Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Terror Inside

Tuesday morning. Oh, that dreaded Tuesday morning. So many things I could have changed about that day, like if I could do it all over again, maybe I wouldn't have gone to work.

But let's start from the top. Let's start at 8:30 AM, when today was like any other.

I was sitting at my desk in my office on the 105th floor of the South Tower with an energy bar and coffee in hand at the World Trade Center. I had been lucky to score a job like this, but then again, it was just family genetics. My father was working at the Pentagon in DC today, my mother had a job here twenty stories down, my little brother was at basic training for the Air Force in San Antonio, and my older sister was flying to DC to visit my dad. The government was the family business. The government was what connected us, but little did I know that after today, it would be what destroyed us.

I was terribly exhausted. Today had been an early start, and I was feeling very moody because it was just that time of the month when I didn't want to be bothered by anyone. I didn't expect to be bothered by airplanes, building collapses, or painful flames. I only expected to be bothered by Russell, a guy that had an annoying crush on me who always tried to flirt with me. I already had it planned how I would slam down every comment Russell made, but the one thing I wasn't prepared for was the one thing that really happened.

You may ask, what was I doing when such a tragedy happened? I would tell you that I was doing what anyone else would do sitting at their desk--- working, or pretending to work, anyway. Just doing whatever. And then it happened.

8:46 AM. Suddenly, all sound ceased and the room fell silent. "Did you hear that?" I managed to say in a whisper that haunts me. The silence still remained. I heard something like a 'boom' or 'bang'. No, maybe not even that. It was something so electric I couldn't even describe it. I ran to the nearest window and there it was, all playing in front of me like a movie in 3D. "Oh my gosh, no. Oh, no. No. It can't be--- oh dear Jesus--- no..." I was panicking and could feel my oxygen level fix itself at zero. "Calm down, Amelia. It will be alright," soothed Haylee, who was in my cubicle. "Don't panic."

Even hearing Haylee's words, tears flowed down my cheeks like rivers. All of us were in shock, and it took minutes for sobs to come out. I wasn't crying because of me this time. It was because lives were at stake. Because lives were already gone. We ran into the hallway to find nearly every person on our level, shaking in fear. "We need to act now," I could hear someone say. "What if a plane strikes this tower, also?" Someone choked through tears and I freaked out. I didn't see a plane, but that must have been what happened. "I am not ready to die," Someone whispered in a way that sent chills through my spine. I wasn't ready to die, either, nor did I want to.

In shock, fifteen minutes passed and I was still standing in the hallway, not knowing what to do. To escape or not to escape. To live or to die. I sat there, sobbing, taking in the possible last minutes of my life. I opened my flip-phone and dialed home.

"Hello?" My husband Greg's voice answered on the other end. "Hi... it's... Amy," I said through tears. I could hear his laugh on the other end, comforting me with every giggle. "Amy, I thank God you're okay. I was afraid a plane would strike your tower, too."
      "Yeah. I'm alright for now, at least."
      "Have you tried escaping? No, did you escape already? Are you somewhere safe? Are you---"
      "I'm still on the 105th floor."
      "105??? Amelia, have you lost your mind? You will be killed up there--- what if the impossible happens?"
      "The impossible?"
      "Like, another plane could..." His voice drifted, showing me how the sentence had to end.
      "I know. I know what can happen, but... I just..." Here we go again, this time my voice was drifting.
      "You just what? What? What, honey?"
      "I love you."
      "Amy, no. This is not a goodbye call. Please tell me it isn't. You can still escape. But you have to run, you have to run now. No planes have hit your tower yet, you still have a chance at life. You have to evacuate. Now."

Then it happened. 9:03 AM. I felt a rumbling in the ground that told me that the impossible had happened. I heard Greg scream higher and louder than ever before and knew that he had felt my pain. "Amy? Amy, are you there? Please tell me you're there. Oh go---"
     "I'm here."
     "Oh, thank heavens. Do you realize what just--- how--- how are you alive?"
     "I don't know.... it's a miracle."
     "Why didn't you go downstairs? Now, there's no escaping. Now, there's---"
     "Why are you yelling?"
     "Why didn't you listen? I'm not yelling, I'm saying you should have listened. If you had only done what I'd said, you might be safe. If you had done what I said---"
     "I would have died!" I yelled. "I'm gonna die anyway, we both know that."
     "Don't say my name again! I love you, Greg, I really do. But sometimes, all you can do is pray and hope that things will work out. Sadly, I know what will happen to me. My fate is already planned---"
     "My destiny all comes down to this. All I can say is to live your life like it's ending. Because mine is. You don't know the time or the hour."
     "There's still hope."
     "No there isn't!" I snapped. "No. I can't do anything about it."
     "Amelia Renee. I love you and always will, but you can't just assume your life is over."
     "But I can. And it is. I am sorry, Greg, I... I just called to say I love you."

I hung up the phone. I paced the room crying, not knowing what to do. There were, surprisingly, several other people still up there, and I felt like an idiot doing nothing but hope and pray my life would be saved. Looking out the window, I could see people jumping out of the North Tower, rather than facing the terror inside. Several phone calls ended in more tears. "The Pentagon was struck," I heard the rumor make its way across the room. I fell to my knees in tears. "Dad," I managed to whine. And then I remembered who was twenty levels below. "Mom."

9-1-1 calls took up several minutes of time. In hope of being saved, spirits were lifted as we saw a helicopter, but then the sad news came: They couldn't save anyone above the fire. We were condemned to death. People began jumping out of our tower, and I couldn't look at the terror inside coming out. I was going to die, whether I could admit it or not. Death was the word I was most afraid of, and today I had to face it.

"Dear Jesus, I know I'm going to die today and I know that I haven't been that great... You know what, I wonder if you're even listening. But if you are, I just want to say, I'm sorry. I..."

Then, I began falling. The building was collapsing. "God, save me, no---"

And my world went black.
In honor of:

Glen Wall
Kevin Cosgrove

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments appreciated, keep them appropriate, however. Remember, this blog's audience is ages 12+, so be aware of who might be reading.