Slight of build and short of stature, Cara had been picked on for as long as she could remember. She’d kept the resulting anger bottled up inside, the pressure building, for years. Yesterday’s incident in the 11th grade hallway where Shawna intentionally pushed her into an open locker door, splitting her lip, was simply the final straw.

Cara’s mother kept her firearms in a safe with an electronic lock. Cara had discovered the code for the lock while rummaging through her mother’s sock drawer weeks ago.

The 9mm pistol inside the safe was a “smart gun.” It only worked if the user’s thumb-print matched a list of authorized users. Luckily, her mother had made her an authorized user when they were at the range last summer. Cara picked up the gun, checked to verify that a round was chambered and that the magazine was loaded before putting it in a holster that she slipped into the front of her pants. She loaded the two spare magazines for the pistol—in her state, you could only have seven rounds in each magazine—and dumped them in her book bag. Her mother’s other handgun, a .40-caliber pistol, had an RFID-activated chip in it just like the local police used, and required the use of a watch with an embedded code. It also required that a four-digit code be punched in immediately before use. Fortunately for Cara, her mother had written down that code on the same piece of paper that held the code for the lock. Cara carefully printed the four-digit code on her right wrist, put on the watch, and covered both with her jacket sleeve before slipping the gun into her jacket pocket. Five spare magazines went into her other jacket pocket. She looked at the clock on the wall. It was time for school.

* * *

Danielle Landry had been a school resource officer at Carver High for three years, and knew most of the students, faculty, and staff… at least as well as one can in a high school a student body of 900 kids.