37 Days Before…
Staring into the pitch black of the night with the haunting silence of the wide-open fields that surrounded him, he knew his hopes were not far from its reach to untouchable freedom. Kneeling down among the tall grass that enveloped the range of shadows and darkness, he could almost feel the hands of the night’s eerie darkness touching his soul.
It was as though it was pulling him towards the ghostly silence that boomed from deep within the darkness, with an untold and sinister cry — whispers of a history and future screaming to be told.
It was daunting; the darkness, the excitement, the fear, the thrill. Part of him felt as though it was destiny in the making, but more so something that destiny had already seen.
The cold of the night and all the spiraling emotions felt familiar. Shutting his eyes, he calmed his breathing in the hopes to control and regain a focus on his objective. This was the moment he had been waiting for and if successful would turn his life around.
Heaving a deep breath to contain whatever bravery he had left, he opened his eyes again to the cold and haunted night around him. With his heart pounding inside his chest, he tried to find within him the courage to make the steps forward. Pushing through the boundaries life had caused him to build around his soul in the hopes to find, after this night, the life he had always imagined escaping.
As he crept forward through the drying brush, his thoughts continued to gyrate and churn when the ever ominous hoot of an owl sounded somewhere within the distant brush of tall and eerie tree’s and he stopped. Somewhere in the darkness something scared the bird and its wings clapped into the sky as it fled.
His heart hammered against his chest and throbbed inside his ears as he strained his wide eyes through the blackness above the tall grassy fields that now, bore in them only a loud calm. He closed his eyes again, heaving out a sigh of both relief and trepidation and continued to creep forward through the grass towards the undertaking that would resolve him of his self-loathing.
The month of February had left only a few weeks before the claws of autumn would dig into the air above the provinces of South Africa. The gentle airstreams that circled the land bore in it a shivery omen of the winter cold to come. There were sounds to the side, further ahead near the fence. He paused. Something was moving, walking slowly, one foot in front of the other. His eyes strained in the dark but the night was black and the light from the spot lights around the mine were not advancing his vision in the thick blackness of the veldt around him.
A few moments passed before he resumed his path forward.
The range of seemingly endless grass fields around him had already begun to dry and wilt to its winter’s beige and the daunting moon hung above the silent openness surrounding the abandoned old gold mine.
The entirety of the mining grounds was circled by an eight foot high perimeter fence. The bulk of which was steel chain link fencing which had rusted through the years, where palisade fencing was used around the office buildings predominantly. As he reached the chain link fence he turned to look back towards the road where in the distance he could vaguely see the four cars standing in the darkness beneath giant willow trees — like ghosts in the faint glimmer of the moonlight.
At this distance he could no longer see the silhouettes of the others, but he knew they were looking back at him through their binoculars anxiously waiting for the big moment to arrive.
Giving an arrogant grin into the night, he heaved a sigh, his heart still rampant against his chest as he stared down at the fuse chord in his hand. He knew that the breaking point was upon him, one shot to clamber out of the life he could no longer tolerate and into the pastures of esteem — yet the ever-conscious urge to drop the bundle of dry fuse still raged war inside of him.
To gain acceptance into the social click, this initiation was far less humiliating than most but the thought of being caught meant he would be kicked out of their club, their fraternity of cool. More so, it would bring a storm of hellfire from his parents.
Everything he had been taught, raised upon and believed to be good was about to be cast aside for a chance to leave behind scars that he believed he could outrun. He closed his eyes again, his entirety wishing him to proceed and simply forgive himself in the days that would follow — regardless of what would be.
As he scurried over the fencing he could finally see the giant pit of darkness a few feet away behind a ring of palisade fencing. He stalled, a leg on either side of the fence — staring at the giant pit of gloom and the remnants of the old shaft. For the most part he knew it was wrong to be there now at such close point to the mine being reopened. He knew it was a risk the others probably never took, but he had to prove himself to them. He was a new version of him and couldn’t let them know he was anything different.
There was another sound nearby, somewhere in the shadows around the shaft. He lowered beneath the radius of the spot lights but the night was still again.
The shaft had in recent months become known as the towns chance to regain its former glory, with a reopening ceremony to follow in the very next week. His hands gripped the fuse chord and looked back to the road, but the night’s blackness had engulfed everything from site, including the silhouettes of the massive willow trees. He slowly began down the fence again, his clammy hand weakening his grip on the fence.
As he silently moved low to the ground towards the palisade fencing, the shaft’s darkness felt overwhelming as though it had a force invisible to his eyes that clutched at him, drawing him closer and closer. At the palisade, he took great caution to avoid stabbing its sharp points into his flesh as he hoisted over the top.
Time was now an enemy, he had to hurry before the security guards caught wind of his presence. But he was careful of his hands, his legs and black clothes to avoid any contact with the shards of metal sticking up into the sky above the fence.
Now, even more than before he had conjured up the will power and defiance to jump the fence, he felt the breath of the untouchable freedom fill his lungs as he took his first step away from the fence that secluded the world from the confines of the giant dark mine shaft.
He hurried closer towards the old entrance to the mine shaft, crossing quickly through the brightness of the security flood lights — making him a clear portrait to anyone watching.
He held his breath as he sunk to his knees beside the remnants of the base of the previous giant metal headgear. His body felt weak from the adrenaline and fear, and although he had barely used a portion of energy he was panting breathlessly.
“Keep it together.”
It was in that silent hiatus away from the night’s sounds and darkness that he felt his disordered brain begin to make sense of the adrenaline’s memorandum that ravaged through his body.
The purpose of the palisade fence was to act as a secure boundary to keep enclosed the entire quarter where the mines old shaft sat waiting like a giant black mouth in the earth. And as his eyes hunted around the diffused portion of the mine he could feel the dark half of his soul take over and shove aside his logic and everything he knew was wrong.
Carefully taking step for step closer to the portion of thick cement that was the former shaft tower, he scanned the perimeter fence that they had told him would partner with mine security under strict instruction to keep trespassers away from the area where once the colossal headgears stood proudly, muscling the gold from the soul of the Earth. But now, on the other side of the fence a deafening silence screamed around the abandoned vicinity and he too felt a strange calm befall him as he neared the shafts portal wall, forward into the stream of light beaming down from the tall spot lights a few feet away.
With trembling hands he fumbled through the loosely bound fuses they had given to him, listening to his own loud heartbeat in prayer that this would be the road which would lead him in a clear escape from his life as a boy who felt trapped by his own heart and fears.
Carefully and silently, he stepped closer towards the waist high concrete segment of wall, the very last space between his body and the menacingly dark shaft pit. Holding his breath he peeked over, down into the darkness that stemmed to the deep guts of the Earth and the wind hurdled up at him from the depths of the shaft like a phantom in a high pitched screech, reaching for him.
He gasped and stumbled backwards, hitting the ground on his backside with a bump as the stale odor from the deep hole twirled in the air around him. He closed his eyes, heaving breathlessly while also high on the dire need to not be who he was.
Whispers in his mind said “Do it!”
But he couldn’t make out if it was his own demons or something far greater at play, luring him to his destiny.
He felt the butterflies swallow his insides as the intensity of the rush riddled through him as he stood up again and peered over the partition into the baleful hole — fenced from the world with no head gear to conceal the ferociousness of its glare upward to the heavens.
The strength of the darkness forced his already swirling mind to compel his eyes to gain control as they achingly surged through the severe gloom for just a hint of what it could hold in its dismal entrails. Just then a loud metal clunk tore through the silent night and he dropped down to the ground, cowering against the concrete partition, away from the surveillance lights. His ears pricked to the stillness that seemed to squeal so loudly in the chilled air, his wide frightened eyes searching desperately the darkness beyond the fence and each ominous shadow around him for a sign of security or other intruder. Nearby, something moved in the shadows across the giant black hole and he froze, kneeling down. Again his heart beat echoed in his head, his breathing too and feeling like both were only causing him more threat, he held tight his breath and clenched shut his eyes.
He had made a definite identification of the danger in what he was doing, in where he was at that very moment in his existence and yet he felt it screaming throughout his body to not leave nor back down this close to breaking free of who he was day to day. He opened his eyes and released his breath to a quieter world, sure that the moment had past, and that he indeed was alone in the circling fence at the old shaft where security had no reason to suspect any intrusion.
He clenched the fuse in his fist again, confident that the ominous sounds were only the specters of the night haunting the remains of the old mine. Bravely, he stood up and with one hand lit one of the fuses. In that very split second of watching it spark and sizzle to life, he knew he was on the doorstep to a world of a new him and he tossed it outwards. The sparkling fuse flittered towards the centre of the dark hole as it crackled in the air. Its dim spark allowed enough light to uncover the massive red metal beams that structured the shafts walls, the light quickly fading to the deep black to which it fell. Fear stuck him like a blow to the chest, and he knew that there was no undoing what he had just done. Panicky, he turned again to scan the surroundings as he fumbled with shivering cold fingers to light more fuse.
He spun around in alarm, almost tumbling over his feet as the security guard hurriedly began to scramble for key that would unlock the massive padlock on the gate.
“What are you doing over there? Don’t move!”
In alarm, he tossed the sparsely-lit bundle of fuse down into the darkness, sparkling on its way down directly along the wall of the shaft as he made a bolt for the far side of the perimeter fence.
The bewildered security guard flung open the gate — barking into his two way radio for assistance.
As he stumbled around the shreds of giant concrete and steel around the giant hole something ahead of him stood watching in the shadows, he could see something black in the blackness of the night and he jolt to a stop. “Stop!” the guard called again. He wanted to pause and investigate the sparkling litter he saw enter the pit, but instead rushed after the intruder who already began an unplanned jostling up the palisade.
As the reached the top of the palisade he very quickly searched the blackness before hurrying to clamber down.
The guard grabbed his baton from his belt clip, racing after the trespasser, “Stop! Jou bliksem!”
In the darkness of the shaft the bundle of old fuse chord flared up, exemplifying the magnitude of the shafts colossal walls and structural beams.
As he toppled over the very top of the palisade, the metal shard sliced against his chest, but with the guard battling up after him, there was no time to stall or realize any pain.
He grappled to his feet against the struggle of legs weakened with fear, running towards the chain linked fence while his eyes stayed fixed on the guard attempting to scale the palisade after him. “Stop! You piece of shit!” the guard repeatedly warned as he rushed after him, swinging his baton at the intruder who was now at the top of the palisade fence.
The bundle of fuse lay on the red bulked beam, fusing its way before finally firing out a bright flare and lighting up the darkness within the shafts deep hole and the guard spun around in alarm. He looked first to the intruder who stalled frozen atop the fence, then back to the shaft where the strange glowing distortion grew.
His mind, heart and body now pulsed in a disarray of fear previously unknown to him. From within the shaft a loud crack and whizz echoed through the night sky, the fuse chord had blown.
He hit the ground from atop the fence with a thud, barely seeing the guard rushing towards the shaft again before a force beneath him began to tremble and shake the earth.
He scrambled to his feet, another flare of light burst up and over the partition, his fear weakened body toppled down to the ground as the earth continued to roar and moan with tremors beneath him.
With his body riddled from unqualified regret and horror, he scurried to his feet as the sound of security guards shouting from the far side of the fence dimmed to his hearing and he began to run as fast as his soul could carry him towards the road where the sound of the four cars screeching droned in the night as they sped off. To the far left in the emptiness of the field more lights sped off through the darkness and he kept on running. As fast as his wobbly legs could afford, his chest heaving as the fear and dread engulfed him. Darting across the tar, through the brush and continuing into the dark stretch of fields, he ran on. Knowing that getting away, regardless of how, was the only chance he had of surviving what he had just done — the collapse of the E-Shaft.
Not knowing that he had just opened Pandora’s Box of secrets that lay within the darkness below.
Thank you for reading the prologue to Soul Break Part One.