September 11th told through the eyes of death...A creative writing assignment.
|*This isn't a well-polished piece of writing, just to warn you. I do intend to come back to it at some point, but this is my latest draft of it & I'm just curious to see what everyone thinks of it (at least the general idea of this story)! Thanks.
9/11: Through the Eyes of Death
The first soul is always the hardest. That was what my father had told me when I was younger and beginning my training. I have spent my life believing this to be true. One fateful day, however, I discovered that what he had said wasn’t necessarily true.
The freeing of a human’s soul is not an easy task. One of the most difficult things about it is the emotions surrounding the death of a human. Those who are alive are completely distraught, and you too, are covered with a dreaded sense of hopelessness. You feel what they feel. It’s quite awful, to be perfectly honest.
Unlike the mourning humans, however, I am lucky enough to be able to feel the release of that person’s soul. Now that, my friends, is a very beautiful thing. When I gently pull that soul from them, the feeling of pure joy is generally what I’m greeted with. The pain and suffering that soul had felt in life no longer feels in death. I am able to feel their happiness and strength. It’s what makes my job worth it in the end.
But that day was the hardest I’ve had to go through in my hundreds of years of being an Angel of Death. From the moment I woke up, I knew my work load was going to be particularly large that morning. When you’ve done this long enough, you learn to look for the signs. My sign that morning was the mourning dove perched outside my window. Mourning doves in the world of Death are the symbol for mass casualties. Ironic, huh? It just sat in my window, cooing and pecking at stray seeds.
Even though I knew that something was going to happen, I didn’t know where or when, and that bugged me. I just don’t like dealing with the mass soul removal and release like that. That feeling of terror that others are feeling can be more overwhelming than the sense of release. Just not something I care to deal with.
As I started my day, I tried to push the omen of the dove to the back of my mind. I couldn’t make restless souls wait just because I was wondering what was going to happen later on. I listened to the sounds of the souls calling me, and I followed them. I released a few elderly souls, and few ill hospital patients. I’ve always like freeing the elderly. They’re so kind and gracious…So thankful for what I’ve done. It’s nice to be appreciated.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky that morning in New York City. The only sound was that of the faint hum of an approaching plane, which wasn’t all that uncommon on a given morning. As I was gently floating through the sky, though, something about that plane caught my eye as it came into view.
The sunlight was glinting off its white-coated metal shell. The plane was approaching the city quickly, urgently. I pulled back and stood hovering in the sky as the plane passed under my black, moth-eaten feet (we Angels of Death have never been the most attractive beings). As it nosedived below me, I could sense something was very, very wrong. I was hit with a massive wave of completely uncontrolled terror.
As I tried to press down the plane passengers’ feelings, I tried to focus on what was going on. In between moments of near-panic I started to piece together the morning. There was currently a plan barreling toward an unaware, bustling city. The people on the plane knew that they were not about to get to their final destination the way they had planned (alive). This morning, a massive black raven spent an hour sunbathing in front of my window in the sky.
I knew that all of these people were about to die at the hands of some crazy man, and they all knew too. And there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. That was the tragic part of being an Angel of Death. People were always go to die; people who were young, people with so much potential; people who didn’t deserve to die. Even so, I still had to pull their souls from their twisted, lifeless bodies. There was nothing I could do to stop it. I was completely helpless.
The only thing I could do was stand by and watch the plane begin to angle toward the heart of New York City: the massive building of the Twin Towers. The Towers, I knew, would be filled with thousands of clueless people just going about their daily business. None of them knew that their lives were about to come to a very terrifying and probably painful death.
The plane crashed into the World Trade Center at 8:46 AM. There was another waved of terror and pain that swept over me as I slowly made my way to the tower. I could feel the heat of the fire radiating from the gaping hole that the plan left on the upper part of the building. My ears were filled with the roaring of the flames and the desperate cries of agony. I started sifting through the rubble as quickly as I could in an attempt to free the victim’s souls and end their immense suffering.
It was taking every ounce of strength and self-control I had to not allow myself to be taken over by their feelings. The souls I was extracting from the rubble weren’t feeling particularly free or appreciative. Instead, they surrounded me and flooded me with a sense of confusion.
“You’re dead now,” I explained, “You need to move on, and away from here.”
I probably would have been better off trying to reason with a brick wall. None of them understood. All they knew was that one second, they had been going about their office job normally. The next second, they were free-floating, glowing souls no longer attached to a body. After repeating myself a couple more times, I knew I had to give up. I had too many souls that I had to release and I couldn’t focus on the ones I’d already separated from mangled bodies.
I had just about finished on the upper floors when I felt the building being shook from another impact. It was exactly 9:03 AM, and a second plane had just struck the lower part of the tower I was in. Once the second plane had come to its final resting place inside the World Trade Center, I could feel the building still reverberating with the impact. It’s not going to hold, I had thought to myself. I was, yet again, forced to swallow my own feelings of panic and to focus on drawing out the souls.
Large support beams, shards of glass and other debris were beginning to fall around me. The floor, now coated in a thick layer of dust and rubble, was swaying and buckling under my feet. I could feel more and more people slipping from the world of life to that of the dead. Sirens were shrieking and bystanders were screaming as they watched the iconic tower start to crumble in on itself.
It was hours before I was finished working at the towers. The sun had long since set when I emerged from the wreckage, a fine layer of dust and blood coating my dark flowing cape. New York firefighters were standing just clear of the collapsed building, which was still smoldering. They sprayed an arc of cooling water over any areas that could have still potentially burnt. A mist from their hose danced over me, and I couldn’t help but stop and stand in it for a moment. After all of the heat and pain it felt nice to be greeted by something so cool and inviting.
The nice thing about being an Angel of Death had been the ability to be invisible. No one would ever see you coming, or question where you have been. No one was able to see me fall to my knees, look up at the starry sky and cry out to God; demand why He was doing this to me, to His people. No one noticed the tears flowing in rivers down my sharp, hollow cheeks. And those who heard my anguished cry were all convinced that it was just the wind playing tricks upon their shell-shocked minds.
After that day, I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. The next morning I approached my father’s door to break the news to him. I knew he wouldn’t be happy. He’d always been very…gung-ho…about being an Angel of Death. He told me that I should feel lucky, blessed even, to have been chosen for such a noble cause.
“I’ve been expecting you,” my father stated as he opened the door to his house. I hadn’t even knocked. He’d always had a sort of sixth sense about him.
“Dad, we need to talk. I’m done doing this Angel of Death stuff. Just done. I can’t do it anymore,” I said, the words dropping from my mouth like a ton of bricks.
A smirk played on his twisted black lips, “You’re not done, my son. This has been chosen to be your destiny, your calling. You don’t get to decide when you’re done.”
“No. I’m not cut out for this. I shouldn’t have been chosen.”
“But you were, and you must do it. I know yesterday was a tough day. We all have at least one major disaster that we are forced to deal with, and I can’t promise that you won’t be faced with another one. I can promise you this, however, helping all these people will be worth it in the end.”
“I don’t care if I was chosen to do this or not, I am done. I’m quitting, retiring, whatever you wish to call it,” I replied as calmly as I could.
My father sighed in clear defeat, “Very well. You’ve made your choice. Just know that you are no longer welcome in my house. You have just slapped our creator in the face, denying your destiny like this. You’ll pay for it in time. I’m very sorry that you have chosen such an awful path to take, but it is exactly that; your choice.”
For a minute, all I could do was stare at him. I wasn’t sure, at first, if I’d heard him correctly. You’re no longer welcome in my house…Those words just continued to ring in my ears. I had almost decided to give in and continue working as an Angel of Death when I was suddenly wracked by flashbacks from September 11th. No, I was done.
“Goodbye, father. I will miss you,” I spun on my heel and walked out of my father’s house with my head held high and my chin up.