The apocalypse challenge – day 8: Terrorism

Enough about music, films and TV. Serious times call for serious topics.

This is day 8 of my apocalypse challenge. Over 10 days, I’m posting about catastrophes and almost-armageddons which had a big influence on me personally, and that also nearly destroyed the world.


The Apocalypse Challenge:

Day 8 – Terrorism

On September 11th, 2001 I was part of a large crowd in lower Manhattan, milling around fearfully and gawking up at the North Tower of the World Trade Center as it burned:

I hear snippets from people trading rumors and theories to anyone who will listen: ‘This is no accident,’ terrorists,’ ‘What else could it be?’ ‘How could this happen?’ ‘Osama Bin Laden.’ ‘War. This is war.’

We are mesmerized by the enormity of what we are looking at. I’m a New Yorker, so terrorism is nothing new to me – or to anyone else there. Hell, it isn’t even the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. They try something like this every few years. It’s always bad. But not so bad that you think of it as the end of the world. This is different. It’s such a huge and cruel escalation that it is difficult to wrap your head around. The flames, the chaos, the feeling of being a helpless witness to a historic atrocity makes it all feel…apocalyptic.

And then…the collapse. This impossibly large building folds in on itself in an instant. There is a breathless pause among us in the crowd on the street below, as a tidal wave of debris, hundreds of feet high, puffs out from the building’s base and starts hurtling outwards. A sudden realization sweeps through. We aren’t just witnesses. We are in it. Victims? No. Get away. Go! A flash of panic. No strategy. Just people moving as fast as they can, looking over their shoulder at the huge grey mass chasing us. A young man, no more than 20 years old, in a baseball cap and basketball jersey looks back at the towering threat, then looks to his left at the person running next to him – me.

He says: “Yo man, this shit is worse than Godzilla.”

Indeed.

—–

Once you’ve been through a Godzilla-level incident, you face a choice in life. Do you retreat? Do you move to a little town upstate? Maybe Catskill or Coxsackie? Somewhere a couple hours away and off the radar? Somewhere you can feel a little safer?

Or do you stick it out?

The baddies, they always go for the good places, like Godzilla always goes for Tokyo. If you want to live in New York, Paris, or Madrid, you have to make a conscious decision to accept that extra bit of danger. In the end, life took me from New York City to London around 15 years ago. From one target to another. I don’t regret it. Fuck Godzilla.

Because who wants to wind up living in some place so crappy that terrorists don’t even want to bomb it?

Now that would really feel like the end of the world.

 

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