I made it to the swimming pool when the guns went off.

There should be a bit here by way of introduction: I swim regularly as a means of coping with spending a year more in college than I need. My first time using the pool was this summer when I was sick of staring at the HVAC-free dorm ceiling or staring at Thai underwater basket-weaving forums and decided my hatred of chlorine was worth getting over for some heat relief. I went daily after that.

Here, all recreational facilities, stadiums, what have you are in one giant complex interlinked by arteries and veins packed with human cholesterol on its way to the latest basketball, football, or hockey games. All paths for me to get from any entrance to the pool result in me going past at least one stadium packed with fans who can only dream of replicating the bodily feats of their favourite athletes. Typically, I jog past the basketball court and down a couple flights of stairs into the locker room, where I rinse and change into my suit. No one uses these halls since they get so close to the administrative offices where sports management Ph.Ds get wedged in to acquire gym locker rot; I can make it across the complex five minutes quicker this way and the only risk of social interaction is with the janitorial staff.

That night was a men’s home game against the private college counterpart on the other side of town. In a sports centre that leaves bare concrete open whenever possible as a Boomer-Brutalist art statement, the chanting of crowds and cacophony of band instruments soaks every spare inch with the roar of the human wave in an ocean of fans. You really get into an interesting state of mind moving around as a noncombatant and listening to that noise, or at least I tended to. Maybe I can pin my actions or lack thereof on that mindset.

A young man, probably close to my age, shorter than me but built better, was striding down one of the cross corridors just before I reached it. This is normal; most men here lift, so their physique stands out more than my water-cut body. An AR-15 in his hands and slung on a single-point strap over a chest rig and a surplus army jacket with a pistol on his hip; this is not normal. He never saw me and probably didn’t hear my tennis shoes, so I carried on shell-shocked. At this point, you might be asking—hell, I know you probably are asking—why I didn’t do anything, and I’ll just ask you in return whether you’d rush someone who’s armed and looks to know what they’re doing. Whatever you may think, the best option I had was to go shower, do my nightly mile, and pray he was just headed off to a costume party.

So, I made it to the swimming pool when the guns went off.

Yes, I know the shooter only could really use the AR or the pistol at once, and he was by all accounts a lone gunman, and statistically it’s unlikely anyone in that crowd was carrying, but doesn’t it seem a little more artistic when I say “guns,” plural? Like I’m an investigative journalist, world-renowned for getting myself out of sticky situations in pursuit of the Truth or the Scoop to bring back and lay before you in your be-slippered, sofa-sitting self in newsprint.

Anyway, when gunpowder flings lead down steel pipes, you know it, and I could hear it even with a couple tons of concrete in the way. Let’s run the numbers: our nearest police station is the big downtown one a mile away and the public safety officers on campus don’t pack anything hotter than a Taser. Wanna wait for them to show up and lock down the scene when that chest rig had at least a good ten mags? Bet your ass I ran for the door, and I didn’t stop until I was in my car and a good distance off.

I don’t remember seeing any bodies, but Brutalist concrete doesn’t look as bad when it’s blood-soaked.