Tag Archives: miners

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”