The weight of the gun pulled on Veronica's trembling hands,
getting heavier by the nanosecond. She tried to look strong,
to not show the fear that coiled deep within the sinews of
her muscles but the tremor in her voice was a dead give away:
"Let's start by putting the bomb down on the ground."
It sounded good.
J.D. raised his eyebrows the way he always raised his eyebrows,
mockingly, knowingly, menacingly. He kicked at the bag that was
already lying near his feet. The bomb was on the ground.
Veronica glanced down nervously.
"I knew that!" she yelped,
"I knew that . . . okay, now put your hands on your head."
J.D. squinted his narrow, black eyes. Veronica knew he could
see right through her, intelligent, psychotic bastard that he was.
"You didn't say Simon says," he purred, the blue light of the
high school boiler room melting over the pallor of his wicked face.
Veronica gaped at him, she had the gun; but he wasn't listening
to a goddamn thing she said! If anything, he looked mildly
amused at the attempt she was making to stop him.
Veronica's mind raced. Maybe she should just shoot him now?
But she didn't want to kill anymore-the plan was to bring
J.D. in to the proper authorities. Unfortunately he'd
probably blow himself up before he'd let that happen.
It was obvious to J.D. that Veronica had not planned anything
farther than the wonderful display she was putting on for
him at this very moment, so he decided to take over.
He lunged at her suddenly--knocking the gun from her
hands with ease-it clattered loudly to the concrete.
Panic took hold of Veronica as J.D. grabbed her face
harshly between his hands, and held her there for a
moment, as if deciding what to do with her. Veronica's
breath came hard, rasping from her throat. For a split
second she thought he was going to kill her. J.D. had
no remorse. He was ready to blow the school up with
everyone in it; there was no reason to spare her life
at this point in time. Besides, she had broken up with
him a few days earlier, he was bitter.
Veronica's heart pounded in her chest, and then J.D.
yanked her face downward, slamming her forehead into
his knee and throwing her back against the wall. Her
head crashed into the concrete and she collapsed to the
floor. Everything spun before her closed eyes; it
seemed as if her brain was about to explode. She heard
J.D. walk further into the boiler room, gun and bomb in
hand, but Veronica just couldn't bring herself to move.
The incessant stomping of feet above her head was probably
the only thing that kept her conscious. She thought of
the 250 students holding the pep-assembly directly above
where J.D. was planting the bomb. She couldn't let him kill
Slowly Veronica dragged herself to her feet. Her vision
blurred, and she could feel the warm, red wetness of blood
trickling down her cheek. Quietly she unhitched the fire
extinguisher from the wall and began to creep up on her
psychotic ex-boyfriend. J.D. was crouched down by the boiler.
He had already taped the lethal box to a metal pipe and was
in the midst of setting it. Veronica stifled her breathing
as she saw the timer begin its countdown: one minute, forty-
three seconds. There was no time. She had to stop him now
or they were all going to die.
With as much strength as she could muster she swung the
extinguisher at J.D. He heard her at the last second and
whirled around. The heavy, metal cylinder caught him in the
shoulder blade, knocking him to the ground. The gun went
skittering across the floor. Scrambling for it, her head
still dizzy with pain, Veronica lost her balance and stumbled.
J.D. caught her as she tried to regain her footing and tackled
her to the ground. Veronica cried out, trying to fight him,
but he was too strong. He grabbed her roughly by the shoulders
and yanked her to her feet, slamming her already-sore back
against the hulking boiler. For a brief moment Veronica froze
as her gaze met his. His black eyes sparked at her and then
his mouth closed over hers impulsively. Veronica struggled
fiercely against him, but he only fought her harder. She
heard fabric ripping. Once upon a time she had enjoyed his
kiss; he was too cool, too sexy to refuse; but that, she
realized, was all a lie. J.D. was sick; he was a murderer,
he was the goddamn Devil in disguise who, with only the
arch of an eyebrow, lured her into bed and then into
Veronica brought her knee up hard into his groin.
J.D. stumbled back sharply, doubling over in pain.
Something had finally worked on him. Veronica made a mad
dash for the gun that was lying next to the wall.
She seized it, and just as she did, J.D. threw himself into
the aisle next to the boiler. As he did so, he purposely
crashed into a stack of empty tar cans, sending the large,
metal barrels flying in Veronica's direction. She shielded
herself as a can grazed her shoulder. The noise was deafening,
but no one in the gym above could hear one decibel of
what was going on below.
Veronica made it to her feet, the gun just barely steady in her
hand. Suddenly everything was frighteningly quiet.
Where was J.D.? It was almost like he had vanished.
Veronica stole a quick, nervous glance at the bomb as she passed,
she had less than a minute. Her heart thudded painfully against
her chest. Where the hell was he?!? She checked slowly down all
three aisles, keeping the gun aimed in front of her. She had to be
cautious even now, otherwise it could all blow up in her face.
J.D. was nowhere. The panic had already set in. If she didn't
get him to stop the bomb now, everyone was going to die, she
and J.D. included. Veronica doubled back approaching the bomb
that was counting away the seconds of her life. 'Shit!' she thought.
'Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!'
She aimed the gun again down the aisle with the bomb, and her heart
jumped as a dark, lurking figure emerged from the shadows unexpectedly.
J.D. looked more nervous than pissed; his plan had gone sour on him,
and it was all her fault. He pulled a switch blade. The very glint
of it was menacing and Veronica flinched even though she held the gun.
"You think just because you started this thing you can end it?!" J.D.
shouted, his raspy voice like sandpaper on her ears.
"I'll kill you, I'll fucking kill you I swear to God," she cried, feeling
the few remaining seconds pressing down upon her like the dreaded weight
of J.D.'s body.
"How do I turn off the goddamn bomb asshole?!"
Anger flashed through J.D.'s soot-smeared face. "Fuck you!!" he cried,
flipping her his middle finger.
Veronica squeezed the trigger of the gun, aiming haphazardly at his
offending hand. She had to show him she was serious-there was no
time to fuck around.
To both their surprise the bullet severed J.D.'s finger clean off.
Blood started to stream everywhere, ribboning down both of his hands
as he tried to staunch the bleeding.
"Shit!!" he cried, slumping to the floor, pain searing its way into
"It's all over J.D.--help me stop it," Veronica stated, trying to
sound somewhat in control.
J.D. ignored her. His breathing had become heavy and enriched with pain.
He pulled a rag free from the burner and swathed his blood-gushing
hand in it.
"You want to clean the slate as much as I do," he panted, trying to get
a grip on the agony that had severed his nerve endings.
"Alright, so maybe I am killing everyone in the school-cause nobody
loves me! Let's face it alright? The only place different social
types can genuinely get along with each other is in Heaven!"
Veronica shot another glance at the bomb, urgency gripping every muscle
and brain cell in her body. "Which button do I press to turn it off?!?" she
"Try the red one alright!?" J.D. retorted, getting to his knees.
Veronica cast her gaze at the little black box; all three of the buttons
"Seriously," J.D. continued, unaffected by the threat of explosion,
"People are gonna look at the ashes of Westerburg and say 'Now there's
a school that self-destructed not because society didn't care, but because
the school was society!'"
He took a moment to think this over, his eyes sparkling psychotically.
"That's pretty deep huh?"
"WHICH RED BUTTON!?!" Veronica cried.
J.D.'s eyes dimmed, something evil playing across his face.
"Press the middle one to turn it off, if that's what you really want."
Veronica glared at him. "You know what I want babe?"
"WHAT!?" J.D. barked, lunging at her with the knife.
Veronica barely had a chance to think about her reaction. She pulled the
trigger, and the gun exploded once. J.D. cried out. She couldn't really see
where the bullet had hit him, it was all happening too fast.
Still on his feet, he had lost control and plunged the switchblade directly
into the dynamite of the bomb itself. The timer started screaming a high
-pitched beeping sound, but the numbers themselves had stopped with only four
seconds remaining. In the same moment, Veronica fired again. J.D. fell back,
grappling for support of any kind. He stumbled against the boiler, but couldn't
keep himself standing. His legs gave way beneath him, and as he crumpled to the
ground he pulled some sort of lever down with him. Steam shot out everywhere
from the pipes with a deafening, snake-like hiss. Veronica watched,
the pressure on her heart releasing gradually with the steam from the boiler.
"Cool guys like you out of my life," she murmured.
The pep assembly was still going on as Veronica emerged from the hellish
depths of the boiler room alone, her hair matted, her face sooty and bleeding.
She never thought the site of her classmates could give her so much comfort.
It was uncanny, but at least they were safe-for now.
Her head was still spinning as she made her way quietly through the
hallways and out the main entrance of Westerburg High School. She started down
the red-carpeted stairs, and winced at the pain swirling around her sore body.
Thoughts of an ending to all this chaos had barely entered her head when she
heard the door open behind her.
"Color me impressed," he said.
Veronica's breath stifled in her lungs as she whirled to see J.D. slowly
making his way towards her. He looked just as bad as she did, with his
bruised face and the blood-soaked rag wrapped tightly around his 4-fingered
hand. He smirked at the sight of her horrified expression as he faced her on
the stairs. He was clutching his long, black coat around his wounded body
with his good hand, and Veronica could see he felt pain in every step.
She almost felt bad she had shot him. She had saved the school, maybe there
was still a chance for J.D.? It was a ridiculous idea, and she wondered why she
had thought it.
"You really fucked me up pretty bad, Veronica," J.D. said, his shallow
breathing spliced between his words.
"You got power, power I didn't think you had."
He almost looked humbled before her, as if she had won his respect on a
higher level. And then his devious eyes glittered knowingly, and he opened his
Veronica felt her hope sink like the Titanic. She winced deeply at the
sight of the bomb strapped to J.D.'s torso. He raised his eyebrows and smiled
"Slate is clean."
* * *
It's not over. I stood on the steps of Westerburg High watching J.D. like
some sort of Christ figure, arms outstretched, as he embarked on his final
suicide mission. The constant beeping of the bomb strapped to his chest
was like some sort of derisive hallway chatter going on behind my back;
mocking me. I thought my two-week long trip to Hell had finally ended,
that I could finally get on with my life. I have to ask if protecting
my less-than-wonderful classmates was the only way to preserve myself,
in more ways than one?
"It's funny how J.D. turned himself into some sort of martyr, dying so I
could live, so everybody in that gymnasium could live. Was that his way of
cleaning the slate? I have to wonder. He didn't commit suicide to destroy
himself, I know that much. I stared into his black eyes and he grinned at me,
ready. For what? Heaven? Hell? Would the ghosts of those we killed, of
Heather, and Kurt, and Ram claw at his demented soul in some fiery pit under the
earth? Or was J.D. ready to spread his black wings and fly? From what he said
in those last few chaotic moments, I have to question if J.D. even believed in
death? From the very beginning he used death as an instrument; killing people
was like spring cleaning to him. He had an agenda, one he never let me in on.
"Yes, I watched him die. I stood there in his ashes after he exploded and
thought I could finally proclaim my freedom. Now I'm not so sure.
As in death as he was in life, J.D. is a predator on my mind. I can't get
him out of my head. To make matters worse, I loved him once. And I keep
thinking maybe there was another ending that neither one of us took advantage
of? Was J.D. beyond saving? He must have been. Even he knew that.
"No one at Westerburg knew quite how to handle what J.D. had done. I
mean, c'mon, Heather Chandler drank liquid-drainer, Kurt and Ram shot each
other, but J.D. exploded. That's not something the school could just glaze over
with some mushy cafeteria love-in. Most people looked for someone to blame.
'A nineteen year old boy just isn't capable of doing something so horrific on
his own' Ironically, because he was dead, J.D. was no longer the Devil in
disguise, he was the innocent victim. Then again, no one knew that J.D. was
a murderer, or that he had originally intended to blow up the school instead of
himself. I haven't said a word, I'm as much a part of this as he was, it's my
ass on the line too.
"Troubled youth. It's all such bullshit. Part of me thinks J.D. was
perfectly sane in his insanity. He had everything figured out to the Nth
degree. He knew what he was doing. Of all the funerals I've been to in the
last month, J.D.'s was the worst. Father Ripper presided, as usual, and J.D.
would have delighted to hear himself eulogized as an "innocent victim of
"I can't believe how they turned this whole thing on its head! J.D.
wasn't the victim! He was the mastermind behind this whole fucking nightmare!
This is exactly what J.D. wanted, I'm sure of it. This was the proof he needed
to tell me and the rest of the world that he was right. We're all fucked up.
We're all the sick children of "a society that degrades us," of a society that
nods its head at any horror we can think to commit.
"I keep envisioning J.D. in front of me, arms stretched out in victory,
waiting for the final moment. I thought that I was the winner then, ready to
light my cigarette with his pain. His eyes sparkled, more alive in those last
45 seconds than I had ever seen them. It was almost like he had been injected
with some divine sort of knowledge. I half expect him to pop up in the middle
of history class one day and tell me about it." --Veronica Sawyer