At this point, more of the hostages were sleeping. I felt that a lot of them had come to terms with their imminent deaths, though I myself was not quite ready to give up. I wiped my clammy palms on my pant legs and stood up. A Chechen swiftly stepped in front of me, making sure to emphasize the firearm he was carrying. I pointed to the restroom, and he nodded. I was accompanied the entire way there and back. It became clear that any notion of fleeing would be greeted with a bullet in my back.
When I returned, a woman was clutching her side as a man, presumably her husband, and a young girl, her daughter, were leaning over her and stopping the blood with a grey sweater.
“We’ll call an ambulance. It’ll be okay,” Barayev commented, but made no move to aid the family.
“Oh, leave them. Let them die here,” another Chechen said.
Eventually they did call an ambulance. They claimed that the shooting was accidental. I was skeptical, of course, but I didn’t voice my opinion. The thought of being shot brought back images of that brave woman who entered the theatre the first night. That brave woman who was taken through the side doors and shot five times. I don’t know how long it took, but eventually I managed to doze off in my seat. The vivid images of that woman’s face kept replaying a haunting slideshow in my mind. It was only after I fell asleep that I finally found some semblance of peace.
I woke up and saw a grey mist coming down from the ceiling. There was a hissing sound and a curious, acrid smell. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of the Chechen women sliding down the walls and lying unconscious on the floor. I remember the feeling when the gas hit me. It was like nothing mattered anymore. A nice feeling, like being drugged. All blurred… I stopped worrying about the Chechens. I no longer cared what happened next.