him. Every night I had vivid nightmares of those descriptions of Hell that I was taught every Sunday. That faith never came and that fear of Hell turned to hate. The scared little boy that used to come here every Sunday is now a grown man, equipped with an M-16 machine gun.
My coffee is now cold. I light up a cigarette and use my cold coffee as an ashtray. This is my last cigarette. It’s funny how we think that everything is limitless, but really, there are only a certain number of times we will do such things like smoking a cigarette or watching the sunset. At this point, all of the grape juice drinking, fairy tale enthusiasts will be taking their seats. They will have eaten their free donuts and coffee and engaged in a forced meet and greet. It’s more like “meat” and greet, as the only thing in their hollow heads are what they could possibly be eating for lunch after the service. I call my mother, who has been strategically placed on vacation and tell her I love her. After a heart wrenching conversation with my mother, her having no idea this will be the last time she speaks to me, I prepare my body and mind for the mission I have committed to complete. Today, everyone will wish churches had security and they probably will after today. It’s incredible how vulnerable they are in their sanctuary. A room with two hundred people with absolutely no protection but their one true savior, Jesus Christ. These people sit, pretending to be interested, while having petty things on their minds. Jessica needs new shoes. I don’t know what I can do to convince Tony to stop smoking. My ass looks far too big in this dress. That Robinson family shouldn’t even be allowed to enter the church wearing such cheap clothes. These thoughts, while imagined, can’t be far from what these people are thinking.
I don’t even bother hiding my gun as I stroll closer to the big double doors. This isn’t a stealth operation. I want these people to look me in the eye, lie to me and tell me that they aren’t afraid to die. As I turn the corner an obtuse jolly motherfucker with hair plugs catches my eye and proceeds to open the doors for me. His Sunday smile transforms into a terrified panic in less than a second as his eyes lower and make out my offensively big gun. Without thinking, I pull the trigger and my semi-automatic punches three bullets in his round gut. Blood cakes my lower torso in a beautiful splatter. My mission has begun and there is no turning back now. This realization mildly frightens me, but I’m too focused and passionate to let it consume me. As I regain my focus and make my way towards the chapel, I can hear confused and panicked whispers. The whispers turn to loud shouts and sobbing as I make my grand appearance with my gun resting on my shoulder. I make a quick and unfocused sweep with my eyes to make sure there are no children present. At this particular service, young children go to Sunday school and the older kids go to a youth group. If I don’t act quickly, many will escape. I raise my gun and spray bullets from the left to the right. Rinse and repeat. Bullets pierce the wooden pews and explosive splinters of wood shoot outward. A few stray bullets find their way to the organ, making an atonal “dong” noise. I pop in a new clip and continue my massacre. Blood curdling screams echo and really show off the acoustics of the building.
I’m surprised, at this point, that no one has tried to be a hero and try to foolishly take me down. Just when that thought darts through my manic mind, a tall, skinny guy with an atrocious goatee in his mid 30’s pushes through the falling bodies and shouts, “We never did anything to you! Stop this!”. What a joke. This goatee-bearing fucker was my youth director once upon a time. Jim Harris was just like every other youth director you’re bound to come across, trying desperately to seem hip so that he may hopefully draw in America’s troubled youth and show him or her the light of God. Jim would wear graphic tee shirts with retro shit on it like, “Nintendo” and “AC/DC”. He once pulled me aside and told me I was on my way to hell if I didn’t stop listening to Marilyn Manson. Jim thought I needed fixing and it was his job to beat the Devil out of me. What Jim failed to see was that I got good grades, was exceptionally nice to everyone and was a great friend to those in need. The church ultimately proved to have more of a negative influence on me than any modern rock band. Finally, Jim gave up and told me there was nothing he could do for me anymore and that my judgment now rests with God. Well, cool and hip Mr. Jim Harris gets a special bullet to the mouth with my pistol sidearm. His bleached white teeth get knocked into the back of his head and go down like bowling pins. A waterfall of blood pools out of his mouth and he drops to the nearest pew and dies instantly.
The faded sound of sirens catch my ears. I had fully expected for someone to call the police. There would just be no way for me to kill everyone. However, looking at my aftermath is satisfying. Around eighty people lay dead. Some are in awkward positions on the floor, some have their arms wrangled around their loved ones and some are still clinging to life, holding their wounds. It’s time for me to catch the bullet train. I won’t be here for it, but in a few hours my face will be on every TV, every news web site and on the tongues of everyone in America. Nothing will be left to mystery or conspiracy. My fame will be short lived, however, because I have fifty-two followers who, in one hour from now, will be executing the same massacre in churches nationwide. In this world, to change anything, drastic measures are necessary. Picket signs, financial donations, rallies, and working at the fucking soup kitchen are for amateurs. Enough of my self-righteous babble, though. One bullet let in my sidearm. One last breath. One last muscle mechanic of my index finger against the trigger. Nothingness. Erase. Over. Out.
- Jeffrey Whitacre Hollingsworth