I remember where I was on the morning of April the 3rd: walking down 9th street in Omaha with both hands
in my pockets noticing the blonde girl in the white sundress and clonche hat with the
I'm-way-out-of-your-league look written all over her shiny face and the man across the way
in the typical white-collar suit and tie holding a briefcase and shouting into a cell phone
and the hot-dog vendor on the sidewalk that sold the best franks you could get on this side of town for only
two dollars and of course the old lady walking her dachshund while not adhering to the green
guy on the crosswalk sign and almost causing a head-on collision with the incoming lanes.
One second I'm looking down the street, ready to hail an incoming cab, and the next, I'm lying
facedown covered in hot, molten steel and concrete rubble.
The blast hit me from behind--knocked me off my feet--sent me flying into a parked
car on the side of the road. I slipped in and out of consciousness for a few seconds
and came to in a dazed state. My senses returned one by one: first came my sight after being
temporarily blinded by the bright flash, then the ringing in my ears settled down enough
to where I could distinguish other sounds from the blaring white noise. I tried to get up
but struggled to find my knees--I was still disorientated from the blast.
Nothing from inside the blast range made any noise. The kill ratio inside the blast range for
a bomb that size is 1 to 2--virtually nobody survived. I was on the perimeter of the blast, hit
by a shockwave going faster than the speed of sound.
All of the windows on the entire block were shattered and the glass became airborne projectiles
coming from every direction. Chunks of concrete were hurled outward at a few hundred miles an hour
as flying wrecking balls of death. Anybody in the direct path of the shrapnel became a human pin cushion.
I don't know how long I laid there before finally being able to stand--it couldn't have been more
than a few minutes--sirens were already audible in the distance. I got up dizzy, looking around to
survey the damage. The smoke was starting to billow now, cascading its way down into the street, filling
every void--every empty space as it went along.
I looked for signs of life but didn't see any. After the fireball passed, human bodies were vaporized into
dust, and everything that was flammable became alit. Cars, trees, bodies--they all burned. An intense smell of
charred flesh lingered fresh in the air, and the only sounds came from the cracking of the fires raging.
I stumbled around, still hazy from the blast. The world seemed to be on pause, with nothing moving besides
myself around the rubble of a once living city block. I came upon the remnants of the hot-dog stand scattered
throughout the street. The sign was in the median, still burning. The owner of the stand perished along with
his livelihood--his corpse was still smoking, faceless, curled up in the street.
I walked on, slowly, dragging my legs before I came upon something rather familiar. It was the suitcase from
the white-collar man, sitting open on the sidewalk, scraps of paper raining down--his severed hand was still
gripping the handle. The rest of his body was nowhere to be found.
After a bomb goes off, you identify people by their belongings--any normal means of identification go out the window in the face of vaporized human flesh caused by the concentrated power of 400 pounds of ammonium nitrate.
Supposedly there's an entire squadron of people dedicated to picking up spare limbs and gathering body parts after these kind of events.
A nearby car exploded after catching fire and a dachshund ran out from an alley and
crossed the street just ahead, dragging an ownerless leash behind him.
I kept walking, staying low and
shielding my face from the smoke and intense heat as the neighborhood burned. The sound of the sirens were drawing close
and the initial shock wore off as those outside of the blast zone began running to
the scene. The street that was hauntingly silent in the wake of the explosion now became filled
with the screams of bystanders and the tears of family members. And with the sounds came the
agonizing reality of the situation. The frightening realization that I should be dead was
starting to sink in. I wanted to get far away from this place--far away from the tormenting
screams of those still alive and the chilling silence of those who weren't.
I noticed the slighty charred clonche hat from the women in the
sundress lying lonely in the street. I put it on and walked heartward into the city, away from the
wreckage and shattered lives.