Saturday 2 February 2013
The fireball that rose from Blackwood Research Facility Five’s second round of explosions lit up the evening sky. Four blocks back from the site of the facility, the windows in Anna Lucciano’s house rattled against their frames, set in motion by the sheer force of the explosions.
‘Jesus, Carlo, what the hell is going on around here?’ she asked her husband who had just fallen asleep on the sofa when the explosions jolted him back to consciousness. He leapt upright, struggling to maintain his balance, stumbling out of control towards the glass and iron coffee table that Anna had purchased the week before. Managing, in the knick of time, to right himself and regain control of his appendages, Carlo bolted towards the front door, Anna in tow eager to see if there was any sign of what might be causing the blasts.
Outside of their house, the Luccianos looked to the sky in all directions. It was Carlo who first saw what they would later learn was ground zero of the Blackwood Research facility Five disaster, a ball of fire rising into the sky. Speechless, he grasped Anna’s hand as he pointed with his own at the fireball. Mouth agape, she too was left speechless as they watched two more balls of fire and debris rise into the evening sky. Hues of red and orange and yellow flames were marbled with black smoke and spots of burning debris, which rose into the sky before burning itself out and raining back down to the ground below.
There was only one thought that came to Anna; one explanation for the destruction that they were bearing witness to from afar.
‘It’s nine eleven all over again, isn’t it? It’s a terrorist attack. It has to be,’ she muttered. Carlo firmly squeezed her hand hoping that the simple gesture would bring her down from the high level of anxiety that he knew she was experiencing.
For Anna, nine eleven wasn’t just a phrase; it was far more tangible than that. She had been there, in New York, when it had happened. By some stroke of luck, Anna had been late to the meeting that she was supposed to attend in the North Tower of the World Trade Centre, and she had been rushing down the crowded sidewalk as the first plane hit. The sight stopped her in her tracks, as other New Yorkers came to the realisation that what they had seen was reality and began forcing their way back through the city, moving as fast as they could, as far away from the damaged structures as they could.
‘Honey, I don’t think it’s a terrorist attack. Not unless the terrorists don’t like Blackwood. Looks to me like it’s coming from that building. And we’ve always said that when something goes wrong there, it’ll be big time,’ Carlo replied. His explanation somewhat calmed her until she saw the child’s bicycle on the driveway.
‘Vincenzo,’ she whispered, ‘if it’s Blackwood, what about Vincenzo? He’s having a sleepover at his friend’s house. That’s only a block away from the facility.’
Jumping into action, Carlo pulled his cell phone from the front pocket of his jeans.
‘He’s staying with the Pullmans, right?’ he asked Anna. She didn’t respond. ‘Anna? Is he staying with the Pullmans?’
She barely nodded, and he dialled the number listed in his phone for the Pullman family.
* * * * *
‘Momma, MOMMA,’ screamed Rory Pullman just as his mother replaced the phone handset in its cradle.
‘Rory, calm down. What is it?’ Mary Pullman, mother to Rory and Janey, replied using her comforting mother tone of voice.
‘Momma, you gotta come outside. Quick. Vinnie’s got a blood nose and it’s leaking everywhere,’ he cried.
Mary, a nurse at the children’s hospital, strode into the kitchen, pulled the first aid kit, and raced through the house and out into the front yard. Vincenzo Lucciano was sitting on the front stoop with his back to the front door, hanging his head over the small flowerbed that bordered the house oozing blood everywhere.
‘Vinnie, how did this happen?’ Mary asked as she knelt down beside the ten year old. She tore open the first aid kit and immediately laid her hands on a thick roll of gauze bandaging. She ripped at the plastic wrap that protected it and asked him again, ‘What happened, Vinnie?’
‘My dose dust starded bleeding,’ Vinnie replied, his speech impaired by the volume of blood pouring from his nostrils. Mary applied the gauze to the boy’s nose. She told her own son to retrieve an ice pack from the refrigerator and bring it as quickly as he could. Within seconds, Rory was kneeling down next to his mother and she instructed him on how to apply the pack to the back of his friend’s neck.
‘It’ll be freezing, Vinnie, but I promise it will help stop the bleeding,’ Mary calmly said.
Without any indication of what was about to occur, Vinnie’s eyes rolled back exposing the whites to Mary and Rory, and he began to violently convulse, arms and legs flailing as Mary tried her best to lay him safely on the stoop. Rory, horrified by the sight of his best friend convulsing in front of him, crawled back towards the front door as fast as he could. All he wanted to do in this moment was put distance between himself and Vinnie.
As quickly as the convulsions and bleeding began, they stopped. And so did Vincenzo Lucciano’s heart. At ten years old, Vinnie was dead, and no one at the Pullman residence stopped to notice that the sky had been lit up by a series of explosions at Blackwood Research Facility Five.
. . . To be continued . . .