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Standing on the platform, Wall St. Station had two sets of stairs rising to the street.  Scott and I chose the right flight, the other few hundred people apparently choose the left.  The station was filled with smoke, soot, ash, and the choking smell of a fireplace just before the last embers stop glowing red, but long before they cooled off.  We were in the aftermath of the collapse of the red-glowing superheated rubble created by the WTC collapse.  Visibility was near zero, far worse than on the train.  Breathing was very difficult, very labored. We walked up two or three flights to street level.  On the pavement we were in the middle of the ash fall from the volcanic-like eruption created by the buildings’ final and complete destruction.

 

There we stood, blind, choking, coughing, hacking, and gagging.  Lifting my bandana, I spit out crusted soot from my mouth and lips.  We lost our bearings. We didn’t know where we were or where to go.  The air was colored syrupy-thick institutional cream; vision had no depth, no sunlight, nor shadows.  Standing near the stairwell of Wall St. Station, we saw neither the curb nor the station.  The deep earth-sounding rumblings we heard in the tunnel apparently were the Twin Towers’ thousands of tons of rubble rattling the bedrock that itself blasted to bits to create the buildings’ subbasements.  Maybe being in the subway saved our lives, we will never know.

 

We were in a new and dangerous predicament now.  The atmosphere was filled with the remains of the roiling cloud of ash, dust, debris, papers and soot that moments ago exploded past the subway entrance and now hung suspended above us.  An extraordinary storm of suffocating talc-like concrete dust and plaster powder engulfed us. We moved left, tracing a building's wall against the yellow-gray confetti of ash.  We reversed our path that brought us to the subway earlier.  No good, we couldn't breath.  My eyes burned from the soot as if I had gotten shampoo in them rinsing in the shower. Our eyes, nose and mouth were filled with an accumulating fine grit. We were very alone; it was very dark, our outlook was distressing.

 

We reversed direction again and tried to find the subway entrance again but didn’t.  We became disoriented.  I could imagine walking for an hour in a circle the size of parlor train set.  I tried to find a curb to get one foot up and the other down to the street just to walk a straight line. I couldn’t find a curb.  I searched for footprints in the ash but there were none, not even our own as they were being made.  The ash was so fine that lifting a shoe moved the air enough to rearrange the ash so to obliterate any trace of my still war footprint.

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