Chapter 8 (OneThreeThirteen) Part 3
RASHIDA LAY SILENT. WAITING. “How long had it been,” she thought, since her assailant had dragged her forcibly from the elevator, bound and gagged her and thrown her in this dark hell hole? “How long?”
She had long ago given up her pride and released the agony of her twisted bowels. She lay on the cold concrete floor in her own urine, with the cold slowly creeping into her body.
“Was the baby alright:, she thought. “Would the child remember the trauma of this experience when he or she was older?”
“Was her assailant going to come back and kill her? And who was he? What was he doing in the garage?” The camera flash had blinded her before she could see him. Why had he locked her up like this?
She struggled once more trying to free herself from the ropes tied tightly around her wrists and ankles. She knew she must be in one of the garage’s maintenance closets because whenever she moved around, she’d bump into either a broom, a mop, or a bucket. And she also knew she had to get out of this damn closet anyway she could. David was probably pacing the floor frantic with worry. She prayed as hard as she could to Allah that David would come looking for her soon.
Rashida shifted her weight onto her back even though it meant crushing her wrists that were tied behind her back. But the pain and stiffness in her legs was agonizing. Exhausted, she slipped into unconsciousness.
Hours passed. Rashida was awaken by vibrations coming through the garage floor. She could hear tires screeching and angry screams. Someone was out there!. She turned back over onto her side and began rubbing her face into the floor. With a great deal of effort, she managed to get the gage out of her mouth. Already, her skin was welting up from rubbing her face against the concrete floor. She ignored the pain and the blood and screamed with all her might. “Help! H – e – l – p! I’m in here. Somebody help me!” But her screams only mingled with the noise around her. No one came.
The rumbling within the building’s walls grew even louder. Falling dust began covering Rashida. She covered her face against the dust and struggled harder against the ropes that bound her. “Help me. Someone please help me.”
It was when the building shuddered that the maintenance closet door swung open. Rashida could see that the floor above had caved in atop several cars and thick gray dust hung in the air. She knew her life depended on getting someone’s attention. She screamed with every ounce of her being. “Somebody help me!!!
Through the thick dust Rashida could see someone coming towards her. “Help. Please help!” A man dressed in what looked like a heavy dark coat and overalls was coming to her aide. “Praise be to Allah,” she whispered as she realized the man had heard her. When he knelt down beside her, she realized he was a New York City Fireman. “What happened to you,” he asked.
“Someone grabbed me as I was going to my car. He tied me up and put me in here.”
“We have to get you out of here. And fast.”
“What’s wrong with the building? Was it an earthquake?”
“No Ma’am it wasn’t an earthquake. Some damn fool flew a plane right into the building. Can you walk?”
Rashida tried stretching her legs out to their full length but the pain in her knees from being tied up so long was unbearable. But of even more concern to her was the sharp pain that traveled through her abdomen all the way to her lower spine when she tried standing. Obviously, she’d lain on the cold hard concrete floor far too long.
Captain Patrick O’Rielly, appointed to the New York Fire Department on July 11, 1981, pressed the button on the radio strapped to his left shoulder and reported that he’d found a young woman, alive, tied up in one of the sub-basement garages. “The young woman, he began. Ma’am what’s your name?”
“You got that, Butler? Rashida Miller. She states that she is four months pregnant and experiencing abdominal pain. She can’t walk. I’ll have to carry her up the stairs. Have a paramedic waiting.”
“Captain, responded Tommy Butler, driver of Engine No. 8, the building is looking bad. Real bad. I think it’s going to come down.”
“Copy that Butler.”
“What does he mean, the building is coming down?”
Sheer terror showed on the young woman’s face. But O’Rielly knew that if they were going to get out of this mess they had to stay calm.
“Don’t you worry about that ma’am. I’ve been in worst trouble. I was in this same garage back in ’93 when the terrorist tried to blow the place up. I got out then and we’re getting out now.
Captain Patrick O’Rielly spoke reassuringly to Rashida as he gently picked her up and started for the stairs through a shroud of dust and tangled wires and pipes from the floors above.
The maintenance closet was located five floors under the South Tower. O’Rielly and Rashida had struggled up two levels when the rumble became a roar.
O’Rielly’s stopped his climb upward and his eyes searched the overhead structures. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. “Oh, my God. It is falling.”
Rashida’s eyes instantly looked up towards the top of the stairs. Dust, smoke, paper, and something else was raining down on them now.
Sorrow filled every pore of Rashida’s being. “Sir, put me down.”
O’Rielly shook his head, no.
“Sir, please put me down!, she screamed. Save yourself!
Captain Patrick O’Rielly looked into the young woman’s eyes and said, “No, miss. I can’t do that.”
Hurriedly, he pushed them into a corner of the stairwell and shielded her with his body as the building fell down around and upon them.
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