Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 972
They have secured the aircraft, and Hammad is sitting up front in the jump seat, catching his breath. He is supposed to keep watch or patrol the aisles with his box cutter. Mace, which he had sprayed, is floating heavily in the air, and he is bleeding from a cut on his upper arm. He is not confused, just out of breath, but he is not certain where his box cutter is.
If the plan is moving forward as he understands it, the plane is heading toward the Hudson corridor; however, there is no window through which he can look without leaving his seat. His cell phone is on vibrate, and the airplane is still. He feels no sensation of flight, and this is his long-held wish: to die with his brothers. His breath comes in short bursts and his eyes are burning. On his left, he sees an empty seat in first class. It is obvious to him that one of his brothers must have accidentally cut him in the initial scuffle, and the pain is intensifying. Now he remembers something from long ago—the Shia boys on the battlefield running across the mudflats toward their deaths with a battle cry on their lips. This gives him strength, thinking of those waves of young boys being gunned down by machine guns but never faltering in their suicidal mission.
Hammad believes he can see directly into the towers, though they are behind him. He sees their long shadows coming closer, they with their material possessions. Every one of his life’s sins is about to be forgiven; there is nothing now between him and eternal life. He has been wishing for death, and it has finally arrived. Fastening his seatbelt, Hammad begins rocking in his seat. His pain is worse and he hears noise all around him. An empty water bottle falls to the floor and rolls a bit before the airplane strikes the towers in a blast that sends Keith Neudecker out of his chair and into a wall.
Keith is backed into a wall and drops his phone as the floor begins to slide beneath him. He sees a chair bounce down the hall in slow motion. The ceiling begins to lift and ripple, and Keith sits down with his head between his knees and his arms over his head. There is noise and movement everywhere around him, and he understands the tower is, unfathomably, moving. Everywhere is a smell he knows but cannot recall, and everything around him is shifting, moving, falling. Keith sees a man across the hallway in the doorway opposite his. The man’s jacket is half off and there is blood on his shirt. He is a client or a lawyer or something; Keith knows him slightly and they exchange a look. People around him are talking and calling out. Keith grabs his jacket from behind the door—a pointless action, he knows—and begins walking.
The smell is burning fuel, and it is coming down from the floors above him. Keith finds Rumsey’s office and has to climb in, and then he finds his friend. Rumsey is sitting in a chair, the handle of his broken coffee cup still in his hand. His head leans to the left, and Keith sees that something heavy has fallen on him there. The nerves and raw tissue of his head are exposed, and Keith can smell death everywhere around him. Rumsey is breathing and Keith begins talking to him, telling him he will not be able to wheel him out in the chair because of all the debris. As he is doing this, he sees something out the window, a white shirt and a hand. The building continues to crack...
(The entire section contains 972 words.)
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