It was of a semi-post-apocalyptic story that shadowhwk and I have worked on, called Legion. In that world, NYC has grown up even taller and darker than it is today, with a layer of pathways and streets high in the sky, connecting skyscrapers in a tangle where the very wealthy live and never come near the ground. There's a dangerous, burnt-out layer partway up the high-rises that's nearly impassable, helping to keep the rich separated from the poor. And my first thought, looking at the smoking, ruined buildings against the clear blue sky, was, "That's exactly what Legion looks like."
I woke up that morning at 6am local time due to excrutiating back spasms. I figured I might as well go to work, since there was nothing else to do at that hour and I was clearly not going back to sleep. I logged onto my social chat room, as I usually do, to hear Chrysoula say that somebody'd just run a couple of planes into the World Trade Center towers.
I went upstairs and turned on the television in time--as if this were a fortuitous event--to watch the second tower collapse on live tv. I woke Ted up. I called my parents at seven in the morning and said, "Are you up? Somebody just bombed the World Trade Center," when Dad answered the phone.
Dad said, "Are you kidding?"
I wasn't, of course. I write fiction for a living, but my imagination would've fallen short on that one.
The towers falling prompted the single instance I can recall of George W. Bush sounding even vaguely presidential: his tour of the site a few days later, when he shouted out to the crowd, "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon." I think right then, at that moment, he had even me. It didn't last.
My cousin Noel, who lives in New York, talked about the silence that day, and in the days that followed. She could hear birds singing, something she'd never been able to pick out of the cacophany before.
A few days short of two years later, I was in New York City to have lunch with Teresa Nielsen Hayden. It was an incredibly beautiful day, and while we were walking to the pub, Teresa suddenly said, "It was just like this, only a few degrees warmer, the day those bastards attacked our city."
Ted and I visited the site while we were there. We weren't entirely sure we were going the right way, until looking through a cross-street there was a terrible gaping emptiness. It wasn't that you could see the hole in the earth, not from where we were; it was that in New York, there are no unexpected expanses of nothing: concrete and streetways and in the midst of it all, an emptiness that simply did not belong.
We didn't stay long. We didn't take pictures. We didn't need to.
These are my memories, five years later on.