"Your attention, please, ladies and gentlemen. Building 2 is secure. There is no need to evacuate Building 2. If you are in the midst of evacuation, you may use the re-entry doors and the elevators to return to your office. Repeat, Building 2 is secure."
A robotic-like female voice says this over the buildings PA. A thick silence fills the air, as the workers comprehend the words. Most people just stand. The rest nervously walk back to their offices or hoard into an elevator.
Dave stands there. The bulk of our coworkers head back. I wait for my friend.
"Should we listen to them John?" The lobby on the 80th floor was quickly filing out. With a heavy sigh, I reply,
"They know better than us what's going on."
He turns and stares at me for some time. I can see the fight to do the right thing dancing beneath his look.
"Let's head back then."
Almost no one is in the lobby. Good amounts of people have taken the elevators to the main lobby, convinced there is danger. I relax also, even if it's a little bit. I look at my watch; 9:00.
The two of us were stepping into the bright office when another announcement broke through the PA. A male voice now spoke.
"May I have your attention please? Repeating this message: A situation occurred in Building 1. If the conditions warrant your floor, you may wish to start an orderly evacuation."
"You're kidding me." Dave says in frustration.
It is like déjà vu. Everyone still in the building is now evacuating and screaming and panicking ten times worst than before. Dave and I manage to make it to the doorway of our office when it happened.
"Oh my God."
Time slowed down. Minutes turned into hours, and seconds into minutes. It was too much to bear. Above my head the sound of a loud motor increases until I have to cover my ears against the sound. Then it makes contact.
For a moment I thought I was dead. The chaos was too much.
The ripping of the steel and metal and the screeching of the jet overloads my senses as it collides with the metal around it. Its like the plane dissipates into the building. The sound is so loud I wish I were deaf. Then I realize that is a very real possibility. I'm sure I would have heard the screams of the dying if it wasn't for the rest of the chaotic strain. I can imagine the right wing of the plane being just a story above me. In fact, that is what I see above me, as the ceiling collapses.
Dave shoves me into the hallway as the plaster above us collapses in a fiery ball. The world now seems like it is smoke and fire. I grab Dave's ankle and someone, mine, and we crawl to where we think is the opposite way of destruction. I cannot see in front of me. There is nothing to see. It is nothing but black emptiness and debris. A thick, gray fog blinds us. I can feel the dust settle on my shoulders as we crawl away from the initial explosion. We head away from the scorching heat and go towards a less heated refuge. Every now and again a five-foot pillar of fire rises out of the hallway or a side room. I can feel the beads of sweat forming and falling from my forehead. I cover my mouth and nose to help me breath better in the smoke. I wish to take off my jacket but I am scared to, with the fear of the fire spreading to my body faster. I had already felt the burn of it on my knee where I had set it down into the burning embers of the carpet and it is still smoldering. Drops of water fall upon me, but I realize it isn't water; its jet fuel. I am soon soaked in the stuff and hacking from the smell.
I can now hear the screams of the hurt, the panicked, and the dying. I try to block them from my head. It doesn't work. A man stumbles out of a room into the hallway devoured in flames. He collapses behind us.
It feels like we have been going on for hours. In the beginning of the journey, I felt scared and unsure of what is going to happen. But now, it is replaced with a grim determination, built from the unordered situation of the attack. We finally make it to a very small corner office where we could at least catch our breath.
The smoke in the room was not at all as bad as the previous rooms. The person that was following Dave and I turned out to be Jackie, a young Asian intern from the company we work at. She looked like she had just seen a ghost. Her hair was singed at the ends and her pantsuit was smoldering. Her eyes were wide and wild with fear and adrenalin. I realized I probably look just as bad. I turn and see that Dave is in the same boat. He has holes in his sweater vest and has lost a shoe in the process of escaping. His face is covered in soot and residue of the burning building. On the other hand, Dave looks more exhausted than on edge. He looks at me with his heavy eyes and I can read his look.
We're going to die John.