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|10-01-2006, 04:39 PM||#1|
Join Date: Sep 2006
This is my first post here, or anywhere for that matter, so please don't be too brutal! I'll probably re-do the schmaltzy ending, which was written for a school project.. anyways let me know what you all think.
His face lit up as he opened the box. A warm, yellow tone came over his face from the luminous, striped reflectors. As he tugged it out of its container, using all the strength in his five-year-old arms, he looked up and smiled. He was a fireman. Immediately a dream world descended upon him…..
The fire was raging. He was still fifteen feet away from the building, but he could already feel the searing heat, making him sweat, blurring his vision. Although he couldn’t tell if it was because of the droplets from his forehead or the tears in his eyes. It was tragic. He could hear screams. Terrible, blood-curdling screams, crying out for mercy. Orange light was flickering behind every window, and smoke as black as coal was billowing out in an endless stream. Like clouds, he thought, except with a foreboding, dark element to them. And the responsibility to save the people inside rested on his shoulders, and his alone.
The entrance hall had been blasted open by the fire-fighters that came before him. It lay carelessly strewn on either side of the now cavern-like space before his eyes, once a beautifully constructed entrance into someone’s world. Now a war-zone, a ruin. It didn’t belong. More terrified screams and a fresh, more intense blast of heat shook him awake again. He began to ascend the stairs. As he went higher and higher the heat became more and more unbearable, the smoke thicker, the air more toxic, the destruction worse, the situation all the more heartbreaking. There was a deathly silence between the screams. It was clear that the fighters before him had not been successful.
The screams were louder now. He assessed the sight before him quickly and with alertness, just as he had been trained. A metal beam had fallen, blocking the entrance to the room the people were trapped in. The door itself was made of a synthetic wood material. It was burning, but not as quickly as oak or ash would. Rubble from the ceiling was falling around his feet at an alarming rate. The fire was lashing out from above. Anyone on the floor above him would surely not survive.
Using all the strength and power within him, he attempted to open the door, each blow from his muscle-bound thigh throwing more ceiling plaster in all directions, repeatedly and with a militant rhythm. Every one of his muscles was tensed with determination and fear. His broad shoulders, tree-trunk back, and pillar-like legs supporting it all. He wished, hoped, and prayed with every hit. Wish - hope - pray. Wish. Hope. Pray. Then, with an enormous bang and a simultaneous crack, the door split in the centre from the bottom up, the combined strength of his leg breaking it in two, light flooding into the dark, black corridor from the window inside. He remembered with distant surprise that it was still morning.
There were at least five people inside, half suffocated from the smoke. With sudden horror he saw that the window had been smashed. Maybe they had broken it in an attempt to get some air, but he knew the horrendous truth - there had been more people in the room. They were looking at him, half in awe, half in relief. The fire behind his back had thrown his figure into a silhouette, so he looked like some sort of majestic superhero. Appearances can be so deceiving, he thought. If only they knew the emotions that were swirling around in his gut - terror, shock, horror, despair. Just the same as them. The only difference was the uniform. It gave him respect, aspirations of safety, and immense pressure.
Somewhat dazed, he offered some words of comfort to the grief-stricken gathering and set about directing them out of the building. He feigned a sense of authority - something he had become good at. One by one they passed him; the first was a large man of Indian descent. Then there was a Caucasian woman, once a picture of urban elegance, now a blackened, dusty mess. A young man, no older than 20, very good looking. A black woman, somewhat older than the rest. An overweight balding man. The very picture of a multicultural society - young, old, black, white, tall, small, large, slim. The possibility of them all getting out alive was by no means certain. They could lose one, maybe two, or the whole lot.
He tried to keep his ever-niggling doubts at bay and concentrated on getting everyone to safety - including him. But that was still a long way away. After what seemed like an eternity, they reached the end of the corridor and the peak of the stairs, the fire not a long way behind them. He was the first in line to reach the steps. Unable to stop himself, he faltered. The whole first floor ceiling had caved in and was now lying in a billion pieces where the stairs once was, a cascading pile of brick and mortar. There was no other way out - only back into the searing flames. Large amounts of the ceiling were still falling in. He could just about see the light from the opening where he came in. His alarm was obvious.
He found his footing on the avalanche of rubble and tentatively reached two hands towards the young business woman. Saying nothing, she allowed him to lift him onto the unstable ground, putting all her trust in him. In turn he guided each of them from the ledge onto the pile of bricks, then instructed them all to follow his footing exactly as they made their way down. Again he resorted to the same tactics that got him through the last time - wish, hope and pray. Wish that he made the right steps. Hope that there would be no further collapse. Pray that they would make it out.
Their progress continued slowly, in a stopping-and-starting fashion. Several times they were stopped when a large piece of panelling fell near them, or when a sudden boom started pieces of rubble sliding down ahead of them. He couldn’t help but make comparisons to hell, if such a thing existed. But the light was getting bigger and brighter. Hope was near.
They were about twenty-five feet away from the entrance when it happened. Although they had probably only been descending for about an hour, it felt like days. Their throats were dry, making it feel like every breath was scratching its way down to their lungs. All legs were aching, and visibly trembling from both physical and mental stress. He had let them go on ahead while he tried to keep the fire back. It was now spurting up from underneath various piles of stone - he was using the hose that fire-fighters outside had brought in. This gave him some hope - they were assuming that he was still alive. Not like the fighters that had come in before him. Even he had a little glimmer of hope somewhere inside him that they would do it.
That glimmer was promptly quenched when he heard a large thunderous rumbling coming from far above his head. Before he could shout to the people, who were almost clear of all the rubble, more was raining down upon them in a downpour. He ran towards them, not caring where his feet went anymore. Several times he stumbled and sent rubble flying in all directions, but he caught up with them. He lifted all of them out within clear reach of the opening, even the obese man and tall Indian. The strain on his arms mattered none. The last one was just out as the rubble started to pile up around him, blocking his only exit, throwing everything into darkness. He was trapped. He could hear vague cries from the fire-fighters outside, but he knew they were slipping away from him. Fading into the darkness, he let the pain go. The dream was over…..
He remembered that day in his childhood so vividly. He could almost see the bright shine of the reflectors before him now, glowing in the darkness. He could recall exactly how the happiness had welled up inside him when he opened that box. When he wore that costume for the first time as a boy. It never lost its brightness, and the happiness it brought him never faded away. By the time he had outgrown it he knew he would never do anything else in his life but become a fireman. His life did not have any meaning to it unless he was saving someone else’s. It was his fate. His destiny. He knew this, and everyone around him knew. He would be special. He would be remembered.
And he was. That day, and his actions, will go down in history. He will never be forgotten, and his legend will go on for generations to come. Everyone knows the events of that day, and know that he was special. He was someone. Because that day was September 11th, 2001.
This sig is currently under restoration...