When Isobel Bowdery chose to wear a white top to the Eagles of Death Metal concert in Paris on Friday evening, she had no idea that the top would become a symbol of the latest terror attack by Islamic State (Isis). As the 22-year-old watched the US band playing to the packed Bataclan theatre, gunmen wearing suicide belts entered the concert hall and began shooting into the crowd. Three blew themselves up, killing more innocents, and one was shot as police stormed the Paris venue.
Bowdery, a Cape Town University graduate, survived the massacre in the concert hall by playing dead on the blood-stained floor while terrorists circled "like vultures". Isobel posted a photo of her blood-stained white shirt on Facebook, with a statement describing the horrific ordeal.
She begins by describing the "happy" atmosphere in the Bataclan theatre, and how when the men burst through the doors of the venue and began opening fire, "we naively believed it was all part of the show". However, it quickly dawned that the men who had entered the concert hall were intent on harming the spectators.
Isobel said: "Dozens of people were shot right in front of me. Pools of blood filled the floor. Cries of grown men who held their girlfriends' dead bodies pierced the small music venue. Futures demolished, families heartbroken. In an instant."
While the gory scenes of people dying and the "images of those men circling [her] like vultures" will haunt Isobel for the rest of her life, she preferred to write about the "heroes" from that night.
To the man who reassured me and put his life on line to try and cover my brain whilst I whimpered, to the couple whose last words of love kept me believing the good in the world, to the police who succeeded in rescuing hundreds of people, to the complete strangers who picked me up from the road and consoled me during the 45 minutes I truly believed the boy I loved was dead, to the injured man who I had mistaken for him and then on my recognition that he was not Amaury, held me and told me everything was going to be fine despite being all alone and scared himself, to the woman who opened her doors to the survivors, to the friend who offered me shelter and went out to buy new clothes so I wouldn't have to wear this blood-stained top, to all of you who have sent caring messages of support – you make me believe this world has the potential to be better. To never let this happen again.
The former Cape Town University student also voiced her support to the families and loved ones of those people that were killed on Friday. As she lied on the floor, covered in the dead bodies of other people, waiting for her turn to be shot, she decided to reflect on the things which were most important to her – her loved ones.
Truly believing that I would join them, I promise that their last thoughts were not on the animals who caused all this. It was thinking of the people they loved. As I lay down in the blood of strangers and waiting for my bullet to end my mere 22 years, I envisioned every face that I have ever loved and whispered I love you. Over and over again. Reflecting on the highlights of my life. Wishing that those I love knew just how much, wishing that they knew that no matter what happened to me, to keep believing in the good in people. To not let those men win.
You can read Isobel's post in full here:
Isobel's post has gone viral over social media, and the message has been liked over 1.8 million times. She has received thousands of supportive messages from people all across the world.
Facebook user Malindi Bryce said: "Beautiful words and thoughts, your pain is mine and all of ours."
Another user called Muhammad Chohan wrote: "May the light of love of the civilised world brighten up this dark time. May u soldier through this with the same courage you did through this dark time. We have a great deal to learn from u Isobel."