Snowcase #15 • 15 August 2007 • The SnowBlog
Gillian McDade is from Northern Ireland and has been working as a journalist for nine years. She has completed her first novel Losing Patience and has started work on a follow-up.
Patience is a klutzy reporter working at The Daily Times but when she is sent to cover a breaking news story in Afghanistan, she manages to cause an international terrorism alert. Prologue
Paris, November 9, 2009, 4pm:
'She said she thought it was Al Qaeda,' Barbs announced, hanging up on Patience.
'Al Qaeda. The American singer, the one who sang...' Barbs paused.
'No, no, that's Al Jolson.'
'Oh, ok,' said Barbs. 'I stand corrected. There's so much noise in the background. I can't seem to hear her very well. Right, where were we?' said Barbs, forgetting her friend was in dire straits. 'The Da Vinci Code tour, this way. Let's go.'
Flight AM193 - 7pm local time:
Pressing the 'end call to Barbara' button on her mobile phone, Patience looked at her delicate white fingers which were shaking. The box sat on the pull-down tray.
'It was given to me. I thought at first it was the black box recorder from United 93, but it's not,' said Patience shaking her head. 'Look what's inside though. It's a sign.'
She looked at the frightened passenger beside her.
'Wow, it's ticking,' said Marianne, pulling a crumpled tissue from her Mulberry bag to mop her swollen eyes. The gallimaufry of voices swirled around in Patience's head like a drunken kaleidoscope.
The White House, 1pm:
'Is it necessary? I don't think so,' said the president. 'There's no need for it to be shot down. Not now.'
A taut blanket of silence fell on The Oval Office.
'Have the organisers called off tomorrow's march?'
'Not as far as we know ma'am,' said the agent. 'A full scale search of the area will be carried out before anything goes ahead anyway. We've no knowledge of anyone wanting to attack the marchers. I know there are several protests planned for the Capitol Hill area, but they are low-key and I'm keen to emphasise that point.'
The president felt she should stay put.
'It's my duty as president to remain in the United States for the meantime.
Given the current incident, I'll need to call off the meeting with President Chirac at the weekend. Tell Etienne I'll re-arrange the appointment, and please apologise to her for the inconvenience,' said the president.
'Unfortunately it's out of my control.'
The news continued. A terse voice read the autocue.
'The official opening of the new wing of the Louvre, housing a lost painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, has just been postponed to allow the president to remain in the United States...'
The once magnificent Empire State Building continued to smoulder. The president watched the scenes on television intently, absorbing the shock. Video footage showed the thick smoke belching out of the eighty-sixth floor observatory, emanating from the wreckage of the small aircraft which appeared to have left a gaping wound a few floors below. The news continued:
'Homes in the area have been evacuated, but most people have chosen to flee for safety as timely reminders of September 11 have emerged. Earlier there were distressing scenes as workers and tourists ran through the streets to get away from the inferno.'
The president took a deep breath as she watched the live images of people running through the streets in a bid to escape the choking smoke which was eagerly chasing them like a goring bull.
gfmcdade [at] hotmail [dot] com