Grubbs wasn’t the first to use an EMP, but he was the first to use a plasma cannon. After the EMP left a tickle like dead fingers, Grubbs opened a static resistant bag and unloaded an array of metal bits. These fit together into a cannon in less than twenty seconds, hence their Amazon description as “quick, easy, you won’t need instructions.”
As soon as the cannon was mounted, Grubbs opened fire, the stone face of the high school exploding in hot blue flashes. A symphony of bolts fired from drones hanging above his shoulders; even more terrible were the neuro-frags planted in the gym and cafeteria, their bursts releasing psychic shards that slipped through stone and metal and split apart the thoughts of survivors. Seconds later, the only living soul within a mile was Jain Grubbs.
Yes, Americans still avoided metric in 2068.
This was the sixth school shooting that day; the third highest casualty count that week. The rates had long surpassed fragments of populations. Now death tolls were determined by school size minus absentees. On Monday, Jorge R. R. Tarkin had 4,434 students and 162 professional educators in the building. By the weekend, there were almost that many funerals. Those rituals of safety, like turning off the lights and moving away from the door, were as effective as duck and cover before a mushroom cloud.
Grubbs set up a heat line across the freeway, an invisible beam that turned cars into silver splatter. (Heat lines, because they had a trigger, were protected under the 2nd Amendment.) Grubbs finished his spree by launching mini-nukes into the suburbs while his drones battled an armada of police-pods. When sky personnel failed, the U.S. Military resorted to releasing a three-foot rod from space. The rod fell through Grubbs’s body and fifty feet into the ground. When his exosuit kept dead fingers firing off nukes, they dropped fourteen more until the corpse was pulled pork.
That weekend also saw the Green Ribbon Gun Show, which decided to stay open despite the tragedy (a corporate decision). The news interviewed salesmen about their weapons, making sure to linger holo-cams on tables lacquered with gleaming rifles. One man, wearing a red hat with white text reading The Trumps Will Rise Again, was mightily upset at the suggestion of closing the show.
“This isn’t a gun issue,” the man raged to the cameras. “It’s not a gun-drone issue. It’s not about nuke pistols or heat rays. It’s a mental health issue. It’s a family issue. It’s about how we raise our kids.”
Five feet away, two boys stared at a drone, six barrels glinting in the sun, as it zoomed back and forth, back and forth over the lawn.