Picture the hallway at 7:00 a.m. Freeze the frame.
Just then, CNN is not endlessly looping aerial footage of Franklin Regional High and Anderson Cooper is not tweeting about heroes. Comment sections on news websites are not batting around a grief-stricken community in another predictable round of vitriol-laced invective.
There is no blood on the floor.
Instead, students are at their lockers, chatting with teachers and friends, checking on prom tickets, filing in from buses and cars before the 7:22 bell.
Twenty-one of them will be cut or stabbed by 16-year-old Alex Hribal over the next 10 minutes in a vicious assault that has thus far, and maybe forever, left police, lawyers and parents baffled. Four remained in critical condition Saturday night.
Some are athletes, looking to lace up skates, take to the rugby pitch or snap on a lacrosse helmet at the end of the day. One will become an instant social media celebrity as a result of a smiling selfie in his hospital gown.
A 17-year-old junior with a smile that brought a rehearsal of "Guys and Dolls" to a halt will have a knife tear through her mouth and cheek. And as blood from her wounded hand drips on the floor, a dazed senior honors student will apologize to cafeteria workers about the mess.
The Post-Gazette reached out to as many of the injured students and their families as the paper could identify in an effort to tell the story of who they were on the morning of April 9, when a few minutes of terror transformed their familiar high school corridors into the setting for a real-time national drama.
Robert Zullo: email@example.com or 412-263-3909. Twitter: @rczullo.