Day of Terror : LUSENET : Kristine's Story Forum : One Thread

Chapter One September 11, 2001 David looked out the window at the beautiful city of New York. He was only seven, and was mesmerized by the flocks of birds that covered the places near the ocean. His daddy was on the 44th floor, and his mommy had brought him to the top of the north tower to see the city. “Are we gonna go there today?” David asked, pointing to Lady Liberty. “Yes we are David,” Mrs. Okada replied, “After we leave here we’re going to take a boat and see the statue.” “Can I go see daddy now?” Mrs. Okada sighed. Her son was so impatient, unwilling to stop and enjoy beauty. “Yes dear, we can.” David and his mother entered the elevator. * * * Hiro Okada sat in the meeting that had seemingly gone on for hours. He was almost ready to fall asleep. The speaker was talking about financial problems with their group…something that was none of his concern. He was currently relieving his boredom by discovering all of the fire hazards in the room. This he could be done with ease…given Hiro’s three years of fire fighting experience. He had work as a truck driver and assistant in order to pay for his college. He looked past the speaker, out the window, and saw a glimmer in the distance. What is that? Hiro thought. Hiro turned his attention to the meeting. After awhile he heard while. At almost the same time, the room turned to look. A 757 was rushing toward the building. Hiro got up and pulled out his cell phone at the same moment. He tried his wife, but her phone wasn’t on. He got into the elevator and pushed the top floor button. * * * John pulled his car up to the front of the World Trade Center. He had gone on a road trip because he wanted to see New York. Now he was here…and it was just another city. Actually…New York was a rather dirty and crowded city. John was about to call his friend Jake…to ease the boredom. Then, he remembered that his friend was at band practice. John entered the World Trade Center. He looked around the sparkling, sharp-edged lobby, and found the observation deck elevator. He had come in an off period when tourists weren’t here in great numbers. He was the only one in the elevator. * * * Jimmy put down his cell phone and looked out the window. He saw the skyline on New York going by…the plane was almost on top of the buildings. He was scared, barely able to think. He’d just left a message for his parents informing them of his situation. Jake began to hyperventilate, unable to stay calm. Then…he heard a wrenching of metal…and he was thrown from his seat (his seatbelt was unbuckled). His head struck the overhead bin and he was knocked out. * * * David and his mother felt the concussion. David was thrown from the elevator while his mother struck the front wall of the car. “Mommieeeee!” David shouted as the elevator dropped. Some jumped out windows, breaking the glass on the way out. They had panicked and wanted out of the building. David waited for a few minutes…everyone had left…before he realized that his mother was not coming back for him. He sat down and began to cry. * * * Hiro’s elevator had started up until there was a wrenching of metal. Then…the car stopped. Hiro heard another car’s emergency brakes activate…it stopped almost next to his. As soon as the shaking stopped…Hiro climbed onto the roof of the car. * * * John’s elevator had stopped very quickly; it was probably one first to activate its brakes. Actually…John had dropped two floors. His doors had started to open, but he hadn’t gotten out yet. John squeezed onto the floor, and his phone vibrated. His phone was one with a two-way radio feature…and someone close to him was signaling. “Hello?” John said. “Please help me!” a young, sobbing, voice replied. “Where are you?” “The place where you look out.” John found the stairway and began walking up. He had to push past a few injured who were making their way down. Over the phone, the child had begun crying. John knew that this was bad. “What’s your name? I’m John.” “David. Do you like ice cream?” the boy sounded almost cheery. “Yeah,” John emerged the top floor. The room had once been walled with windows. They had shattered…and the wind was strong. “David!” John shouted. John saw a small child running too him. “What are we gonna do now?” David asked. “We’re going to get out of the building,” John replied, taking David’s hand and pulling him toward the stairwell. “Wait…I gotta find my mommy,” David pulled back. “She knows you’re smart, David. She’ll we waiting for you outside.” * * * Hiro climbed up to the other elevator. He looked down. Four or five floors down, there was a three-story gap. There was blazing heat and smoke that was rising toward him. Above…there were about fifty floors left. Hiro climbed into the dark elevator. He had begun to pry open the doors when he heard labored breathing. He turned in the darkness and felt out for the person. Whoever it was was severely injured. Hiro could not tell how badly or in what way. He turned and pushed open the doors. Emergency lights dimly lighted the room. He pulled the person into the light and discovered that it was his wife. * * * Jake put his snare away and walked out of the band hall. Practice had been bad today. Mr. Schwarzwald had yelled until he was red in the face. Jake hadn’t been yelled at himself, but Jared, the 5th bass player couldn’t run to his spots (large drum)…and took a tongue-lashing. Tuesday was always a difficult band practice, it wasn’t the first day of the week but the band members weren’t fully back in the swing of things. Yesterday had been a scare for the school. A girl had brought a loaded gun, but she had been caught. Suddenly, surprising Jake, and turning several heads, his cell phone rang. This ring, the loudest and longest on the phone, was reserved for the cell phone of Jake’s best friend (who was currently skipping school). “John?” Jake said his friend’s name. “Jake…there’s a problem,” John replied. “What is it?” “I’m in the World Trade Center. It’s been hit by an airliner. I can smell smoke and I’m not sure that I can find a way down. I’m with a seven-year-old boy named David. We’re going to head for the roof in the hopes that a rescue helicopter will come by,” John had trouble speaking in the smoke. “I’m on my way John. Go to the Intercontinental when you get out. I’ll see you in a few hours.” Jake jumped into his dad’s car (his was in the shop) and left McKinley, Ohio (with tires squealing). * * * Hiro began to cough, even with his face pressed to the floor. Deciding that he couldn’t stay here any longer, he picked up his wife and began to move through the smoke to the windows. He lifted a chair, with difficulty, and smashed open a window. Moving his wife as close to the window as he could, he swung out and stood on a ledge in order to breathe fresh air. He looked out in time to watch a second plane strike the other tower. There was a blast wave of heat, and Hiro was carried away from the ledge into open air. * * * John pulled David out of what had become a furnace and onto the roof. The smaller boy coughed and slowly woke up. It was difficult to see any distance since the smoke was so thick. The roof was beginning to heat up and John knew that it wouldn’t be long before he and David would have to jump or suffer serious burns. He saw an ABC news helicopter not far off. The pilot must have seen them, for he had begun towards them. * * * Mrs. Okada was wakened with a jolt, as her husband grabbed her hand. She held on to the side of the windowpane, keeping her husband from falling. “Hiro!” she shouted, “I can’t hold on.” “Let me go!” Hiro replied, “Get out of the building!” “I can’t go in there…it’s too hot!” “Let go of me…save yourself!” Hiro shouted. “I want to be with you!” Mrs. Okada responded. Mrs. Okada thrust herself out the window into her husband’s arms. They held on as they fell…living until death parted them. * * * The helicopter was coming in low…but not low enough. “David,” John said, “I’m going to hold you on my shoulders and you’re going to grab the man’s hand. Then, they’ll turn around and pick me up.” David simply nodded and allowed himself to be picked up. The helicopter came in fast, but stopped and hovered right above the two boys. As the cameraman pulled up David, John felt a shudder. “Go on!” John shouted, “Get out of here. The building’s going to collapse!” As the helicopter pulled off, David could see the bottom of the building sinking. “MOMMIEEE!” David shouted as he saw his parents tumble out of a window. “Calm down son,” the cameraman said as he filmed the spectacle, “We’ll get you taken care of.” “Will there be any ice-cream?” David asked, turning away from the falling of a national symbol. * * * John felt the roof tilt heavily…and slid toward a gaping hole. The roof had cracked into pieces that were falling down…as well as the rest of the building. John grabbed a metal bar that was sticking out, and was swung into midair as most of the roof fell below him. John hung on for what seemed an eternity. Then…the bar he was hanging on snapped. As John fell, he thought that he saw a grinning face with horns glaring down at him. * * * Jake pulled out of the gas station (going 150 down the highway uses quite a lot of gas) and back on to the highway. The red Vanden Plas pushed its speed up as the car entered the Lincoln Tunnel. Traffic out of Manhattan was crazy…the tunnel backed up the whole way. Nobody, however, was trying to get in. Nearing the end of the tunnel, Jake saw a police car set up as a roadblock. He stopped and began slowly moving backwards toward the other mouth. He pulled out his phone. He dialed John, but John didn’t pick up. “Where are you?” Jake sighed. Jake realized that he had to get past the roadblock to get to John. He wouldn’t stop until he saw his friend again. “STOP YOUR VEHICLE!” the police shouted through the loudspeakers. Jake didn’t, his speed approaching a hundred. The police cars didn’t move, but officers near the roadblock moved away. Jake swerved and attempted to shoot between the two squad cars, but wasn’t very successful. The Jaguar skidded straight sideways into one of the squad cars. Then, Jake floored it, moving through into an almost deserted Manhattan. The police hadn’t bothered to follow…they were too preoccupied with the fall of the buildings. Jake saw up ahead an emergency line, a piece of yellow tape to keep people out. Jake’s hood ornament snagged the line and broke it. * * * David watched the red car hit the police car and then continue on its way. The helicopter was about to make it out of the emergency area when it bucked and started to lose altitude. “Hang on, I’m putting her down on the street,” the pilot shouted. “Why?” the reporter asked, “What’s happened?” “We lost to much fuel in the pass above the roof.” The helicopter dove down and smashed into the street. * * * In his rear view mirror, Jake watched the helicopter crash. Immediately, Jake pulled on the handbrake and turned the wheel, causing the back of his car to swing around, pointing him toward the crashed helicopter. Jake eased the car forward and looked at the wreckage. He got out and made his way through the wreckage to the passenger compartment. Any survivors in the crash would be in this compartment. Jake picked through the twisted metal, cutting himself in many places. After about twenty minutes, Jake found a hand. It was small, attached to an arm, and felt alive. After five minutes of furious digging, Jake picked up a small boy and put him in the backseat of the Jaguar. Slowly, Jake pulled forward to the World Trade Center…or what was left of it. The piles of rubble were enormous. Jake got out of his car and began to cross the rubble, spellbound by the destruction. Who could do this? Jake thought, This is amazing. This isn’t real. It isn’t happening. Any moment now, I’ll wake up in my bed from this nightmare. Jake was soon painfully aware of his cuts and scrapes, the smell of the smoke and dust, and the cold wind against his chest. The world had turned cold, a place where safety was not to be found. The sky was turned gray from the remains of hundreds. Jake saw only pain around him. “He was here,” Jake said, barely at a whisper, “He was probably right here.” Jake sank to his knees in the rubble of an American symbol. Chapter 2 Four hours later Jake set the empty shot glass down and sighed. “Yeah,” he said, “John was in there dude. I saw his car there.” “I can’t believe it,” Allan replied, “This has to be affectin’ everyone.” Gene poured another shot of Vodka for Jake and offered the bottle to Allan for about the fifth time. “Naw,” the Texan responded to the offer, “I gotta drive home in an hour, remember?” “Come on,” Gene said, “School’s cancelled tomorrow. You can stay here.” “Shut up,” Jake said, “The president’s on.” {Input Bush’s terrorist speech from the night of the event} “Wow,” Gene said, “This is big.” “Bigger than Pearl Harbor,” Jake added. “Bigger than JFK,” Allan continued. “And you were there, Jake,” Gene said. “What difference does that make?” Jake asked. “You were witness to something that will shape our entire lives,” Allan said. “You can see is on TV,” Jake said, clearly dropping the topic. “So,” Gene addressed his two friends, “What happens next?” “I don’t know,” Jake replied, “Dad’s in Washington for a business meeting. I’m waiting for a call from him. He should have good info on the attack.” David came downstairs to see the three boys. “David!” Jake said, “You’re supposed to be asleep.” “I wanna see mommy and daddy,” the small boy said, for what seemed the hundredth time. “Your grandparents were on another flight. I’ve left a message on their answering machine. They should check soon after this. You need to get some sleep,” Jake reassured. After David had gone back upstairs, the other boys piped up. “What his deal?” Gene asked. “His parents were in the tower, and so was he. He got a helicopter ride down. He was lucky as hell. I’m gonna take care of him until I can get ahold of his family.” Across the country, conversations were being held discussing the day’s events. This one, however, was unique. In this house lived a survivor and a scared teenager who had both lost everything. Gene and Allan soon left, and in the next couple weeks, Jake and David had a daily routine. Life was going on, moving forward at a snail’s pace. October 7, 2001 Jake flipped the TV to CNN. “Hey David,” Jake said, “C’mere! They’re about to strike back.” “…and the attack continues against the Taliban and the Al Quaeda network of terror. More airstrikes are expected to…” Jake had flipped off the TV, happy about the outcome but unhappy with the method. He had found out that his father had been killed in the Pentagon, and David’s living grandparents had been on another flight that had been hijacked, and had crash-landed in Pennsylvania. It seemed that these two families had been hit hard. These two boys were living with each other now, Jake selling his father’s stock and getting payments from the government (his father had been an intelligence officer). “Why’d you turn it off Jake?” David asked, coming into the room. “I’m too tired to deal with it right now. You know that next year, if this becomes a full war, I’ll have to leave, right?” “I don’t want you to go,” David jumped onto Jake’s lap. “Hey now, calm down. I’m not even 18 yet, and this could be over next week,” Jake said, as he set David down and picked up his car keys, “Come on, it’s time for church.” The two climbed into the slightly damaged Jaguar and pulled out for church. Jake had no reason to attend church before the disaster. Now, he went merely for David’s sake. Jake had no faith of his own, but simply pretended in order to give David a sense of hope. Church was as usual. Jake sent David to Sunday school, went to the choir room and surfed the web, then got David after Sunday school for church. Then, they’d go out for lunch with either David’s Sunday school class or (he David’s class wasn’t going out) Jake’s friends. This pair took life as they could, only having each other to turn to. The disaster hit home with Jake and David, perhaps more than it did with anyone else. Chapter Three “Hey, Jake,” David regarded Jake as he sat down next to him on the prefab stage, “You nervous?” “Not really,” Jake replied, “But it’s bringing up some bad memories.” David had done well in school, getting in to John Jay College in New York. David wanted to be a crime scene investigator, a kind of payback for the disaster he had lived through. The two looked up as the announcer introduced the pair. David stood up and looked at Jake, in full dress uniform. Jake was now a high level military training officer, preparing Special Forces troops for their missions. Wow, David thought, We came this far out of that disaster. David stepped up to the podium to speak at his own graduation. “Eleven years ago, an event took place that would change us in a way more than anything else. To paraphrase a great thinker, we grew two sizes that day. September 11th, two thousand and one, a day that will live in our hearts together, was the day we realized how strong we really were. We suffered a national tragedy and came out of it on top. I can still feel the building dropping away as I was lifted to the helicopter, but even stronger in my memory are the scenes of crowds, mobs, huge groups of people standing together under our flag.” Jake took the podium and addressed the silent crowd. “I woke up, I was tired, and I really didn’t want to go to band practice. After practice, a friend of mine, the same who gave his live to save David’s, called me from the damaged building. I abandoned school and rushed to his aid, but arrived to late to save my best friend. However, I gained a new one. David and I lived together until I finished high school. Then, I went off to join the military and work to prevent the very disaster that claimed the life of my father.” David spoke, “But that day wasn’t only a day of sadness, for Jake and I found each other as a nation found its strong spirit.” “And we turned out better for it,” Jake finished. Jake’s wife smiled at him, and he winked back. He and David stepped down from the podium and David sat down in his spot. Jake sat with the wife and watched the seniors get their diplomas. Soon, the graduation was over, and Jake left with his wife. David saw Jake slip out and wondered what lay ahead for him and his friend. Chapter Four David sat in the white room watching the landing on the TV. “We have come so far, but have so far to go,” Jared Taylor said as he stepped onto the red planet. “He was one of my students, you know,” Jake said, looking at David. Jake was a great deal older, nearing the time of his death. David watched the old man, but felt age himself. He was only a few years older than the man on the deathbed. “Yes, I know Jake,” David replied, “You’ve told me again and again.” “He learned well, he was fully dedicated to his job…” Jake started. “As were the rest of the post-nine eleven generation,” David finished, “You really should get some rest today.” “David,” Jake said, his eyes focusing far away, as if looking through time, “Do you remember the first thing you said to me?” “I remember as clearly as day. I said…’Why?’” “You couldn’t understand why anyone would want to commit such an act. Do you understand now?” “I don’t think anyone does,” David replied. “Perhaps you’re right, perhaps you’re right,” Jake sighed. David saw the old man’s chest rise and fall, an effort, a few times, and then stop. “Farewell old friend,” David said as he left the room. * * * “But grandpa, you can’t go!” Jake Okada shouted. “Jake,” David replied, “I’m too old. I’m tired, worn out. Nothing can last forever.” “Why not?” Jake asked, his eyes big with inquiry. “I don’t think that you can understand that just yet,” David answered, “You have to experience loss to understand it.” “Why do we have to feel loss?” “It’s part of life,” David replied, “Please go, I need to talk to your father.” The boy left and a tall man entered. He wore a dress uniform, full of honors and awards. “So, colonel, are you ready to take care of this family?” David asked. “Not really sir, but I can do my best.” “That’s all anyone can expect. Just remember what I’ve told you, and you’ll do fine,” David finished, “Could you turn the light off on your way out please?” David’s son left his father in darkness. The old man thought about his friend Jake, who he hoped to see again soon. Then, his last breath slipped away and he left the world behind. Two friends, who changed, shaped, and formed each other’s lives, were brought together by a horrible tragedy. They saw the event as something that was not an end, was not a loss. They saw it as a beginning, a chance to start a new life. Out of dark, comes light. Out of chaos, comes order. Out of death, comes life. Two friends, two brothers of spirit, came out of September 11th, two thousand one.

-- Dustin Manuel (, December 12, 2001

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