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It seemed like a scene right out of a science fiction movie when my teacher slammed the phone down and screamed, The World Trade Center has been hit!
Our terror increased as we learned the Pentagon was half-demolished, both towers had collapsed, and a plane was down in Pennsylvania.
Yes, it was shocking and even terrifying, but the closest disaster area was Washington D.C., hundreds of miles away.
Most of us accepted the tragedy with the same half-hearted compassion as world hunger or civil unrest in the Middle East. Our eyes never fully opened until the aftermath hit our county.
People were dead and dying. Not just people in faraway, almost imaginary places either. Soon after the attacks, Floridians, who had never gone near the ominous cities of destruction, began worrying about a new form of terror.
Anthrax had mysteriously appeared, spreading fears of biological warfare. The infected person was a National Enquirer employee who died days later. As a young journalist, this was especially frightening to me. What if, 10 years from now, some copycat tried the same thing with the newspaper I worked at?
The more cases popped up in other cities, the more my suspicions were confirmed. Soon dozens of possible victims were reported. Suddenly, it seemed like half the world wanted antibiotics.
Teachers and scientists urged us to keep calm, promising it was just a coincidence. They said, Anthrax has always been here beneath the soil, just waiting to be inhaled. What a relief.
My family did not help by gluing themselves to the television as each anthrax infection was announced and reiterated.
Dont worry, Sweetie, its not serious, my mom assured me. But dont drink the water you know, just to be sure.
I felt a stifling sense of paranoia overcome me. I wanted to shut myself up in my room with a giant can of Lysol.
According to my friends in New York City, the situation was much worse.
I tried to buy a gas mask, but every place I tried was sold out, said my friend Jeff.
As case after case bombards me, all I can do is wait. I have no use for the the frantic paranoia, the dozens of theories about conspiracy and germ warfare, or the temporary patriotism.
When everyone has a different opinion, who do you believe? This time, Im going to listen to myself.
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