Watching the Dead Fall

Watching the Dead Fall

A Story by Andy Ruffett
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A fireman involved with 9/11.

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I can still remember it; every time the day falls down on the calendar it all comes back to me: the smoke, the towers, the terror and shock, and watching the dead fall.

            I’ve seen people lose their families because of those burning embers. I’ve seen people lose their families. I’ve seen men and women miss the life net.  Sometimes the elderly don’t make it out, yet nothing I've seen was as devastating as September 11, 2001.  

            When I was called down, I didn’t know what to expect but I was scared.

            There are many terrible things that happen in this world but I never thought I’d be witnessing one.

            I still remember climbing those stairs with heavy gear. It felt like I was dragging another body with me. Once we reached the 23rd floor we could see people making their way down, many of them burnt severely. And then the second plane struck the South Tower. The impact shook the building so hard that everything was a blur as I was thrown down the stairs. My friend Jeffrey Yates was at the top of the stairs as I struggled to stand up. Blood was streaming from my nose and my arm had been broken in two places. We kept making our way down the stairs, badly shaken.

            When we reached the 10th floor Jeff couldn’t move any longer. He was so fatigued that he just wanted to lie on the stairs. I persuaded him to move telling him we didn’t have much time, but he just wanted to lie there.

            “I can’t move any longer,” he told me. I pleaded with him to get up.

             “Leave me be,” he said.

            “I’ll carry you,” I offered. I couldn’t let my friend die like this. Many people were already making their way down ahead of me.

            “No,” he said. “Just let me rest a bit. I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

            “You can’t just stay here, we don’t have any time!” I cried. "The building could come down any second!”           

            “Then let it come down.”

            He wouldn’t budge. It seemed as if he had made up his mind, but I couldn’t understand why. Even with all my protective gear the smoke was getting to me. Jeff was already coughing quite violently. His dark green eyes told the story for him, he wasn’t moving no matter how I persuaded him. My friend was going to die here.

            “Tell my wife I love her,” he said.

            “No, I’ll stay with you,” I told him.

            He shook his head.

            “You have a family, Jake. Two beautiful children. They need you. Tim and Julia. Tim will be turning four this October, won’t he?”

            “Yes,” I said. Tears were streaming down my eyes.

            “Remember me, Jake. Now go, before you’re trapped.

            I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to. How could I let my friend die like this and not have to suffer as well? I thought about my family. What would they think if I didn’t come home? If I disappeared?  They’d be devastated. I knew that the people who commit suicide destroy the lives of the people they loved. But I wouldn’t be committing suicide. I would just be crushed in this building and no one would know why. I could radio help for Jeff, but I knew that would be no use. No one would come to get us, they wouldn’t have time. It was hopeless. I nodded towards him, tears still welling up in my eyes and left.

            When I finally was outside, the sun was beaming down upon me, but I didn’t feel at all cheerful. Paramedics rushed towards me and as I was placed onto the stretcher and I was rushed into the ambulance. Then I heard a man dressed in a full black suit cry,           “THEY’RE JUMPING!”

            I looked out the window at the burning buildings that were blanketed with black billowing smoke. From some of the destroyed windows small blurred faces were poking their heads out. Then I saw one person throw himself out of the window and begin his descent towards the ground below. He didn’t wave his hands or try to grip the air, as if he could climb back up, he just let the weight of his body carry him to the ground and looked so peaceful as he sailed down as if he wasn’t afraid of death. I couldn’t see where he landed but didn’t want to. Then there were more that followed and before my eyes, ten or more people at a time were flying out of the windows awaiting their death. I knew many firefighters were still in the building trying to rescue civilians and bring them down to the ground. But the civilians knew no help would come in time. Bodies were everywhere in the air and I felt like I should have been amongst the dead falling. I couldn’t believe I had left the building without Jeff. I should have died with him. He had been so brave to face death like that. Let him be swallowed up by the destruction. I had thought of my children and had left. But I should have stayed with my friend, not leave him alone to suffer the inevitable. My friend should have known that through all that, someone was there for him. So many people lost their lives; I really should have lost mine.

            I never saw the World Trade Centre come down, but I know Jeff didn’t make it out alive. All I ended up with was a broken arm, broken nose, and the terrible memories.

            To this day, I still remember September 11 and the devastation that was caused. Everyone says that I’m lucky to be alive but I can’t agree. What I endured, I shouldn’t have lived through. Everyone can say how devastating the event was, even I can say that. But seeing, witnessing, and remembering is different than dying, they felt the smoke attack their lungs, the wind that rushed past them as them fall, and the feeling as all life was sucked out from them. You can think or maybe you can remember, but you’ll never know or feel the way the dead did when they fell away from life on September 11, 2001.

© 2011 Andy Ruffett


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Tim
A very compelling story with a lot of tension which draws the reader in and makes him want to continue. I'm a little confused on why a ladder rig would be doing well when the fire was so high up. I lost two friends that were fireman there and as far as I know they were all forced to walk up the stairs with heavy gear. In any case, a good story.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 13 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Andy Ruffett

11 Years Ago

Did you check the new version?



Reviews

This is a beautiful tribute to those civilians, whom died on September 11, 2001!

I think that I, if I had been there, would have chosen to jump to my death, too!!

The memory of it all is engraved upon my heart!!!

Posted 12 Years Ago


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Andy Ruffett

11 Years Ago

It was a tragedy.
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Tim
A very compelling story with a lot of tension which draws the reader in and makes him want to continue. I'm a little confused on why a ladder rig would be doing well when the fire was so high up. I lost two friends that were fireman there and as far as I know they were all forced to walk up the stairs with heavy gear. In any case, a good story.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 13 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Andy Ruffett

11 Years Ago

Did you check the new version?

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309 Views
2 Reviews
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Added on February 16, 2011
Last Updated on April 16, 2011
Tags: fireman, twin towers, 9/11
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Author

Andy Ruffett
Andy Ruffett

Toronto, Ontario, Canada



About
My name is Andy Ruffett and I love writing. It's been my passion and it always will be. My writing expands through me through many different ways such as through story telling. Sometimes my stories ar.. more..

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