I'll step out a bit with this, my first, selection as senior editor of Anotherealm.
Believe it or not, this is the only submission I received dealing with the horrific
events of 9/11. I think it's a pretty good one. Hope you think the same.

Wrong Gates

by Alex Drinkwater, Jr. © 2001

It shall be said, 'Enter ye the gates of hell, to dwell therein for aye! Hell is the resort of those who are too big with pride.' from the Koran.


Abdul Shariz took in the faces of his comrades as they stood around the table. They were serious, dedicated faces. They were ready.

"Beloved," he intoned, "it is time."

Each of them hugged each other--which took some minutes because they were twenty four. And then they left in groups of four for six destinations and one common destiny--to enter the Gates of Heaven. Shariz was in the last group to leave the little house. His was one of two groups going to Boston. And then to New York. And then to their heavenly reward. "Remember," Abdul had told them, "you will be surrounded by adoring virgins for eternity!"


The day started normally for Zack Cartwright as he donned his uniform and headed for Logan Airport. He greeted his crew and his copilot and took the left seat of his Boeing 757 preparing to fly to Los Angeles. He went through the checklist, flipping switches and eyeing gauges as he did, insuring all was ready for the five-hour flight. When he was done, he was sure everything was A-OK and it would be a milk run. He was wrong.

Cartwright was the captain of one of four planes that day that took off into history. Two others were to join them but it was not to be. In Detroit, one of the groups who were to fly to Chicago and the Sears Tower never got off the ground as the flight was cancelled due to "equipment problems." In Miami, a flight to Orlando and Disney World was delayed for the same reasons. This delay was so lengthy that, by the time the plane was to take off, all flying in the country had ceased. The teams on these planes disappeared into the countryside. Not so their fellows on the other four planes - they were to disappear in explosions and balls of flame.

Within fifteen minutes of each other, all four planes were in the air, bound for the West Coast - or so the passengers thought. On Cartwright's plane, it started as soon as the "Fasten seat Belts" sign was turned off. The pilot was looking out the window at nothing in particular when someone tapped on the cabin door. He turned to his co-pilot. "See what they want Jerry, would you?"

"Roger," Jerry Sanderson said as he got up. It was to be the last thing he ever said as Shariz cut his throat as soon as he opened the door. Cartwright heard a gurgling sound and then saw Sanderson slumped on the floor, blood gushing from under his chin.

"What the hell? Who are y . . ." Then he was staring at the business end of a very nasty blade.

"Silence! Get out of the chair."

"Wait a minute, what are you going to do?"

"Get up or you will die as he did!"

Cartwright finally got out of the captain's chair, staring at the dying Sanderson.

"How about him?"

"Forget him. Go to the back of the plane."

The captain did what he was told, passing through a plane full of terrified passengers and flight attendants. Reaching the rear of the aircraft, he took a seat next to a crew member. "Jesus, Michelle, how did they get those knives onboard?" Before she could answer, a swarthy arm reached down and held a blade to his neck.

"That is not important now, is it Captain?"

His only response was to gulp.


Less than an hour later, Eve Lorenzo was reading her e-mail in her office on the 102nd floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center when she heard a co-worker yell.

"What the hell is that guy doing? Christ, he's -- he's coming right at us!"

Eve looked up and saw several people staring out the window. At an airplane.

Then they started to run, terrified. "He's going to hit us!" someone shrieked. She sat there, frozen to her seat, as she took in the sight of a huge cockpit and wings. Aiming right at her.

"My God."

It was all she had time to say.


In the cockpit of the 767 which was now heading for the other tower of the World Trade Center, Saladin al Waheedi turned to his co-pilot. "Ahmed, look at that. Abdul has done his job." Ahead of them was a smoking, burning skyscraper.

"Allah be praised. What a sight! "

"Are you afraid, my cousin?"

"A little. I hope it will be fast."

"It will be. And remember our reward awaits us on the other side."

"Yes. I know." But his knuckles were white. "Saladin, what will it look like?"

"It is a place of great beauty." He adjusted the attitude of the aircraft as he spoke. "We will be welcomed as heroes . . . "

Suddenly the great tower loomed in front of them. His eyes grew wide.

"There it is! Are you ready my cousin?"

"Yes, I am ready!"

"God is great!"

"Death to the Great Satan!"

A few seconds later, the South Tower was burning. Just like its twin brother.


The scene on the flight from Newark was much the same as on Cartwright's aircraft. Another pilot stood and fumed in the back of the plane and, as he did, overheard a conversation between two male passengers.

"Did you hear what those guys said they were going to do?" the first man whispered.

"Yeah, they're going to crash the plane into the Capitol!" said the second man.

"Wanna do something about it?"

A shrug. "Why not?"

A minute later, as Wahid Saleem was banking the plane toward the southeast, he heard a crash behind him. He turned to see two men holding knives. They were not his comrades.

"Turn the plane around and go back to the airport. Now!"

"No. I will not."

"Turn it you bastard or I'll kill you!"

Saleem glared at them, fixing on their eyes. He had seen that look of desperation before. Many times. He made up his mind. "For Allah," he said as he gunned the throttle and pushed the wheel forward.

"What are you doing . . . hey!"

But it was too late. The missile that had been intended to take out the home of the United States Congress was now strewn about the Pennsylvania countryside.


Milo McGraw argued with his new "captain" as he sat tied in the co-pilot seat. "This is nuts, it's crazy."

"To you perhaps, but not to us," responded Abdullah bin Walad, keeping his eye on the altitude indicator as he circled the city below.

"But you'll die, like the rest of us!"

"I know. And I will go to Heaven."

McGraw's eyes were narrow slits. "I doubt it, pal."

Walad looked out the window. "That is your White House."

"You're not . . . no, not the White House."

"Hmm. No, I think not. There is too much open space around it. I had thought it was bigger." He banked the plane. "Ah, that will do."

Walad's eyes opened wide as he put the plane in a nose dive. It took a few minutes for McGraw to realize they were headed for the Pentagon. This was not good. He had been in the Air Force. He had friends there. At the last second, McGraw leaned forward as hard as he could into the wheel.

"Stop!" yelled Walad but it was too late. The plane hit the helipad outside the Pentagon and bounced into the E-Ring on the outside of the building. McGraw could not know it, but he had saved a few hundred lives.

Aftermath 1

In New York City, two smoldering skyscrapers finally crashed to the ground as their structures yielded to the enormous heat from the fires within. In Northern Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., sirens screamed as dazed people streamed out from the bruised Pentagon. And in western Pennsylvania, wreckage from an airplane littered acres of ground but no one outside the plane was hurt that day thanks to a few heroes who had been inside.

Aftermath 2

As America tried to come to grips with what had happened, sixteen men entered another world. A world of darkness.

"Abdul," said one of them, is that you?"

"Yes my brother, it is I. We are all here?"

"Yes," said another voice in the darkness. One by one their voices rang out.



"Yes, I am here."

"Some are missing."

Abdul Shariz felt his comrades and hugged them. He could actually feel them. "We all hit our targets then?"

Haban ibn Saleem shook his head. "Sadly we did not. The passengers fought us and we crashed somewhere. I don't know where."

"But you are here with us. Your intentions were good my brother."

"Where are Abdullah and Mamoud and their friends?"

"I know not. They must not have taken off."

"So," Abdul said in the darkness, "four of the teams are here."

"But where is 'here?'"

Before anyone could answer, an eerie, orange-red light arose from beneath their feet and enveloped them, lighting their surroundings. Two enormous towers of coal-black rock loomed in front of them. A blacker void gaped between the towers while a roaring noise seemed to come from somewhere below. The youngest, Khalid al Khalili, began to weep. "I am afraid! This does not look like Heaven!"

Abdul stepped forward. "Wait my brothers!"

A figure started to materialize in the mist which had formed in the void. A large figure.

"It is the Great One!" Abdul cried. He got on his knees. "Oh, Almighty! Where are we? It is written in the Book! We are to be rewarded! The virgins . . . we have attacked the Great Satan!"

Leathery wings fluttered; a face appeared; an ugly face; an evil face. It looked down at the Abdul and his "warriors."

"I'm afraid you've mistaken me for someone else," it said.

x x x

This is Mr. Drinkwater's first submission to Anotherealm. In his cover letter, he wrote: "I suppose you could call . . . this . . . a piece of 'horror fantasy' - I don't know. I just knew it had to be written." Yes. It did. And we thank him for writing it. Please post your comments to our BBS.

Back to the Front Page