My ears were still ringing from the noise of the crash. I ran from the doorway to look out the window. I did not like what I saw. Black smoke was pouring out of the part of the tower just below us, and flames were licking at the sides.
I heard my Dad’s voice behind me. “Follow me!” I spun around and dashed out the office door. Dad was racing down the hall and down the staircase with me right behind him. I saw him stop suddenly, so I braked and peered around him. Burning debris was covering the staircase, and flames were licking at the walls. Dad turned to me.
“We’re going to have to escape another way,” he said, his normally calm tone tinted with fear. “If the stairs are blocked off, the elevator can’t be safe to use.”
He dashed back up the stairs and into the hall with me on his heels. Dad’s assistant, Melanie, ran up to us, carrying a few sheets and tablecloths. “Quick!” she cried. “Tie these together!” I helped as well as I could, tying each corner of them to each other, making a long rope of fabric. Dad whispered something to Melanie, too quietly for me to hear. She nodded, but I could see tears in her eyes. “Let’s do it.” she said quietly.
Dad turned to me. “Give me your sweatshirt.” I handed it to him, wondering what he had in mind. He began to loop the fabric rope through the sleeves, tying it off at the top, making a sort of harness. He handed it back to me. “Put your sweatshirt on.”
Still confused, I slipped it over my head. Dad and Melanie picked up the desk stool together and began ramming it against the window. A few small cracks appeared. They rammed it again. The glass shattered.
Dad tied the other end of the fabric rope to his desk. “Climb out the window,” he said. “We’ll lower you down.”
“But what about you?” I asked, climbing onto the sill.
“Just trust me,” Dad said. “Jump out.” I leaned back, and jumped. I fell a few feet until the fabric rope caught me. I looked down. The heat was incredible this close to the burning section, and smoke blocked my view. I caught my Dad’s voice in the wind. “Swing outwards!” I pushed my feet against the side of the tower and swung past the smoke. Now I could see down. It was a dizzying 1,000 feet to the ground. I felt the rope being let down. Now I could hardly stand the heat as I started to swing back towards the tower. Then I felt myself falling. The smoke and flames rushed past me as I fell towards the ground hundreds of feet below. Had the fabric rope torn? Had the desk, Dad, and Melanie been pulled out of the smashed window? Then, I felt the rope catch me, and I swung back towards a solid part of the tower. The wall was rushing up fast, so I put out my legs to stop myself.
The impact sent a wave of pain through my legs, making them feel numb for a second or two afterwards. When the pain cleared, I swung towards an already smashed window. Then, I felt myself dropping. The fabric rope had burned through! As I fell, I grabbed for the window. I held on, paying no mind to the broken shards of glass cutting through my hands. Pulling with all my might, I got myself up on the sill and inside. I was in a deserted office. I ran through the doorway and down the staircase to the ground below.
I looked up at the tower and the crowds of people rushing out. Sirens were blaring everywhere. On the ground at my feet were a pair of deserted binoculars. I pressed them to my eyes and peered up at the tower, just above the demolished section. A man was standing in the frame of a smashed window and calling something. Dad. I watched his lips.
“I love you, James!” he was calling. That was when I realized that he and Melanie didn’t have a way out. They had given it to me. Tears blurred my vision as I looked up at him. He had given his life for me. Jesus gave his life for all of us when he died on the cross. But he wouldn’t be dead forever. He rose again, and after that, he went to heaven. I would be the same with my Dad and Melanie. I would see them once more in heaven. Death is not the end.