Something Went Really Wrong
By Jordan Muncz
Instead of Forward
If you’re afraid of what you might learn, stop reading now – this isn’t for you. Furthermore, I have no proof. It was quick and mostly quiet and by 5AM all that was left was the sound of helicopters leaving the city. Anyone that might have heard anything, gunshots, screams, sirens, wouldn’t have gotten very far into it – internet searches yielded error messages, and there was nothing on TV but the usual: gang shootouts, potheads causing traffic jams on the GWB and Columbia University sprucing up their campus for graduation.
I’m here to tell you, the military dumped sick people into the Hudson River. Call the Pentagon and they’ll reassure you, they’ve heard the rumors, but isn’t it ridiculous? And they’re not in the business of spreading crazy rumors. The newspapers will do the same, exactly the same…
After you read what I’ve written, you…, well you might think I’m crazy, or jealous, trying to take down academia because I’m not Ivy League. I have my opinions, but that’s not what this is about. It’s just where it happened.
What this is about: people disappeared that night. I did what research I could. I called the NYPD but when I told them I had a blog, and it wasn’t the New York Times, they could neither confirm nor deny “the rumors”.
Like I told you, I can’t prove anything, but there are facts. Ollie Kun-He is missing. His father is owner of The Founding Father’s Burger Joint, where the explosion at the center of the mayhem took place. I tried contacting his parents but Ms. Kun-He’s answering machine says she’s travelling in Korea indefinitely.
So, a day that won’t live in history. The few media outlets that heard about what might have been happening didn’t run the story. Then there’s the floating head. „American Beauty” on Instagram and the story is that ISIS is claiming it. Right. They infiltrated NYC to put a hit on one guy, if you want to believe those opportunists…
Of course my book has a hero. He’s a security guard. I know his family, well, I used to know them. After what happened, when I asked for news about „Tony,” his job, his new girlfriend, my friend, his uncle, replied „Tony who.”
Finally, don’t try to find me because I’m in hiding. Anyway, it will be hard to find me because you don’t know my gender, age, not much of anything. At least I hope, because there are people looking for me who know how to look.
In my book you’ll meet an assassin. I’ve called him John Rambo, nice name, no? Doesn’t matter, what does matter is that he’s real and at large. General Pistone has a clear interest in him, as does Congresswoman Calder. This should be enough for you to understand what’s at stake for me or my future family, if I live long enough to have one.
So, how does that sound to you? A crazy person with no evidence telling you the world you live in is worse than you thought. Still, I’m writing so I have to imagine there are readers curious enough. But if that’s you, please consider this a coming of age book. Your own coming of age.
The door she bumped into opened, thrusting her emaciated body outside, where the fresh air and piercing sirens worsened her lack of coordination. With the next step, she stumbled over a bench on top of the rocky platform and collapsed. Instinctively, she sniffed her way around. Aside from her sense of smell, her hearing had improved, as if to replace her eyesight, which was deteriorating faster than life was leaving her behind. Slouching, she was impervious to her surroundings: a family park with sinuous paths tailored for jogging mothers and their tired nannies hired to push strollers way in the back.
On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, May 1st had just arrived dragging behind a crisp dense fog blanketing the area from Riverside Park all the way to Morningside Park. Her breath formed widening circles above her head, indicating she still existed.
Perhaps emboldened by fog, or in the embrace of the moody spring, six young men stood on the rocky platform with plans to end a bitter dispute. Defying the unseasonal cold, they unbuttoned their jackets, revealing hands clutching guns. Oblivious, they defied their magnificent youth and the irreversibility of their decision.
Focused on their moment, they ignored her. Unaware of anything but noise, she waited for stimuli to direct her. She was reduced to instinct and muscle memory. She had not planned anything since her metamorphosis had occurred when that rat or whatever it was bit her. Robbed of all capacity for pleasure or its anticipation, her actions were mechanical as if without human direction. Devoid of contemplation or memory, she became the function of her senses, and tonight, she would surprise herself and her victim. As she would approach her prey, she would not seek their eyes to enjoy the lust of witnessing life’s languishing last moments, right before the victim collapsed of fright. This night she would only discover she could kill. Because an unexpected urge came over her, and it provided some respite from her transforming, uncontrollable, imminent demise, she would kill.
Tall and wiry, with tattered clothing, she brought to mind nothing. In her rapid disintegration she preserved nothing from her too ordinary past. This night, the first on her own since the kind paramedic found her collapsed and brought her to St. Luke’s Hospital. Everything stopped only to start anew differently.
While she was trying to steady herself against the crisp air she could neither enjoy nor ignore, a brief conversation among the young men preceded the shootout. The first two shots clarified their position, a homicidal GPS. She moved closer when the shortest, stockiest leader had mortally wounded his taller leaner opponent with a swift shot to the chest. Moved by his impending death, the tallest was kneeling in the young, barely grown grass, bleeding, dying, and shouting something unintelligible, probably in Spanish, to his gang. The shortest one was looking at the sight, frozen in place, unsure if his actions had caused so much destruction. Sensing his lack of resolution, his companions approached him, probably asking him for instructions.
She did not mean to interrupt anybody. Unable to wait until the right moment, when her energy spiked she stood up. Wobbling, she approached the stockiest one; he was the closest. He noticed her too late, while the others had their backs to her as they finally started shooting their opponents. He shot as she pulled him down but he missed. She then stayed bent over him until he became still: his eyes closed, his lips tranquil. Her teeth pierced and gripped his face, as a wild bullet stopped her mauling. It forced her to lie on top of him, entangled forever, or until her limp body would stop protecting his from any intruder’s curious gaze. A laminated piece of plastic dangling on a silver chain said simply “Emmanuelle.”
Fast-moving fire trucks exited the nearby station on Columbus Avenue and neutralized the gun shots. The trucks’ thunderous rumblings and screaming sirens insulated the killings. All the way across the quad, not far from Riverside Park, a boiler had exploded in the basement of The Founding Father’s Burger Joint – the lunch destination of so many Columbia undergraduates, in its better days. Like a tile on a domino board, it soon affected everything within reach. It disabled various sensors, and it shook sleepy Barnard students out of dormitory beds.
Within minutes, FDNY trucks with high-pitched sirens and bright headlights came to a halt and blocked the traffic. The firefighters were taking control of the situation. Avoiding the sea of broken glass, enginemen and ladder-men rushed out and meticulously prepared their invasion of the Broadway block. Inside, the blackened walls looked ominous under their piercing lights. They climbed down to the basement and minutes later resurfaced. Success was melting frowning faces. The fire had been put out.
The good news was that the night manager had been contacted and he confirmed that he was the last to leave. Actually he left the restaurant as soon as the owner, Mr. Kun-Hee and his three guests, had left. That was around 11:28 PM. The manager remembered taking the 11:30 PM subway downtown.
The noise of the explosion woke up those Barnard students dozing off in the nearby dormitory. Half asleep, they stood still, unsure of what had happened. They would start to crawl like new flies would crawl on the windowsill passing through specks of dust without spending time to notice them, but knowing they were there, and over thick rows of dirt. They almost ran down the stairs in a remembrance of movements mastered long ago. Eventually the young women made it out of the building and the noise of the street woke them up. They opened their eyes just in time to pay attention to the FDNY trucks.
On the sidewalk they felt uncertain and furtively went back into the building, doing the opposite of what they had been told to do. The students bumped into each other and congregated in a room far away from the traffic. The young women chatted nervously and shared secrets they had never thought of sharing.
“I’m as weak as a flower.”
“I have dreams, nightmares; I see things. I thought this was a dream too. What is your name?”
“I have killed a cat with my own hands, trampled it under water, beaten it with a rock and I have never thought about it. I’ve slept like a child in my bed. But then, when I don’t expect it, I see it in my dreams. It was a cat with rabies. I never thought that possible. It bit its kitten: My favorite kitten.”
Their eyes fought fatigue and clung onto gaunt-looking faces. Their breath gripped onto their faces like unspoken words hung onto a mouth.
“Did you hear what I just said?” The confessional feeling stopped, interrupted by the NYPD officer making sure everybody evacuated the building.
“Everything is fine, but we need you out of here, so we can check and double check and be sure. It will take a few minutes until we learn where you can go. Take only the bare necessities. You’ll be back tomorrow.”
The students giggled in a mature way, quietly. They went back to their rooms and afterwards struggled to find their way out, as if fully awake they could not function as well as when they were half asleep. The light cold breeze caressed their ears maternally teasing them back to sleep while walking in the fog to their new temporary quarters, a large co-ed Columbia campus dormitory minutes away.