Sitting at her cubicle, Danielle had just finished responding to her first e-mails of the day when a pretty, blond coworker in military fatiques came running over to her.
“Dani, have you seen what’s going on in New York?” she asked, her voice tinged with panic, but also a sort-of morbid fascination. “It’s like something out of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Come look, they’ve set up a TV over on Stacy’s desk,” she responded, turning around and returning in the direction from which she’d come.
As she hurried back, Dani looked past her at the monitor on Stacy’s desk. The words “Breaking News—New York” appeared in a red box at the bottom of the screen and above it the World Trade Center towers were billowing black smoke into the sky. In that instant she heard a deafening boom from the direction of the corridor just outside her office and the building began to shake horribly, followed closely by the whoosh of a fireball barreling like a bright orange freight train through the center of the office. She watched helplessly as the pretty blond was consumed by the flames.
Danielle was thrown back against the far wall of the office like a rag doll in a wind tunnel; her burned body fell hard to the floor. When she regained consciousness, her world had been thrown into smoky black disarray. With every breath, she felt as though she were breathing the flames directly into her body, so she did her very best not to breathe at all. She crawled along the hard floor, not knowing where she was or where she was going. As she crawled, she thought about her nieces and nephews, thought about her parents and her friends back in Michigan. As she crawled, she thought about all the people and places that she was certain she’d never see again.
She reached out her hand to pull herself further along the floor and touched what she believed was another human hand. She grasped the hand, held onto it and pulled it closer, hoping to either save or be saved. In her dazed state, she didn’t understand at first why the hand offered no resistance. Not that she expected a struggle, but the hand came with her so willingly, it was as though the hand’s owner had no free will at all. In a heartbeat she realized why—the hand’s owner lay 10 feet away, dead. Repulsed, she tossed the dismembered limb away and began again to crawl.
From somewhere far, far away, Dani saw daylight and could hear voices. She began to crawl painfully toward that light, shoving aside bodies and pieces of bodies and rubble of every kind as she went. The faces and voices of her family flooded one by one through her mind as she crawled. The flames ate away at her lungs and the thick, black smoke made her blind—blind to everything except that slight sliver of daylight. As she approached it, she heard a voice and a hand was offered to her through the darkness.
As she reached up, she saw her skin, hanging from her bone and muscle like wax dripping from a candle. She tried to take the hand but each time she tried, she found it to be just out of reach. From behind her, the flames licked at her boots, creeping ever closer to her flesh. In a panic, she tried over and over again to reach the elusive, outstretched hand only
to have it slip away. The voice was calling for her. The words came to her as though through a long tunnel but the hand remained out of reach.
Unearthing the Guardian, is a work of fiction. It was inspired by the as yet unsolved murders of four innocent children at the hands of the monster commonly known as the Oakland County Child Killer (OCCK). The link below provides background information on that real life case. It is my fervent hope that anyone with relevant information to provide will come forward to help the families of those victims find justice and closure.