Author's Note: Although the circumstances from which this story was inspired were incredibly sad, this story is one of hope and peace at life’s end. It is meant to give solace to those who lost loved ones on 9/11. Most of the grieving hoped that their lost loved ones did not suffer. This story takes that idea to a much greater place.

 

Floor 101 (inspired by the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001)

By Christopher R. Whalen

 

 

The elevator door opened on Floor 101 of the North Tower. His left foot began his exit from the elevator car of what would soon be called the former site of The World Trade Center, when he heard and felt it.

 

He was 32 years of age, and a senior engineer for The Port Authority.

 

His brain instantly processed and filtered all of the stimuli it had just received. He felt the instinctive fear and survival responses that even the lowest level primate would have felt at that moment, but his brain also gave him instructions for survival based on his accumulated experience.

 

Twelve years prior he had served as an explosive expert within the Navy Seals. He had led covert operations in and around the gulf region.  His accomplishments were never made public, but a Navy Seal did not need fame to feel accomplished nor did he do his job for accolades.

 

His experience told him that most likely a large incendiary device had detonated on a floor below him and that this was not an accident. He knew he needed to evacuate the building.  Dormant instincts and military training that he had not used since November, 1990, the month and year of his honorable discharge from the Navy, instantly re-bloomed. They were vibrant and focused, but more importantly, able to help him react correctly to what was happening around him, as if he was still performing his duty for his country.

 

All of these thoughts, the primal and elevated, took less than a second to fill his mind from the moment he felt the concussive force of the airliner that had struck the building he was in.  He would never know what caused what he had felt.  Within seconds from the initial sound of the blast and simultaneous rocking of the building, his two-way radio was rendered worthless.

 

The floor he was standing on was completely vacant and a new tenant had just recently signed a multi-year lease. He was the main engineer assigned to the fit-up of the space. He looked around at what seemed like a war zone; electrical wires hanging, old dry wall, dust, nails, and carpeting strewn on the floor.  The demolition team had almost completed their work yesterday. He was here to supervise the finishing of it.

 

He opened the door of a stairwell and thick black smoke engulfed him. He quickly retreated and closed it. He suddenly realized there was jet fuel burning. This momentarily confused him, but he discarded this as irrelevant almost instantly.  He checked all other stairwell doors but each one was impassable. The entire floor began to fill up with smoke and flames began to creep up the walls.

 

He realized that there would be no escape for him. He dialed his wife of fourteen years on his cellular phone.

 

His home telephone rang and their answering machine answered his call.

 

He heard his voice.  He smiled as the announcement played as he could recall his wife telling him how stupid it was going to sound.

 

“You have reached Lisa, Rita, Emily and Jack McCarthy, after the tone, you’re on your own….BEEP”

 

He spoke.

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