September 11

Debra Fran Baker

"Oh, thank God!" Like everyone else, I'd been staring at the television in a sort of numb haze, but Jeremy's shout woke me up. We all turned to him, and there Danny was, covered in dust and shaking. He didn't stop shaking even when I wrapped my arms around him.

"Don't cry, Case. The dust'll set into cement and I'll never get it out." He pushed me away just far enough to end the hug, but no so far he couldn't lean on me. I guided him to a chair and let him sit down, keeping my hand on his filthy but living shoulder.

"I...I tried to reach you guys. I really did. But the cellphones are out and there are these long lines at the payphones and half the time the circuits are busy anyway and I had to come here. I'm fine. I'm fine."

"You sure you're fine?"

"Yeah." He tried to get out of the chair. "Where is everyone else?" He looked around. "I see Natalie and Jeremy and...where's Dana? Where's Elliot?"

Jeremy mustered a smile, although there was still white showing around his eyes. "Elliot and Dana are home and safe in Brooklyn. Elliot has a DSL hookup, so we can email him. It took a bit, but he was able to call Dana. We haven't heard from Isaac yet."

"Isaac doesn't have to leave until about ten, right? He'd have heard it on the radio and gone back home."

I nodded. We'd spent the entire morning after *it* happened going over where people were and if they were safe and who had checked in. "Lisa and Charlie are fine. Charlie's school is out of the danger zone, but she went and picked him up. She managed a fast phone call before our lines went dead."

"Our lines are dead?" I nodded. "All of them?" I nodded again. "You mean we're totally cut off now?" He started to breathe hard. "We can't be cut off, Casey. We can't. We need to be in contact with the rest of the world. What if... they come closer? Like the Empire State Building?"

"It's okay, Dan. We're not cut off. The computers are still connected, and we have radio and cable. We're fine. If we need help, we can get help. But we won't need help." Jeremy's voice sounded calm, but he was holding tightly to Natalie.

"What about the station? What is going on here?"

"We're not on the air."

"We're dark? We can't afford to be dark." He clutched at me.

"We're showing a network newsfeed. No one wants to know about sports now. No one is playing sports now. Baseball is canceled tonight."

"Who the hell cares about sports or baseballs? Some bastards took out the Twin Towers. I *saw* it. I *heard* it. Right from my apartment."

He lived in Battery Park City, an upscale collection of high rises just off the East River. He had a view of the Towers. He must have seen all of it. I knelt down and held him tightly. "It's okay, Dan. Your place is fine."

"I saw it. I saw the shadow of the planes and heard them hit. And when the buildings fell, it was like nothing you'd ever heard before. I heard those buildings *die*, Casey. And I knew who ever was in them...tell me people got out."

"People got out."

"People got out?"

"Many people, floors full of people, got out. And you got out. We were worried.'s been hours, and you live closest. You live *there*."

"I used to live there. I don't kno