A dreadful foreboding swept over Amy as she sat at her desk.
Trembling, she forced herself to turn and look out of the skyscraper’s tinted glass walls. The high vista terrified her. Far below the muted cacophony of the Monday morning street seemed tranquil, normal.
She forced herself to get up slowly, trying to look nonchalant, though the open office floor filled her with fear.
“Look, Amy’s on the run again!”
It was her supervisor. His sycophants jeered.
“What is it this time? Earthquake, giant spiders, the boogie man?”
She fled. Despite the company’s much-published logo ‘Benefit Through Benevolence’, her supervisor had taken every opportunity to mock her when she was assailed by PTSD. It had been his idea to give her a desk by the window, an apparent reward. The benefit was lost on her as she dizzily endured her colleagues’ barbed envy.
The laughter spread around the office, derisory and cruel, but Amy could not ignore the overwhelming sense of menace as she ran to her hiding place near the central emergency exits.
‘A building’s core is its strength. It’s not pretty, but all that showy glass and steel would be nothing without it.’
Her father had been an engineer. Now his voice echoed in her mind as she locked the door behind her. The tiny storeroom was as close to the unglamorous core as she could get. She sipped from a bottle of water that she had stashed there and tried the breathing exercises that her therapist had recommended.
She was shocked, but not surprised, when the explosions came. Shrill screams punctuated the silver chimes of breaking glass and the colossal thunder of collapsing steel.
Amy dared to glance out of her hiding place – a ragged strip of floor was all that remained of her office. She locked the door again, her memories assuring her that hiding was the best option.
“Find cover!” her father had shouted as gunfire peppered the beach.
Amy had loved the big sea and sky; that was what had drawn the family to Tunisia’s golden fringe. But in that moment, she had been grateful for the sand’s sanctuary as she squiggled down into its soft embrace. Her mother had covered her with a towel. Cocooned by the sand and her mother’s shielding weight, Amy had not seen them die.
She rocked herself into the present. Reassured by the darkness, she ignored the frantic calls of the rescue workers.
“Get out, the core is cracking!”
She heard heavy boots and the rhythmic thumping of a helicopter’s rotors.
Amy was comforted by the thought of staying here, cosseted as if in a womb, but her mother’s last word rang through her mind – LIVE!
Amy flung the door open.
“Wait!” She cried.
A firefighter stood in his harness waiting to be winched. He turned, astonished to see a survivor. He grabbed her urgently.
The wide horizons spun as she was lifted to safety. The cityscape was an embroidered hem to the astounding sky as the tower crumbled to dust.