Contest Eighteen Barry's Entry


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By: Barry D. Frisbee (BornToVector)

Placed fifth 


The collapse of the first tower had nearly cost him his life.  Not yet sure how he'd escaped death's grip as the structure toppled around him, he bravely climbed the stairs of the second tower as it teetered on weakening steel girders.  He had no choice, there were innocent lives at stake and it was his duty to rescue them.

His legs cramped and his lungs fought for oxygen as he continued his trek upwards, fighting the steady stream of bodies trying desperately to make there way down.  Some were injured and burned, but they were moving and for now that was what mattered, moving, moving away from the building and away from death.

Images of his wife, his two young sons, and his brother that had also been in the first collapsed tower tore at his concentration.  Selflessly, he shoved the thoughts away and trudged forward toward the helpless, toward the ones that wouldn't make it without him.

His radio crackled with chatter, some frantic, but most determined and resolute.  He listened intently for the sound of his brother's voice or the others in his unit, but didn't recognize any.  Chiefs barked commands, units checked in as the reached each floor, and calls for help came from all channels.

"They need help in there," a young woman shouted and pointed toward the door leading onto the 67th floor.

"Fireman Burgos, floor 67, reports of multiple injuries, request further assistance."

No answer.

He repeated his transmission, still no reply.

A crashing ceiling support sent the already frantic crowd rushing out of control downward.  "Stay calm!" he screamed.  "You'll be okay.  Move quickly, but stay calm."

With help, he moved the steel support off of several that were trapped.  He paired each injured with acquisitioned civilian help and sent them on their way.  "I'm Martin Burgos, of the twenty-third," he told each.  "Remember my name, and tell my family that I love them."

He continued his quest, helping those he could and saying a quick prayer for those he couldn't.  He was seconds from moving on to the next floor, when he heard a cry for help.

"Please, don't leave me," it begged  "Please."

The building cried out in loud shrieking moans, as the inner support system struggled to keep it upright.  Windows popped like firecrackers, showering him with glass as he searched for the voice.

Then he saw her.  Legs pinned beneath an enormous slice of concrete.  "Please help me," she said.  "Don't let me die."

"Stay calm ma'am.  My name is Martin.  I'm gonna help you."

"Thank you," she said.

"Fireman Burgos of the twenty-third," he yelled into his radio.  "I need immediate assistance on the 67th floor.  Female trapped, over."

His call went unanswered.  Others continued to check in and get immediate responses, yet no one seemed to hear him.  Figuring it was his radio, he set forth to do what he could alone.

"What's your name, ma'am?"

"Beatrice," she strained.  "Friends call me Bea."

"Okay, Bea, can you move you legs?"

"I can't feel them . . . I don't think so."

He searched the room but could find nothing to use for leverage to move the heavy piece.  "I've got to leave the room," he told her calmly, "but I promise I'll not leave this floor without you."

She nodded.

He returned with a long portion of plumbing pipe.  "I'm gonna lift this, you pull your legs free.  No matter how much it hurts . . . you pull and you pull hard."

She took a deep breath and nodded again.

Several attempts proved hopeless, the weight was just too much.

The ceiling above them began to smoke then ignited.  "Go," she said.

"Sorry," he said.  "I can't do that."

"You've done all you can.  Please go."

"You know any good prayers?" he asked.

"A few," she forced a smile.

He looked at the ceiling, signed the cross and covered her exposed body with his own.

* * *


 "Today," the Mayor spoke, "we honor those who have sacrificed all.  I am comforted and my faith strengthened by one courageous story.  More than one-hundred confirmed accounts have chronicled the heroism of Firefighter Martin Burgos and those he helped escape the second collapsing building.  We know this could've only been a miracle from a much higher power, for we have confirmed that Firefighter Burgos along with his entire company died in the first collapse, never making it to building two.