September 11th was a terrible and world-changing event. Those lost will not be soon forgotten, nor will the effects soon wear off.
But what if September 11th didn’t happen the way we know it? What if the FBI stopped the terrorists the day before, leaving those four airplanes to fly to the destinations undisturbed? What would our world look like now?
I hate lines. I hate the waiting, the slow shuffle forward of human cattle. JFK airport was full of them, lines of human cattle. The security was hard to get everyone onto their flights, but it was the Christmas weekend. They were trying to keep everyone happy and safe.
The security guard’s question took me off guard. It had been almost an hour since anyone had talked to me, more than an hour since I got into this line. I had given up hope that I would be getting through in time for my flight. As I shook my head, I handed him my ID.
He looked down, and then back up at my tired face. It had been 3 days of trying to get home. A flight from LA to Houston, from Houston to some small hick town in Kentucky, hick town to Louisville, Louisville to JFK. A freak storm had closed O’Hare in Chicago making this a mess, weather wise and people wise. From the look the security guard gave me, I wasn’t looking too hot.
“Been a while since you updated your ID photo?”
“Yeah, haven’t been home in a while to update it.”
He nodded slowly, surly dreaming of going home as well. My ID was passed back to me, and I was waved through.
“Hope you get home safe, miss.”
I turned back to say thank you, but the security guard was already taking care of the next person in line. He knew I was thankful. Every traveller was thankful. No one was working as hard as the security people at airports. Since the September Scare of ’01, airport security has one of the most respected jobs in America. In the world if you did a lot of international travel.
Security had gotten tighter, but in a way that didn’t bottleneck. President Bush had made some huge leaps forward in relationships with Britain. It was his work that got me to come to the States for work. But by connecting and aligning some ideas the US and Britain became very close. So close it is scaring some people.
After the September Scare, the CIA and MI-5 decided that global information gathering would be more effective, more protective of their people if some things were shared, some things combined. In 2002, the CIA, MI-5, and parts of Interpol, were combined to form the United Investigations Services. Some people didn’t like the culmination of the three groups. They hated the idea that other nations may be looking at privileged information. And they let the world know. I could hear them.
I glanced over my left shoulder to see the commotion. Protesters were getting rowdy. They weren’t happy to just scream and raise their signs, some were trying to destroy the airport. Security was just arriving, tackling the ring leader. I smeared as his head hit the concrete floor. Who did they think they were, trying to stand in the way of progress and human growth?
I turned back to see how close I was to my gate. The crowds had thinned out since the security check point, so my paced slowed and my mood improved. I went to put my ID away, but thought to see how old of a picture there was.
“UIS Identification Card – Issued May 1, 2003”
It had been a while. Almost 2 years since the ID was issued. And how helpful it had been. When UIS got started people were hesitate to do anything with them. Almost all travel between the United States and Britain stopped. Tourism took a big hit. It was then that someone came up with the idea of a joint identification system, making it easier for people to travel between the US and Britain. It would work as a visa as well, if you wanted to work like I did.
I had to be convinced it was a good idea by my boyfriend at the time, but I was glad that he did. I was able to travel, see part of the world that I wouldn’t have been able to see, do things that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. Just a shame that he…
“Flight 2519, British Airways to Heathrow is now boarding at Gate 19A.”
I must have been doodling. I still have to get to the gate at the other end of the terminal. I didn’t want to miss this flight. I shoved my ID into my bag and started to jog down the aisle. The goings on around me turned into a blur. If I had been paying attention, would I have seen it?
Somehow I was among the last to get to the gate. While I had been doodling in an empty space in the terminal, it seemed that the people had gathered like a forest from that point right up to my gate. It seemed that the fates were trying to tell me something. But still I pushed on. I wanted to go back home, to my family, to the friends that I hadn’t seen in such a long time.
A hurried check in, a quick sprint down the hallway to the plane, and a rush to my seat, and I was there. I was going home. I sat down in my seat, sighing relief and catching my breath at the same time. I looked out the plane window. I wished that I could have seen New York, more than just a fly over. Maybe next time, after the holidays.
It was then that I saw one of the protesters running towards the plan. I couldn’t make out what he was shouting, but something in my stomach told me this was the end of something great, and the beginning of something disastrous.