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In the Salt Mine

13 Feb

minecart

 

Deep in the Bavarian salt mines is where Rolf spent most of his waking hours. It didn´t matter that he felt dead in the dry darkness. He had mouths to feed. His body was deteriorating exponentially in his later years. The end was near for Rolf and he knew it. He welcomed it. His demise would not even entail many teary heartfelt good-byes. He barely knew his children. He spent on average twelve hours per day in the salt mine. He wouldn´t miss the finer things in life. He never knew them.

His day was greeted with a cup of harsh black coffee in a tin cup and a thick piece of tasteless bread with sour tasting butter. His lunch was not that much better and his dinner was absent most days. He didn´t have a notion of what a weekend was so that was one more thing he could not miss. Even the sun was something that he barely knew. Every once in a while, when he remembered to do so, before descending into the black square hole of the mine aboard the rickety wooden mine cart, he would consciously feel the rays of the sun on his skin. It was so warming that it sent chills in other parts of his body. But even this he did little of because most days he was getting screamed at for the duration of the descent. The conversation was usually about quotas.

One day he was toiling away trying to make his quota for the first time in 4 days he heard a faint noise in the distance. He grabbed a torch and went to investigate. As he got closer, the noise became more audible. It sounded like human groans, very weak groans and not those of a man. As he got closer to the source he saw a little boy pinned under a flat rock of heavy salt. The boy was near death. He must have been down there for some time.

Rolf leaned close to the boys face to see if he was breathing. Breaths were very shallow and few and far between. With every breath came a low moan. To Rolf´s horror he heard some material slide. The walls were caving in a little more. He attempted to lift the rock off the boy but it was too heavy. He could easily break the rock by striking it with his pick but he risked further injuring the wounded child.

He thought to get help when the child said “Don´t leave me sir. It´s cold and I´m scared. The shadows are circling us. They are calling me. They seem to stay away with you here.”

So that was that. He could not even think of leaving the boy after hearing that. But if he didn´t do something quickly, they would both spend the night in the mine and surely the boy would die.

Rolf caressed the boys head and leaned again the smooth mine wall. As he leaned back his torch started to flicker. Damn, it was running out of fuel. He maybe had 15 minutes of light left and he had no idea what to do.

“Sir, don´t let it go dark again, I don´t know what the shadows will do. I´m so scared.” the boy said.

Rolf heard more sliding. This shaft was collapsing even more. The light went out prematurely. They were both left in the dark. The boy left out what he could of a scream but it was so muffled and weak that it sounded more like a prolonged cough.

Rolf heard whispers in the darkness. At first he thought they were his men coming to help. But he quickly realized otherwise. He went to feel for the head of the boy but it was gone. So was the rest of him. The boy was no longer there. Now the whispers increased. He was surrounded by them. He left out a scream but nothing came out.

*   *   *   *

Meanwhile on the surface the owner of the mine was giving a statement to the constable.

“Around 4:30 it looks like the whole west wing shaft collapsed” he said.

“How many survivors?” the constable asked.

“Well, looks like everybody made it out to safety, except Rolf. Poor fellow. He was deeper than the rest, probably due to not making his quota for 4 days. He was really trying to get it today. Looks like it cost him”

 

 

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What’s in the Egg?

27 Nov

egg

 

It was a normal school day and Brian and Chris were in the kitchen having breakfast as their mother was getting ready for work upstairs. They each had a bowl of cereal, a glass of juice and a hardboiled egg. This was normal school day morning fare.

Brian was his usually quiet self. He was taking their parents separation much harder. It was him, after all, who caught his mother felating his father’s best friend in a parked car at the supermarket and told anybody who would listen. He still felt guilty for breaking them up. Chris, on the other hand, couldn’t care less. If ignorance is bliss, Chris passed through life in ecstasy. He was a probably just an I.Q. point or two higher from being deemed a clinical moron.

Chris might not be that bright, but he was warm and lived off of human contact. He was always trying to engage his brother Brian. He would ask nonstop mundane questions just to feel a connection. He looked over at Brian and noticed a peculiar look on his face. Brian had somehow managed to break a perfectly circular opening in his hardboiled egg and was intensely staring into it. His face looked almost as if it were in a trance.

“What’s in the egg” Chris asked. There was no answer. Chris didn’t think much of it as Brian usually is stingy with answers. He went back to crunching away his cereal. A few moments past and he noticed that Brian had not moved and was with the same exact expression, staring into the egg.

“Hey man, what’s so interesting about that egg?” Chris asked again. Brian didn’t even sway. His muscles were locked into place as his stare was pulled into the small circle on the top of the egg. Chris’s tone changed a little. There was a little worry in it this time. “Brian. What’s going on? What’s in the egg?” No response. Chris started to get a weird feeling and goose bumps chased each other up and down his legs and arms as he looked at the face of his brother.

“Let me see” Chris said as he started to lean over Brian’s egg. Whack. The bottom of Brian’s palm struck his forehead before he got even close enough to get a peak. Brian did not take his stare away from the head the whole time. His eyes remained fixed on the contents of the egg.

“You’re freaking me out” Chris said. “I am going to tell mom”

Chris was confused as he walked up the steps. He heard the blow dryer going in the bathroom. He banged on the door. “Mom” he said. No answer. He banged again. “Mom” he repeated. Just more blow drying, but no answer. There was something odd about the sound of the blow dryer. It was steady. As if it was on but not moving around. Chris was getting really freaked out. He opened the door.

He could have never been prepared for what he saw. Not in a million years. His mother was lying naked on the floor with the cord of the hair dryer around her neck. Her face was blue. Chris did not need to check to know that she was dead. He ran back down to the kitchen screaming for Brian.

When he got to the kitchen, Brian was gone. But the egg remained on the table. Chris had the wherewithal to take a look inside. He slowly walked over to the table. Each step was laborious; his feet seemed to weigh a ton. As he leaned over the table and his eye sight was fixed into the perfect circle of the egg, his world went black.