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I Was Held Hostage in My School!
You think you know the people you go to school with. But Kayla's classmate turned an average day into a nightmare!
As told to: Jane Bianchi
This fall marks the one-year anniversary of the scariest experience of my life. For me and the 23 students in my sophomore history class at Marinette High School in my small town in Wisconsin, it's the day that Sam—someone we'd gone to school with for six years—came to class with a gun.
Back-to-school is definitely different this year. Everyone now realizes the impact of making stupid jokes, like saying "I'm going to kill you." Instead, the vibe in the halls is more about kindness—I feel closer to everyone now. People understand if I'm still jumpy when someone drops a weight in the gym and why it gives me the creeps to walk by that classroom. I keep thinking of Sam, with his dark hair and beautiful smile, and will always wonder what made him do something so drastic. Though we weren't close, I'd known him since fifth grade. He was a nice, smart, quiet guy who never seemed sad or angry. He was known for being obsessed with the Packers, fishing, and Boy Scouts. But nobody ever thought that he'd take us hostage.
It was sixth period, the second to last class of the day, around 2 P.M. We were watching a movie on historical heroes—trying not to fall asleep—when Sam went to the bathroom, saying he felt sick. When he came back, we snapped awake, because he was holding a gun and shot a bullet into our teacher's desk! There was stunned silence. I held my breath and tried not to cry, afraid any sudden move would make him shoot again.
Without saying a word, Sam pulled a stool to the front of the room and faced us, jingling bullets in his pocket to let us know he had more ammo. It felt like an unspoken threat: If you move, I'll shoot you. I wanted to call 911, but Sam commanded us to put our phones in the middle of the room. I had no idea what he wanted from us. So I flipped over the worksheet on my desk and wrote a letter to my family, saying I love you, in case I died.
Minutes later, Sam asked in a mellow voice, "How's it going, guys?" I thought it was weird that he was asking a casual question in such an intense situation. One brave classmate replied, "Pretty good, you?" That broke the ice. Then we all talked to Sam about the stuff we knew he liked. Our teacher mouthed, "Keep talking." Anything that kept Sam distracted made us feel safer.
For the next hour, we eyed Sam's gun and kept the conversation going. After the final bell rang, school officials noticed that my class was missing, and our two principals stepped into the room. But when Sam pointed his gun at them, they left fast, looking pale with fear.
More hours passed, and all we could do was keep chatting. Then Sam let a few students go to the bathroom. Of course, they never came back. As they left, I'd hear voices in the hall yell, "Hands on your head!" I felt hopeful knowing the police were outside, but the rest of us were still trapped—Sam said nobody else could leave.
Around 8 P.M., our conversation with Sam dwindled and he looked bored. Suddenly, he shot my teacher's computer. I jumped back in my chair, and within seconds, a SWAT team knocked down the door and tackled Sam. My heart was pounding with fear, but I felt relieved that someone was saving us! Just before I ran out of the room, I heard a gunshot. I thought maybe the SWAT team had shot Sam. But the next morning I found out that Sam had actually shot and killed himself.
It was devastating. We'll never know what made Sam do this. The police didn't find a suicide note, and there were no drugs or alcohol in his system. So it was—and still is—a mystery.
My classmates and I weren't the only victims. Sam was a victim, too—just in a different way. He must have been suffering inside. Of course I'm angry that he put my life at risk, but I feel sorry for him. When I get overly anxious, I can see a counselor anytime. I just wish Sam were still here, so he could also get the help he must have needed.
What happened to Kayla came out of the blue, but sometimes there are warning signs.
If a student says, "I'll blow up this building," don't assume that he is kidding.
Speak up if a guy at school is like, "Check this out!" and points to a knife or gun in his locker.
When a classmate isn't acting like himself, don't keep it to yourself.
If you notice any of the above, tell a teacher or administrator ASAP.CHAPTER 2
My House Was Robbed—While I Was in It!
Shannon, 17, never expected her low-key school break to turn into a scene straight out of CSI.
As told to: Jessica Press
Over winter break, I couldn't wait to just sleep in all week long. But one morning of vacation, I woke up early to a friend's text message, and a few minutes later, I heard a car pull into our driveway. It just sat there with the engine running, and since I was home alone and wasn't expecting anyone, I was a little freaked out. I decided to call my boyfriend, Keith. He lives down the road, and I knew it wouldn't be a big deal for him to come by and check it out.
But as soon as I hung up with Keith, I heard the car's horn honking like crazy. Then all of a sudden I saw a big guy, more than six feet tall, run out of the car and right past my bedroom window. He started knocking on my front door—I figured he must have needed directions, like a lot of people who come to our door do. Before I could answer the door, the guy went from knocking on it to slamming his body into it, over and over! I went into major panic mode—I didn't know what this guy wanted, but without thinking, I decided to hide right there in my room. I crouched against the wall behind an oversize amusement park teddy bear Keith had won for me one summer, and covered my head with a blanket. When I heard the front door fly open, I put my head between my knees, and started praying to myself: Please don't let him hurt me.
PARALYZED WITH FEAR
I heard the intruder stomping down the hallway, opening each of the doors. When he got to my door, my body went so completely still, I could barely hear my own breath. I heard the guy open the door, then close it and move on to my parents' room. I could hear him rifling through drawers, when I suddenly heard another car pull into the driveway—Keith's truck! The robber must have heard it too, because the next thing I knew, he was opening my bedroom door again and scrambling into my closet to hide. I was freaking out—here was this crazy person hiding in the closet, which was just a foot away from where I was hiding! I was so terrified he would find me that my body froze. But after just a few seconds, the guy ran out of the closet, out of my room, and back down the hall—where my boyfriend had just come in. I heard Keith yell, "What are you doing here—you don't belong here!" Then I heard things being thrown around, and a huge thump that sounded like our Christmas tree toppling over. I was petrified thinking how he might hurt Keith, but I was too scared to leave my hiding spot. Then Keith yelled, "Shannon, call the cops!" The intruder must have thought he was just trying to scare him away. "You're not tricking me," he said. "I know no one's home." He told Keith he was going to kill him, and my mind spun out of control.
I thought about grabbing my field hockey stick and attacking him but panicked and thought that he might have a gun and shoot me. I was still crouched behind the giant teddy bear, when I heard the robber run out of the house, a car door slam, and the car drive off our lawn. "He's gone!" Keith yelled. "Help me! Help!"
I dialed 911 as I ran out to Keith. He was standing in the living room with his hands tied up with the cord from our vacuum cleaner. They were bound so tightly that they were turning blue, and blood was dripping from his mouth. I was so relieved he was alive!
About 20 minutes later, police officers, the CSI unit, and my parents showed up. The officers inspected our house for fingerprints, and Keith went to the ER. The police have suspects, and I know the guy won't come back, but I still hate being home alone. I'm paranoid about everything. But at least I now know what to do if it ever happens again: Call 911 first, before things get out of hand.
If an intruder enters your home while you're in it, do this:
1. Make yourself safe
If you can run out a door or escape through a first-floor window, do it, and head to a neighbor's house. If you can't get out without confronting the intruder, go into a room with a door and barricade it with as many objects and pieces of furniture as you can.
2. Call 911
As soon as you're at a neighbor's house or barricaded in a room, call 911; stay on the phone with the dispatcher until police arrive on the scene.
3. Turn on the lights
While you're on the phone with 911, shout from behind your door, "I'm on the phone with the police! They're coming! You better leave!" Most criminals will flee.
4. Fight only if you have to
Never, ever confront an intruder unless your life or the life of a loved one is in immediate danger. If you have to fight, fight ferociously with anything you can get your hands on, and never quit. Burglars may realize you're more of a hassle than it's worth.CHAPTER 3
I Lost My Finger from Fireworks!
A Fourth of July injury may seem like an urban legend. But for Roisin, 18, it was 100 percent real.
As told to: Jessica Blatt
On July 4 last year, my friends and I met up at a huge park in San Francisco that had a great view of the fireworks.
Even before the show started, people were setting off firecrackers. My friends and I were sitting on a hill to stay away from the chaos, talking about how uncomfortable the night was: It sounded like bombs were going off—like a war zone. It was annoying, but we stayed, hoping things would get better.
SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM
Then at around 10 P.M., I suddenly looked down and saw a cluster of pink sparks less than a foot away from me. Within a second, my brain realized I had to get away from whatever it was. I lunged up, and as I started to yell, I heard an explosion—BRRRRR, it rang. Then everything fell dead silent.
With smoke all around me, I went to grab my purse, but I couldn't control my right hand! I panicked—my first thought was that I'd broken a bone. I'm a drummer in a band called Tinkture, and I need my hands. I looked down and it was like a gory horror movie: My hand was bloody and torn apart, and my index finger was dangling off. I could see my bones!
A crowd formed, and eventually an ambulance arrived. By the time I got to the hospital, I'd been given a code name: Alpha Trauma, meaning I was the most injured patient on July 4.
The next few weeks were surreal: The doctors told me I might never again use my hand. They amputated my index finger, salvaging any skin and tendons they could. In the meantime, cops investigated the accident. It turns out what hit me was a firecracker wrapped in metal—so it was technically a bomb. People came forward with rumors and even videos, showing the device's arc. But the police never figured out who did it, or whether they'd been aiming for me.
While all of that stuff was going on, something amazing happened at the hospital: I had nonstop visitors and got letters from musicians and Tinkture fans who told me I would drum again. All that support made me determined to do it.
After three weeks in the hospital, I started drumming by duct-taping a drumstick and foam to my hand. Five months later, Tinkture went on tour and was just as good—if not even better—than we'd been before.
I hadn't expected the Fourth to turn out the way it did. But the experience showed me to listen when my instincts tell me something is off. My gut didn't tell me to leave, but it did tell me to be on guard. And who knows how much worse things may have turned out if I hadn't listened to that?
All Fired Up
Stay safe this July 4 with these backyard fireworks safety tips!
Always have water (a bucket or hose) nearby.
9,200 fireworks injuries occur every year in the US
Don't combine or alter fireworks; use them only according to their directions.
Set fireworks outdoors only. Never relight a "dud" firework.CHAPTER 4
My Scalp Was Ripped Off in a Freak Accident!
Alaine, 18, spent years growing her waist-length hair. Then in one terrifying moment, it was gone.
As told by: Whitney Joiner
As a little girl, I loved long hair, so I decided to grow mine as long as I could. By the time I was 13, it was down to my waist. Wherever I went, people complimented me, which always made me feel pretty.
When I was 17, all that changed. Last summer I was visiting my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Burnett, Washington, six hours from where I live in Lewiston, Idaho. We'd just finished breakfast when my 14-year-old cousin, Jonathan, said excitedly, "Hey, Alaine, let's race our four-wheeler against the go-cart!" I had driven a four-wheeler all-terrain vehicle (ATV) before, but I'd been on the go-cart only once or twice. "Cool!" I said, psyched. "I'll take the go-cart." Then Jonathan took off ahead of me on the four-wheeler to try to find a spot where we could race. I pulled my hair into a ponytail, strapped on a helmet, and hopped on the go-cart.
After just a few minutes, we were racing at about 35 miles an hour. As I tried to catch up to Jonathan, I felt a hair pulling at the back of my ponytail. Hoping to loosen it, I started to scoot up in the seat. But it didn't come loose—my hair was caught in the driveshaft of the go-cart! I suddenly felt something warm dripping down my cheek. It was blood! What happened?! I wondered. I didn't feel much pain, but I was scared. I started screaming—my heart was pounding so loud I could hear it. I jumped out of the go-cart and jerked off my helmet as more blood streamed down my face. "Jonathan!" I yelled in his direction. "Go get your mom!" I ran the length of two football fields back to the house, shielding my eyes from the blood with my hands. When I got to the driveway, I glanced down and saw my shadow—my ponytail was gone! Where's my hair?! I thought. I reached up to my head and felt blood—and bone. Oh, my God! Is that my skull?! I wondered. "What's wrong with me?" I cried as my aunt raced up to me. "Am I going to die?" I screamed. She was clearly upset—but she tried to stay calm. "You'll be okay," she said, leading me to the front porch. "Sit down. We need to stop the bleeding." While my cousin Meg, 17, called 911, my aunt ran inside and came back with some damp towels. "Lie down," she instructed, laying the towels on the porch. As I lowered my head, the excruciating pain hit me like a freight train. I know it sounds strange, but I didn't panic or even cry the whole time; I was really calm. I could see Meg out of the corner of my eye, still on the phone, looking like she was going to burst into tears. "Tell them to hurry!" I yelled. "They're coming," my aunt reassured me.
It was only 15 minutes before I heard the sirens, but the pain made it feel like an eternity. The ambulance roared up, and five people jumped out. A woman ran over to me and quickly wrapped my head in gauze. I shouted, "Somebody go get my hair! It's stuck in the go-cart!" The EMS loaded me onto a stretcher. I was hooked up to an IV of painkillers, and the horrible ache began to dull.
Forty-five minutes later, we pulled up to the hospital, and the paramedics rushed me into the ER. In the ICU, a doctor approached me. "Your scalp was recovered at the accident," he said. "We're going to try to put it back on." Thank God, I thought, feeling relieved. One of the paramedics had found it and put it in a container with ice.
When I woke up four hours later, a nurse was in my room. She told me that the doctor was able to reattach only 40 percent of my scalp. "But don't worry," she added. "We're going to fix your scalp." I was so glad just to be alive. I wasn't worried about my hair—I just thought it would grow back.
Excerpted from Terrifying True Teen Stories by Hearst Communications. Copyright © 2012 Hearst Communications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Hearst Communications, Inc..
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