It is the morning after 9/11. An
exhausted fireman spots a hand poking from the rubble at Ground Zero. It appears
to beckon him. A really big guy is still alive he finds, but trapped under a
huge steel girder. The fireman and his buddies drag the injured man free just in
time. Scarcely alive, the victim needs surgery.
In Saint Christopher’s ER, the
surgeon makes a startling discovery. The survivor has a bullet lodged in his
head. The surgeon alerts the FBI. In the meantime, the patient escapes without
trace. According to the FBI’s files, the guy’s prints match stalker, serial
rapist and murderer, Phillip H Dreedle’s.
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Number of pages:
|Author: Ross L. Barber
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published: September 2003
Ross L Barber is a
well-traveled, semi-retired South Australian high school teacher of foreign
languages. He retired from full time teaching duties at the age of 53. After
acquiring basic word processing skills, he turned his energies to writing. At
first, humorous short stories from his early days in teaching in the 60s and
70s. In 1997, he began his first novel, Chalk that was completed in late
1998. In 2000, Barber began his first work of fiction, The Enclave, and
finished it May 2001. In the first week of September that same year, he began
his second work of fiction, Internet Stalker, an in-depth look at the
Internet chat scene with all its exciting, dangerous and evil aspects, finishing
it June, 2002. He penned Jihad, the sequel to Internet Stalker later
that year. He is currently writing his fifth novel, Jihad Down under.
When he is not working on his current book or penning some humorous anecdote,
this former educator can be found down on the local pier fishing. His two
children are grown up. He lives with his wife of 37 years in his hometown,
Adelaide, in sunny South Australia.
OUT OF THE RUBBLE 9/12/2001
protruded from the dust and rubble at the foot of Tower One. Until 24 hours ago
along with its twin, it was the former heart of the financial world. The two
huge WTC skyscrapers had dominated the panorama of NYC’s skyline since 1966.
With the exception of the middle digit, the fingers and thumb clasped the palm
tightly. The middle digit flexed in an obscene gesture of defiance, like ‘giving
the finger’. It twitched. Then it curled back towards the palm.
Fursenko, one of the exhausted firemen from Ladder One, glimpsed the finger out
the corner of his eye. In his barely conscious state, it appeared to beckon him.
that?” he yelled. “Hey, guys, get a load of this weird shit.
Something’s happening here.”
earthmoving equipment clunked and groaned then a hush came over the scene.
shucked up his oxygen tank, tipped back his visor and then waded through the
knee-deep debris towards the hand. When he got there, it twitched again.
shook Fursenko out of his torpor. The fireman swept the rubble away with his
gloved hands. In a frenzy of hope now, he espied the wrist to which the hand was
attached. It revealed the cuff of a powdery black turtleneck sweater. It led
down to a big white male’s shoulder.
He saw the
guy jammed under a warped steel girder. It was still hot. Blackened by the
searing heat of the exploding fuel from the airplane that took out Tower One the
previous morning. The fireman touched the hot steel. He flinched.
get that fucking hydraulic lifter over here. We got a live one,” he
hollered. He waited and tried to reach the survivor. Stretching his arm to the
max, the fireman grasped the exposed shoulder. Squeezed it.
hands swept the bricks and debris back. Then the powerful hydraulic lifter
arrived. They looped a wire rope around the girder, which pinned the survivor
groaned, took up the slack, shuddered and then the girder slowly rose about six
removed his oxygen tank, crawled in and grabbed the big guy by his arm. He tried
to pull him out.
lifter groaned again.
about 30 seconds, Frank, before this baby goes. You don’t shift some serious
ass, soon, man, it ain’t gonna hold. You’re going to get crushed.
released the shoulder and slid back. “I need help,” he said.
“This mother fucker’s too damn big.”
firemen were instantly at Fursenko’s side. They tried to drag him out with a
rope. But he’d gotten stuck. They heaved one last time in desperation.
they dragged him free.
No sooner was
the survivor out from under the heavy steel girder than the hydraulic lifter
rope snapped seconds later. The twisted girder crashed down with a sickening
thud and showered the firemen with a coat of gray powder.
saved his life.
cheered and clapped and the firemen patted each other on the back. Within
minutes an ambulance was on the scene.
thumped the survivor’s chest, applied CPR and attached a saline drip to his
forearm. The ambulance transporting him sped with howling siren and flashing
strobes towards Saint Christopher’s ER.
chaos of the ER, a distressed doctor said, “Until now, we’ve only had body
parts in plastic bags. This guy should be dead like the other victims. He’s one
tough son of a bitch. If he weren’t so damn fit and strong, he’d sure as hell be
wearing a toe tag. His face has sustained burns, but we can repair them to a
degree with plastic surgery. But he’s going to have residual scar tissue.
Amazingly, the rest of him is relatively okay, thank God. He’s suffering from
dehydration and hypothermia. Two of his ribs are broken as well. To muddy the
waters some though,” he said, “there’s this
” He mysteriously
raised his gauze-covered face to the assisting surgeons and ER nurses and
pointed with his scalpel at the victim’s temple. “I’m no ballistics
expert,” he continued, “but you ask me, it’s a .22 caliber slug.
Someone tried to shoot him before the plane hit. If his mastoid bone weren’t
abnormally thick, he’d sure as hell be dead. It’s a goddamn miracle he’s still
alive,” the bewildered physician exclaimed. “For mine, you can rule
out a pro-hit because pros don’t miss. But I’ll have to notify the cops. In the
meantime, it will kill him if we extract the slug. His only chance of survival
is if we leave it in. Let’s do our best to stabilize him. Okay? God only knows
how he lasted this long. We can only hope the surgery pulls him through. At
present it’s about 99 to 1 odds he’ll die anyway.”
now,” the ER nurse said, “no one’s survived the WTC bomb attacks; not
yet. This big guy’s the first. Maybe he’s superhuman, in his own way. We got our
hands full. Don’t want to lose him though. Jesus mercy. 24 hours non-stop. Sure
hope the list of dead and missing slows up some.”