Waking up I opened my eyes to a scarlet tinted world, I rubbed the blood from my eyes, correcting the hue but the view from the bottom of this pit still was not appealing scarlet tinted or otherwise. The mower was still running, so I couldn't have been unconscious very long as the mower drinks gas like you would expect a 1940's mower to. The mower may actually be more of a real problem though. It appeared to be vibrating it's way backwards towards the gaping pit and a running mower plummeting down here with its blade spinning madly could actually make this situation possibly worse, depending on whether it exploded or shattered in all directions or even better, both.
I scrambled to my feet moving away from the opening over head in case the mower decided to join me, slipping a little deeper into a shaft I took cover . The mower brawled from above like a biplane stuck in place, but stuck, it was not. After a few minutes it started over the lip of the sink hole. The blade catching mud and sprayed it into the air like some sideways oil spout, the engine complained at the extra work but roared on. Then the blade connected with some stone outcrop , I assume, as it lurched upward then sending the mower flying. It smashed into the opposite side of of the pit and crashed to the ground crumpling the frame and the blade split in two rocketing a metal shard though the sinkhole embedding it in a cinder block of my basement wall.
When I saw my basement wall it didn't really surprise me, you hear stories around here of people having doors in their basements that actually open into the mines. Homes with such amenities usually use them as fruit or wine cellars. Maybe one such home could get me out of here. Unfortunately, my basement wall was being scene from the outside and was useless as a way out unless I had the time to remodel without any tools but with the light expected to fade in a few hours I foresaw myself down here until Jenny's return.
Looking around to see what my actual situation was I saw, one former lawn mower, a pile of dirt and rocks, shreds of my muddy lawn, my basement wall and me. I had an endlessly flowing gash on my forehead and several minor cuts and scrapes under my shirt. The first thing I had to do was stop the bleeding so I went over to the crumpled remains of the mower and rubbed my tee shirt's seem on a sharp edge of it, cutting a two inch tear in it then I ripped it horizontally from the shirt which made a two inch wide strip. I cut this at the one inch mark and ripped it again producing two, one inch wide strips. I wadded one strip into a ball and attached it to my wound by tying the other around my head and the wad. "That's good for now," I said to myself. I find, hearing someone's voice, even your own, is comforting.
With that done, I looked around a little more. There was a main chamber, with three shafts converging on it like a three way intersection. The light from the hole above was defused into the soil and the remaining black anthracite. So seeing was at a premium other than in the main chamber. I stood with the hole hanging above me still dripping tiny fragments of lawn around the chamber. Its mouth gaping open about twelve to fifteen feet over my head. I did what my father would have called, "giving it the good ol' college try," and yelled as loud and I possibly could, "HEEEEELLLLLLLPPPPPP!"
A flurry of dog barks was all that returned to me for about a half an hour. Then the sound of someone pulling into my drive way! I tried again, "I NEEEEEDD HEEEEEEEELLLLPPPPP". I screamed several times but I could only assume the mail courier had her ear buds in again,as she always did. My heart sank as the mail truck was heard driving away. Jenny wouldn't be back until after six o'clock tonight and I was hurt, thirsty and fear was creeping into me that Jenny's return might be too late an option. This mine had collapsed once already today, nothing was stopping it from happening again. There was mine gas to consider as well, the air pressure of this mine changed when this hole opened, this chamber could be deadly in moments or never, there was no way of knowing. I needed to get a plan if I was to get out of here, panic was starting to show its head for the first time and I needed to calm down.
I decided to go a few feet down each shaft and see if there was anything. I named the shafts from one to three in a clockwise order. I started down the first, about twelve steps in to it , it stopped, this vein of anthracite must have dried up. The second shaft sloped down and went deeper down into the earth I assumed. The third shaft was level and could take me to a neighbor's "mine cellar". It was decided, shaft three was my only hope. Even today, I wonder if that was my thinking, or someone/thing-else's decisions, to draw me deeper in.
I started following the shaft feeling along the roof and walls, this shaft was shorter than the main cavern and I was able to use both the side wall and the roof to keep me steady as a staggered over stones loose and rooted alike . The idea that this vein would dry up like shaft one kept creeping its way into my thoughts and draining my hope of rescue with it .
Every so many steps I peered back the way I came, to see if I could still see the main chamber's light, I could, but the ever growing distance from it was closing it like an iris does a pupil. In the other direction I could see a turn in the mine. My mind struggled for an explanation of why I could see it but none explained the greenish-yellow of the glowing walls other than a neighbors strange choice of light bulbs. It must be as I expected, a "mine cellar"! I staggered even faster, hope reinvigorating me, I became careless and scarcely even noticed that my right hand now flailed in the air, unable to connect with the right wall and the left could barely reach the ceiling, this shaft was opening and widening and I was too excited to even notice. Green and yellow hypnotized me, it was like a warm hug for a troubled brain.
A calm glowing feeling settled in me just as my foot came down on a rock the size of a golf ball, it twisted my ankle and sent me sprawling onto the shaft's floor. Pebbles covered the downward arching floor sending me toward a lower chamber all my efforts to gain purchase were thwarted by a loose covering of stones. A greenish yellow light was glimmering from all the walls as I fell another six feet. My hard landing was broken by a wood chip filled crate.
Surveying the new situation, I saw I could get back up to shaft three with some help of the landscape of the walls and the crate. The source of the glow absolutely amazed me. There was a rusted iron pipe in the ceiling that hordes of gigantic fireflies used as a passage into this chamber. The flies were anywhere from one to two inches long. They move like ocean waves on some alien shore. The effect was mesmerizing and soothing, for several moments I had forgotten the unfortunate events that had brought me to this odd but beautiful place.
"Hello?" a child's voice queried off in some distant shaft. The voice snapped me from my daze.
"H? Hel? Hello?" I replied bewildered, "Are you okay?"
I couldn't help but laughed to myself. I asked that as if I were as right as rain but there was no reply. Could I have imagined it? I asked myself, I decided I had.
I walked over to the crate my ankle felt loose and weak but functional. I put my hand in the wood chips and moved the chips around and uncovered an old metal lantern frame. Digging deeper after several moments I found the glass globe that belonged to it. I was over joyed, with light and some more luck, I might actually get out of here alive. What a story it would make too, the part about the imaginary child would be the icing.
I assembled a two lamp parts and plugged the hole to light it with a bit of tee shirt I tore off. I walk to the wall and gently put about fifteen of the large fireflies in the globe and close the top hole with square of tee shirt, tied with a strip of cloth. I was quickly running out of shirt I thought but now I could see. I started up the wall to shaft number three. Placing my feet carefully another slip might turn twisted ankle into a broken one. Reaching the six foot or halfway point I stopped to adjust the lantern.
"Hello? Mister? Are you there? I could really use some help," the tiny voice murmured.
"Shit...," I whispered and my head dropped in disbelief. Calculating in my head I now owed the swear jar another two dollars
Thank you for reading is is always appreciated. Please, take this time to vote.
I've hated leaving Robert down here so long but life got busy. I assure you the next part is just around the next, greenish yellow turn...
As always comments are welcome, Constructive criticism is also welcome.
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Sunk : A Short StoryShort Story
Swallowed by a mine subsidence, trapped underground, Robert Jennings fights against his surroundings to survive only to find he's not alone. Drawn deeper into the mine by a child's plea but he finds something else waiting for him at the end of that...