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Tales from 9/11 Part 2-The Survivor
Maria stopped digging for a second to think about her decision……should she leave her rival, her arch-nemesis, out to die? Under the rubble? Would the smoke cause her to suffocate before the weight of the rubble and exhaustion finished her? Or would she be saved by someone else? Maria wondered, with mouth gaping, what she should do. On one hand, she had to leave her there. Alexis had taken her job, her bonus check. Alexis had always gotten her in trouble at school…
‘Urgh. What am I thinking? I shouldn’t be holding grudges from grade school!’
A mental conflict was raging in Maria’s head, almost as if World War Three had invaded her mind just as soon as it invaded the world. Suddenly, she caught a glimpse of Alexis’ eye. A sorrowful, painful eye looked up at her through the rubble. An eye of weakness, exhaustion, and misery.
Maria had no second thoughts. She immediately began ripping away at the rubble. Her leg was killing her, but she had to save her enemy. She didn’t know why, she just had to.
The smoke was finally getting to her. As she cleared the last of the rubble, she helped a staggering, coughing Alexis to her feet. She was crying. But so was Maria. They embraced.
Finally Alexis broke away and said, “Maria…I….I’m speechless…I…I’m forever in your debt. Those monsters who attacked us…they will stand for only a moment if we respond with as much passion for our enemies as you just did for yours. For not only did you save my life, but you saved many lives with that one action of uncovering me.”
“What? What do you mean?” Maria asked. But, before Alexis could respond, the smoke rushed in with such force that it shattered one of the remaining windows in that office. Alexis and Maria used there shirts to cover their face and noses, and rushed out into the empty corridor.
It was scolding hot now. Almost the entire building had been engulfed in flames now. Oil and gas were leaking through cracks in the ceiling. Beams and walls were toppled, which made it difficult for the two to navigate, especially with the injuries they had suffered. Maria’s glasses, as they were cracked, made it impossible for her to see. Alexis had to hold her hand and guide her along.
The corridors and stairs seemed to wind on forever in an endless inferno.
‘Oh, God. Save me from this place. What have I done wrong?’ Maria thought to herself as she wound on through the hellish inferno. She felt condemned, like she deserved to be in here….dying along side her life-long rival. But, on the other hand, it was as if she knew that there was a light at the end of the tunnel
Suddenly, Maria saw the face of the man who had saved her once before. Through the smoke, she saw….an angel? Yes, surely it must be. His gorgeous eyes, long, rippling hair, and wings. No, not wings. Maria thought she must have been going delusional. It was just the man that had saved her from under the desk just minutes ago. And he had some firefighters with him.
“We gotta get outta here!” the man said as he lifted Maria onto his shoulders. The whole group started marching through the waste, Alexis tailing behind.
“We know the way out. South stairs is completely clean. Just take it to the bottom and get out. If I don’t make it, Alexis, you gotta help her out.”
“No, Michael! We’ll make it! We both will! All of us! We have the binds of marriage…..we’ll both make it!”
WHAT? Marriage? They were married? How?
“Alexis, just trust me. If anything separates us, take her with you. And save him. That’s imperative,” he said with a frustrated sigh.
“You saw it too? Oh my God….” Alexis trailed off.
‘What did they see?’ Maria thought.
They managed to get a few stories down. As they were walking somewhere around the fifth floor, a floorboard collapsed under the man’s feet. The man threw Maria safely off his shoulders as he plummeted, along with the firemen, into the blaze beneath them.
“MICHAEL!” Alexis screamed as she fell to the floor just behind where her husband fell.
“It’s over…..all over….”
“No it’s not. Come on, you’re getting delusional.” Maria, although she couldn’t see, reached out for Alexis and pulled her across the broken floor. But, she wouldn’t get up.
“Get up you idiot! We really do have to get out of here!” Maria very forcefully pulled Alexis to her feet. Alexis stared back with an empty look, like she had just been brainwashed.
She pointed at Maria and said hatefully’ “You….you let him die….it wouldn’t have collapsed if you weren’t on his shoulders. YOU KILLED HIM!” and she rushed at Maria.
Maria, out of total reaction, smacked Alexis back. So hard, though, that Alexis stumbled backwards a good twenty feet before falling over. They stared at each other for a moment, both stunned and frightened.
But, out of nowhere, a beam fell over in front of Maria. She looked up and saw the ceiling collapse on her. An then…all she could see was the light turning dark. And all she could hear was the wailing scream from beyond.