The cart bounced as it descended further into the drift. Carl didn’t mind working underground. In fact, he enjoyed it. His mind turned to Bridgette, wondering where she was. It had now been exactly one week since she left. He thought about it regularly, especially on the rides into and out of the mine. She had always worried about him working underground. Sometimes he wouldn’t tell her when it was his turn to go under, just so she wouldn’t worry about him.
He found the the above-ground work boring. Driving trucks and lifts, inventorying equipment, checking the ventilation points – it all seemed like busy work. Real work needed to have a visible result, like the banging of a pick or the pile of debris left behind by the mechanical drills.
Plus, there was something about the darkness and the dampness that Carl enjoyed. It was as if he were exploring a dark place and bringing back his discovery. Only, he didn’t actually bring anything out; all materials were sent via special carts. But for twenty five years this had been his life and it felt comfortable – or it had until Bridgette left.
He noticed the air change as they descended further. He didn’t enjoy the dank, musty smell, but it didn’t bother him either. About that time the cart shook and he felt an intense heat sweep by him.
“Fire!” someone shouted.
The cart stopped and everyone leapt from the vehicle, turning in the direction of the blast. The cart that had been behind them was engulfed in flames.
Carl instinctively ran toward the cart, holding his hand above his head to deflect falling rocks. The sight of his coworkers covered in flames was a horrifying scene. One of the miners had dropped to the ground and was rolling around. Carl removed his coat and began smothering the flames. Dirt was falling in larger chunks, but no one seemed to notice. Stifling the last of the flame, Carl moved to another worker and began swatting at the flames. This person, a lady he barely knew, was lying face down without moving.
Just as he put out the last of her flames, Carl heard his foreman yell. “Get back to our cart! Run”
Carl lifted the lady by her coat and moved toward his cart. The falling chunks of debris were larger than before. Carl felt something hit him square in the back and throw him to the ground.
10 thoughts on “Underground”
I like the first half of this piece, but the second half seems a bit rushed. Perhaps a little more description about what he actually sees?
Something threw him to the ground.
I agree with Icy here, the first part goes at a perfect pace, but the second part feels rushed— maybe what she suggested more descriptive writing, or you could let us into his thoughts and emotions too, show those rather than tell us.
I like John’s idea that Bridgette threw him to the ground. But maybe not. Maybe it was something creepy that goes crawling underground.
For me the pacing worked okay, the slowness of the first half seemed appropriate for his mood, whereas the faster pace of the second half gave it the edge of tension and urgency that would be experienced in that kind of dangerous situation.
All I can say is my heart picked up pace with this story. I’m also pretty sure what hit him square in the back was a piece of earth. I’m curious how your going to save the protagonist you’re beating the snot out of! That’s a bad day, lose your women and get caught in an underground fire…
That’s tough! Reads like a good plot to me.
I have to agree with the others, this got off to a great start, really sucked me but then seemed to just suddenly stop as if someone had torn out the remaining pages. Would love to read a conclusion and find out what happens to Carl next!
Good idea for a story, that of a miner’s work. Why did Bridgette leave? Though I’m a fan of leaving the reader to decide for him/herself, I would’ve liked some additional clues in this one. Still, I enjoyed the action.
Good idea for the story…I agree with those talking about the pacing.
Thanks for the comments, everyone. (Sorry for the late response, I’ve been a bit out of pocket.)
As I mentioned on Twitter, this was a short chapter from my NaNoWriMo novel that I’m working on. (I thought it might work as a stand-alone flash.) When/if I get around to editing it, I’ll definitely consider adding more detail to the accident itself. I appreciate hearing your thoughts and feedback. Thanks!