An Ancient Evil is Released
|Prologue: Miners in the Lucky Englishman’s Mine break into a cavern, releasing an ancient evil. Most are killed; one survives to report attack of giant snake creature.
(Apologies for the inevitable misspellings. The computer I'm working on right now has some weird settings I'm not allowed to change. Will fix this evening.)
Amos MacGuire peered intently at the rock face in front of him. The miner was at the bottom of the Lucky Englishman Mine, and was trying to determine which direction the gold bearing vein was mostly likely to travel. Shifting the lantern around caused shadows to dance and run, but a moment later the flickering light settled down, and Amos was able to follow the patterns of minerals and gold flecks. Several chunks of yellow metal peeked out from the rest of the stone.
"John! Down here!" he called to the big former slave.
John Washington slung his pick onto his massive shoulders, and leaned down to look at the rock face. "Whatcha thinking, Amos? About petered out, or do you think there is more to this vein?" asked the big man.
"Not sure, John. The vein has narrowed for the last forty feet or so, but never gave out. It looks like it might be widening again. What do you see?"
The big man knelt, and examined the ore. Gold flecks glittered and shone, and the man put his hand against the wall, fingers spread. After a moment, he moved his hand to the left, then right, feeling the rocks.
"I think so. The bits of gold are bigger than my hand can cover. I think there might be some high grade coming up soon. Lookie there, that bit looks like it might be as big as my thumb once we dig it out."
Amos nodded in agreement, and grinned. A big strike, and he was the one to find it! Mr. Hillerman would pay him a sizable bonus if this panned out. Maybe enough to stop mining for a bit, and go back to prospecting.
"All right, John. We're gonna need a driving bit, and some dynamite in a little while," said Amos.
While John went to get the driving bit, Amos looked at the stone wall in front of him. Cracks could be seen in the stone, good points to drive the bit into, and where the rock face would split once the dynamite went off. Amos marked the wall with a bit of pitch from a bucket, and waited for John to return.
A tremor shook the mine briefly, then stopped. Amos listened to hear if someone had set off a stick or two of dynamite somewhere else in the mine, but there was no accompanying boom. The miner looked at the lantern, but the light was steady. A moment later, John returned with the bit and a sledge hammer.
"Want to hold or drive first, Mr. MacGuire?" he asked.
"I'll drive first, get the bit started. Once we're in six or eight inches, you can drive while I hold," he replied.
Washington held the bit at the point Amos had indicated on the wall, and the miner lined up his first hammer strike. Clang! Amos checked to make sure his swing was true, and swung several more times. Clang! Clang! Clang!
Amos pounded the bit steadily, while John gave the bit a slight twist between blows. After a while, Amos' forehead was beaded with sweat, and he sat the sledgehammer down. Just before he handed off the driving duties to John, a high pitched voice called out.
"Beer Bucket! Anyone need a drink?" asked a young boy. John and Amos turned to see John's young son carrying a wooden bucket and several wooden mugs. A checkered cloth was over the top of the bucket, and a metal ladle hung from the boy's belt.
"Perfect timing, lad!" said Amos with a smile, as young Robert Washington sat down the bucket and handed Amos and his father a wooden mug apiece.
John nodded, and said, "Your momma makes the finest beer around. Not sure what I would do without her." The big man took a long pull on the beer while Robert put the cloth back over the bucket to keep the mining dust out.
"How is it coming, Dad?" asked the boy, looking at the bit still in the rock face and the hammer resting against the wall. "Momma says she had a good dream last night. Says you're gonna hit it big today."
"Your momma's dream was right," answered Amos. Another brief tremble shook the ground as he continued. "We need to drive the bit in a little more, then we can set some charges. After that, then we'll see what we have."
"Oh, can I stay and see the blast, Dad?" asked Robert.
"No, best not, son. Blasting can be really dangerous, and if you got hurt, your momma would never forgive me."
John looked at his son's disappointed face. "A couple more years, and maybe. But for now, scoot! Other workers are getting thirsty!"
With a playful swat at his son's rear, John sent his son to finish the rounds throughout the mines' other tunnels and shafts.
"Well, let's get this finished," said John as he picked up the big sledge. Waiting for Amos to get into position, John took a couple practice swings. Amos gripped the bit and nodded to begin driving iron again. The two men worked as one, and the bit sank deeper into the stone. A few more tremors went unfelt as the impact of the hammer and bit shook their way through each man's arms.
Once the blast hole was complete, John and Amos walked back to the main shaft, then to where the mines' dynamite cache was stored. Checking out two sticks, Amos signed the inventory sheet, and John selected a coil of fuse. While getting the fuse, he spotted his son still in the mine. John jerked his chin up. "We're about to blast. Head out of the mine, and let your momma know I might be late," said the big miner. Amos grinned, hoping that they would be late due to a major strike.
With his son headed out of the mine and to the camp above, John and Amos returned to their site. While John uncoiled the fuse, Amos inserted the end of the fuse into first one, then a second stick. He carefully slid the two sticks into the mine hole, and pushed them gently to the bottom of the hole with a long stick. A moment later, he tamped a bit of cloth into the hole to keep everything in place.
"Are you ready, John?" he asked.
"As ready as we'll ever be," replied John.
The two men spool the fuse out and around the corner, and prepared to light it. The mine supervisor checked their work, and nodded. "Hope you are right, Amos. You and John will be getting a big bonus in your paycheck this week," he said with a smile.
Amos shouted, "Fire in the hole!" as he touched the fuse to the lantern wick, then sat the lantern down and covered his ears. The fuse burned quickly, and finally reached the hole drilled into the stone. The cloth burned briefly, then a KABOOM! filled the air! The ground shook harder than any of the previous minor tremors, and Amos looked in alarm at the lantern shaking on the ground.
Amos, John and Eric Hillerman carefully approached the blast site. As the dust settled, Amos and John's smiles grew wider and wider. The distinctive glow of gold filled the hole they had just blasted into the rock!
John knelt down to brush the loose rocks and debris, and reached into the hole to pull out the gold bearing ore. As he pulled back, he discovered that he wasn't holding gold ore, but instead it was several gold coins and necklace links.
"What in tarnation..." he began, but was cut off by a tremendous roar!
From the hole came a hissing sound, as if a train was letting off steam. Amos looked up at the freshly blasted hole, and saw a huge feathered snake slithering out of the wall. He had just enough time to scream before he died. John Washington lasted a moment longer, as his mightly hands struggled to keep the serpent's mouth from closing on him, but in the end he was bitten in half. Eric Hillerman turned and ran, but still died when the snake creature bit him in his fleeing back, and injected a lethal venom.
The beast quickly slithered throughout the mine, seeking prey everywhere. Amos MacGuire, John Washington and Eric Hillerman went down first, but none of the other miners in the Lucky Englishman's Mine were spared. Robert Washington had just enough time to spot the creature at the mines' mouth before dropping his beer bucket and ran screaming to his mother.
"Momma! Momma! There's a monster loose in the mine!"
I set this to 13+, but wasn't sure if this was right. I don't think the prologue is excessively violent, and I wasn't sure how graphic I was going to make any sex or violence scenes. I was thinking Longarm or Lone Star for those who have ever read those serials. I did set the outline to 18+ in an overabundance of caution. Can someone reviewing this let me know what rating I should give this?
Also, sorry about the mixed up tenses. I'll fix them in a bit. EDIT: Fixed, but if you spot something I missed, please let me know.