The morning of September 11th dawned bright & clear. Temperate, sunny and pleasant. I woke up earlier than my usual 9am (yes I have a strange work schedule) because I needed to go to the pharmacy before work. So, at 8 o'clock, my alarm went off. The usual 40 minutes of snooze ensued, and I got up. If you'll recall, at 8:40, nothing notable had yet happened. I turned my alarm (and thus the radio) off and showered & got ready for the day. I'm not the sort to have radio or tv on in the moring, so when I left the apartment at 9:40, I had no idea that anything about the day was unusual.
I walked to the pharmacy (which is a subway-stop away from the house) and picked up my prescription. In retrospect, I know that I noticed a big plume of smoke in the air, but it didn't occur to me that it was anything drastic. Sometimes stuff burns, in New York & elsewhere, and it doesn't necessarily mean tragedy.
Coming out of the pharmacy, I was seized with the desire to go get breakfast at the taco hell across the street & take it to work. (As I write this, I'm feeling a distinct lack of eloquence, a stiltedness that isn't really common for me. I'm fidgeting, getting a drink of water, shuffling things around my desk, changing position. No surprise that I have problems reliving the events). On a humorous note, I should have known the day was taking a downturn when I got across the street & the taco hell was no longer a taco hell, but a generic taco place. Damn them, they had the nerve to change ownership since the last time I'd been there! It was all downhill from there.
In the food courtish building, in the dining area, is a tv hanging from the ceiling. An MTA employee, presumably from the bus outside the building, was standing in front of it watching. I glanced up & registered: news...and turned away to order breakfast. After I gave my order I glanced back and noted: burning building. "Huh", I thought..."that must be where the smoke plume is coming from". I gazed blankly at the screen for a few seconds. It suddenly occurred to me that there were now 3 or 4 MTA employees standing around the tv, watching avidly. Perhaps I had better pay attention.
When I did so, I saw that the building on tv was the Pentagon. Part of my brain thought "Good god, and I can see the smoke all the way in Brooklyn??!!!" while the other part, steeped in far too much science fiction, remembered that some say the Pentagon is shaped that way in order contain a malign spirit - Cthulhu, in fact, if memory serves (see Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's _Illuminatus!_ books - I don't recall which.) I still didn't realize the damage to the building was intentional, but my jaw dropped open (really) and I thought "Oh shit....it's loose".
Please note that I usually consider myself to be a fairly sharp, on-the-ball person. In this case, however, I claim that it had been a short night of sleep, and I still wasn't entirely awake/aware/functional yet.
In any case, a few seconds later, the sound suddenly kicked in (did the counter girl turn the volume up, or did my ears just start working?), and I realized that an airplane had crashed into the Pentagon. Slowly, I got that this was a 2nd or 3rd attack. Finally, the scene shifted to the World Trade towers. My mouth, still open, dropped even further in disbelief. The voice-in-the-back-of-my-head continued to chant "it's loose, it's loose, it's loose!" in a near panic, while externally I could only gape & goggle mindlessly. I was utterly, completely stunned.
So much so, in fact, that I got my food and walked up the nearby subway platform steps, still ostensibly on my way to work in Manhattan. Stared out at the smoke plume, along with the other folks on the platform. Tried to get service on my cell phone.
Finally it occurred to me that I could use a quarter & try the payphone on the platform. I called my roommate to see if he had a- seen the news yet, b-knew if trains were running and c-tell him my parents would inevitably be calling and to let them know I was okay. He told me that the trains weren't running, so I hung up, went back downstairs, & walked back home.