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IRREGULAR TIMESAn Orange Alert Trip:
How I single-handedly foiled a terrorist plot to set of a nuclear bomb in Manhattan, and made it to Hoboken in time for dinner!

My morning began in a Dunkin Donuts in Elmsford, New York, where I prepared myself for a last minute meeting with a company that markets and distributes organic tea up and down the East Coast. I was scribbling down a list of intelligent questions to ask about the fundamental appeal of green tea that has not been raised with pesticides or herbicides, when I overheard the question that chilled my heart. Two middle-aged women, one in red and one in green, sat at a corner table over steaming styrofoam cups of coffee, in intense debate about the travel plans of a man named "Mark".

"Does Mark still plan on taking the train down into The City?" the woman in red asked the woman in green. "You know that there's a heightened level of alert about the terrorists."

"It's an Orange Alert," said the woman in green, and took a tiny sip of her coffee. It was still too hot. "They say we could be attacked at any time. You couldn't pay me enough to go down there today. I mean, anything could happen. I don't know what he's thinking."

The woman in red nodded her agreement and took a sip of her own coffee. It was still too hot. The two ate their scones in silence.

I shivered, in spite of the fact that my own coffee, still too hot, steamed just a few inches from my face. I was planning on taking the train down into The City a few hours later. Was I setting myself up to become a victim of a new, evil terrorist plot?

With dread, I realized that I had no choice. I had already made my appointments, and like a fool, I had not brought a cell phone. Besides, even though I felt like a coward, I didn't want to look like one. What would people say if I called off my appointments because of an Orange Alert?

I steeled myself. I would go, down into the heart of American vulnerability. I would go, with the nation on Orange Alert, down to the financial district in Manhattan.

I arrived in Grand Central Station, an obvious target for Al Quaeda, and I knew that somewhere, the terrorists were waiting. I was grateful at the extra security from the Orange Alert, but I knew that a terrorist sleeper cell of expert suicidal killers was just around the corner. I wanted to document this historical moment, so I recorded it on audio tape. See if you can hear them - I guarantee you, there are the sounds of at least one terrorist, plotting and lurking around in Grand Central Station, on this very recording! You just have to have the properly cultivated inner ear to hear them.

All around me in the markets of Grand Central Station, people were panicked, even though they tried to mask their fear with an obviously false appearance of normalcy. They were clearly broken, so upset that they had lost all ability to express their terror at the imminent attacks.

I decided that I would not lose myself to their pathological denial. I bolted out of Grand Central Station, and ran screaming down Madison Avenue all the way to 27th Street. It felt good to know that I could retain my grip on reality, even as the rest of New York City fell into a mass psychosis.

Racing on foot through Times Square, I looked up to see flashing lights and a giant cup of soup, smoking, as if it were about to overflow. Perhaps its scaffolds were already on fire!

Where were the armed guards and the helicopters? Where were the fighter jets? Where were the artillery guns, waiting to bring down any marauding zeppelins? This was too bright a target, and too unprotected. In a panic, I leaped down a set of staircases, pell mell into the subway.

Riding in a subway car through the dark depths under The City, I carefully evaluated every passenger around me. There were no security screeners checking through our bags as we entered the tunnel, I noted. Anyone could be carrying a bomb, or worse, deadly sarin gas!

One of the people in that car certainly was preparing an attack, so I formulated a plan of defense in which I would first throw my briefcase at the attackers and then kick at their knees to stop their evil plots. I knew I would need evidence of their wickedness, however, so I surreptitiously recorded their every move. Here it is - the evidence that our Orange Alert is well founded, even in the subways of New York! Listen closely and you will hear them plotting.

With every passing minute, my chest became hotter. I knew that the attack would begin at any time. What were these terrorists in my subway car waiting for? A middle-aged man dressed deceptively in a suit and tie looked at me in the eyes, and I knew that this was a warning signal. The terrorists were aware of my plan of defense, and clearly meant to deter my interference!

Finally, I could not stand the suspense any longer. I admit that I was weak, but I needed to escape before the killing began. At the Brooklyn Bridge exit, I hopped out of the subway car without warning and sprinted through the crowds. Looking over my shoulder, I could see that the entire car full of people was watching my every move. They knew. They were all in on the plot!

At this point, I realized that I had been watched from the time I got onto to the train in Tarrytown. This terrorist plot was larger than I had ever guessed. The Orange Alert was well justified! I wondered, were those women in the Dunkin Donuts in on it? Had they idenitfied me?

My heart beating, I knew that I had to lose my pursuers, so I dashed through a park south of City Hall, darted through alleyways and around corners, and before I knew it, I was running through an overhead walkway above the site of the World Trade Center attack itself!

I glanced down at the men in their hardhats, busy at work preparing for the rebuilding, for a new tower. They could not know that it was all in vain. The truth was plain - New York City was about to suffer a nuclear attack! The evidence was all around, for those who would take the care to see it for themselves!

I had to find some place to sit and think, and I had to get out of the view of the secret cameras that were surely following my every move, so I descended from the walkway and ducked off the street into the first open building I could find, a glass-domed building, the World Financial Center.

There, in transparent cases along two curving walls, to my shock, were detailed plans revealing the exact nature of the rebuilding effort that was underway across the street. This information, I realized, could serve as a blueprint for the terrorists to plan their next attack. These displays must be removed from view as soon as possible, for the sake of Homeland Security! Where was there a pay phone? I had to call John Ashcroft!

My curving path led me next through a food court, where scores of people were eating and talking happily, blissfully ignorant of the doom that was about to destroy them all. The truth is a burden, I realized. I would never make my meetings now, I realized, but I was meeting my destiny. I was the only one in the city who knew what was about to happen. I had to do something to stop it.

I stopped walking as I heard the sounds of strained music. I realized that I had left behind the busy corridors of the food court and entered a large area that seemed to be outside, and yet was sheltered. I was inside the glass dome. A sign on the wall informed me that this gigantic room was called The Winter Garden.

Palm trees stood above me, unmoving, free from the wind. To my left, there was a stage, with odd, arching scrims displaying strange geometrical designs cast in light. Rows of half-empty seats were arranged before the stage, where a woman sat with an accordion and a laptop computer. It looked like a sound test, but there was something more to it. I could tell.

I sat, weary from my race through The City, and as my breathing slowed to a normal pace I found that the long notes from the accordion on the stage were entrancing me. Slowly, all my worries about the imminent terrorist attack were fading from my mind. Everything was going to be all right, I realized, if I just could calm down and listen to the music.

I was relaxing, watching the accordionist move her fingers slowly from white key to black key, passing over the smaller grey keys on the side to bring her thumb up to the single red button, when I suddenly snapped out of the trance. What was a red button doing on an otherwise monochromatic accordion?!? The truth was plainly before me, and I rose to my feet to do my part as a good American.

"Stop that accordionist," I shouted, advancing towards the stage. "She's a terrorist!" The music stopped, and everyone in the Winter Garden stared at me. "Can't you see she's got a nuclear bomb! They're not planning a concert -- they're preparing for a terrorist attack! Somebody stop them!"

I could see that the accordionist was unnerved by the alarm that I had raised. She stood up and looked at her comrades nervously. They, in turn, scowled at me. A man with a clarinet raised it in a clearly threatening posture.

A man at the corner of the stage came to my aid. "Don't worry," I heard him shout up at the stage. "I'm calling security right away."

My work was done. I had foiled the plot, but I didn't want to take credit. I just wanted to get safely away, so I ran out the door, and down a ramp to the river outside. A boat was waiting, a ferry to Hoboken. I paid my ticket, got aboard, and I was away. As I crossed the river, I couldn't help but wonder how far the blast waves would go if a nuclear weapon went off in central Manhattan. Would they reach me in Hoboken? What about my car back in Tarrytown?

With a sigh, I let these worries go. I had gone into the belly of America's Orange Alert, and I had found out just how many terrorists there really are, just waiting to attack us at any moment. They're probably there in your home town too, if you just open your eyes to see what's REALLY going on.

The truth is out there, I know that now. I just want to thank George W. Bush and John Ashcroft for protecting us with these Orange Alerts. It's only now that I can see just how necessary they are.

Recap: The following audio recordings contain noises made by bona fide terrorists plotting to destroy America! See if you can hear what I hear!

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