Tag Archives: dark writing

The Show Must Go On

1 May

show

Pamela worked for the reality television show Gotchya! The premise was simple. The producers would field requests from doubtful girlfriends to test the fidelity of their boyfriends. Pamela´s job was to be the bait. Pamela was a gorgeous woman. Even in real life she looked as though she was being photo shopped at any given moment. The show was a smash hit. Part of its success was the phenomenon that was Pamela. The other part was propensity for people to shut off their intellect and have their most base emotions tickled.

Pamela got her latest assignment. She was to seduce a young man named Ari. Ari was engaged and set to be married in a few months. His girlfriend was having unfounded suspicions, probably brought on by her own obsession with the program. Pamela´s intel told her that Ari liked to have a drink with his coworkers for around an hour every Wednesday after work. The sting was to go down in one month.

Pamela had a peculiar interest in this case. For one, Ari was an extremely handsome man. He had a fascinating background as well. He was a fighter in the Israeli special forces before coming to America and earning his business degree then MBA from a top school. Pamela poured over his files religiously after her mandatory two large glasses a wine every day. She could not get Ari out of her mind. She found herself mouthing his name randomly throughout the day.

The month passed and the set up was to go down the next day. Pamela was extraordinarily nervous. She could not sleep. She was confused by these feelings she was having. To make her job easier, she assumed the marks she was to set up were all cheating scum bags, guilty before proven innocent. She could not get into that mind set this time.

The day of the encounter, she took extra care in dolling herself up. Even the van driver took notice and told her that she was exceptionally beautiful that day. She shrugged off the compliments with a nervous smile. The bar had been previously wired for video and audio. The owner could not dream of turning down this free exposure on a hit TV show. She herself got wired up in the van. The producers noticed she was out of sorts. She convinced them it was nothing and was on her way.

As she sat down at the bar she immediately noticed Ari a few seats down. He was impeccably dressed as were the four gentlemen with him. “This looks like a goddamned Gucci perfume commercial” she thought to herself. As she normally did, she sent over a round of drinks. When the group of men asked who was the generous soul, the bar tender gave a nod in Pamela´s direction.

“My God!” said Mike, a handsome, single accounts manager. “I got this” he added with a smirk as he approached the beautiful woman.

“Thank you for the drinks, from all of us” Mike said.

“No problem” Pamela answered.

“You have a boyfriend?” he asked.

“No” she answered.

“Want one?” Mike asked, playfully.

“Sure, doesn´t every woman?” she flirted back. “I could see myself with the guy in the grey jacket and glasses” she smiled, referring to Ari.

“Oh, Ari? He´s taken. Gonna tie the knot soon”

“What a pity” she said adding “Well, maybe he and I could just have a little fun then. I won´t even be in town that long anyway”

“Good luck. Ari is so in love with his fiancé, I don´t even think he…..if you know what I mean” Mike said chuckling and he made a fist and moved his hand in an up and down fashion.

“We´ll see, could you call him over here, please?” she asked.

“Sure” Mike said as he whistled and motioned for Ari to come over.

“This young lady would like to say hi, Ari” Mike said before going back to the group.

“Hello, I´m Ari” he said.

“I know, Mike told me all about you. I´m Samantha” she said. She always used an alias for the show.

“Nice to meet you, thanks for the drink. I think I´m gonna get back to the group. Would you like to join us? A lot of shop talk but I am sure we can come up with another topic on your behalf” he said.

“No, I am only interested in one man at a time” she said, running her index finger down his chest.

“Oh, I´m very sorry. I am engaged. Did Mike tell you he´s single? He is a really good guy, too” Ari said.

“I am very good at keeping secrets. Besides, Mike is not my type, you are” she said, trying her best. This is the point where ninety percent of the marks melt. Ari was not budging. She could sense it.

“I´m sorry, I´m just, I mean, I´m not that guy. I love my fiancé” he said. He was so stoic, yet so empathetic for Pamela that it was making her crazy. Crazy for him.

“Are you sure? I won´t even be in town for long. I will be long and so will our little secret” she insisted.

A big smile flashed on Ari´s face “I am. I am very sure. But again, you can join us. Have a laugh with us. You don´t have to sit here alone.

“That´s ok. I was just leaving” she said. Pamela was crushed. Not because the mark didn´t take the bait. That has happened before and those shows were just as popular as the ones where the mark took the bait. She was personally crushed. She went out to the production van and told them it was a no go. The producers were thrilled. They told her they had enough footage and that this episode would be a smash hit. The hot, young successful businessman, faithful!

The production team wanted to shoot the reveal and get the parties involved to sign waivers so their likeliness could be shown on the program. Pamela refused to be part of the reveal. After some heated debate, the producers agreed to film the reveal without her.

That night Pamela could not sleep. She tossed and turned and Ari´s big smile kept flashing before her eyes. She could not get him off her mind. Around two in the morning and a bottle and a half of Merlot later she found herself calling Ari´s cell phone. When he answered, she hung up. She did this for half a dozen times. She forgot to block her number.

A half hour she received a call from Ari´s phone. She hesitated to answer. She had no idea what she was going to say. Finally she swiped right.

“Hello?” she said.

“Who is this? Why are you calling my boyfriend?” a woman´s voice asked.

A stroke of what Pamela thought was genius crossed her mind. “I´m Sarah. I served with Ari in the Israeli army. We used to hook up back then. I´ve been in town for the past four months and we have been hooking up almost every day since. For old times sake”

There was only a gasp from the other line. The phone hung up. “What did I just do?” Pamela asked herself.

Months went by and Pamela´s obsession subsided. So did the national scandal her actions caused. The scandal only made the show more popular, though. Pamela was made a host of the show. She became so famous that there was no way she could pull off a sting again. Pamela hired a private investigator to catch up on Ari. He was happily married.

One night, as she was halfway done with her second glass of wine there was a knock on her door. She thought it strange, the protocol for visitors in her building had the doorman call before sending a guest up. The knocking was insistent.

She opened the door. Two olive skinned men pushed their way in. “What is this” she gasped.

“Be quiet” one of them said with a thick accent as the other put a gloved hand over her mouth.

“This is for a friend” he said as he produced a silenced IMI 9mm Uzi.

Pamela didn´t hear or feel a thing.

 

 

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Brotherly Love

5 Jun

cain abel 2

Frank and Al were competitive brothers. In fact, they were so competitive with one another that one of them would probably not be here hadn´t it been for the intervention of their dear mother on various occasions. A strange twist to their rivalry was that they could never use the same strategy the other used to succeed. It was an unspoken rule, but followed to the letter.

In high school when Frank started to excel in football, on the offensive side of the ball, Al went on to become the best defensive player. When Al took up and had success in boxing, Frank became all state in wrestling. When Frank excelled in the exact sciences, Al became the best student in the school in the liberal arts.

Their paths converged when they became adults. Both found their way into the toy business and both became the best in the industry. Frank ran the most prestigious toy company making high end luxury toys. Al led a toy company with a name no one would recognize but just about every house in the US had at least three of his products. His toys were cheap and ubiquitous.

Frank looked at Al as a junk peddler who inundated the US market with cheap Chinese trinkets. Al looked at Frank as a fraud who overcharged dopey rich people out of their money for nothing more than mere status symbols worth a fraction of the price charged.

Secretly, both wanted a little of what the other had. Frank wanted to move a little more volume and Al wanted a little more prestige for his company. Neither had the humility to ask the other for advice.

At the same time, almost to the day, both came up with what they thought was a unique, genius idea. They would send corporate spies to the other´s company to pick up a tip or two. Within a few months, both got wind of what the other was doing.

What hurt each one the most was the thought that the other copied their idea. This was a betrayal of the highest level, even though it was not true. They did in fact come up with the idea individually.

Again, both had another strike of coincidental genius at the same exact moment. They were going to have the other killed. Frank wanted Al´s killing to look like a car accident and Al wanted Frank´s killing to look like a botched robbery. Both put their unstoppable plans in motion.

A few weeks later Al´s car was ran off a cliff. The car rolled for almost a quarter mile before stopping, only to go up in flames. Frank was shot in the forehead while he withdrew money from an ATM late in the night. Miraculously, both survived.

Due to a request from their mother, their motionless bodies laid next to one another in the intensive care unit .Although their bodies were without activity, their brains were not. There was only one single thought churning through both heads: “I´m going to recover so much better than that jerk over there”

The Swimming Hole

2 May

swimming

 

Terry was an eccentric man. He inherited a very large estate when his grandfather died. It was a sprawling piece of land with a main house, a beautiful mansion that was a sixties take on modernism and a garage with a two bedroom apartment above it. He made the apartment his home while letting nature retake the mansion. He only entered it to get tools from the basement. The mansion always made him feel uneasy. When he did go in, he always felt he could not get out fast enough.

His grandfather was a self made man. A Greek immigrant, he went from cleaning the floors of restaurants to building a restaurant supply empire. His name was on the donor list of every major building back in town. The mansion was the location of the most extravagant parties that the local society enjoyed for two decades. His grandfather fell ill and the parties stopped. Then the guests stopped. When people wanted to feel alive, they came from all around to drink and dance until the early hours of the morning. When he was sick, nobody wanted to go and be reminded of their own frailties.

It took over two more decades for the illness to finally claim Terry´s grandfather. The estate fell into disrepair. Terry didn´t mind. When he got the news that he had inherited the estate, the timing was perfect. He was being evicted from yet another flop house for his strange behavior and not to mention, heavy drinking.

Terry didn´t work. He didn´t have too. Along with the estate he inherited a few bonds. These mere pieces of paper were worth more than a few million dollars. He cashed them in and with the help of an advisor, invested them in a way where the principle was never touched and he could live off the interest.

To keep himself busy, Terry would come up with projects around the estate. Some that made sense and some that didn´t. An example of the former was a vegetable garden which was quite productive considering Terry´s agricultural education came from a few borrowed library books. An example of the latter would be when he tried to build a mirror system on the top of a hill that would send beams of light into outer space trying to make contact with aliens.

With the news of an impending heat wave, Terry got the idea to dig out a swimming pool. There was a back hoe in the garage that he became quite proficient in its use. He surveyed his land and found the perfect spot. It was at the foot of the hill where his alien communication system stood in decay.

Terry marked out a twenty food by eight foot rectangle and started digging. For more than three days, a few hours a day, his hole in the ground started to take the shape of a proper swimming pool. At the deep end he got to almost six feet deep while maintaining a somewhat perfect rectangle shape. On the fourth day as he started digging out the deep end, he noticed the earth was getting a little muddy. He felt it odd as it hadn´t rained in weeks. The more he dug, the muddier the earth. He got to a point where water started to bubble up. He dug a little further and more water started seeping up. It started making digging difficult and now Terry was getting frustrated. If he struck water, how was he ever going to finish the pool with cement as he planned.

Terry decided to call it a day. He put the back hoe back in the garage cursing as he removed mud from the shovel. The cursing grew harsher with every sip of rye he took, thinking the rye would calm him down a little.

He woke up the next day, feeling a little rough, with an empty liter of rye on his bed stand. He decided to walk over to the pool. To his surprise, it was completely full of water. At first, Terry cursed his fate. Then he thought to himself, he was not going to receive guests so who cares how rough the pool is. It is a swimming hole now. And he would not have to fill it. He never even took into consideration the plumbing aspect of this job so this was a blessing in disguise.

It was unusually hot so Terry got down to his underwear and decided to test the water. The first thing he noticed was that the water was cool to the touch but absolutely refreshing in a way he had never felt before. The next thing he noticed was that his hangover was completely gone. In fact, he had not been without a hangover in so long that the feeling was foreign to him. He lived his life in a constant cycle of being hung over or drunk.

Terry suffered from a terrible skin rash that when it flared up, it oozed puss and blood. He wanted to be careful not to get it wet as water sometimes led to an outbreak. Due to the viscosity of the mud below his feet, he slipped and was submerged to his neck. He sprang back up and immediately examined his should to see how the rash would react to the water. To his surprise, there was no reaction. Terry felt relieved. He sat down waist deep in the water and felt the cool refreshing water on his legs. He looked back to his shoulder to make sure the rash was not getting wet. To his surprise, the rash was completely gone.

Terry jumped up and cried “What the…..?”

Terry ran back to his house not even caring that he was tracking mud foot prints all over the floor as he made his way to the bathroom, the only room with a mirror. He confirmed what he had seen. The rash was completely gone.

This was cause for celebration so Terry went to town and bought a more sophisticated drink than his usual rye. It was gone in no time and there was little time before the liquor store closed. He set off for town once again. To avoid another DUI he took his bike. Night was falling fast.

Terry was on the dirt road leading back to his house taking nips along the way. He could have sworn he heard music in the near distance but that would have been impossible. He hadn´t a neighbor for miles around him in any direction. He was feeling pretty good and he knew that when he felt pretty good, his mind had a tendency to play tricks on him. As he approached his home, the music grew louder. It sounded like jazz. He heard the murmur of a crowd. He took another nip and shrugged it off. It would not have been the strangest aural hallucination he has had in the near past.

As he came to the hill that led down to part of the property where the structures stood, Terry froze dead in his tracks. The mansion was completely lit up. There were people going in and out the front door smoking cigarettes, with drinks in their hands. The men wearing thin ties and neat suits. The women wore skimpy dresses with collars and ironed straight hair. There was laughing and dancing.

To his ultimate shock, through the huge glass window of the great room he saw none other than his grandfather with a martini glass in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He was entertaining two beautiful young ladies who were laughing hysterically at every utterance he made. Terry was paralyzed. Thoughts were going round and round in his head but not one would stop long enough for him to focus on it.

His gaze wandered over to the makeshift swimming pool. It was gushing water. It was bubbling from the point where he had first seen the water with the force of a broken water main. He followed the small stream that came out of the shallow end with his eyes. It made its ways right up to the house. It seemed to touch the walls and run all the way to the other side of the house and ran off at the far end.

Terry turned his bike around and started peddling furiously for town. He didn’t make it too far. His front tire hit a rock and it sent him flying over the handle bars. He tried to brace himself as he fell but a fallen tree branch had gotten between his head and the ground. Terry was out cold. He slightly came to, dragged himself towards the bushes and laid down. He mustered all his available strength to bring the bottle to his lips. The whole night Terry slipped in and out of consciousness. A few times when he was awake he heard cars roll by with big band music playing and people hanging out the windows letting the world know they were at that moment having the time of their lives.

At sunrise, Terry came to. He felt awful. His head was pounding. His mouth felt as though he had been chewing sand the night before. He vomited where he laid a few times. He then remembered the pool. He thought that it could make him feel better again. He also remembered the scene from the night before so he was a little anxious to return to that part of the property as he had no idea what was in store from him. With the strength of an invalid, and the movements of one, Terry made his was back home. He left his bicycle lay. He didn´t have the strength to roll it back.

When he got to the apex of the hill that over looked the house he let out an audible gasp. The mansion was back in its dilapidated state. There was no sign of a grand ball. There was no sign that merriment and mirth had transpired there for years, decades even. Then his gaze went over to the pool.

The crooked rectangle, not much more than two feet deep at one end and four feet at the deep end was completely dry.

 

Attack of the Killer Imagination!

11 Dec

teddy

“I wish he could talk to me” Ben told his mother. He was referring to his favorite teddy bear Chase.

“If you use your imagination, Ben, he can” his mother answered, barely paying attention to the boy.

Ben´s eyes lit up with the possibilities. His mother´s words echoed in his head, “If you use your imagination…..”

A few moments passed and Ben snapped out of his trance. He grabbed his teddy bear off the floor and told his mother he was going to his room.

Once in his room, Ben sat the teddy bear at the head of the bed as if the bear needed to relax. He went into his closet. He took a shoe lace from one of his sneakers. He proceeded to tie it around the bears neck.

“You´re gonna talk and you´re gonna talk now” Ben said.

The bear just looked at him with his plastic eyes reflecting Ben´s angry face.

“You´re gonna be a hero, huh?” and with that Ben tightened the shoe lace.

Still, the teddy bear gave no satisfaction to Ben. Ben wound up an elbow and struck it across the bear´s face. “Talk!” he said. He struck the bear a few more times.

“Okay, okay!” the bear finally said. “What do you want to know?”

“I knew you weren´t so tough!” Ben said, triumphantly. “I want to know what Mom got me for Christmas and I want to know now!”

“How the fuck should I know?” the bear answered.

“Hey, watch your mouth!” Ben said.

“It´s your imagination who is doing the talking, pal” the bear answered defiantly.

“Yeah, you right. But back to the subject. What did Mom get me for Christmas?” Ben asked again.

“I don´t know!” Either I am with you or I am in your room. It´s not like I can just get up and walk around the house you know!” the bear said.

Ben thought quickly. If imagining gets the bear to talk, then maybe imagining can get him to move. “You´re gonna figure it out for me one way or another” Ben said.

“Fuck you” the bear said.

“I said stop that!” Ben complained.

“Again, you are in charge here….Hello?!” the bear said in a snarky tone.

“True. But anyway, tonight, when my mom is asleep, I´m gonna want you to go into her room and look in her closet. I need to know what I´m getting” Ben said.

“That´s a stupid fucking idea. You know your mom is a light sleeper” the bear said.

Ben was furious at the bear´s foul mouth. He let it go this time. He simply said, “You´ll make it work. I´ll use my imagination”

Later that night when the house was quite and still, the alarm Ben set on his cell phone went off. He looked over at Chase the Bear´s chair but he was not there. With his legs still on the mattress he leaned off the side of the bed and had a look under. Nothing. He was sure he had put Chase in his chair before nodding off to sleep.

The he felt as if a small animal had jumped on the other side of the bed. He jumped up. There were no pets in the house since his beloved cat died three months earlier. Then he felt a weight on his chest and something fury forcing its way into his mouth. It was Chase!

“I am so sick and tired of you kid” Chase said as he shoved his arm into Ben´s mouth and covered his nose with the other.

Ben couldn´t make a sound. He felt powerless against the otherwise weightless bear. The more he wanted to struggle the more he could not. Tears were streaming down his eyes.

“This is just your imagination, kid” Chase said. “You´re in control here”

All Ben could do was cry. His head started to feel light. He couldn´t hear much. His desperation was rounding the curve and turning into an eerie calm. Then, he felt a vibration by his side. Then he heard a familiar music start to play. Softly at first, gradually getting louder.

All of a sudden he felt sweet air fill his lungs. He looked around. His face was dry. No tears had fallen. He looked to his side. Chase was sitting there just as he had left him there.

That day Ben decided to think twice before using his imagination.

Don´t be afraid

9 Aug

bedtime

 

Sammy had a profound fear of going to sleep . One year ago, on her fifth birthday, her grandfather was moved into her family’s home under hospice care. A short three months later he passed in his sleep. Sammy was the one who found him. She went into his room to hear the daily story Grand Pop would make up on the spot for her. She ended up staying in his room playing with the corpse for about an hour until her mother found her. For the past nine or so months, bedtime has been a nightmare for all involved.

One morning she woke up and proclaimed that this would be the night that she would overcome this fear and go to bed with no hassle. Her parents were elated. They were at their wits end. They had no idea what to do to this point. She had seen psychiatrists, sleep medical professionals, even a mystic in an attempt to eradicate this fear of sleep. Her health was deteriorating as a result. She was gaunt. The lack of sleep curbed her appetite and stunted her growth.

As the day slipped by, Sammy nervously eyed the clock. With every passing hour she knew she´d have to go to that scary place, her bed. And she did not forget her promise to her parents. It was the middle of summer so the day was long. But, as it must, the sun started to set. Sammy’s courage started to wane. As the sunlight subsided, her fear grew until she was as terrified as it was dark outside.

As the clock drew close to ten o’clock she solemnly went into the living room where her parents were watching a movie. She told them that she would go to bed by herself. Her father objected. He noticed that she was visibly shaking. He wanted to at least comfort her through this milestone but she objected. She told them that she had to do this alone.

Around 11 o’clock her father snuck up the stairs to see if she was asleep. She was. He father felt as if a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders. He backed out of this room, closing the door behind him and made his way to the stairs, very excited to share this news with his wife. As he crossed the threshold into the living room ready to give his wife the good report there was what seemed like an explosion. The house shook. The world shook. Then there was the sounds of crashing all around him. He grabbed his wife and dove back under the threshold. That was the safest place to be during an earthquake, so he was repeatedly told during his time in Elementary school.

The shaking went on for what felt like an eternity but was in fact not more than a few brief moments in time. He looked around and there was a lot of damage around him. Car alarms were blasting in the background. His wife and his only thought went to Sammy. As they made their way to the stairs they were hit with a blow to their senses that was rivaled by none other. The stairs were flattened. There was smoke coming from the rubble. It was as if a mighty palm came down from the heavens and squashed their dreams. Their home, their beloved daughter, their everything was gone.

Around a year after the incident, Sammy’s father was finishing a quick Chinese food lunch before having to go back to work. He almost never ate the fortune cookie and usually didn´t even bother to read the message inside. Today he decided to have the fortune cookie. He clumsily ripped open the plastic and cracked the cookie in half. The message inside brought back feelings of pain that had only slightly started to subside.

You can overcome your fears, but what you are afraid of can still get you.

 

The Typewriter

15 Feb

images

 

 

Clack, clack, clack went the sound of his typewriter. Frank was furiously pounding away on the vintage keys that set him back a small fortune in a little boutique shop in a gentrified, once artistic part of the city. A small mountain of cigarette butts spilled out of one of the empty cardboard coffee cups that surrounded his work space. He was writing for hours but nothing of quality found its way to the endless reams of paper.

“It´s all shit!” he screamed, though the only sentient being to hear these words were his cat and his neighbor. The walls were paper thin in his tiny one bedroom apartment in a converted candy factory in another gentrified, once artistic part of the city.

Frank had some success of late selling a few stories here and there but the well seemed to have dried up. Everything he came up with was derivative of something he had already read or had already written. He had recently gone off his mood stabilizers in hope that it would spark some hidden creativity.

With a deft sweep of his arm, the typewriter went flying across the room. It would have taken out the cat if it didn´t have such keen reflexes. He sat there staring at the typewriter, upside down on the floor for some time.

Clack, clack, clack. The keys of the typewriter started moving by themselves. Frank sat up straight. The clicking stopped. He slowly walked over to the downed typewriter and turned it over. He saw a sentence on the page after where he had stopped.

Just keep going.

Those three extra words on the page he hadn´t written. Frank was perplexed. Surely this wasn´t for real. He decided his mind was playing tricks on him and he decided to go to bed for the night.

When Frank awoke he walked over to the typewriter on the floor. He looked at the page and there were more words.

You suffer for your work. Now others must suffer for your work. Make them pay and you will reap the profits.

“What does that mean?” he asked himself out loud. He felt stupid for saying these words because he knew exactly what it meant. He needed new life experiences to draw from as inspiration. He knew that hurting people would evoke deep emotions that he could use to write.

Frank always had a violent streak that he used to punish only himself. He had never even thought of hurting anyone else but he figured that this must be a sign from above. Frank decided he would go to the park late at night and do some harm to homeless people. This way, he could do what the typewriter told him to with minimal risks with the law. Frank was also a coward and a weakling. A sleeping homeless person would offer the least resistance.

That night, Frank filled the pockets of his parka with a small bottle of rubbing alcohol, some rags and a box of strike anywhere matches. He also slipped two mini bottles of vodka he had obtained from his last flight into the breast pocket for a little added courage. He then set off for the park.

He found his first victim. It was a woman sleeping under a makeshift tent made of a cardboard box. He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out one of the mini bottles. He was not a drinker and could barely get the vile liquid down his throat. A little even made its way back up and he had to swallow it a second time. He took a deep breath just to keep it down.

From behind him he heard a voice say “Having a party and didn´t even invite me?” Then he felt a sharp pain in the back of his neck, saw a bright light then nothing. The metal pipe that had just smashed his brain stem cut off communication from his brain to his body. The homeless man slipped of Frank´s parka, then the rest of his clothes. He was left unconscious and stripped to his underwear in the harsh cold in the middle of the park.

When Frank came to he was in a white room with bright lights. His hands were restrained with fur lined leather cuffs. He looked to his right and he saw his case worker, John, sitting on the chair besides him.

“How do you feel Frank?” John asked.

“Terrible. What happened?” he asked.

“That´s what I would like to know. The only facts I have are, you were found in Jefferson Park in your underwear, barely breathing. You had alcohol on your breath. A nice homeless woman saw you around midnight and got the attention of a nearby police officer” he said. “Have you been taking your meds?”

“Well, uh, no” he sheepishly answered. “But…”

“But nothing Frank. How many times do we have to go through this. You must take your medications”

“Am I in trouble, John?” Frank asked.

“No, of course not”” John said with genuine concern in his voice.

Off the hook again. Frank thought. Mental disease has its advantages. This will make a great story.

 

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”