He couldn't have been more surprised had someone slapped him hard across the face after, only seconds earlier, said, "Aw, gee, you're so nice." And then, bam!
At this moment, he was but one person in a crowd, lost in a sea of people, flocking to the same destination. But he knew what was going on, knew why everyone was in such unison in exiting the building.
It was all his doing.
Down the hall in an orderly fashion. Two lines, down the stairs, each person holding the hand rail, not rushing, but not dallying. Out the door, leaving the building at a safe distance.
And then waiting.
He didn't believe them. It seemed too simple. It was like being at a county fair, trying his luck at pounding down the hammer, ringing the bell. Only this challenge wasn't weighted in the gamemaster's favour. Winning was all too easy.
Just jump up and hit it, he was told. See what happens. He was told what might happen, but he thought it was something that would happen in extreme circumstances, would be the result of some severe failure. Never did he think it would happen with little effort, with the ease of simply pushing a button.
It wasn't much to look at: a short, shallow cone with a flat end. More like a cap than anything else.
He raised his arm, made a fist, and jumped straight up. With his below-average height, he was certain that he wouldn't even reach it on his first attempt, that he would hop like a fool for several attempts before he would even brush it.
But no, his one and only leap brought his fist firmly to its mark with a solid thump.
And the alarm answered back. The building's fire alarm, screaming at him, scolding him for assaulting him. Ordering him, and the friends that egged him on to smack it, out of the school.
He would say nothing on the way out. Nothing, as the other students and staff stood around, waiting for the fire trucks to arrive, for the fire fighters to investigate the cause of the alarm and then give the all-clear signal. His friends also remained silent; unusual, for that group of teens.
And yet no one cast them a suspicious eye. They were model students. Yes, goofy at times, but harmless. Never would they cause such a commotion.
Sadly, for that day, boredom and curiosity had got the better of them. And stupidity.
They knew what they had done. There was nothing to say. And they would never speak of it again.
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