Short Story Finalist – Will
The Last Breath
Beep! Beep! Beep!
The sirens are screaming to evacuate the mines. We were warned but nobody believed it. The earthquake was only supposed to be a small one. The structure is barely holding. The sirens are deafening and the creaking on the surrounds is eerily telling the story on its own. If and when the mine collapses, people will die and people effected forever.
“Matt, we still have one guy down deep with bad communications, should we send the relief squad?”
“It’s minutes before the aftershock and sending the squad in will put them in danger.”
“I’ll go in,” shouts Matt hesitantly
Matt stands in front of the entrance to the mine. Dust is everywhere thickening the air and you can’t see inside the shaft. It’s death defyingly dangerous but Matt knows the risk. In his years of experience, he knows that this could be any one of them. Traumatizingly and terrifyingly trapped.
Slam! The ute door shuts and Matt starts driving down the ever-winding shaft until a steep decline leads to darkness and engulfs Matt’s ute. The lights from his ute are fully lit but the glare from the dust is dazing to look into. He thinks to himself, there is no turning back now, this is it.
He calls over the radio for the younger worker… There is no response. Maybe he’s already dead, maybe he is suffering. Matt is filled with tonnes of emotions all at once; ones he cannot name or describe. Thankfully adrenaline kicked in as Matt speeds down the shaft passing fallen rocks in hope that he is safe. His body sways sides to side in no particular rhythm but more in random jolts. He stops suddenly as he can hear something muffled in the air. There is a huge blinding light moving with a grumbling sound. He fears the sound might be the aftershock. Matt has this shivering feeing down his spine and his tongue is dry. His body goes numb, and the car speeds up. Memories flash before him of his kids. Their faces are clear and realistic enough to stretch out and touch. They are laughing. It is a glimpse of the joy in his life. Matt’s eyes start to tear up. He thinks to himself, and says aloud, “will I ever see my family again, my kids, my wife”. Wondering if he was a good father and how he let them down. He had a gut wrenching feeling that he wouldn’t be making it out of this mine.
He starts to regroup and knows that he needs to focus on the here and now. He finds Bill on the machinery doing work. Matt feels betrayed and is filled with anger but there is no time, and they have to get out of the mine before it collapses. Bill is rattled and in complete shock. Matt puts him in the seat, and they start speeding out of the mine. A great roar rumbles down the mine. The aftershock is happening now. The walls of the tunnel are crashing down and the dust is chasing behind them. Bang! Crash! The rocks are falling near the ute, and one hits Bill. He is lost in the cloud of dark dust. Matt thinks this might have all been for nothing.
He reaches near the top of the mine and the lights are flashing as he speeds past. The dust is creeping up behind him. Every light he passes by makes him think. Flash! The mines they’re dangerous. Flash! The mines are destroying my kid’s future. Flash! It was probably the cause of this earthquake. Matt sees the end of the tunnel, but the mine is slowly falling behind him.
“Almost there” he whispers to himself as a tear comes out. Bang! The mine exhales out a gust of dust and nothing else. No sign of the boss. Nothing but dust and smoke.