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It all started with flight UA93

Chapter 1

It was the morning of September 11, 2001, and Bill, 5’6” and secretary to Senator John Blunt of Idaho, was rushing down a Capitol hallway, past other members of the government and their staff, in search of his boss. When he found him, he shouted, “Senator Blunt, Senator Blunt!”

He also waved his right hand vigorously. The latter was engrossed in a meeting with Senator Alice Grain of Alaska, and embarrassed by the manner of the secretary pleading for attention, he said, “What’s the matter Bill, that you have to run through the corridors of the Capitol like a startled chicken? Can’t you see I’m in the middle of a conversation?”

“I’m sorry, but they’re showing on TV right now that a plane has crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York!”

“What are you saying, that can’t be true!”
“Yes, believe me, turn on a TV quickly!”
Blunt opened the door to one of the rooms in the

corridor and asked the secretary sitting at her desk if she had a television. When the typist replied in the affirmative and pointed, intimidated and puzzled, to a television set in the corner behind the front door, Blunt switched it on. Apart from Bill and Senator Grain, those who had overheard the conversation in the corridor had also followed the senator. The first image everyone saw was United Airlines Flight 77 flying into the South Tower and disappearing inside. It was a surreal sight. A Boeing 767 swallowed by a skyscraper and the result was a fireball, debris flying out and, a short time later, a yawning hole with smoke and flames billowing out of it.

The whole thing spread like wildfire in the Capitol. And since most of the congressmen and senators were there to pass legislation, everyone tried to find a TV to watch the footage of the burning towers. None of them realized what had really happened, but those who managed to get a view of a TV set watched intently as smoke and fumes billowed from both skyscrapers.

Suddenly, the screen showed WTC II collapsing. At the same time, the alarm sirens sounded in the building and gradually a few people moved towards the exits. Too late, as the Pentagon was already the target of another attack and either the White House or the Capitol would be another target of Flight UA93. The majority of them were still in the building after ten minutes, because each of them was looking spellbound at one of the switched-on screens. For this reason, security guards asked everyone to leave the building as quickly as possible through the center exit to the east.

By now it was 10:15 a.m. and air traffic control in Cleveland had heard nothing from United Airlines Flight 93 for half an hour. With Congressmen, Senators and their staff busy running out of the Capitol, hardly anyone noticed the plane flying toward them from the east just over the East Capitol Street NE buildings.

Ziead Jarrah, one of the hijackers and self-proclaimed pilot of flight UA93, saw that the people were in the square in front of the Capitol and no longer in the building. That’s why, right after he had almost passed the U.S. Supreme Court building and the Library of Congress, he tried to steer the plane down to touch down in front of the Capitol. His goal was to take down as many people as possible. Despite his mediocre flying skills, he managed to keep the plane at a speed of 250 km/h to avoid crashing. Now his goal was to bring the Boeing 767 to the ground, after the three-meter-high lamps, on the square in front of the Capitol. It would slide towards the building and drag many people with it to their deaths.

Ziead had been annoyed by the warning signal that the wheels were not extended, which is why he had flipped the switch that lit up red minutes earlier. The landing gear extended, which irritated him at first, as it slowed the plane down and more thrust was needed to avoid crashing a few kilometers from the target. He was surprised that he had been able to keep the plane in the air long enough. Without the support of the captain and his first officer, who were coerced into helping him by two of the other hijackers, it wouldn’t have worked either. A few flying hours on a Cessna and the rest on a flight simulator on a PC would not have been enough to manage such a landing.

Then, half an hour ago, courageous passengers tried to get into the cockpit to prevent him from continuing his flight. But this was thwarted by Ziad’s accomplices. He was now on his own for the last few meters. Flight captain Jason Dahl and his first officer LeRoy Homer Jr. refused to help when they saw that more lives were at stake. Even the threat of violence didn’t help.

Brad Jenkins had started his first day as an office assistant to Senator Baldwin Garrison from Oregon.

He had walked with him to one of the televisions in the Capitol to watch the events in New York. Brad had a pack of folders in his hand that he was carrying for the senator, but then put them on an armchair that was standing around to escape the building. He hurried to the plaza below where the Visitor Center of the House was located to run north.

At the same moment, the Boeing 757 came in too close to the ground. For this reason, the nose wheel hit one of the three-meter-high lamps in front of the Capitol, tore it off and flew like a bomb into a car parked to the north. Glass splinters and pieces of metal were thrown in all directions. One of the larger pieces hit Brad in the chest, right next to his heart. The last memory that flashed through his mind was the image of his girlfriend, for whom he had moved to Washington DC. Then it went black and from one second to the next he, like many others next to him, laid there dead.

Chapter 2

Fred had got up at five in the morning with back pain and would have preferred to stay at home. Half an hour later, his wife came into the kitchen from upstairs and gave him a kiss on the right cheek while he was still sitting at the kitchen table drinking his coffee. She asked him: “Well darling, did you sleep well?”

“You know, my back, at some point during the night it started to hurt and then my sleep was over!”

She got a cup from the kitchen cupboard, poured herself a coffee while she listened to Fred, went to him and put her hand on his right shoulder. “Oh you poor thing, wouldn’t it be better if you went to the doctor and called in sick?”

“You know that’s not possible. Emelie is going to college in the summer and we’ll need all the money we can get.”

“But we can ask my parents, Dad will probably give us the money.”

“You know very well that your father sees me as a failure and you want me to beg him for money? No. I’d rather work until I drop dead than ask your father for money.”

“Whatever you say. But I’m sure my father is proud of you, after all, you are a firefighter.” She put both hands on his shoulders, shook them tenderly and added the sentence: “My fireman!” and gave him another kiss on his right cheek.

“If he’s proud of me, then he has a funny way of showing it to me.”

“Oh darling, I’m sure you’re reading something into it, but whatever you say. I’m going up to the bathroom to have a shower before the kids wake up and take over the bathroom again.”

Fred got up, filled his coffee-to-go cup, walked to the door and grabbed his car keys to drive to work. The fire department was at 439 New Jersey Avenue, which took him three quarters of an hour to get to, since they lived outside of Washington DC, and he liked to be at work fifteen minutes early. He was changing in the locker room when the alarm sirens went off.

A short time later, he and his colleague George were outside the Capitol. They drove up Northeast Drive on the square in front of the building. In an E-ONE Metro 100 Aeriel Ladder, a fire truck with an extendable ladder and a two thousand liter water tank. Until then, he hadn’t been told exactly what the call was, because no one in the fire station had turned on the TV that morning. The information was that they were to help with the evacuation of the Capitol.

Then, to his left, he saw an airplane hurtling towards the Capitol with a roar and destruction, taking people who were running away with it to their deaths. He looked at George, his colleague, sitting next to him. He caught his thought and nodded in agreement. As a result, Fred stepped on the gas pedal, hoping to reach the plane before it skidded up the last few stairs of the building, killing even more people. Fred didn’t realize that the fire engine, despite its size and weight, couldn’t do anything. And he would never realize it, because shortly afterwards the right wing tip of the machine penetrated the cab of the truck and killed him and George in a fraction of a second. Contrary to Fred’s plan, the fire engine flipped over and flew through the air. And that despite weighing several tons. The speed at which the wing hit the car made the weight meaningless. The only thing Fred had achieved was that the Boeing 757 turned and the left wing on the steps burst into flames. As a result of this destructive force, the rest of the aircraft was catapulted into the building. First the portico collapsed and immediately afterwards the dome of the Capitol.

The debris burned for days and columns of smoke rose.

Chapter 3

A few days later, it was clear that the majority of senators and congressmen had been killed in the attack. The UNITED STATES OF AMERICA were in a state of emergency and President George W. Bush was given sole power to govern. When it became official shortly afterwards that al-Qaeda orchestrated these attacks, a merciless war was launched against all Arab countries in the Middle East. States with an Islamic background were seen as the perpetrators or supporters of those who had carried out these attacks. Internment camps for Muslims were introduced, as had been the case for Japanese citizens in the nineteen-forties. Although there were demonstrations by civil rights activists, the fear that such terrorist attacks could occur again was more important for the president or the provisional government that was installed after a few months to respond to these protests. Due to the war in the Middle East and sanctions against these countries, there was soon an oil shortage in Europe. The oil reserves in the North and Baltic Seas could not be tapped sufficiently and were too small. In Austria, as in the 1970s, a car-free day was introduced. Anyone who owned a petrol or diesel-powered vehicle had to leave it parked on a day of their choice.

Karl Mosser and his wife Susann chose Sunday, even though they also rarely needed their car during the week. Karl rode his bike from Kematen in Tyrol to Innsbruck to go to university and his wife had opened her doctor’s surgery right in the village, a five-minute walk from home.

Until a year ago, Karl had worked with a group of physicists led by Rainer Blatt. They were working on transmitting quantum information over any distance, which is often referred to as beaming. However, this has nothing to do with beaming matter as in “Star Trek”. As he had only helped out there, he was now working on his own project at the University of Innsbruck, which had to do with time travel from a tachyon beam. Due to the lack of funds because of the war in the Middle East, he initially concentrated on computer simulations, which did not deliver the success he had hoped for in his research. Financially it brought him little, but fortunately Susann had enough patients to make ends meet.

He had met Susann seven years ago in the auditorium at university. In his hectic rush, he had run into her with the coffee mug he had bought from the canteen and spilled all the coffee down her blouse. She had come from her reading as a guest lecturer to go home to her tiny apartment provided by the university. She had been in Innsbruck for two months at the time, teaching at the university about new surgical methods from the USA, which included practicing them at the university clinic.

After Karl had extracted a promise from her that she would have to let him pay the bill for cleaning her blouse, and Susann found the clumsy man cute, she invited him over for another cup. After all, his coffee had ended up on her garment, and the thought of going out for a drink with a nice guy instead of returning to her dreary twenty-square-meter apartment with a view of a mountain range was considerably more pleasant. The very first day she drew the curtains in the morning, she felt overwhelmed by this mighty massif and to this day she has not been able to get used to it. In the months that followed, the two grew closer and after a year, the wedding bells rang. Susann’s contract with the university and the university hospital then expired. They bought a bungalow in Kematen in Tyrol and Susann opened a general practice, as there was none in the village. They now lived in this house on the edge of the village with a garden and a view of the Axamer Lizum for over four years, together with their mixed-breed dog, Timi. A playful and very active dog who needed his hour-long walks.

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