Chapter Two

Not Just A Day That Ends In Y

Natalia was an art teacher. No one had expected her to be brave, but when the first shot rang out, her world changed. She'd not really thought about it as she began to move, there were kids out there and all she could really consider was that in the corridor and beyond. Her head shot up as shots sounded again. Oh God, she had hoped to never hear that sound again.

Natalia walked out into the corridor, her dark hair a curtain across her face. Her tiny frame made her indistinguishable from the students, and unbeknownst to her put her at a higher risk. She kept walking, in spite of her brain telling her to run, she had to do something, to protect the kids. She could smell blood as she drew closer to the source of the noise. Her eyes settled on a fallen pupil, not an art student, but she recognised his face...Oh what was his name? She glanced at his face, unable to bring herself to look at him properly. He didn't scream, didn't move...didn't breathe, his eyes told her he was dead. The light in them was gone, there was no soul there any more, they were like glass. Natalia pressed her hand over her mouth to stop a sob and crouched beside him, checking his pulse as she had been taught in first aid.

Her prayer for the flicker of life beneath her fingers went unanswered. Nathan...his name was Nathan, his girlfriend was in her Friday morning class, he waited for her, that's where she knew him from. She muttered a soft prayer, slipping back into her native Russian in her fear, and carefully closed his eyes.

Natalia rose, pressing on, the smell of blood still in her nose, the sound of the bang echoing in her head, from so long ago. Her father...that streak of red on a white wall, her mother, "Come away Talia." She barely noticed the further shots as her memory took her away, even as she still walked, stopping as she watched a boy in a dark coat lowering a weapon. She snapped back, watching him level the weapon again. "You need to stop this." She called to him, aware her voice was shaking showing how terrified she was. "I'm sure we can sort everything out, if you just stop." He turned, this boy, slight, skinny, a child...with a gun. "Please...I'm sure this was all a mistake...Please..." She hadn't finished the last 'please' before the pain hit her. A bullet in the gut. Her eyes locked with the girl on the stage, whose partner lay shot nearby. Natalia smiled slightly at the younger girl before she folded, unable to stand as she began to bleed out.

Holby City hospital had just received the call telling them the world was about to fall apart, as Jeff stumbled through the swing door at the opposite end of the performance space as the shooter walked away.