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Beyond the Light Line


Wendy ran her fingers over the script, attempting to decipher the words. “Well, I think it does appear to be a kind of cautionary message……” she said doubtfully.

“Yeah,” Nick said impatiently, “but what does it actually say?”

“Hold on, isn’t it you who’s always saying that you can never have too much information? This isn’t the easiest thing to read, it’s in Welsh”

“Touche,” he commented.

“It’s not as clear, as it once was but I think it says something like, ‘Do not’ or perhaps it’s just, ‘try not to cross the light line,’ whatever that means? Maybe it’s something to do with the range of the tiny torches that the miners used back then? I think I heard that term used by my Great Uncle Bill, he was a miner, many years ago, you know.”

Nick was busy nodding his head, “Makes sense I guess, those old Davy lamps didn’t give a lot of illumination and I guess it gets easy to get turned around in the honeycomb of workings. So which mine did your great uncle Bill work at?” He asked, merely to keep the conversation going, because yesterday, when they’d reached this point in the shaft, his nerve had failed him and he was registering similar feelings now but was determined to go deeper.

“Dunno, I was only a toddler when he died, one of the slate ones I think but I could be wrong.”

“Why do you think that warning was written there, not so far from the entrance?”

“Maybe a sort of Miner’s ‘In’ joke,” she replied. “You know, something like, ‘Beware of The Phantom,’ or the classic, ‘It’s behind you.’ It probably means nothing more than that and if you take a look, I believe you’ll find it’s where the weak daylight drops off completely and another, ‘shade of dark’ comes into the picture.” She folded her arms across her chest and peered in Nicks general direction, the torch light cast deep shadows across his face, making his expression hard to read.

He was smiling to himself. Wendy was proving a more than adequate replacement for Alan and she didn’t scare as easily either.

They crossed the line and continued walking down into the bowels of the Earth. A little while later Wendy’s foot caught fast in something. She tugged at it but couldn’t release herself from its grip. Strangely, the beams of their torches appeared to be having less and less effect the further they went into the mine. The darkness was closing in around them almost like a shroud.

“Bollocks,” she cursed. “Could you give me a hand with this, whatever it is? Shine your torch over here…. I’m all caught up in something.”

“O.K, hang on,” said Nick as he slowly turned around, allowing his eyes to get used to the changing conditions. He noticed that the walls were much closer than he had thought them to be. “Christ, it’s getting tight in here,” he observed as he turned full circle and momentarily lost track of where Wendy was. “Keep talking,” he whispered, more as a plea, than a request. “The sound in this place is pretty weird,” he added. “When I had my back to you, your voice sounded much further away; when I’m facing you the discrepancy disappears. Weird huh?”

This phenomenon was indeed odd, but getting no reply from Wendy, Nick now focussed his torch on whatever it was, that she’d got herself caught up in. The darkness seemed to have gotten even thicker and he had to kneel down to see clearly.

“Shit! This thing looks like the leg of a black telephone table, similar to the one that we used to have when I was a kid, but ours was white…but that’s crazy. Who’d put one of those in a mine?”

“Did they even have telephones back then,” Wendy joked, hoping to lift a little of the weight that seemed to be pressing in on them from all sides.

He slowly illuminated the object, attempting to discern its size and shape. Crouching, Wendy continued to try and unhook her laces from a black, fine chain link, that had somehow wrapped itself, around the table and ensnared her feet.

“Somehow, I don’t think that you’re right about that one,” she commented, “it’s more of a small stand but it doesn’t seem to have a phone on it, all I’m seeing in front of me, is a rather large clock.”

“What?”

“It’s a clock…, well, it’s a skeleton clock to be precise, in some ornately carved casement,” she waved her torch up and down it. “Look for yourself.”

“Chance would be a fine thing, I think my torch is failing fast.”

“Yeah, mine too,” Wendy concurred. Having finally freed her foot she noticed the clock was now askew on its stand and on rising, she touched the surface of the black skeleton clock. “Wow! I think this thing is carved out of coal, or something.” She whispered and carefully adjusted it, square on its stand.

For a moment she thought of carrying it out of the mine. ‘NO!’ Something in her mind shouted and she hesitated, then turned to Nick who was shaking his torch and frowning. “Do you want to go back and grab some better lights?” She asked, because if they were going to do this, they had better do it right. Then, as if she was reading his mind, she added, “Knowledge, is the key.” One of Nick’s favourite phrases, whilst another surfaced in her mind like a mantra. ‘Forewarned is Forearmed.’


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