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The air conditioning was on low, for the start of summer had yet to produce significant evening heat, Anderson Cooper’s chauffeured SUV rolling to a smooth stop alongside a row of others, a couple dozen media outlets stationed out front the Loews Regency Hotel. Exiting the tinted vehicle, he’s like an A-lister bypassing a line of club-goers, making his way to one of two areas closest to the entrance, the other occupied by his network’s biggest rival, Fox News. It is what both of the cable news giants have come to expect over the years, to always be at odds while at the same time always stationed side-by-side within the prime real estate of any media zone when a national breaking news event occurs. And one of this magnitude, still in the process of unfolding, was the biggest in years, hence the nonstop coverage and moves from both sides to bring in their big guns to cover the prime time event.
By now just about all of America had seen the beginning of this shocking ordeal, many as it aired in real time via Facebook Live, with scores of millions catching it after the fact by way of other social media. A little over three hours ago, in POV as an unidentified man rolling along an iced bucket of champagne atop a push cart stopped in front of door 369 and knocked. After a few moments, undoubtedly of the guest on the other side of the door looking through the peephole the door opened to reveal Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who had checked in less than an hour previous. Ironically choosing the same posh hotel as the one raided by the FBI on account of President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen being under investigation, Daniels was now a guest, as she was scheduled to testify at Manhattan federal court the following day.
“Complimentary champagne, Ms. Daniels?” came an even-toned voice attached to the POV. Feeling special she stepped to the side so he could wheel in the cart.
Once in the room the camera proceeded to show the mystery man’s hands uncorking the bottle and pouring a glass before handing it over to her.
“Thank you,” she said with a little smirk, placing the rim lightly between her lips and taking a sip.
Before she even swallowed the POV shot at her, a cloth napkin shoved across her mouth and nose before the angle slipped behind her for better control. Within seconds she had been rendered unconscious, her limp body then tossed to the side as the POV rushed to shut the room’s door.
This was all the world had so far, not even the cable news giants with their embedded contacts able to find out anything new. SWAT had of course invaded the hotel like army ants on an ant hill, but they weren’t talking, with no sign they were ready to do anything anytime soon.
Anderson glanced over at Laura Ingraham as his crew put into place their finishing touches and counted him down to going live, she being Fox’s face for continuing coverage as they were going into Sean Hannity’s show an hour early. He and Anderson were used to going head-to-head on a nightly basis, especially as of late with their war of words over the whole Trump circus becoming more extravagant than ever.
Anderson’s producer points to him on one of his visual countdown, and just as the news personality starts to say the first word of his broadcast a sudden explosion rips through the area, immediately sending him and everyone else around him into a world of silent dark devastating force.
His first moment of semi clarity is the first of any human under such conditions; am I still alive?
Now comes the high-pitched ringing in his ears as sensation begins to ripple back through his body, a feeling of being surrounded by warm wet lumpiness, followed by the realization that these are bodies that are covering him.
Pushing them off him his next thought is for his crew, but there’s no movement among the stillness, no noise now that the ringing has subsided. Nothing but cloudy grey now, lit up by the surrounding city’s lights. He tries to crawl off the bodies but there doesn’t seem to be an end. He sees a small red light, moving.
When Anderson’s eyes adjust he makes out the form from which the light shines. It’s a news camera, and an instant later he’s able to see a little of the person who is aiming it in his direction.
In this close vicinity they appear to be the only two alive, the cameraman’s second nature driving him to hold the recording device up on his shoulder to capture what has happened, what is happening. A light atop the camera floods on, virtually blinding Anderson before his eyes adjust, the cameraman now pointing with his free hand a few bodies away from Anderson at a hand that is gripping a microphone.
Anderson crawls over to it.
He looks up at the face the hand belongs to, the light from the camera showing him that it is Laura Ingraham, eyes open, blank, lifeless. He knows what he has to do.
Reaching for Laura’s earpiece he gently removes it, brushing his hand over her eyes to close them for a little dignity, then places the receiver in his own ear and carefully takes the mic from her hand.
Anderson looks up towards the camera.
“Hello? Can anyone hear me?”
Strained and dry, the sound of his own voice surprises him a bit, then comes a reply in the earpiece.
“Anderson? Anderson, this is Sean Hannity. Are you ok?”
“I… I think so.”
The numbness of shock beginning to dissipate, he now feels a throbbing on the side of his head, lifting his free hand to the pain before instinctively bringing it back down to look at. His palm and fingers are now covered in blood.
“Anderson, there appears to have been a bombing. Can you tell us what is going on around you?”
Again Anderson looks around but sees nothing but stillness, until his peripheral vision catches movement rushing to the doors of the hotel lobby. It’s members of SWAT running towards their scene of human rubble, but just as they exit the hotel fire flies through the air, a series of small explosions creating a blazing wall and once again sending Anderson and the cameraman forcibly to the ground.
“Oh my God! Anderson? Anderson, are you ok?”
Staying low survival instinct kicks in, this time having no problem shielding themselves among the dead, camera still on Anderson.
“The attack is still going on, “he says in a low voice. “I…”
When it breaks he tries to peer over bodies, camera rising up a little to do the same.
There’s about a dozen armed men storming the hotel’s entrance, countless tiny sparks of fire lighting up amidst the chaos as shooting starts back up from both sides, bullets whizzing past Anderson and his new cameraman.
“This- This has got to be a terrorist attack. They’re shooting it out with SWAT as I speak.”
“Anderson, stay low,” Hannity tells him. “Try to keep yourself out of harm’s way.”
More bullets threaten to take them out, but the cameraman keeps aiming and Anderson keeps talking. “Obv- Obviously they saw us all as sitting ducks and took advantage of the opportunity.”
“We’re getting reports that all law enforcement in the area have been dispatched, Anderson,” Hannity explains. “Just hang in there, buddy, the cavalry is on its way.”
Within moments the night sky is lit up by choppers, a symphony of sirens now in the distance and getting louder with each panicked breath Anderson and the cameraman take.
It begins to rain soldiers, or cops dressed as such, rappelling down from their metal birds hovering above, dozens of them at a time.
So many hands now atop the two journalists bodies as they’re secured into straps. Anderson tries to speak, hand and mic now firmly against his chest, but all he can say is “They’ve got us.”
They’re whisked up into the sky.
“They’re our boys,” Hannity assures. “You’re safe now, buddy.”
Now inside the chopper Anderson gets a quick birds-eye-view of the mayhem down below before they’re off into the night, the mini war zone sporadically lit up as the chaos continues.
He looks over to the cameraman and for the first time sees him as the fellow human being he is, as the camera that had been covering his face is now placed over to the side, the Fox logo visible.
The two men reach out and grasp one another’s hand.
A few days later Anderson Cooper and Sean Hannity had dinner together, the following evening the two seated side-by-side in front of a few cameras in an unprecedented event of Fox News and CNN joining forces for the occasion.
The history books would mark such as a turning point from the overwhelming divisiveness as of late, within the country’s great narrative of being the world’s leading nation this new chapter being the first step toward the key component that had made the United States of America the land all other lands had looked upon to emulate.
The integral ingredient; unification.