Sep. 14th, 2011

The red shapes had their main nest high in the north tower of the World Trade Center. It was on a vacant floor that the humans had forgotten about, because that was how the shapes worked: they blended in, made things disappear from memory, made people do things that later they considered their own ideas. They were – well, they were non-specific, by design, so there's little to describe them by. We'll say that they were shapes, not so much unlike men that anybody would notice, and they were red. And that's enough about that.

The red shapes liked to lurk in their nest and eat trash. They also liked to look out the windows at the south tower, because the blue shapes had their nest there, a little lower down. The blue shapes were a lot like the red shapes, but it wouldn't do to say such a thing where a blue shape could hear you, or a red shape for that matter. The red shapes and the blue shapes… didn't get along. They liked to be able to keep an eye on each others' nests, because they were always playing tricks on one another.

One morning a plane came swooping in from the north. There were three men in the cockpit who weren't supposed to be there. The ones sitting in the pilots' seats were sweating.

"I don't know if I can do it," Ali said, his voice strained as the buildings of Manhattan loomed large. "You know I love God, but I don't know if I can do it!"

"Forgive me, God, I don't want to die!" sobbed Faisal.

The third man, who was really a blue shape, although he wore a hoodie and blue jeans like the other two, didn't say anything. Shapes didn't need to say anything; they just made things happen.

"God's given me strength, Faisal," said Ali, wondering.

"Our prayers are answered!" whooped Faisal. With renewed vigor and purpose, they steered the plane right into the north tower, precisely where the nest of the red shapes was.

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The creature had triumphed. Decades ago its cairn had been found by a young Afghan boy trying to escape Soviet gunfire. Inadvertently he had freed the spirit of hate and chaos that had been imprisoned in that desolate place by fakirs during the time of the Mughal Empire. It had taken root in the hearts and minds of the Afghan resistance, and using them as its tool it had defeated the Russians and brought a nation under its sadistic, unpredictable influence. Now it had begun its campaign abroad, lashing out against the Americans.

And it was winning. The four men that the spirit had infected had gotten on board flight 93, overwhelmed the crew in the cockpit, cowed the survivors and forced them to the back of the plane, and taken control of the airplane. They had turned it about, and it was heading for Washington. From within all four sets of eyes, the spirit glimmered hungrily.

But it was a wild spirit, not subject to the rules of reason, incapable of predicting what it might choose to do from one moment to the next. That was its downfall. If the spirit could only retain focus, it would never have been trapped in a remote hillside for centuries – it would have ruled the world. And in this moment, with a great and satisfyingly bloody climax only minutes away, the spirit lost focus again.

It fell prey to its own whims. Towards the rear of the plane the creature beheld fear, and it hungered for it. The spirit rose up like a cloud from the two men in the cockpit, filling that compartment with a thin and greasy smoke. Similar tendrils rose from the remaining two terrorists standing watch outside, joining with the others into a kind of venomous smog. Then it slithered like an insubstantial snake towards the back of the plane and settled in about the shoulders of the several dozen men and women huddling in the aft rows.

The vision of the hijacker pilot cleared, and his eyes widened. "My God," he said.

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