Excerpts from an interview with Shahdi Rafat, one of the only first-hand witnesses to 9/11.

(This one was really buried, ma’am. Even our people had trouble finding it with all the layers of black tape and intentional misfiling, not to mention the security restrictions. I'd ask you to reconsider my proposal to allow the trawlers and researchers full security clearance. It's not fair to ask them to find information that they're not allowed to know, and it's inhibiting their ability to do their jobs. If you'd even just take another look at the original proposal, I'd be very grateful)


INTERVIEWER: So you were a college student?

RAFAT: Yes, that's correct. She laughs nervously. Liberal arts. I changed it afterwards. It felt too… frivolous, I guess.

INTERVIEWER: So where were you at the time of the incident?

RAFAT: Right there, right next to the fountain. Right at the very center of it all. She laughs again, more ruefully this time. Hell of a way to discover you have powers, I'll tell you that.

INTERVIEWER: That's how you survived?

She nods.

RAFAT: The next survivor was about two kilometers further out. I'm… She pauses. I'm, as far as I know, the only survivor from the park. Aside from, she waves a hand, you know.

INTERVIEWER: So what were you doing that day, in the park?

RAFAT: A picnic, if you can believe it.

INTERVIEWER: In a Chicago autumn?

RAFAT: I know, it was silly. But it… it was a beautiful day.

INTERVIEWER: So when did you first realized something was wrong?

RAFAT: Well, I was there with my boyfriend. When I say I was at the center, that wasn't an exaggeration. I can actually remember seeing the two of them walk into the park. Two men, one short and bald in flowing robes, the other with… god, it was a Metallica t-shirt, wasn't it? Isn't it funny, the things you remember. I don't think I could tell you what I was wearing that day, but I can remember that t-shirt, clear as day. It had a hole, right here. She taps herself on the chest, just below the right shoulder. Isn't that strange?

INTERVIEWER: So you knew something was wrong as soon as you saw them?

RAFAT: Oh god, no. They were strange, for sure, but you see strange stuff all the time. There was the possibility of them being supervillains, but they were just sitting there. And, you know, that sounds naive, but back then, the Golden Age Doctor Doom style was still the standard. Big, bombastic declarations, ridiculous names, you know? But they were just sitting, so everyone dismissed them. She pauses, collects herself. No, the first sign that something was wrong was when people’s hair started falling out.

INTERVIEWER: How long did it take for you to notice?

RAFAT: After the two men arrived? A few minutes, I think. Definitely not more than ten. Tyler, that was my boyfriend, he reached up to scratch his head, and a clump of his hair just… came right out. There was still some scalp attached. I think I might've screamed. I probably did scream. She glances down at her hands. I think it was fairly justified.

INTERVIEWER: What happened next?

RAFAT: Well, I sort of set everyone off. The next moment, everything was chaos. I think it was because we, Tyler and I, were so close, that we noticed first. But once something was obviously wrong, well… pretty soon everyone was screaming. And vomiting. And clawing at their own skin as patches of it began to flake off. She shudders. It was horrible.

INTERVIEWER: Except for the two men?

RAFAT: Except for them. And me, I guess, but I was too distracted to really comprehend that at the time. All I knew was that the park was filled with people who were literally falling to pieces, and then there were these two. Just sitting there. Well, the one in the robes was. The other one, with, you know, the t-shirt, he was standing. And he was staring up into the sky. It didn't take a genius to figure out they were responsible.

INTERVIEWER: So what did you do?

RAFAT: Nothing. Or, well, I might've done something, I don't know. I sort of blanked out for a while, maybe 5, 10 minutes. Which I think was a fairly reasonable decision, all things considered. When I came to… She fades out, looking sick.


RAFAT: There weren't any corpses. I actually think I could've handled it if they were corpses. I'd seen bodies before. But… She stares off into the distance. They were just… melted. Like action figures that had been stuck in the microwave. And so, of course, I screamed again, and the two men turned to look at me, because I was the only person there apart from them who wasn't… she waves her hand around incoherently, with a pained laugh. Slop.


RAFAT: And then, like she'd been waiting for a distraction. A sonic boom, and… there she was. Hovering between me and them, about 5 feet off the ground.

INTERVIEWER: Who was it?

RAFAT: A- She splutters. Are you kidding me? Who else could it have been? It was Pyrrha.

INTERVIEWER: Just needed it stated for posterity.

RAFAT: Oh. Sorry. But yes, Pyrrha. Which, you know, should have done it, right? Only idiots tried to fight her. But I guess these guys were idiots, because as soon as she showed up, the big guy grinned. Just, a full, beaming smile. Like an overgrown child on Christmas.

INTERVIEWER: What did she look like? Pyrrha?

RAFAT: Why? Everyone already-

INTERVIEWER: Posterity, Ms. Rafat.

RAFAT: …okay, then. Tall? It was kind of hard to tell, with the hovering. She was wearing a long, brown coat, the same on she always wears, and those big chunky goggles. I didn't really see her face, but you know, she was pretty obviously angry.

INTERVIEWER: How could you tell?

RAFAT: Posture. Also, the ground below her was compacting down the whole time.

INTERVIEWER: So she just flew down? She didn't attack them?

RAFAT: Not at first, no. I don't know why not. Maybe it was me. She didn't say anything, though; she just hung there. I don't know for sure if she even knew I was there, but… the fact that she placed herself between me and them makes me think she did. The big man - the other one was still sitting there like he was meditating - the big man, he said: She closes her eyes, obviously thinking. “Took your time, bitch. What, were you too busy saving cats from trees?”

INTERVIEWER: So they'd done it to lure her out?

RAFAT: I mean, that's what it sounded like. She didn't reply, though, and he snarled, like a freaking dog, and raised one hand and then-


RAFAT: I'm just trying to decide how to describe it. It was like something was pushing down on every part of my body at the exact same time, with the exact same amount of force. Or, no. Like something was pulling me down. It… it really hurt, actually, slammed me against the ground. And she wasn't even aiming for me. It only lasted about a second, and then everything was back to… heh. Well, it definitely wasn't normal. The two men were gone. And where they'd been standing was a crater.

INTERVIEWER: And Pyrrha… what, disappeared again.

RAFAT: No, that was the thing. She was still hovering there, hadn't moved an an inch. And then she turns around to me, says “I'm sorry”, and just falls into the sky.

INTERVIEWER: She spoke to you?

RAFAT: Uh, yes, that's what I just said.

INTERVIEWER: What did she sound like? Did she have an accent?

RAFAT: Uhm, normal? Kind of hoarse, actually, like she hadn't spoken in a while. Which makes sense, I guess. No accent, I don't think. Not a Chicago one. Maybe standard midwest?

INTERVIEWER: Hmm. There is the sound of rustling papers, and a chair scraping on concrete.

RAFAT: What, that’s it? That was… abrupt.

RAFAT: Hey, where are you going? You can't just leave me here. Hey! HEY!


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