POLITICS

In Centre Block, I Heard Shots Down The Hall. Now I'm Locked In

10/22/2014 02:58 EDT | Updated 10/22/2014 03:59 EDT

The following is a first-person account from a government employee who was under lockdown at the time of the shooting. The author has requested we withhold his last name and party affiliation.

I work on the fifth floor of Centre Block, a few flights from where shots were fired this morning.

These marble hallways echo whispers from across the building on normal days, and listening to the shouts that followed the first shots was like opening your door into a wind turbine. I locked the doors and sat back at my desk, hitting the refresh button on Twitter for a few moments, taking stock of the situation, nipping at a morning coffee.

My cellphone rang, it was a radio reporter in Vancouver looking to talk to my boss about the situation unfolding on the hill, and before I knew what was happening she was rolling tape and interviewing me and as I panned through tweets of the terror happening outside my door and down the stairs, and from the alarm in the reporter's voice, I found myself wondering in a sort of hysteric moment, "am I reading my last words into her tape recorder right now?"

I hung up and felt my heart sink and fill with self-loathing for answering the call. My boss is downstairs, holed up in caucus. My co-worker is in the parking lot, wondering what the fuck is happening.

Boots and shouts echo down the hallway. A cascade of text messages from family and friends arrive. I feel unusually rational and agnostic about the situation, conscious that whatever I think I understand of the situation right now is going to be obsolete in a few moments; and under the circumstances, can't tell whether I'm in a state of profound calm or terror. The fact I'm unsure which moments are which kinda pisses me off.

It's almost 2 p.m. and I'm still waiting in my office for someone to come by. House of Commons sent out an e-mail saying security has keys to all of our offices and we shouldn't open the door for anyone, but every now and then I heard an office door and windows being busted in down the hall by battering rams.

With an inward facing office window, I've been turned away from the day's events and I'm not excited to see what is outside my office door in the halls, on the walk-up to the hill, on the streets. It's sort of crushing to know you'll eventually walk out to see your hometown reshaped and wounded. But I'm ready to go home, hug my friends, and keep on loving this city.

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