September 11, 2001
By Curtis Grace
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It is almost a year since the terror attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and UA Flight 93. This story was a quick compilation of several scenarios that took place from when the passengers of AA Flights 11 and 77 and UA Flights 175 and 93 boarded their doomed aircraft until the entire nation watched the 6:00 news and fell to their knees. I have tried to refrain from using actual characters for the fear of mis-representing them, but in the drama on Flight 93, the names of Todd Beamer and Jeremy Glick belong to true heroes, and I felt they deserved to be mentioned in true context. There was no Jacob Richardson, Jessica Sharp, Ryan Parker, Roger Jones, Johnathan Reagan, James Donovan, or Thomas Hatfield involved in the events of the day in the way I portrayed them. As you read this manuscript and on 9-11-02, say a prayer to the families of the victims that died that day at the hands of cowards at the controls of suicide aircraft. Don’t ever forget what it was like that day, Never let your children forget that day and its significance.
September 11th 2001
Logan International Airport, Boston
Roger Jones entered the American Airlines terminal, taking his time, as he was not departing until almost eight o’clock. He carried only a Jansport daypack, which had a change of clothes, a laptop computer and a pre-briefing from Los Angeles. Roger was a geologist for the US Geological Survey, and he was heading to California for some seismic research along the San Andreas fault line. Roger was 32, and a new geologist at the survey. He was already becoming quite well respected, and his trip to LA was a sort of “field test” so that he could be placed in a region more suited to his skills and needs. The way Roger was going, he could see himself running a station on a major fault line in the very near future.
United Airlines Terminal, Logan Intl.
Johnathan Reagan was seventeen years old. His girlfriend sat with him at the gate for his flight. She had come to the airport with him to see him off. He was going to Hawaii for his sister’s wedding. He was excited to get out of Boston for a few days, and even more excited to be in Hawaii for two full days.
Marriott Hotel, World Trade Center – New York
Jacob Richardson sat up in the bed. The dark hotel room was occupied only by another student from his high school. Jacob and his girlfriend, Jessica, were in New York with their FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) Club. They were going to tour the Trade Towers and visit the various trading facilities in the multi-building facility. Jacob walked over to the window and opened the blinds. From the fifth story hotel room, he could see the base of the gigantic towers. He bent down and looked out, trying to see to the top of the towers. He gave up after several tries. He looked over at the digital alarm clock. It read 7:15.
Several doors down, the alarm clock blared, and a hand reached over and silenced it. Jessica Sharp sighed and got out of bed.
Logan International Airport – United Airlines Terminal
Johnathan Reagan kissed his girlfriend goodbye and got in line to board the 767 sitting at the gate. As he stood in line, a dark skinned man bumped into him. He turned to Johnathan and quickly apologized. Johnathan said it was alright, and the Arabic man turned and said something illegible. Johnathan heard his row called and moved to the front of the line. He presented his boarding pass and got on the aircraft.
American Airlines Terminal – Logan Intl.
Roger picked up his pack and grabbed his boarding pass. The USGS had given him first class on this flight, so he was able to get on first. As he presented his pass, he noticed a group of Arabic men talking to each other in hushed voices in their native tongue. He passed onto the plane without a second thought.
Lobby, Marriott Hotel – WTC
The continental breakfast buffet line was under attack. Eight high school students reached in and took what they wanted, and then proceeded to eat it. Within fifteen minutes, the table of food was half empty. Jacob and Jessica sat at a table by themselves, by a window with a clear view of the Twin Towers. The three chaperones were making dinner reservations while they waited for their students to finish eating.
Newark International Airport
United Airlines Terminal
The passengers of Flight 93, waited in their seats as the Flight Attendants explained safety procedures and the captain began to give his welcome speech. The passengers were too tired to bother with paying attention, and man of them were already asleep.
Jeremy Glick wanted to sleep, but airplanes had always made him nervous. Not the actual flight, but the takeoffs and landings. Once in the air, he would sleep like a baby. But until then, he couldn’t shut his eyes. As he waited for the aircraft to taxi, he could hear whispers in another language in the seat in front of him.
Logan International Airport
Johnathan gripped the armrests of his seat as the Boeing 767 lifted off the ground and began the long trip to Los Angeles. Once he felt the landing gear leave the ground, he relaxed a little. United Airlines Flight 175 was on its way.
Right behind it, Roger’s American Airlines Flight 11 lifted off the ground a mere minute after Flight 175.
The following events were never visually or audibly recorded in detail. The methods and exact times the hijackings took place have never been discovered or released. All representation of what happened on the three doomed aircraft is of my imagination, and may or may not represent true events.
United Airlines Flight 175
Johnathan Reagan thumbed through the SkyMall magazine. He also had a long flight to look forward to. The aircraft was still climbing as 5 men stood up. He noticed they were all of an Arabic ethnicity. Some had light skin, some had darker skin, but they were most decidedly Arabic. A flight attendant walked up the aisle from his seat in the back. He politely asked the men to sit down. They nodded and began to sit down. As the attendant turned his back, the closest man jumped out of his seat and grabbed him. With one swift move he slashed the man’s throat with a box cutter and allowed his body to fall to the floor. And with that, the five men stormed towards the cockpit.
The men screamed in English for the captain to open the door, and when he refused, the largest of them kicked the door down and ran into the cockpit. Within minutes, the three pilots left the cockpit. Two of them were dead.
American Airlines Flight 11
Roger Jones saw the men stand up and walk towards the front of the plane. He looked up and saw that the seat belt light was still on. An attendant got out of her jump seat and asked the men to sit down. The one in front punched her in the stomach. She fell backwards into the aisle. Some passengers gasped as they noticed blood flowing out of her abdomen. He had a razor. The men were definitely Arabic. Roger sat back and cursed. The men stormed towards the cockpit. They kicked the door in and the three pilots turned around.
“Hello. This is a hijacking. Please relinquish control of this aircraft to me immediately,” said the hijacker. The captain refused.
The copilot and first officer carried the dead body of the captain out of the cockpit.
Jacob and Jessica stood outside of the hotel lobby, hanging around the group of park benches. With them was Ryan Parker, Jacob’s close friend. He had reluctantly come along to New York, but his friend had convinced him to come anyway. So far, he thought, it wasn’t too bad. The other five people of the group stood around with the three chaperones as they waited for their tour guide. At nine o’clock they were going to tour the Twin Towers.
American Airlines Flight 11
Roger and the rest of the passengers and crew were huddled in the rear of the 767. None of them were calm, and the crew and pilots were trying to reassure them. Up until now, all hijackings to date had been resolved peacefully, for the most part. Unfortunately, hijackings would take a whole new meaning.
Roger stood up and moved to a window. He looked out the left side of the plane and noticed the Atlantic Ocean. They were heading south. He strained and tried to look forward, to see where they were going. He could see the dense conglomeration of gray in the distance which he decided was New York City. He also realized that he could see the ground extremely well. They were really low. He turned to one of the copilots.
“What’s our altitude?” he asked. The copilot stood up and opened an overhead compartment. He activated the in-flight tracking system, a GPS display that showed passengers were they were and other flight data. The altitude was 1200 feet and falling.
Roger moved to a window and looked out again. In the distance he could see the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The 767 seemed to be zeroing in on downtown Manhattan.
“If these guys aren’t careful, they’re going to run into a building. That would probably screw up their…” started Roger. He cursed.
“What?” asked a copilot.
“Why would a middle eastern terrorist with flight experience be flying a loaded 767 at less than 1500 feet straight towards the center of World Trade?” asked Roger.
The pilot opened his mouth but couldn’t answer. The first mate answered for him
The four other hijackers that weren’t flying the plane were on their knees, facing towards what Roger assumed to be Mecca. Roger bowed his head and prayed.
Newark International Airport
The Boeing 757 of Flight 93 lifted off the runway with it’s cargo of passengers and jet fuel, and began to head east. Jeremy Glick now found time to sleep. Todd Beamer turned the page in the SkyMall magazine as the flight turned towards it’s destination.
In the distance, Jacob heard the scream of a jet engine. He found it odd that in New York, an already noise polluted city, jet airplanes could fly so close. He figured it was just on pattern for one of the airports. But instead of fading, the roar seemed to increase. People stood in the street looking towards the sound. Jacob, Jessica and Ryan stood in the street with everyone else. About a half mile away, the dark figure of a passenger jet appeared on the horizon. It was at full speed, around 550 miles per hour, way beyond standard operating speed of 400, and almost double the standard speed below 10,000 feet, which was 270. Jacob noticed it seemed to be heading straight for them. He figured the plane was about 800 feet above sea level. He followed the path. The Trade Towers were 1100 feet tall. He realized with horror what was about to happen.
“Jessica! Get inside! Run!” he yelled. She turned and ran for the doors. Ryan followed. But Jacob stood there mesmerized as the loaded Boeing 767 streaked towards Tower 1 at over 500 miles an hour. As it approached closer and closer, he found himself straining his neck more and more. Soon the jet was right over him.
American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at over 500 miles and hour. It punctured the revolutionary exoskeleton and flew into the offices around the 80th floor. The resulting explosion shot out of every window two stories above and below it. The shock wave blew out most of the windows within twenty floors of the blast and even on the other tower. Every head in New York turned at the sound and saw the fireball rise into the sky in a cloud of smoke. Four floors were on fire as jet fuel burned. Dark smoke rose into the New York Skyline.
Jacob jumped under the foyer as debris fell from the sky, he stared as a piece of landing gear landed in the street. He was dumbfounded.
Jessica and Ryan came out of the building.
“What the hell was that?” asked Jessica. Jacob couldn’t answer. Jessica looked up and screamed. Jacob looked around and noticed that there were no fire trucks or rescue personnel around. He needed to get people out of the building quick. He turned to Jessica.
“Get with the group, and get out of here. It’s not safe. Meet me on the steps of the Natural History Museum. I’ll be there, I promise. Ryan, go with her,” asked Jacob.
“Why, what are you doing?” asked Ryan.
“There’s a lot of people who are going to need help. There aint no one here. I’ve got to do something,” said Jacob, heading for the tower.
“And I’ll help,” said Ryan.
“No! Please,” said Jacob, but Ryan refused, and Jessica and the six other classmates began to jog to leave the area.
Ryan and Jacob ran towards the towers. People were already pouring out of the doors, and they found it difficult to get into the building. As they got in, an overweight woman passed out right in front of them. As Ryan ran to help her up, he realized she was unconscious. Jacob ran over and checked her heart rate. She’d had a heart attack.
Jacob knelt down and began to give CPR.
About this time, James Donovan, FDNY, arrived in Tower One. He saw the high school student in the lobby performing CPR. He paused for a moment, ready to take over, but the kid continued until the woman began to breathe again. Donovan ran over and helped the woman up, then proceeded to take her out to an ambulance.
Jacob and Ryan stood at the base of the stairway, helping men and women off of the stairs and out of the building. Jacob heard a scream and a thud. He ran outside and looked up. People were leaping out of 80th story windows to escape the fires burning behind them.
United Airlines Flight 175
Johnathan was huddled in his seat, trying desperately to get the airphone to work so he could call his girlfriend. But to no avail. The phone refused to work. He threw it down in anger. He moved to a window seat and looked out. He saw the coast to his left. Up ahead, he could see a dark, low cloud. As the 767 got closer, he realized it was smoke streaming out of the first tower of the World Trade Center.
At this point, every camera in New York, and even outer space was fixated on New York. Air Traffic Controllers could only watch as this second hijacked flight streaked towards New York City. Television viewers were in awe that such an accident could have happened, and began to wonder what had happened when the television anchors said:
“Wait, I think we see another aircraft heading towards the tower. It looks like its going to hit. Oh, My God.”
Jacob heard the roar. He couldn’t believe it. He wondered if it was a military jet providing cover or something. He looked around but couldn’t see the actual source of the sound. Then he saw the streamlined body of another 767 aimed straight at the other tower. It was about 100 feet lower than the other aircraft. Jacob watched, almost in slow motion, as the nose of the jet pieced the building, and the entire aircraft “flew” into the building. A larger, more dramatic explosion shot out of every side of the building, growing as it fed on hundreds of gallons of jet fuel. Jacob screamed and vacated the street again as more debris fell from the sky.
But what terrified him even more was the fact that this was not an accident. Someone had deliberately flown the airplanes into the building with the intent on killing innocent lives. Terrorists were attacking Americans on American soil using American based airliners as loaded missiles.
United Airlines Flight 93
Jeremy Glick awoke to the sounds of an apparent struggle in first class, where he was seated. Four middle eastern men were fighting with flight attendants. A passenger was lying on the floor, a bloody ring marked the hole where a homemade dagger had pierced him.
The four men broke through the cockpit and demanded control of the aircraft. The pilots, who had already been warned of cockpit intrusions, had been warned not to give the hijackers control of the airplanes.
“Hey!” yelled the pilot. “Get Out of Here!” the captain and copilot yelled, and the men thrust at them with their homemade weapons. The pilots fought back strongly, but the superior skills of the hijackers overwhelmed them, and they were killed. The first mate gave up control without a fight and was forced into the cabin with the passengers. The hijacker in charge pressed the button which he thought was the intercom, but was instead the radio broadcast button.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the captain. There is a bomb on the plane. Please stay calm, we’re going back to the airport,” said the hijacker.
Jeremy Glick and Todd Beamer didn’t buy it. The aircraft was flying erratically and it was obvious that the man at the controls was doing a poor job controlling the plane.
Other men and women were calling their spouses, desperately trying to get in contact with somebody. A man from first class was the first to receive the news. Airplanes had flown into the Twin Towers, and it was a terrorist attack. As he discussed this information with his fellow passengers, they realized they were on a doomed aircraft headed for a crowded area for the purpose of mass murder. The man with the phone, Jeremy Glick and Todd Beamer counseled together on what to do.
Todd Beamer was on the phone with an operator, trying to explain the situation, but the aircraft was flying erratically. He spoke to her for a while, then conferred with his companions. He returned to the line to say they were going to rush the hijackers. His final words heard by anyone alive were, “Lets Roll.”
The three men, the first mate, and a few other men stood up and ran towards the first hijacker. Jeremy Glick, a former Judo Champion, quickly overpowered him and put him into submission by knocking him out. The posse of passengers moved forward, overtaking another terrorist. A young man was slashed in the fight and fell to the floor. The remaining two terrorists were in the cockpit. The one not at the controls ran out brandishing a box cutter. Todd Beamer grabbed the arm and broke the wrist while other men dragged him into first class and knocked him out. The pilot turned around as Jeremy reached down and placed his hands around his neck. The first mate settled into the copilot seat and took control of the aircraft. But the terrorist still had his hands on the yoke. He was now fighting for air and control of the Boeing 757.
Several witnesses on the ground saw the low flying jetliner flying erratically as it soared over sparsely populated hills. It is assumed that this was when the struggle for control on Flight 93 took place.
“Get him out of there!” yelled the First Mate. The terrorist was forcing the 757 to fly dangerously low, fast, and out of control. Jeremy nodded and proceeded to pull the man out of the chair. The man held his grip on the yoke as he pulled, turning it all the way to the right. The aircraft did a lazy roll onto its back as the First Mate tried to regain control of the plane and stay in his seat as the plane rolled upside down. He was able to get the nose away from the ground, but gravity interrupted and he began to fall towards the back of the plane. This pulled the yoke away from the panel, putting the plane into a nose dive (remember, the plane was inverted). The Boeing 757 slammed into a reclaimed strip mine and nearly vaporized.
World Trade Center
Jacob was outside of Tower 2, helping medical technicians stabilize victims before sending them to hospitals. Ryan had gone up into Tower 2, the second building to be hit, with the firefighters to get victims out of the burning building.
Suddenly, as Jacob was helping, he saw firefighters running out of the building, yelling and waving their arms.
“What?” yelled Jacob.
“Tower 2 is going down!” yelled a firefighter as he ran by.
Sure enough, Jacob could hear creaks and moans as the weakened steel struggled to hold the building upright. He watched the lobby for Ryan, but he didn’t see him come out. Fearing for the worst, he turned and ran.
Ryan was running down the stairs with several firemen. Three floors had already collapsed, and police helicopters had confirmed that the tower was wobbling. Ryan was still on the fifteenth floor.
Behind him, Jacob heard a loud crack, followed by a series of rumbles. Tower 2 was coming down. He looked behind him and could see the building collapsing on itself. He ran harder and looked for a place to hide. He saw a local storefront and ran through the glass doors. The earth trembled three blocks down.
On the stairs, the crack of the supports snapping was heard through the walls, and the group was falling down the stairs as floor after floor fell on top of each other. With each resonating boom, it became even more impossible for the firefighters and Ryan to stand. So they laid down on the stairs and closed their eyes, waiting for the inevitable. Within seconds, one hundred floors of steel collapsed onto the trapped firefighters and 17 year old Ryan Parker.
An earth shattering boom resonated through the streets as the entire building hit the ground. A huge cloud of debris shot in every direction, making it seem as dark as night. From the small discount store Jacob hid in, he saw the dark cloud rush by and all light was gone, the room entirely dark. But Jacob wasn’t paying attention. Something called to him. He knew. Ryan was dead.
On the steps of the Museum of Natural History, Jessica watched the collapse of the tower. She didn’t know if any of them were in the tower, but she was overwhelmed and covered her face. Tears streaked down her face. All she could think of were the thousands of people in that building. She moved into a state of shock.
As the debris cloud began to clear, Jacob ran out of the store and turned towards the site.
James Donovan had barely survived the fall by retreating into the Marriott lobby and crouching behind the desk. Dozens of people were running from the site, but he saw at least one face he recognized running back towards the remaining tower. He was looking around and yelling out a name. Donovan jogged over to him. He was the one who was giving CPR when Donovan arrived at Tower One.
“Is it your friend?” asked Donovan.
“Yeah, he was in the.., he was in the building when it…, it…, fell. Did he come out? Did you see him?” asked Jacob.
Donovan had been one of the last people to leave the building, but he didn’t remember seeing the friend of this boy.
“I’m sorry, son. I didn’t see him. You should leave,” he said to him.
“No. I can’t, there are still people that need help,” said Jacob.
Donovan couldn’t stop him, he just nodded.
“If you hear anything like you heard before this happened, get into a building and hide under something, and preferably not that one,” said Donovan, pointing to the Marriott hotel. A large section of exoskeleton had crashed through the lobby roof.
Jacob nodded and began to scour the pile of debris for survivors.
In the street, a man screamed for help. Jacob turned to him. His right leg was jammed into a pile of debris. Jacob ran over and began to pull on the leg, attempting to free it from the heavy chunks of concrete and steel that entombed it. The damage was worst then he thought, because with a sickening pop, the lower half of the leg separated from the upper leg. Jacob cursed and ripped his shirt off. It was caked in dust. That would hurt the leg more than help it. He reversed it and used it as a bandage.
“Help! Somebody Help! We’ve got some serious bleeding!”
A firefighter ran over and saw the man’s leg. He cursed and quickly lifted him above his head and ran towards the closest ambulance.
Jacob turned his head as he heard a loud, distinct pop. He looked up at the smoking tower. He saw the police helicopters flying away from the tower. Tower One was going to fall. Jacob looked around. The closest intact building was a block past the tower. Jacob looked up. He didn’t have much time. He sprinted. In order to get to safety, he had to run next to the tower. He was suddenly glad that he had run track. All of his remaining strength pushed him as he ran, shirtless towards the lobby of another building in the World Trade Complex. As he ran next to Tower One the top of the building collapsed and began to fall. Jacob couldn’t look, he still had about one hundred yards before he was safe. The earth trembled under his feet as he sped past the collapsing building. Pieces of debris were already falling to the ground. When he finally made it well past the tower, he heard the loud thud as a huge piece of the building fell. He ran harder until he reached the doorway of the building. It was protected by steel doors, which were locked. Jacob looked up. A steel and concrete extension of the building covered about 15 feet from the door. He quickly huddled here as the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed on top of him.
The debris piled up next to him until he was entombed in a pile of debris ten feet deep. He could barely see for the dark cloud of dust which had congregated in his tomb. A small opening existed between the edge of the concrete extension and the pile of debris. Jacob couldn’t move. He thought he was going to die in this pile. He thought of his family and of Jessica. He didn’t want to leave them, but the dust was collecting on his lungs, slowly suffocating him. He thought of his life, how he hated the people who had done this. He wished more than anything to meet whoever did this and kill them. If he was going to be cheated out of life, he wanted to cheat the mastermind of this slaughter out of his.
James Donovan had seen Jacob’s desperate sprint for safety as the building fell on top of him. Right before he had ducked for cover, he saw Jacob’s despair as the building he wished to enter was locked. Now, as the dust settled, Donovan ran over towards the building. A pile of debris completely surrounded the shelter where Jacob was trapped. He and another firefighter climbed up on the pile and peered through the hole.
Jacob saw the figure in the hole and made a last effort to reach him. He was ten feet down, and the firefighter’s extended arm wouldn’t reach.
Donovan wouldn’t give up. He took off his jacket an extended it through the opening. James reached for it and locked onto it. Donovan pulled until a dust caked but alive Jacob Richardson emerged from his tomb. Donovan quickly attached his oxygen mask to the teenager’s face and the young man breathed crisp, clean air into lungs full of dust.
Jacob finally took the mask off and looked around. A pile of debris ten stories tall stood were two 110 story skyscrapers once stood.
“Son, you should leave,” said the fireman. For the first time since Flight 11 hit the tower, which had just almost killed him, he decided it was time to leave “Ground Zero”.
He noticed the name on the jacket; J. Donovan. He committed the name to memory and thanked the firefighter before beginning a long walk towards the Natural History Museum.
Museum of Natural History
Jacob walked up the steps of the building and looked around. Nowhere could he see his group. He looked at a clock. It was nearly four hours since he had sent them here. After the towers had fallen, perhaps they had assumed the worst. As he looked around, he drew curious looks from onlookers. He was completely caked in brown dust and wasn’t wearing a shirt. His hair was the color of dirt.
He decided to get out of Manhattan. He could always reach them in the near future, but he needed to get out of New York. He had family in Newark, about thirty miles from the edge of the city. He hailed a cab. As he got in, he told the driver to get him to Newark.
“I’ll get you as close as possible, but you’re probably gonna have to walk across the bridge,” said the cab driver.
“Were you, uh, there?” asked the driver.
“Yeah. All they way from the first impact until the second tower fell on me,” said Jacob.
“Why’d you stay? If it were me, I’d have been gone after the first hit,” said the driver.
“There were hurt people. My friend and I were helping. He was in the first tower when it fell. I returned to the site to help, and the second tower fell on me and I was stuck under some debris. Barely made it out, but that doesn’t matter, I need to get to Newark,” said Jacob.
“Wow. I’m really sorry about you’re friend. It must be really hard,” said the driver.
Jacob just nodded.
Soon the cab stopped. An almost mile long traffic jam had them stuck. He’d have to walk the last mile.
“How much do I owe you?” asked Jacob, reaching for his wallet.
“Nothing. You’re a hero today pal. Thank you. I hope you never forget this day. This ride’s on me,” said the driver.
“Thanks,” said Jacob, getting out of the cab. He began the long walk towards the bridge.
As Jacob walked across the bridge, several people stared at him and knew where he had been, and looked at him with sympathy. A stranger handed him a bottle of water which he drank quickly before rubbing the last remnants on his face. From behind him, a voice called out.
“Hey, were you there when it fell?” he asked. Jacob turned around. The speaker was a man in his late thirties. He had black hair and wore a black business suit.
“Yeah, both times. I’ve been there since the first plane hit,” he replied.
“You stayed there, even after the first tower fell? Why?” asked the man.
“There were people there in worse condition than I was. I had to help out,” said Jacob.
“What was it like?” asked the stranger.
“Hell,” said Jacob, and he told his entire story as he walked next to the stranger.
When he was finished, the man just stared at him.
“That’s incredible. So you’re going to your folk’s home in Newark so you can try and get in touch with your girlfriend?” he asked.
“Yeah, hopefully I can find a cab on the other side,” Jacob replied.
“Yeah, I doubt it. But I’ll tell you what. I live in Atlantic City, and I have to drive down there anyway. My car’s at the subway station. I’ve got a change of clothes in there, and I’ll drop you at your folk’s house,” offered the stranger.
“Thanks. My name’s Jacob Richardson. And you are…?” he asked.
“Thomas Hatfield. I work at a law firm near Central Park. We handle all of their legal cases. Stupid stuff,” said Hatfield.
The two walked the span of the bridge and continued until they were in the parking lot of the subway station. Hatfield walked up to his vehicle, a 1997 Jaguar and opened the trunk.
“These are my running shorts and stuff, they’ll be good enough. There’s a restroom in the lobby,” said Hatfield, handing Jacob a duffel bag.
Jacob walked into the station and entered the restroom. He quickly changed. He washed his face and wiped his body as clean as possible. He threw the dirty shorts, socks and underwear into the bag and left the restroom. He went into the parking lot and headed for the beige jaguar. There was nobody around, but an envelope was lying on the unlocked drivers seat. Jacob opened the door and picked it up. Three things were in it. A set of keys to the car, and two letters. He picked up the first. It was scrawled on a piece of legal notepad. It read:
I hate to go back on my promise, but I will not be taking you to Newark. Instead, I am giving you my car so that you may drive to Newark on your own. Don’t try and refuse, I’m already long gone. Your story really touched me, and I feel that for everything you have done for New York, that you should take this as my thank you. The other paper is a legal release that says this car is yours. All you have to do is sign. Best of luck in finding your friends, and may your fallen comrade live forever in peace as we destroy those who did this.
Sure enough, the car would legally be his if he signed the release. Jacob looked around. Hatfield was nowhere to be seen. Jacob shrugged and found a pen in the car and signed the release.
Jacob climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine. He found a news station and turned it up.
“As we speak, President Bush is on Air Force One in response to the terror attacks on New York and Washington. There are unconfirmed reports of another crash in rural Pennsylvania, but these have not yet been verified.”
Jacob bowed his head and said a quick prayer. He shook his head as he thought of how massive this operation had to have been. 3, maybe 4 hijacked airplanes had become suicide missiles. He started the engine and backed out of the parking spot. He left the lot and headed for Newark.
Newark, New Jersey
Jacob’s grandparents were nonetheless surprised to see their grandson pull into their driveway in a Jaguar. They’d known he was in New York, but a new car was probably the last thing in their mind.
He quickly called his parents to tell them he was okay. He then called his girlfriends parents in hope they had heard from her. They hadn’t but they promised to call him as soon as they got word.
“Why’d you call them? Don’t they know you’re okay?” asked his grandmother. Jacob proceeded to tell them his entire story.
Hotel 8 – Newark, New Jersey
Jessica sat on the edge of her bed, crying. They had waited for three hours, but Jacob had never shown up. Even after both towers were down, neither him nor Ryan had come to the museum. She could hardly think straight, and while her other friends tried to comfort her, they couldn’t know what it felt like to think that her boyfriend and his best friend were dead.
An exclamation rang out in the room.
“Jessica! It’s Jacob!”
Jessica turned to the television.
“These images were taken by amateur camera shortly after the first building fell,” said the anchor. A doctor was walking around the site as firefighters, police officers and civilians ran everywhere. And sure enough, there was Jacob, wrapping a man’s leg with his shirt.
“As the young man helped people out of the tower, it is beginning to fall. He appears to be running for cover, towards the doomed building. This is where the camera leaves the young man when the photographer turns and runs,” said the anchor.
The last images showed the last desperate sprint for safety before the tower fell. It did little to help Jessica.
Jessica jumped as the phone rang loudly. She cautiously picked it up.
“Hello?” she asked shyly.
“Is Jessica Sharp there?” asked a young man’s voice.
“Jacob!” she screamed.
A relieved series of sighs rang out in the room at the news.
“Is Ryan there, can I talk to him?” she asked.
Her expression quickly changed as he told her he didn’t think Ryan made it. The other people in the room read the expression. They had gotten Jacob back, but Ryan was gone forever.
Johnathan Reagan’s girlfriend however, hadn’t gotten her boyfriend back. She looked at his flight schedule, and then to the list of hijacked flights. His schedule said United Airlines Flight 175. The list on the television said United Airlines Flight 175. She collapsed to the floor in tears.
September 13th 2001
The group of seven students stood silently at the edge of Ground Zero in reverence to their fallen friend. Jacob stood at the front of the group and stared at the heap of debris that once was the majestic Twin Towers. As he stood there, the images from two days ago raced through his mind. The airplanes slamming into the skyscrapers. The horror of seeing the building collapse on top of his best friend. And the ever-present memory of being trapped in the tomb that would almost claim his life. As he stood there, he pulled a letter out of his pocket and approached the police officer on duty.
“Sir, could you make sure this letter reaches the firefighter J. Donovan?” asked Jacob.
“One second, son,” said the officer, reaching into his car for his radio. In a few minutes, the familiar form of James Donovan appeared. Jacob could hardly contain himself as he handed the fireman a letter of thanks.
“Kid, you really impress me. From the time the first plane hit until I saved your life, you stayed right in the middle of all this, just to help everybody. And then you come back to the site to thank me. I really think you should come with me,” said Donovan, taking the letter. Jacob obliged and followed the firefighter through the maze of debris that was once the World Trade Center. They eventually came to a tent, under which was a flag draped over a table.
“We’re signing the flag in memory of 9/11. I’d like you to sign for yourself and your friend,” said Donovan.
Jacob held back emotion as he picked up a Sharpie and signed:
Jacob Richardson 9/11/01
America never Forgets
Ryan Parker – 8/23/1985 to 09/11/01
May God have mercy on their souls
Jacob thanked Donovan and carefully wrote his email address on a slip of paper and gave it to Donovan.
“Write me sometime. You’d better get back to work. There could still be people out there,” said Jacob. Donovan shook his hand and walked off, back into the debris.
As Jacob walked towards the edge of the site, he took a seat on a smooth pieced of debris. The state of the site reminded him of junkyard. Except that only two days ago it had been two gigantic skyscrapers filled with people. Something on the ground caught his eye. It was a wrist watch that had a calendar on it. The hour hand was on the 10 and the minute hand was on the 29. The date said 09, 11. Jacob placed it in his pocket and removed the Sharpie he had just used to sign the flag. He picked up a sheet of metal and wrote a short message to the victims and a warning to the attackers. He took the piece of metal and threw it into the tall pile of debris. He then walked over to the place where he had been entombed and climbed to the top of the pile, right by the hole. There was still a bare spot in the dust where he had huddled when the tower fell. He carefully selected a small piece of steel from the pile that entrapped him and put it in his pocket. And without looking back, he departed Ground Zero. He met his friends at the edge of the site and they proceeded to walk back to their vehicles for the long trip home.
I hope you have enjoyed this story, but more importantly, I hope it reminds you why we have soldiers in Afghanistan. I wrote this because I never want to forget September 11th 2001. Please, on 9/11/02, as you go about your daily routine, think of everyone who died on that fateful day. I hope this story has touched you. I also hope you had the patience to finish it. Always Remember, Never Forget.