Their senior year, Eric and Dylan went for some pretty cerebral subjects: psychology, creative writing.
One theme dominated Eric’s homework assignments. Guns.
As part of Eric’s government and economics class, students marketed a product and made a video of it.
"His product was the Trench Coat Mafia Protection Service," classmate Matt Cornwell said.
"Dylan was not in the class, but he was in the video. If you paid $5 they would beat someone up for you. If you paid them $10, they would shoot somebody for you."
Eric’s video stood out, Matt said.
"There were some pretty crazy products. Some people did Hit Man For Hire. Most of them were funny. This wasn’t funny at all. After it was over, everybody was like, ‘Whoa, that was weird."’
Matt and Dylan were in composition class, but they only talked once.
"That’s because he wore this Soviet pin on his boot," Matt said. "One of the last days I was like, ‘Why do you wear that pin on your boot?’ And he was like, ‘Just to get a reaction out of people."’
Brooks Brown found himself in two classes with Eric in their last semester.
The two hadn’t talked in more than a year. They decided to patch things up, mostly for Dylan’s sake. That way, Eric could go along if Brooks invited Dylan for a smoke. Dylan wouldn’t feel torn between his two friends.
Brooks shook his family up one night when he announced at the dinner table that he and Eric were friends again. Judy Brown looked at her son in disbelief.
"He said, ‘He’s changed,"’ she recalled. "I said, ‘Stay away from him. It’s a trick."’
Brooks didn’t believe her. In their creative writing class, he even volunteered to read Eric’s essay describing a childhood memory.
Eric wrote about playing war with his brother Kevin, two little boys using the forest as their battlefield and pine cones as their grenades.
"It was real good," classmate Domonic Duran said.
Students were asked to describe themselves as an inanimate object. Eric chose a shotgun and a shell.
Brooks doubts Eric took the assignment seriously. Although some students in the class adored the teacher, Judy Kelly, they said Eric clearly felt superior to her.
Dylan also chose violent themes, and once wrote about a killing.
Kelly was concerned enough about Eric and Dylan’s papers to talk to their parents at parent-teacher conferences in March.
Wayne Harris had justified his son’s fascination with weapons by saying he had been in the military and Eric hoped to join the Marines.
But then there was the dream.
To psychology teacher Tom Johnson, Eric’s dream wasn’t much weirder than a lot of others that landed on his desk.
It was February. Eric and Dylan were in the class together fifth period, after lunch. They would show up early, sit side-by-side and talk openly with other kids in the small, friendly class.
Dream analysis was optional. Students would type up a recent dream and hand it in. No names, no grades.
But the class figured out which one was Eric’s because it had so many references to “me and Dylan.”
"It occurred in a mall and the boys were being put upon by someone, and they retaliated," Johnson said.
Guns were involved, and the dream was somewhat violent. But at the time it seemed fairly normal in the surrealistic dream world.
"Whenever there are guns involved, there’s anger. But it didn’t strike me as being particularly obsessive or compulsive," Johnson said. "You do 100 dreams a day and many of them are in the same ilk."
Johnson had taught Eric freshman government and economics. To him, Eric wasn’t much different his senior year, just more gothic, shorter hair and darker clothes. Eric was still motivated and worried about grades. He had a 99 percent.
Dylan, well, he’d missed a test and hadn’t made it up. Johnson couldn’t remember Dylan’s exact grade average, but knew it was lacking.