VIEWS: 96 PAGES: 9 POSTED ON: 2/2/2010
The alarm clock rang; its high pitch buzzing flooding my ears. I’ve always hated the sounds of morning. I prefer to sleep late but as fortune has it my career path didn’t travel down that road. This specific alarm clock did this thing where it would flash the time the alarm was set on its illuminated digital screen. It was 7:00 A.M. I hopped out of bed and headed to the shower per my usual disgruntled morning routine. The smell of bacon and fresh coffee floated up the stairs. My wife Marissa loved the morning, always ready to go before I was ready to think. I hopped in the shower and scrubbed the sleep from my face. With teeth brushed & face shaved, I was ready to dress and seize the day. I slipped on my grey dress slacks and tucked in my blue collared shirt with the white vertical stripes. I tossed on the matching Gucci sport coat and the silver Rolex Marissa bought me for my birthday some months ago. “Good Morning Baby”, Marissa said with a smile and kiss as she met me at the bottom of the stairs. Her big blue eyes always made the morning better. “Good morning sweetheart. Breakfast smells great.” I sat down at the kitchen table, the sun reflecting off the varnished wood grain. I ate my breakfast in a hurry and took my coffee to go. “I’ve got to go sweetheart, I have a big sales meeting at the Sears Tower today. 8:30 sharp can’t be late.” She smiled and said I love you. It was 7:45 and I was on my way to work. The E.T.A on my G.P.S said 20 minutes. I only live a few miles outside of Chicago but my commute was never my E.T.A. I turned on the radio as I sat in traffic. “Good morning Chicago the time now is 8:03 in the A.M. on The 11th day of September and you’re listening to 93.5 WXTC. We’ve got clear skies for miles, not a cloud in sight. The temperature is 76 degrees. What a bee-oot-a-full morning.” Traffic sucked but it could have been worse. I pulled in the parking garage at 8:14 and made way into what was once the world’s tallest building. I checked my watch and it read 8:25A.M. I'm on time and feeling alive. I worked for a company called The Writers Block Group named after a group of 3 environmentally conscious writers who grew up together on the same block. The irony. They were the first company to specialize in eco friendly paper products. All of their products where made from at least 75 percent recycled materials. They started off small, just selling stationary and accessories. Then they grew and grew and grew; eventually selling anything and everything you could create out of paper waste. From eco friendly post-its that aren’t legally post-its to eco friendly envelopes but without the traditional alleged environmentally destructive adhesive glue to the those stupid little cardboard sleeves that come on a cup of hot coffee at Starbucks to prevent you from burning your hand. They also made the cup that wasn’t thick enough to prevent you from burning your hand. Yes, this was the company I worked for, I sold their products, and it paid very well. Although I secretly despised them because I felt their 75 percent recycled paper was 100 percent recycled bullshit I kept my mouth shut and sold happily because it paid the bills and then some. I reached the 78th floor several minutes early to meet with our new potential client H.F.A Toys. They where looking for a cheaper way to package their products which where mainly tiny overpriced choking hazards for ages 3 and up. I was just the man to sell them their package. I met two gentlemen who introduced themselves as Mr. Greg Hamilton, C.E.O and Scott Reyt, Global Distribution Manager. “Good Morning Gentleman I am James Carson, senior regional sales operator for The Writers Block Group. It’s a pleasure to meet you both.” “Yes James, if I may call you James”, Mr. Hamilton started. “We are very excited to meet with you. Would you like something to drink; coffee maybe water before we begin?” Although I already had my morning coffee I cordially accepted. Mr. Hamilton handed me my coffee and said, “Please James, Take a seat.” I sat down with fresh cup of coffee in hand, freshly poured into a cup that was more than capable of handling its heat. They obviously needed a new office supplies distributor as well. “Shall we begin?” I began with my usual pitch. “Well gentleman The Writers Block Group is dedicated to providing our clients with environmentally conscious yet fiscally sound paper solutions. All of our products are made up of at least 75 percent post-consumer materials which are cleaner and greener for the planet. The use of our products not only brings down overhead on our clients paper needs but also provides them with tax-deductable items that can range in the millions, depending on the volume.” “I like the sound of that James; we sell items all over the world in over 60 countries. Would your company to be able to accommodate our global interests as well as our local needs?” “Well Mr. Hamilton The Writers Block Group provides services to some the world’s largest consumer bases. We are currently…” My speech was interrupted. The floor below us shook as if the tectonic plates of the Earth where merging to form a mountain below our feet. Accompanying this violent quake was the deafening roar of what sounded like a million bombs destroying a million cities. The pains of glass that lined the office all shattered instantaneously. I could only imagine the damage the shards would cause on the ground below. Mr. Hamilton & Mr. Reyt were knocked to the grey office carpeted floor, as were I and my coffee. “Holly Shit! What the fuck was that?” I nervously shouted as I leapt to my feet adorning a brilliant brown stain on shirt. By this time the sprinkler system had been activated, water drenching my expensive designer formal wear, droplets of water pouring down the faces of my potential new clients. “I have no Idea James.” Mr. Reyt voice was panicked as he choked out a fearful, “Let’s get the fuck out of here.” We had no idea of what actually happened but we were about to find out. We left the office and headed to the elevators together. By the time we got there it seemed as if the 78th floor had been deserted. What was minutes ago a busy office floor was a deserted ghost town populated by empty office furniture. To complicate things the elevators Out-of-Service sign was flashing. It was in the back of heads that something disastrous had occurred but none of us had any idea what it could have been. The dim emergency overhead lights had been activated as if they were running on some kind of generator power. I was not excited by the possibility of having to take the stairs 78 floors to the ground. “Let’s just try the stairs”, suggested a nervous Mr. Hamilton. His fearful companion remained silent. “If you insist”, I said. We headed to the adjacent stair-well entrance and made our way down a dozen or so flights of stairs before we met the a chasm of flaming debris. “H..H..Holy God… what the ..What the fuck happened here?” I said as I choked on my words. I looked at my watch. It was only 8:37. I had been in this building a half an hour and it seemed to have been swept from below my feet. The smoke from the chasm seemed to be quickly rising. “We need to get out of here, head for high ground and find an exit & quick.” We made our way back up the stairs, in the heavy black smoke tailing us. It seemed as if the ground beneath our feet was growing hotter and hotter. The trek up was far more difficult then the trek down. We navigated the rectangular framework of the office floors searching for some sort of exit but each door that could possibly save us lead to the same thick smoke from our original escape attempt. We climbed higher and higher and yet we still couldn’t escape the billowing pits of smoke that once served as stairwells and emergency exits. We made our way up to the 83rd floor before making our way to a frame of morning light where a window was stood. “Finally fresh air someone call for help”, Hamilton said with a slight sigh of relief. I picked up my phone and had several dozen missed calls, mostly from Marissa. I phoned her immediately and she picked up without the phone even ringing. “Marissa! It’s James! I’m in the Sears Tower and it’s on fire. There was an explosion or something and we can’t get out we’re trapped on the 83rd floor, we need help!” “Baby, I’m so glad you’re alive! I just saw the news.” “Do you know what happened?” “Apparently a jet lost control or something and crashed into The Sears Tower. You need to get out of there now!” “I CAN’T! WE’RE TRAPPED!” “James you need to get out of there. James you need to get out of there right fucking now!” I could hear Mr. Hamilton on the phone talking to who I presumed was his wife while Mr. Reyt was just sobbing heavy I love yous into the speaker of his cell phone. What once was a beautiful day had now turned to disaster. “James can you hear me? James? JAMES! Can you hear me?” “Yes Marissa, I’m here.” “James, I love you. Baby I love you so much you have to get out of there.” Here voiced soaked in desperation. “Marissa I can’t the floors below us are burning there’s smoke everywhere. I’m sitting in a fucking shattered out window looking at the street below. Sweetheart I’m so high. Jesus Christ! I’m SO FUCKING HIGH.” My nerves started to take over as I clutched the steel frame that once housed the window pain. “Sweetheart, I don’t know what to do the room is filled with smoke. Oh My God I can’t even see behind me! I need help! Marissa I need God Damn help!” The office behind me had become blackened with smoke. In front of me I could see the daylight. It was a beautiful day. The wind was gentle and sky was calm. The ants on the ground below were scurrying, some paused at what they felt was a safe distance to gaze at the great building which now housed the burning wreckage of an airplane. Between me and the ants I could see flames pouring out of windows. I didn’t know what a plane that collides with a building looks like but I would have never assumed this image was it. Marissa was still hysterically screaming into the phone. Her voice by now was indecipherable. Mr. Reyt was still crying hysterically over the phone to his loved one. Mr. Hamilton looked at me still with his cell phone to his ear and said, “I’m not going to burn here.” “What are you suggesting Hamilton?” “We Jump.” “What?” “We’re already dead James. We end it now or burn like pigs.” Mr. Reyt was oblivious to our conversation still crying. “Marissa. Is help coming? Is help coming?” It’s funny how you have to repeat yourself a hundred times in live or die situations. “I don’t know James.” I looked at my watch. It was 8:55. “Why hasn’t anyone come to help us?” “They’re not coming James, we can’t get to them and they can’t get to us!” yelled Hamilton. I realized at that moment that I was trapped hundreds of feet above ground separated from the world by several burning floors of airplane wreckage. I wasn’t making it out. Hamilton said I love you into his phone and threw it through the gapping frame. We watched as it tumbled towards the earth and counted the seconds. 5, 6, 7… we lost sight of it before we seen it hit the ground. “James, Reyt, we have to jump.” Reyt had no clue what we were talking about it seemed as if he were only aware of the person on the other end of his phone. Still sobbing, he ignored us. “Marissa, this is it. Baby they’re not coming. I love you.” “NO JAMES! No No No No No!” “I love you baby, goodbye.” “I’m jumping with or without you guys”, Hamilton said. Reyt still paid no attention. “I’m coming Hamilton.” I dropped my phone & looked at my watch. It was 9:22. I looked to the sky and took a deep breath. Reyt sat clinging to his phone and the building. I closed my eyes and Jumped. I had never actually seen a dead body up close, before this morning. Lucky for me, this guy had fallen straight on his face, so at least it was easier to take in. He was thin, no grey hair so probably young as well; although, with the blood and him being soaked with water, it was hard to tell. He was wearing an expensive looking Gucci business suit. What a waste. He looked like a sales rep, attempting to look nice for the big presentation. I could tell; my dad and I had seen their type come through his staffing company. His body looked awkward lying there. Both arms were sprawled out at angles not even a double jointed person could project. I could guess he had broken every bone in them, possibly every bone in his whole body which looked slightly swollen and bluish. His face and back were straight like a ruler, his right leg was bent in a triangle and the left, well, his left ankle and knee were facing the wrong way. How far did this guy fall? Did he jump? A lot of people had jumped. A shudder rippled through me. We were supposed to try and identify anyone we found so that we could break the hearts of their family and friends and who knows, maybe even the world. Death toll up one more and it was already up enough before I found him. It felt like I was moving in slow motion as I bent over him. Was I really going to do this? I hesitantly touched the right side pocket of his pants. Oh, for crying out loud, he isn’t going to turn into a zombie. I pressed harder…nothing. Left pocket…nothing but some blood. I checked the jacket pockets, same result. Had he been pick pocketed? There was no way that he’d had nothing on him when he fell. That reminded me that earlier, I thought I saw a homeless guy sneaking around the bodies. I could have sworn I saw him take a watch off one guy, but it was only for a second, I didn’t think someone could actually be that heartless, but you never know these days…especially after yesterday. This guy actually had a watch on, but it was never going to work again. It looked like a Rolex, probably a gift. Little pieces of shiny silver of it were sticking out of his wrists while the other fragments lay splattered around him like shiny confetti. I noticed a bit uncomfortably that was married…his poor wife. Had he any kids? Enough of this thinking stuff. I had to find identification somehow but that would require flipping him over. Yeah, flip over the guy who slammed face first into the ground and is lying in his own blood and whatever else came out of him. I had gloves on…but still. O.K…I can do this. Just pretend he isn’t real. None of this is real. Yeah, it’s a movie and I'm on camera right now. Scene: walking through the dirty, blood soaked rubble with remains and smoke everywhere, can barely see, stumbles upon dead business man. Shot: flips him over to get identification. Genre: drama. I paused, envisioning myself in the shot, being in a white lab coat with some fancy horn rimmed glasses, my left hand near the left shoulder of his strangely flabby arm, my right on his waist ready to lift and push. How did I get here? Yesterday morning, I’d gotten up at 5 a.m. to clean the boat. A whole day of sailing, just father and son, on our big new boat we had both paid for a few years back. He had agreed to meet me around ten, after taking my mother out for a nice breakfast, since they also had no time together anymore. The staffing company had been so busy the entire summer that we had only gone out together twice. It has been getting worse every summer since I was 23 and started working for my dad. I think within the past 5 years, we have only gone out a total of 15 times together. Maybe now it would change. It must have been around twenty after eight when I saw the plane, just a normal commuter plane. It came rocketing over the lake, a lot lower and a lot faster then normal, leaving a giant stream of white smoke behind it; a trail that led pretty far back. I thought for a second that it might be landing, but then I realized it wasn’t going towards O’hare and then there was no time to really think. It hit the sears tower dead on, just crashed right into it, the entire plane. The explosion was so bright I couldn’t see clearly for a couple seconds and then when I could see again, a tremendous, hot wind blew the boat, well all the boats around, so violently that I almost went overboard. I fell right on my butt and sat there for a good few minutes trying to recollect what just happened. Everything seemed to stand still for a second, go completely quiet. I came to when I heard the sirens. Instead of going towards them, I went away from them. Cowardly? No, just curious. I drove the boat straight out into the water and went to the south side of the lake, trying to see all I could. There were people already out doing the same thing or franticly trying to get in to shore. Everything was happening so quickly but for me it seemed like slow motion. I saw two helicopters appear in the air, making an attempt to hose down the flames. There was a third, it seemed to be lower, a medical copter? There were fire trucks and ambulances arriving at the same time. It looked like the definition of total and complete chaos. Lake shore drive exits to downtown were being blocked off already and people had to go around, but most had just stopped. Time seemed to have stopped in certain places. I took out my binoculars to get a better look. People were evacuating buildings like wildfire and being led where to go but not everyone was listening. People where everywhere, but you can’t expect much less in a city full of over 8 million. I looked at the old Sears Tower. There was a giant plane sticking out of the side, what was left of it anyway. Black smoke and flooded out of the plane and tower. It looked incredulous. Was it real? The flames looked real enough. The people jumping out of the building looked real too. Had I just seen that? I was having a hard time deciphering reality from non reality. It looked real, smelled real, sounded real…but it all felt entirely fake; like I was filming a hardcore action scene in a movie. I didn’t even notice the police boat until the officer was shouting at me to park my boat and return to shore. I stared blankly at him, put down my binoculars and slowly made my way back. The Sears Tower was less a mile from our house…I hoped our building was alright. It took me forever to get home, even though we lived in the condos right on 11th and state. A lot of high rises had been evacuated or people came out on their own. Our building had been evacuated and with the lack of signal on my phone, and trying to make it through the giant throng of people, it took me over an hour to find my family. They were alright, my mom very shaken up, my dad and brother trying to console her. It seemed like the common thread of what was happening all around. People were shouting at each other to figure out what happened, those who had known someone in the tower trying to reach them on a phone. So many conversations were being spoken at the same time, in other languages even. They already guessed the death toll to be around the thousands. Thousands…is that possible? We waited a couple hours, just listening and barely speaking to each other until they let us back in our building and told us to stay there. We lived on the 16th floor. We went out on the balcony like most our neighbors, and we saw from there what the news was already showing on T.V…the throng of people below us, cameras of every kind trying to capture whatever they could, people running around trying to find each other, traffic trying to move into the city so people could get home, the view of the tower collapsing every minute, getting lower by the hour. None of us slept that night. We stayed glued to the TV. and balcony, just watching. It repeated the same unnerving images every hour; people being found dead under the rubble, people jumping from the building, survivors with massive damage to their bodies being taken by ambulance, frantic family and friends asking where god was. Sirens rang all night without dying out. More and more help came in the form of helicopters, ambulances, fire trucks, police… from surrounding states even. It was my mother who noticed the dull sun rising in the distance. It looked so innocent compared to this pandemonium. The world still moves on with or without you. The newscaster was asking for people to help, regular people, anyone. My family looked at each other without speaking. We all left the condo without a doubt of where we were going. We’ve been here for a few hours and now I’ve found you. You? Yes, I had been talking to this broken stranger underneath me. My hands still frozen to his broken body, I realized I had some wet tears on my dirty cheeks, although I didn’t remember them falling. I stared at this body underneath me, took a deep breath, and pushed. Nothing is ever going to change. I spent the night like any others sleeping on the side walk by a bridge near Union Station, getting ready to beg for money. Barely had enough for my bottle of Jack Daniel's this week, which I had held under my ragged coat as I slept. That morning I woke up to a damp feeling which quickly burned as I realized someone spilt their hot coffee on me and then ran off. "Bastards!" I called out ... don't even say sorry. The surrounding people look towards me with disgust. A stone came over from my side and hit me on the head. I turn to look where it came from with a glare. A kid on rollerblades giggles and then tries to zoom past and get away. That fucker I thought to myself. I threw a stick in his path and watched as he falls to the ground. I cracked a smile as the surrounding people quickly run to his aid. One woman yells out "Why would you do such I thing?!" I yell back "Get over it bitch!" The lady looked in horror and quickly turned away while she helped the child up and carried him away. Where was she before when I was attacked; just let some little bastard throw shit at me? I hate people. I'm sure they think I am nothing but a caveman, but I can't say it's the first time it's happened and I'm sure it won't be the last today. People think they're better than me because they can afford shiny watches and designer clothes. I could do just as good a job as they could if I only had the opportunity to, then I'd show them. I took an extra swig of my Jack ... he understands me. The morning rush seemed to go on forever; although, my change cup was almost as empty as when I started this morning. Sleeping on the streets of Chicago, the noises blend together, but one stood out and after that everything changed. A plane flew overhead but closer than I had ever seen before and slammed into the Sears tower. The people walking to work quickly ran in the opposite direction. I tried to get up, but the rush of people kept knocking me to the ground. A few people stepped on me. I tried to push myself up but the ground began to shake and knocked me back to the ground. I turned to look as I saw the Sears tower begin to fall. Clouds a dust started to move from the bottom of the tower and head towards my way. It spread too quickly to escape and covered the streets. I covered myself with my ragged coat to try and keep the dust out of my eyes. After the dust settled, there were no more people walking around. There were bodies scattered around throughout the streets. Everything was coated in black and gray because of the dust. Not a living person in sight. No police, no fire trucks, nothin’. As I looked around I saw something shiny, I walked over to a man with a fancy watch and decided to take it. He won't need it anymore. I spent the next 10 minutes grabbing the wallets of all the dead people. The same people that passed me everyday without a second look, I wouldn't be making that mistake. The same people that wouldn't give me a dime were now going to be supporting my permanent vacation to Mexico. As I cracked a smile thinking of my get away, people were comin out of the surrounding shops where they hid to avoid the dust. I see them heading my way and start to make my way out of the city. As I walk I hear sirens coming my way, but they pass me and head towards the Sears tower. On the way out of the city I hit every ATM I could find. Taking out cash advances and maxing out credit cards. I stuffed money in every place I could think of. I found a bus that was picking up people and taking them out of the city. I made my way to the back of the bus and sat down. I thought to myself "It's been a good day, and there are many more to come" as I take another swig of my Jack. After the dust had settled the world opened their eyes and saw the destruction. One of America’s most beloved landmarks had been destroyed by terrorists. The armies aligned vowing to catch those responsible & the people marched in patriotic rallies. For a time the world mourned the loss of life in Chicago that September 11th. But soon after, things were the same if not worse. The United States deflected their real agenda off September 11th to protect their international interests. They told the rest of the country and the world that they would end up like Chicago if they did not take extra precautions. But the government didn’t take extra precautions. Chicago is a big city, but not the biggest; it is well known world wide yet expendable by a nation with the likes of Los Angeles & New York City. So, they simply created the illusion of safety, while still allowing minor attacks to take place. First it was a subway bomb in New York: 32 dead. Then it was suicide bombers in Salt Lake City: 14 dead. These small attacks kept the people in fear, reminding them of the tragic event that took place in Chicago killing thousands. After time tens of thousands more died. From Seattle to Baltimore to Miami to Colorado, people were losing their lives. After the attacks on Chicago people became expendable and the nation profited. The government was able to allow small attacks and still say they were doing their job because comparably Atlanta, Las Vegas & Detroit were not Chicago.
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