Falling

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story related to the events of September 11th, 2001.

Submitted: September 25, 2013

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Submitted: September 25, 2013

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Falling

A deafening ring engulfed my senses, my vision blurred and darkened into a mess of spectacular bright colours and incomprehensible shapes. Smoke and smouldering ash clogged my nasal passages, the potent odour of burnt wood and a fierce fire radiating throughout the entire area. I could feel my lungs struggling desperately against the cloud of fumes flowing into my body. Where am I? What happened? The two thoughts I managed to coherently form during the chaos. I questioned whether I was experiencing some uncannily detailed lucid nightmare or whether I had unknowingly died and awoken in the depths of hell. My vision began to clear, my hearing returning as the distinct sound of a hungry fire seemed to amplify more and more. The burning sensation overwhelming every fibre of my being brought me to the realization that this was no nightmare, rather a dreadful reality that no human should ever be forced to experience. I grunted in intense pain and grinded my teeth, the full extent of my senses having returned to me.

Then… Unexpectedly, a nearby voice called out. “Help! Jesus Christ, I’m stuck!” Feminine. I recognized that voice… Yet, I couldn’t quite put my finger on who she was. My mind seemed to frantically jump from subject to subject, my memory refusing to serve me as anxiety levels dramatically increased. I stopped trying to think. Regardless of who she was, she needed help.

That was it. I’d lie down no longer… I awkwardly rolled over onto my stomach, every single muscle of my body seemingly strained beyond belief. Gee, I knew I should have gone to the gym more often… Skipping sessions had resulted in me becoming soft. I placed my ash-ridden hands firmly onto the floor. My right one splintered by a shard of glass, drawing a dribble of blood to contrast against the dark floor.

Bleeding already. Fantastic.

I pulled myself up, small wood stakes and ash crawling into the open wound on my hand. I heard the shouting again, louder this time.

“Is … Is anyone there? Please! I’m…” The calling erupted into terrified whimpering and crying, this woman clearly traumatized by the experience; and who could blame her? The only thing keeping me from tears was the motivation to carry on… To survive. I was being driven by the strength of pure human instinct, nothing more. Hell, I’m not a courageous man… I’m far from that… At least, that’s what I think. My desire to help the distraught voice came to me naturally; derivative of instinct rather than any form of bravery. 

I dizzily scanned my surroundings and was, to put it bluntly, mind-blown by how the once organised and pristine building had been reduced to such insanity. What could have caused this? It was clearly some kind of targeted attack. Such destruction simply can’t be created by a mere accident. Tables had been violently thrown onto their sides and backs, documents and paperwork having been spread around the entire floor. The howling of wind tunnelling through and past the building drowned out the panicked, wild whining and moaning of the sirens below; a large hole present in the place that there was once a polished window. 

I jolted forward swiftly, having heard the anxious call once again, grunting quietly after awkwardly clambering over an upturned table and strafing in the direction of the voice. I could almost feel dust and other unwanted particles seeping into the open wound on my hand, the fiery sensation growing ferociously as I continued moving.

The voice echoed further. “P-Please… Please, come and get me! Anybody!”

I painfully swallowed, ash and dirt flowing through my gullet as I finally mustered the focus and sanity to respond. “I’m coming! Just hold on! It’s gonna be okay, you hear me? We’ll get through this!” 

The relief in her voice was extremely evident in her response. “Al-Alright! Please, please hurry! My leg’s jammed!”

I sprinted over the last stretch of ground between me and the voice and saw her, a table trapping her in the floor’s corner. God damn… I’d never seen such beauty. Despite the situation I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, though of course, there was little time to waste admiring her and I immediately rushed to her side.

“Are you injured?” I spluttered, my shaken state making the words almost completely inaudible. She slowly shook her head. “N-No, I just… I don’t have the strength to move this table…”

Nodding quickly, I bent over and grasped the underside of the table. I hauled it to the side, releasing the woman from its bounds. She instantly jumped forward and, to my surprise, wrapped her arms around my chest.

She whimpered and moaned, tears pouring onto my shoulder as she pressed her face against it.

“Thank you! W-What’s happening? What caused this? I can’t believe my eyes… So much damage… Why… Why did this have to happen?”

I shook my head slowly as she leaned back slightly.

“I don’t know… But it’s gonna be fine… I hear sirens… There must be firemen on their way. They’ll save us. Try to relax… Do you have family? Anyone close to you?”

She looked directly into my eyes and it was at this point that the full extent of her appearance overwhelmed me. Long blonde hair, hazel eyes…  A complexion that could stun any man…  What did she do to deserve this, exactly?

“Y-Yeah, my parents… I don’t have anyone else, really…”

I nodded and smiled weakly. “Think of them. You’ll be with them soon. There’s no reason to be afraid.”

She quietly mumbled back at me.

“Do you… Have anyone?”

I nodded, still smiling albeit rather pathetically.

“I have a lovely wife and a daughter who was born a month ago. She’s called Charlotte. It’s her birthday tomorrow… I was planning on surprising her…”

A lone tear dribbled out of my right eye and slithered down my cheek, the thought of never seeing Charlotte again haunting me to the core.

There was silence for a few moments. We both avoided eye contact, wondering whether we’d live to see our families again… After a while, I broke the silence, my voice cracking as I spoke.

“What’s your name? I’m James Parker.”

She tilted her head back up at me and near silently uttered…

“Sarah Davies... It’s… It’s nice to meet you.”

I gave her a small nod. She looked down at the floor as she nervously continued speaking. 

“I just can’t believe this is happening… My parents must be horrified… I forgot to bring my phone in… I’m such an idiot… I choose this day to leave my phone at home. Oh God, the last thing I said to my dad was vicious… We’re not gonna make it out, are we? There’s no way down… There’s too much smoke for a helicopter evacuation as well…”

I shook my head and intercepted her words.

“No, no, no, no, don’t say that! It’s going to be fine! They’ll get to us somehow, I know it! We’ll be fine… We’ll be fine…”

Out of nowhere, a huge, unexpected squeal overtook the dominance of the sirens and howling wind. I glanced towards the south tower and, what I saw completely shook my composure…  A Boeing 767 whirling directly into the building, dragging metal, glass and combustibles forward into a red, fiery oblivion that sent sparks flying in our direction. A powerful shockwave shook the floor beneath us and fire could now be heard approaching ever closer… 

Sarah immediately threw herself back onto my shoulder as I stared in pure disbelief at the utter horror unfolding before my eyes. I didn’t blink. I didn’t move a muscle. It was as if my soul left my body at that point. All faith in humanity stolen from me.

I could almost feel the pain and fear as a mighty explosion awrecked the entirety of its burning wrath upon the building, killing God knows how many innocent people…

The shockwave vibrated further, smashing multiple windows, resulting in a hail of glass skinning and slicing past my face… I desperately tried to shelter Sarah, and in my attempt my clothes were cut and sheared without mercy, wounds forming all over my body. Ash and fire were the only smells storming my senses now… The sound of burning, crying and death invading my ears… A powerful, sharp pain flowing throughout every limb. I looked behind to see a blaze… An unstoppable, raging fire…. Like nothing I’d ever seen. Directly in our path… Blocking all escape. It was approaching. Seemingly hungering for our flesh… I could almost hear it taunting us… As if it were laughing at our ultimately inescapable situation. 

I had to see my family. I reached into my pocket, Sarah still clinging to me, and pulled out a small photograph on a piece of card. I glared down at it… It was a picture of my wife sitting down with Charlotte in her lap, ecstatic little smiles on their faces… I cried. Oh, I cried and cried… I moaned and whined and whimpered as the temperature rose… Then I looked over at Sarah.

“We’ve… We’ve gotta go… We’ve gotta jump.”

She nodded in understanding, tears still falling from her beautiful hazel eyes. I leaned out and looked down… So many people… Watching us… So close, yet so far away… I took one final glance at the family photograph… Then we were falling. Tumbling together… For a second it felt like flying. For a second I felt free.

For a second… I was happy. 

For I knew I’d see them again. 


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