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  • Warning/ Disclaimer - The idea for this story came to me shortly after the dreadful events of that day. It is a fictional "what if" short story and is not intended to offend anyone nor raise painful emotions. If you think this could describe you, please be cautious about reading further. If not, all feedback is acceptable.


    “This is it”, Ali said to himself. He knew that when he opened that door to the roof there was definitely no going back. The act of opening the door would send a signal to the main security desk to alert the security that the door had been breached. Nobody was allowed on the roof without the security being informed first and workmen had to have a guard escort them for safety Sometimes the wind at this height could easily pluck a man to his death so, each person venturing out on to the roof had to be strapped on to a safety line which the security guard could use to “reel them in”, if they got into difficulty.

    Taking a deep breath, he depressed the bar and pushed the door outwards. The sudden blast of cool air that he’d expected never came and he realized it was very still out there. Almost unnaturally so. He decided to test it and carefully stepped out onto the roof, holding on to the door frame, just in case, but there was no wind, not even a breeze. Despite the height he was now at, he could just as easily have been walking along at ground level.

    Knowing that he had to move quickly now since the door alarm would have been sounded, Ali made his way over to a small metal box and dropped his bag. With a sense of urgeny he removed a small explosive device and sat it on top of the metal box then carefully placed six military smoke grenades next to it. That done, he began to work on unlocking the door on the metal box which held the pump apparatus for the buildings main air ventilation.

    Thinking over what he was about to do, he smiled to himself at the confusion and panic he was about to create amongst the people in the building below him. Of course, they wouldn’t know that he was bluffing and that the colored smoke was harmless. He would make them believe it was a deadly poison he had spread and they would have to evacuate the entire building.

    Nobody would get hurt, of course, but by evacuating everyone, the greedy, corrupt companies that did their dirty trade deeds would lose millions in the time it took them to realize that he’d fooled them. He would be arrested of course, he knew that and was prepared for it but he also knew that, by the time they got to the ground, the media would be there and everybody would see him and know what he had done. Today, Ali Bousaid would have his fifteen minutes of fame!

    Deciding to have a cigarette whilst he waited for the imminent arrival of the security guards on the roof, he sat back and leisurely blew smoke out into the bright, clear, morning air. With time to spare, he looked around, savoring the view from this vantage point. It really was rather beautiful, he realized.

    Suddenly, the building seemed to vibrate then sway, then it moved alarmingly making Ali slide away from the metal box at his back. It took him a moment to recover and he saw that the smoke grenades had fell to the roof all around the ventilation shaft. As he looked to his left, he was shocked to see a thick column of black, acrid smoke rising up the side of the building. It was obvious that something had gone horribly wrong as the smoke was too thick and swiftly rising to be a simple fire in one of the offices below. That amount of smoke indicated that something bigger, maybe even an entire floor, had caught alight at the same time.

    “That’s impossible”, he thought to himself, “there’s nothing in the building that could have done that!”

    Carefully, he made his way to the edge of the roof, intending to lie on his stomach and look over the edge to see if he could identify where the smoke was coming from. It was all he could think of to do, such was his confusion. The smoke was too great though and he couldn’t get close enough to the edge. Standing, Ali moved to the corner of the building where it was relatively clear and lay down again before crawling forward the last few yards to the edge.

    The sight that greeted him was one of devastation and horror!

    As he looked over the edge, he could see that windows just below and to the left of him had been shattered the blinds within the office were hanging out, moving slightly in the updraft from the smoke. Now and then, flames appeared, curving over the top edge of a window and, as they did so, he felt a hot blast on his face. There was also smells which he didn’t recognize at first but as he concentrated, he realized that, mixed in with the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh was the smell of Fuel. He couldn’t understand how that could be but there was no mistaking the very distinctive smell of aviation fuel. It made no sense.

    As he peered over the edge again, he was startled to see a person five floors below suddenly leap out into the air and fall away from him. There was no scream, no sound and Ali watched in horrific fascination at the speed the body fell away from him towards the ground far below. He was too high to see an impact, and the smoke obscured his vision anyway but he could imagine it, even although he didn’t want to.

    Twisting around, he lay on his back, his breath coming in short gasps, his heart racing. When he thought he heard a voice, he twisted back around again, in time to see more people escaping the fire by jumping from the windows.

    None pf the people had been on fire, he realized and it slowly dawned on him that if they were jumping that meant there must be no other way out. The fire stairs must be blocked off, or on fire. If that was the case, then that meant he too might be trapped here and, worse, no one even knew he was here. If the security guards hadn’t arrived to get him off the roof then maybe they weren’t coming and…

    His train of thought was abruptly cut off by the sound of an airplane close by, it’s engines racing. Turning tow3ards that sound, he caught sight of it, low over the buildings and followed its progress as it drew closer and closer. Unable to tear his horrified gaze away, Ali watched as it first impacted then tore through the tower block next to him. He was shocked to see the flames, the smoke, the glass, the papers all being blown out and falling away but what was burned into his retina was the sight of several people being thrown out into the air and, mercifully, swiftly plummeting out of his line of vision.

    “Oh my god”, he said silently to himself.

    Rising, he ran over to the other side of the building to look at the tower block next to him, which was now also on fire with a large black cloud of thick burning smoke blotting out the skyline. The beautiful morning he had been enjoying only a moment ago had turned into a nightmare.

    Suddenly feeling very weary and weak at the knees, Ali returned to the ventilation shaft and slumped down beside it. He had wanted to cause some trouble to the people in the office blocks below him, had wanted them to lose money, but this? He had never wanted this. This was something else altogether.

    The sight of the people, the fire and the smoke was all too much for him. He realized that the best thing now was to try and head back to the ground and slip away quietly in the crowd. His thirst for vengeance had gone and now all he wanted was to go home.

    Standing, he closed the door on the ventilation shaft and lifted the smoke grenades into his bag. With one last glance around him, he headed back towards the staircase, noting as he went that a wind had picked up now, brought on by the firestorm raging below.

    Then it happened.

    With a thunderous cacophony of creaking and roaring, the next tower block began to buckle and twist inwards. Spinning round to look, Ali was horrified to see a gaping chasm appear in the roof as the whole structure began to fall in on itself. In a second, it was gone, leaving behind a rolling, thick tower of smoke, dust and debris in its place.

    Rooted to the spot, Ali stood there for what seemed like an eternity, staring at the space which was occupied by tower two, only a few moments ago. He couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe that the whole building had collapsed just like that. It was like a living nightmare that he’d been unwillingly thrown into. Then it struck him - If it had happened to that building…..

    Turning, Ali raced towards the open doorway at the stair case, throwing his bag aside. It made no difference now whether they found it or not. He was yards away from the door when the noise began again and, recognizing it now, he knew he was too late. Resigned to his fate, he watched in horrified fascination as a crack appeared across the roof, speeding straight towards him. Raising his eyes skywards, he struggled to recite a prayer as he heard a high pitched screaming close by, not realizing the sound was coming from his own throat.

    Today, Ali Bousaid would not be the name on everyone’s lips after all. Instead he would simply be another unidentified male in the devastated ruins of one of the most evil acts of mans inhumanity to man!
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