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The Book

Shacklady Chapter 14 excerpt.

“Anyway, that’s enough of that. I’ll give you this account more, or less verbatim but I’ll remove most of the ‘Thee’s’ and ‘Thou’s,’ purely for the sake of clarity.” Wendy looked for any signs of an objection, there were none. “Are you sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin.”

I was delegated to go into The Honeycomb with two of the other Tunnel rats, namely Roger Evans and Lloyd Clifford, to see if there was room to economically dig another secondary access way. It grew increasingly cramped as the tunnels converged near the centre and to explore the possibility of any further excavations, could have been potentially dangerous. We followed the usual routine but as the space grew more cramped, we had to move in single file, with myself on point and for the next hundred feet, or so, we progressed in that condition, until it became apparent that Roger Evans was missing. We turned back and looked for him, thinking that he’d more than likely taken a wrong turn, somewhere further back in the workings. We weren’t all that concerned because in The Honeycomb, it was easy to lose your way and any lost sheep, usually turned up after an hour, or so, cursing their initial mistake and swearing ‘never to do that again.’

Then, Lloyd Clifford just seemed to disappear. One minute he was there and I was talking to him and the next, he was gone. I retraced my steps but to no avail, there was no trace of him, even when I did the unmentionable and called out his name into the darkness, nothing returned. It was as if the Mine had literally consumed him and now I was alone in a tightening tunnel showing no useful purpose. So, I turned around and began to make my way back along the shaft, towards the exit but somehow, the way looked different this time. The walls looked strange and it seemed that my memory was playing tricks on me. I was not overly familiar with some of the deeper chambers of the main shaft and despite trying to use the left hand return routes, it wasn’t long before I was hopelessly lost. I stopped a few times, hoping to see something that I recognised, trying to reach the Rest and the engine but alas, nothing was standing out in the limited light.

Then, I thought that I heard someone else, scratching around in the shaft with me. I thought it must be Lloyd, or Roger just ahead so I moved towards the sounds. The shaft led me down into a cavernous and airy chamber, which for some unfathomable reason, appeared even darker than the tunnel I’d just stepped out of. The vast blackness surrounded me and I couldn’t see its end and now, there seemed to be no walls, or roof. Several times, I dared to call their names but again, there was no reply. It felt like this blackness was almost alive, surrounding and trapping me within it. I turned around but couldn’t see where I had entered this cavern, I began to search for a wall but to no avail.

Then, out of sheer desperation, I stopped and sank to my knees and cried out for help and incredibly, something answered.”

Wendy halted at this point and glanced at her audience.

“Don’t stop there, carry on,” said Nick impatiently.

“Yeah, go on, it was just starting to get interesting,” Alan added and then once again, silence reigned, as they both waited eagerly for Wendy to continue with the miner’s tale.

“O.K,” said Wendy. “Now where was I…..?” She took a sip of her coffee, then recommenced with her telling of Davy Williams’s remarkable story.

A thick, syrupy voice came smoothly out of the gloom and asked me, if I thought that my two missing colleagues were still alive and did I want to see them? Foolishly, I said ‘yes’. In response, a dim light appeared and began to expose something which was not easy to define. So, I moved a little closer, to obtain a clearer view. A series of randomly arranged items had apparently been distributed in some rough pattern, against a particularly large boulder.

On closer inspection, the horror of what I was seeing became apparent. A body, or what remained of it, appeared to have been propelled at high speed, backwards into the unforgiving rock and just exploded on impact, spreading blood, bones and guts over the entire visible surface.

It was Lloyd Clifford, or at least, it had been. I was looking straight into the two vacant sockets where his eyes had once been but now both were dangling on long, thin sinews, that reached down his chest. He looked, for all the world, as if he’d been caught in a mighty explosion and his body had succumbed to such duress. His features appeared as if he was in great pain accompanied by an expression of tremendous shock, at what was happening to him.

I noticed that the owner of this soothing, yet unnerving voice, seemed able to vary the light within the chamber. The light increased as I drew close to Lloyd and then faded again, as I stepped away. I got the impression, that it wanted to frighten me, to maintain its control of events.

“Did you do this?” I asked the voice but got no answer, in return.

“Who are you?” I enquired but it was obvious that this ‘being,’ didn’t want me to know the answer to that question, almost as if it would give me some kind of nefarious power.

“Who are you?” I asked again but more assertively and for a few moments, it seemed that my question would once again go unanswered but this time, against all expectations, the mysterious voice responded.

“You may know me as Bluecap, or maybe Kobold would suit you better but most miners know me as Shubin,” the deep voice said from somewhere within the darkness. “However, here in Cymru, you may know of me as The Knocker but it’s up to you, whatever you decide to call me it’s irrelevant. I have been and always will be, here in this and every other deep mine,” the voice declared.

In the silence, I could see a faint, greenish light, coming from deeper within the workings, tempting me ever deeper. I closed my eyes and turned around, when I opened them I could see a lamp glow from the passage I must have entered by and headed for it. Once through it I could hear the sound of miners working and was soon reunited with my workmates.”

“And that’s it,” said Wendy. “So far, I haven’t seen any follow up but this book needs careful drying and preserving to yield more information.”


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