A man who wants out of his life as a drug runner comes across a goldmine
Dammit, what a bloody fool I am. I knew better than this.
Forget that, just keep running, it’s happened.
It had and now I had to deal with it.
Easier said than done, I couldn’t stop damn well coughing, the dust in the air from the ceiling collapsing was choking me.
Who cares! Just keep running, keep running!
I was bloody well trying to! Christ the Lord help me, if only I had listened to that old man. I had thought him a right nut job, he had said that these mines were haunted. That the dead whose hallowed ground that the mines had disturbed had been bestowed by the gods with the power of the marigold flower, and now wandered the grounds protecting them from those who wished to take from them what was not theirs to take.
But it were not some walking dead with some mystical marigold flower left by the gods that protected these mines, these mines clearly had been deserted because they were unstable.
They had been built illegally years ago on ground that the locals called sacred and the rumour was they were full of gold.
That rumour had been true, I hadn’t even had to venture in far before the walls around me were sparkling with specs of gold. That was how I was trapped here; I had tried to free some but in doing so had brought the ceiling down on top of myself, now I was desperately running deeper into the mine all the while choking on the very gold I had hoped would make me rich.
In fact, I had to stop.
No, not yet! You have to keep going!
Did I? There had to be enough distance between me and the collapsed part of the tunnel for me to be safe, even if there weren’t I had to catch my breath. I had to stop.
I did so and thankfully found that the beams at this part of the tunnel were all solid. I was safe, for now. Immediately I checked my phone, which was also my torch. Zero reception.
Even if I had some I couldn’t call no-one, the authorities would arrest me, and I didn’t know anybody else who could help.
And hell, I just realised! My phone battery was nearly dead. And there were no other light sources.
It were all right. I’d been in stickier situations than this and got out, I was after all a smuggler.
No I wasn’t, the smugglers were the ones who told me what to do and where to go. I were no more than a mule, the one who if things went wrong would go to jail. That was why I was down here, chasing gold. I was trying to escape that life. But look at me now! Christ the Lord help me, just what was I going to do?
Stop being a pussy, that’s what. You’ve been trapped in a tunnel before, that time at the Mexico border the tunnel collapsed and you dug your way out.
But that tunnel had been built on soft ground. This place was solid rock. And I knew nothing about mines.
My phone’s torchlight flickered. I needed to conserve the battery. That meant switching the torch off. Before doing so I directed the light down the passage, it seemed to go on forever, but it were a straight line, I didn’t need no light to walk in a straight line.
I nodded to myself and switched off the light.
Bloody hell, I’d never seen darkness like it. I wasn’t afraid of the dark, but it was darker than even at night when I had my eyes closed in bed. It were so dark it felt like my eyes had been switched off. There was literally nothing. There wasn’t even darkness, there were just nothing, I could turn my head in any direction I liked but the image didn’t change one bit. Close my eyes, open my eyes, nothing.
But it were okay, I had got this. Wasn’t even a problem. Who needed their eyes anyhow, not me.
I took a step forward, then another but could not keep myself stable. I felt like I would have more balance while drunk.
To be expected. It was never easy to walk with your eyes shut. I knew that. All I had to do was use my hands to guide me. Easy to do, if I stretched my arms out wide I could touch both sides of the tunnel. I did just that keeping in mind my two goals, find some gold and get the hell out of here.
Oh hell yes, I still hadn’t given up on the gold. The hell was I going through all this for no reward.
Something touched me!
“Who’s there?” I said switching the torch on, swivelling all around.
Nobody was there, of course nobody was there. Who the hell was even going to be there, one of these walking dead with their mighty marigold flower that the old man had warned me about? Of course not. Get yourself together. You must have just brushed against something.
A whistling noise startled me.
Just the wind, maybe that was what I had felt?
It was then I realised, the torch was still on! And bloody hell, less than five percent battery! I switched it off, lamenting my stupidity for wasting so much of my remaining light. But at least if there was wind, that proved there was another way out.
I once again started down the tunnel, but the deeper I progressed into the mine the clearer it became that the whistle was in fact constant, with short bursts every now and then where it became louder. No way was the source the wind, had to be a machine. And if there was a machine, then there had to be people.
It was a hell and damn guarantee that these people would not be friendly, but it was also a hell and damn guarantee that they must be working on a gold seam. That meant if I found them, I would likely not only just find another way out, but some gold.
I knew what I had to do; I pressed my hand against my holstered revolver. I was not going back to the life of a mule. No way in hell. Time to get me some gold and then get the hell out of here.
As I were continuing down the tunnel, I suddenly felt something brush over my head.
A spider’s web. Could tell by the sticky feel of it. No biggie, spiders were harmless, did the world a favour by getting rid of all them annoying little flies. I brushed the web from my head but then felt a tickle on my hand. I swatted it, and from the ensuing squelch, I realised it was likely the spider.
There were another one on my face, I could feel it crawling down my cheek. I swatted it. There were another crawling over my scalp. I swatted it.
Bloody hell, I could feel one crawling down the back of my neck. And there was another on my hand.
I switched on the torch at which point I realised I was covered in them!
Get the hell off me, was all I could think as I started stripping off, using my T-shirt to brush them from me.
Little buggers. They were crawling up my legs! My trousers, I had to get them off!
Bloody Lord and Mary, they were even inside my underwear! I started running, trying to put some distance between me and them, all the while continuing to try to brush them off me, they must’ve had a nesting place and I had walked straight into it.
My phone’s torch suddenly died.
No no no, was all I could think as I frantically attempted to switch it back on. But as I did the phone then died, the battery completely dead.
Not to worry, it was all right. I was all right, no reason to panic, I could still hear the whistling and didn’t need light to follow it.
I felt a tickle on my arm. I swatted it, no spider but hell it still felt like they were crawling all over me.
Get yourself together! You have a job to do.
I did, and I planned to complete that job. I inhaled a deep breath and then nodded to myself, but as I was getting back into my clothes the smell of burning entered my nostrils. It also occurred to me that while I had been running the air I’d been running into had most definitely been warm air. A constant whistling, the smell of burning and warm air. That confirmed it, a human presence and in fact I wondered if the people down here had created the lie that that old man had been spinning about this place being haunted.
One way to find out, keep going, which is what I did at which point it happened. A light, I could see light. Just a flicker, but most definitely a light. The shimmering yellow tinge reminded me of those old gas lamps that they used to use in mines. All I had to do was find the-
Ouch. My head just batted off something solid. Blood, I could feel the dampness when pressing my hand against my forehead. But it was all right, I was all right, it had just been a low hanging beam, if I kept low I would be fine. Just focus on finding the light.
How could I? The wall ahead was solid.
No it wasn’t, there was a narrow gap, I could feel it, and the light was shining through it.
I pulled out my revolver and nodded to myself, ready to do what I had to do, any resistance was going down, that gold was mine, and with that in mind I attempted to squeeze through but dammit just as I was halfway my foot got stuck. I started pulling at it trying to free myself but the gap was so narrow the more energy I exerted the greater the weight that was pressed against my chest.
Just stay calm, the last thing you want to do is alert the people to the fact that you’re here.
I attempted twisting and turning my foot, and with the grip of the walls starting to loosen I gave a final hard tug, and that was it, I was through but the ceiling was coming with me.
Hell help me, run! I were running, running towards the light, and in doing so I had to be alerting the people to my presence, but then I reached a large cavern, and as I swung my revolver in all directions, readying myself to do the job, to protect myself and give myself my new future, I realised that there were no people down here. The constant whistle was not from a machine. The light was not from a lamp. It was from a flame. The illegal miners must have struck a gas seam by accident and that was why they had abandoned the place.
But how had they got out?
They had not, the charred remains of the miners lay on the ground. And there was no other way out, and the way I came in was now closed. And as I looked around, seeing the walls sparkling with more gold than I had ever believed imaginable, all I could think of were what that old man had said. That these caves were protected by the marigold flower of the gods. The roaring flame with all the gold glittering around it looked like a marigold flower. And it had yet again done its job.
Written as an entry for the SFS 4: Marigold Flower challenge.
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