Terror in the Mine
Frank M. Juelich

Perspiring profusely, we pushed our cycles along the rough track. With evening fast approaching the woods bordering the trail looked even more forbidden than in the early morning. John and I were tired, hungry and, though neither would admit it, a little bit scared. 

We were on our second day of a two weeks' cycle trip that would take us across a large track of land in Northern Ontario, Canada. It was our birthday gift from our parents; we both just had turned fifteen. 

The track, a shortcut according to our map, would save us a whole day ... The map didn't say so directly but, with the help of a ruler, we figured out the distance and came to the conclusion that it would. Near the exit of the trail, there would be a river with a shallow ford to allow us to cross over to the other side. We had been listening intently for some time now for the sound of a mountain stream but, except for our own labored breathing and the clatter of cycles bouncing along the trail, we heard nothing. 

"Let's take a break,"

John finally suggested.

"I am tired."

Leaning the cycles against each other, we sat down in the middle of the trail, quietly eating some chocolate. A rustling in the underbrush startled us. Tensed, we scanned the edge of the forest but a few feet distance. Nothing!

"My dad told me there are wolves in this part of the woods." John whispered.

These were exactly my thoughts. However, to give in to fear now would send us screaming down the trail and we probably would get us killed falling over the edge of the mountain.

"Don't be stupid," I scoffed.

"This is high summer and wolves come this for south only during a harsh winter when the snow is deep and there is nothing to eat up north."

Though sure, that whatever frightened us wasn't a wolf, we decided to push on. The deepening darkness closed in on us and with it - the fear. 

Suddenly, in a nearby tree an owl hooted. We almost dropped our cycles.

"That is a bad omen,"

John's quavering came floating through the darkness.

"Somebody is going to die tonight."

"Are you volunteering?" I laughed.

"Sure, all over the world people will die tonight, lots of them, but please, don't blame the poor owl for that."

Yet, I felt uneasy.

We walked on in silence. The darkness was near total. Our progress slow. John, a few feet ahead of me, was but a dark shadow among dark shadows. In another hour the moon would be up and things would improve, but till then . . .

Suddenly John's shadow disappeared and at the same instance, a scream of terror tore through the night.

Terrified, I shouted,

"John, what happened? Where are you? John!"

For a few moments, I heard nothing but sobs. Then John's voice came through the dark.

"I am down here. I missed the trail and went over the edge."

However, reading my thoughts, he bravely continued,

"I am ok."

"Light a match," I ordered.

"But be very, very careful, the leaves are terribly dry and the owl might prove to be a prophet after all." 

In the flickering light of the match, John's position didn't look too bad. He had tumbled down the slope but 10 odd feet and had come to rest against the base of a huge fir tree. The match went out. Carefully rubbing out the little spark, John dropped it. 

By the time, we had the cycle back on the trail the moon came out. The woods began to look friendlier and our spirits lifted. Things would turn out ok. We would soon be out of the forest. Our fears forgotten, singing and laughing, we followed the trail. We didn't know then - but the owl had not hooted in vain . . .  

However, as the low of adrenaline, that the incident has pushed sky-high, decreased, the euphoria slowly left us. We again became quiet and now, more tired than before, stumbled onwards. The moon that for some time had lit up the path slowly slid behind the trees and again, we moved along in darkness. The rock-strewn path kept forever winding upwards.

"For ever."

I thought wearily.

"For ever." 

The wind sighed through the tall firs as if some immensely sad story had come to him and he shared it with the trees who in turn passed it on to whoever cared to listen. So, at least, I interpreted the gentle rustling in the boughs.  

Abruptly we stopped and listened. Yes, there it was again the faint peelings of a church bell. Very faint but unmistakable, a church bell. Peering at the phosphor points of my watch, it was 10 PM. We had been on that trail for 13 hours.

"What a shortcut." I grinned weakly. 

Suddenly the star-studded sky spawned a shooting star. I quickly made a wish. Then felt foolish to think that a piece of rock burning up in the outer atmosphere had the power to grant it.

"Only God can do that," I thought.

But God, that night, seemed so terribly far away to the mind of this 15 year old.

However, the sound of the distant church bell had given us new courage and the shooting star taken our minds off our immediate problems.

We moved on. 

Distracted by what I thought was something moving at the edge of the trees, I did not notice that John had stopped and ran into him.

"Fool," he hissed

"Don't you have eyes in your head? Can't you see where you are going?"

"Fool yourself," I growled back heatedly.

"Why did you suddenly have to stop, if you need to relieve yourself move over to the side."

"Ah!" he taunted, "the learned gentleman is not only blind but deaf as well."

Had it not been that we held the cycles we might have come to blows.

"And what did our great adventurer hear?" I sneered.

"A dog barking."

He said matter of fact. I was about to give a stupid retort, When the sound came again.

"I am sorry," I said quietly.

His forgiveness was in the form of a grunt.

"It came from over there." John pointed to the left.

"Maybe there is a fork in the trail somewhere ahead of us." I volunteered."

Let's go!" John said.

"And watch where you are going!"

"His forgiveness was only partial," I thought to myself but decided not to comment on it. 

As we moved with leaden feet along the trail, the sound of barking became fainter. Still no fork in the road, no trail turning to the left.

"Maybe this trail runs parallel to another." John's voice came through the dark.

"The map didn't show any." I replied.

"The map didn't tell us that we would be damned to travel this trail forever either."

John bit back.

"You saw the map, you saw the trail. It was our idea to come this way not just mine. So don't talk stupid."  I hissed.

"Ok, ok," John reluctantly agreed, "but what are we going to do?"

"Follow the owl's advice, lay down and die."

I laughed mirthlessly. Later I bitterly regretted these words. 

Since John's mishap, we decided to travel side by side. The trail had widened and, though care needed to be taken, it proved not too difficult. Suddenly, in front of us a small shadow raced across the trail but before it manage the woods another shadow swooped down on it. A piercing scream, the sound of a struggle, flapping of wings and again silence. Our involuntary screams of fear had mingled with that of the victim. It had happened so sudden. Heart racing, we stood rooted to the spot. After a while John's shaky voice whispered, "What was that?"

"Your owl could not wait for us to drop dead so she decided to fulfil her own prophecy on somebody else, maybe a little rabbit." I quipped.

For once, John didn't reply. 

Though joking about it, the owl had laid hold of my mind.

"Somebody wrote a book about that," I thought.

"The owl called my name." I recollected.

"Yes, that was the title. Moreover, the man wrote the book because he knew he was dying of cancer.  .  ."

John's voice brought me out of my reverie.

"Here it is!" He said; he sounded relieved.

"Here is what?" I asked stupidly.

"What were you daydreaming about?" he asked irritably.

Well. I wasn't about to volunteer that information.

"Fear would engulf us both like a wild fire."

"The trail, of course." He spat. 

We found the trail at last that, hopefully, would lead us to the barking dogs. There  would be some sort of house or hut.

"Food and a bed," I thought."

However, in my heart I had a sense of foreboding, a feeling that this might not all we would find. Resolutely, I pushed the thought of the owl out of my mind.

"You are being stupid," I scolded myself.

However, John's mind too was not free from fear either. His childhood reading came out in his next comment, or maybe his fears.

"There are no such things as haunted houses, are there? I mean they exist only in fairy tales . . ." His voice trailed off. I laughed out loud, more to dispel my own fears than poke fun at his.

"No, John! There are no such things as haunted houses. But we might find a damsel in distress and valiantly fight with the dragon that guards her."

"Oh, shut up!" John snapped. "Let's go!"

"Let's go where?" I queried.

"To your damsel in distress! Forward brave knights in armor!"

John laughed forcibly trying to hide his misgivings.

Who and what would we find down this trail . . . 

Though narrower than the one we had traveled on so far, the trail was smother and we decided to mount our cycles. The dynamos purred and we had light. After about a kilometer the trail turned south, the direction we had come from. 

We both saw the light at the same time and, as upon command, stopped. We watched the light, which we assumed to be a stall lantern, swing slowly to and fro, beckoning us.

"Come, come!" It seemed to say.


"But come to what? What would await us there?"

Though, still some distance from the house, the dogs, somehow aware us, started barking. A door opened; a rectangle of light appeared and in that rectangle a figure stood, gazing here and there and, after saying something to the dogs, which I assume was not very nice, went in and closed the door. Leaning on the handlebars of our bikes, ensconced in our fears, we stood there reluctant to move forward. Finally, I said,

"Come, let's go. There is nothing to be afraid of."

I sounded unconvinced. 

We traveled the last few hundred meters in silence till we came to a gate that marked the end of the trail. Behind it, faintly illuminated by the stars, lay a solidly build log house. It sat there dark and brooding. The only light, apart from the swinging lantern over the door, was an eerie flickering red glow that danced in one of the windows. The barking of the dogs frenzied. The door again opened but there was no light behind the man now who appeared except that same eerie flickering red glow I had seen in the window. The man started to swear at the dogs and then he saw us. For a moment he seemed struck dumb. The beam of a powerful torch reached out to us. He gasped.

"What the heck are you kids doing in this wilderness in the middle of the night?"

"We got lost," I managed to croak.

"Lost?" He asked incredulous, while walking towards us, shutting up the dogs with a growl that easily could have come from one of them.

"Lost? Lost while walking through downtown Toronto?"

His voice dripped with sarcasm.

"Lost!" He kept repeating, shaking his head us if that would help to explain it.


He led us through the gate, past the watching dogs, into the house. Walking through the door I realized that eerie, flickering red glow came from the dancing flames in the fireplace. We entered a big room. In one corner, a prone figure rose into a sitting position.

"Mike," a woman's voice called out, "are you sleep-walking again? Why were those dogs barking so much?"

"I brought you two young, handsome, visitors." He laughed.

"They have come to kiss the princess awake and kill the old dragon in the process. Better put your dentures back in."

His booming laughter filled the house. Our fears and misgivings vanished like the dew in the early morning sun.

A gas lantern lit up.

The woman, now able to see us properly, gasped, "I'll be . . ."

She swallowed the last word in deference to us and not finding another that would equally well express her feelings, just kept shaking her head. 

Over dinner, which she quickly prepared, we told our story and our plans. We wanted, so we explained, get to the highway and from there head up north to the old gold mine just about 600 km north of where the trail meets the road. After two days up there, we would make a leisurely return trip.

The old man shook his head,

"You were lucky that you did not miss this trail and went down the next. You could fallen into the old mine shaft."

However, he did not pursue the matter then . . . 

There was silence while the woman cleared the table and the old man prepared his pipe. She looked at him with obvious disapproval.

"Mike, don't encourage the kids to take on bad habits."

He just winked at her, and smiling admonished us.

"Kids, don't do as I do. Do as I say."

He burst out in laughter that reverberated through the house. She, seeing him so obviously happy, shaking her head, joined in. After a moment she said,

"Well, I am off to sleep. Mike, don't keep these kids up too long and no stupid stories. You hear me."

"Yes boss" he said, making a mock bow.

There was real love in this place; I marveled. Nothing would happen to us here. We were safe. We could sleep in peace.

Then the owl hooted. 

Suddenly an evil, alien presence seemed to have entered the room that moment. All three of us fell silent and the only noise was the hissing of the flames and cackling of the fire in the fireplace. The old woman had taken the gas lantern and now only the eerie red flickering glow from the fireplace lit up the room. In the old man's eye had come a faraway look.

"That owl hooted that long ago night too." He whispered to no one in particular.

"Yes," this time louder, "She did."

We waited for an explanation not daring to intrude in what were obviously private thoughts. He sighed and still with that far away look in his eyes, stared at us. A puzzled frown crossed his brow as if he did not recollect who we were. We held our breath. A strange, unreasonable fear comes over us. What had happened that night the owl hooted that caused such a reaction in this man so many years later? 

"We were sitting just like this," he continued. "But there were two men, sitting where you sit now, and they hated each other terribly. Even after all these many years I can still feel the hatred, the malevolence that seemed like electricity passing between them. However, they needed each other for what they were about to do. Why they hated each other I never found out; they didn't talk about it - only about the gold in the mine. 

The old mine, the one I warned you about earlier, had been closed for at least twenty-five years, may be longer. The owner had declared bankruptcy and then hanged himself with a chain somewhere inside the mine, at least so the story goes; though his body was never found. However, so the story continued, to spite his wife and his partners, he had hidden a large cache of gold in one of the tunnels.  

Over the years many men and even some women came, lured by the hope of that gold. Some died in the tunnels by accident, others, having gotten lost, starved to death and others, no doubt have been murdered in petty quarrels. I never really found out the truth. Those who came, came past here in the hope of gleaning some information; those who left, either because of shame or guilt, went the other way. Then, for years nobody had come to the mine till that awful night."

A shudder ran through him. 

He paused and re-lit his pipe. Satisfied that again it spewed forth billowing clouds of sweet-scented smoke, he continued.  

"They wanted to go into the mine at night and nothing I said could persuade them to do otherwise. The astrologer they consulted, so they said, had given 3 AM as the auspicious time. Their fortune would be waiting for them at that time in the old mine. I had this terrible foreboding that the only thing that would be waiting for them down there was great danger. Seeing that they could not be persuaded, Mary, in her kindness, made some sandwiches, which having packed, they left for the mine. As they stepped out the door -- the owl hooted. 

I remember that night as an awful night. The dogs kept barking; in the distance some wolves howled; the whole woods seemed ill at ease. The death-cry of little animals caught by some predator punctuated the night at regular intervals. The forest and, so it seemed, all the animals, were restless like before a great tragedy. Mary and I couldn't sleep. We sat in front of the fire and waited. We didn't know what to expect but both of us felt something awful was about to happen that night.  

Then, three clear notes of the church bell of Saint Andrew, quite a distance away, floated upwards on the wind. Three AM. The last chime barely had quavered to an end when - the owl hooted again.  

That instance there came, from the direction of the mine, an awful scream of terror and pain. The scream rose higher and higher, fell only to rise again and then ended in a whimper and died. Minutes later we heard somebody thrashing through the woods. We thought there were sobs, but couldn't be sure. Whoever was running was in panic. The thrashing went on for a little while, became quieter and quieter and finally stopped. The forest seemed to hold its breath. There was total silence. 

I am not sure how long we sat there like this or long the woods were silent. When I made to get up, Mary held me back.

"Don't go out there." She whispered, her face pale even in the red glow of the fire.

"Don't go!"

I smiled reassuring at her, "the dogs will protect you; I won't be long. Maybe somebody needs help. I must go and see." 

Accompanied by Rambo, the father of the big black dog you saw, I went to the edge of the mineshaft all the time shining my flashlight here and there and calling out. There was no answer: no wail, no whimper, no sound. We came across a trail of freshly broken shrubs and grass that had been recently trodden on, probably by the one whom we heard. Otherwise, there was nothing. I went as close to the mineshaft as I dared, circled around it and, lying on my stomach crawled to the very edge to shine my torch down.


I called into the shaft but, for the echo of my voice, the mine lay silent. 

By the time I reached home it was light. After breakfast that morning, Mary and I rode to the nearest Royal Mounted Police post some 50 km away and told our story. We were assured that, as soon as possible they would send a team equipped to go down in to the mine. They came about two in the afternoon bringing with them ropes and ladders and powerful flashlights, loudspeakers and first aid equipment.  

I accompanied them to the mine telling again the story of the night. Standing near the shaft that went straight down a good 50 meters, I saw for the first time that there was a way down. Somebody had placed pitons in the rock and made for an easy way down. I silently wondered who and when? However, I decided not to volunteer any more information lest it might lead to another influx of gold hunters once people knew there was a relative easy way down. 

They left again just before dark but said nothing. If they found anything, they didn't reveal it. However, I am sure they didn't take a body out. I was convinced, however, that one of them had killed the other and fled. The police didn't pursue the matter as they found no corpse and, so I later heard, no blood or any other evidence of a murder having taken place. Over a period of time, Mary and I forgot the story and life returned to normal. 

It was about ten years later, when going by jeep to visit friends in Ottawa, we stopped at a hotel in a small town to have dinner. Too tired to talk we sat in silence while waiting for our food. A lively conversation was taking place at a table near by which I could not help overhearing.

"Doctor" a bearded young man spoke up, "You are pulling our leg. That story is too far fetched to be true."

"I am not claiming it to be true, I am only telling you what the man told me. If he had not died, and he knew he would, I would have forgotten it. However, he insisted it was true and that a chap called Mike, a writer, who lived near the mine, could bear out part of his story. He and his partner, whom he appeared to hate even now, had supper at their log house near the mine.

"The most memorable thing" he said was that, "just as we stepped out the door, an owl hooted. Though not being superstitious, my hair stood on end. I should have been warned; I should have been warned."

Then looking at me with pleading eyes,

"Clear my name."

He whispered.

"Clear my name. Mike thinks I killed my companion in that mine. I didn't, I really didn't. It was the . . ."

I shiver went through him. Then he was dead." 

Mary kicked my shin underneath the table and I came out of my reverie.

"Did you hear that?" She whispered.

"Hear what?" I replied.

"He is talking about us."

I motioned her to be silent. At the other table, the doctor stopped talking and the three young men sat in silence. Finally, the bearded one arose.

"Must go; the wife will get angry otherwise."

The others too stood up, looking at the doctor with obvious attachment one said,

"Doc, being a bachelor has its compensations. We poor souls have to obey our wives."

With a grin and a friendly wave all around, they left. 

The doctor alone now, deep in thought, slowly sipped his coffee. I turned to his table and said,

"Sir, I am a writer. I collect interesting stories. I came in at the tail end of yours. Would you care to tell me the rest?"

"Sure." He grinned.

"I am a born gossip."

Saying this, he joined us at our table. Nodding to Mary, he began. 

"It is some years ago that this man came to my little clinic. He was unshaven, dirty and brought with him a tangible sense of fear. He had cancer, he knew it and he knew he had but a short time to live."

"Besides his fear, was there anything else remarkable about the man."

I interrupted. He thought for a moment,

"Yes, he had a scar on his cheek that, in days past, one would have associated with sword fights, dueling, you knew. Something a rich young Englishmen would be proud to show off."

I nodded. It was the same man.

This is what he told me, the doctor continued.

"Well after we left Mike's house . . ."

"He stopped, looked me straight in the eyes and said, "You are Mike. You knew he had a scar."

It was not a question, it was a statement. I just nodded. He grinned broadly.

"I am pleased to meet you, Mike and Mary?"

He shot a questioning glance in her direction. Mary just smiled. Then he continued with the man's story . . . 

"After leaving the house, we went to the shaft to the place where a year before, during Mike's absence, we had hammered in pitons to make our descend and, the ascend with the gold easier when the time came. We climbed down. It took about 15 minutes. Having reached the bottom of the shaft, we moved along the big tunnel. About a half a kilometer inside, we became aware of a strange noise like somebody dragging a chain over a rocky surface. A light was moving towards us. We stood rooted to the spot; we had not expected anybody else in the mine. The stories we had heard, but not believed, were true. An unreasonable, overpowering fear gripped us; we started running towards the pitons. However, whatever pursued us was faster. It was gaining on us. I, being younger and faster, reached the pitons first and pulled myself up, faster and faster. My companion had fallen and glancing back, I saw this horrible thing something like a skeleton, with a chain dangling from his neck leaning over him. I hear his screams of terror and pain and then - he was gone. He was just gone. Gone!  

That horrible thing looked up at me with baleful eyes and stretched out his arms as to drag me down. However, I was already too high up. I flew up the last rungs in terror-stricken frenzy and having reached the lip of the shaft swung myself up conscious of a terrible death behind me. Then I raced through the woods till exhausted, I dropped.

When I came awake I found myself in a hospital where they thought me just another vagabond, treated me and let me go my way." 

"Do you believe this story, Mike?" the doctor asked me. I just shrugged my shoulders.

"It sounds strange, very strange." 

The old man fell silent.

Then yawning he said, "Well, so much for the story; it is time for bed. You guys must be tired. Taking us to a little guestroom next to the blockhouse, he jokingly warned,

"Now don't go gallivanting through the dark. We will visit the mine tomorrow, but only if you are interested," he added with a chuckle.

"The dogs will not harm you. They are now your friends. Just go out, he pointed at me, and call "Rambo" and see what happens. Afraid of big dogs, I reluctantly did as bidden. Rambo came, put his front paws on my shoulder and rubbed his face against mine. I hugged him. We were friends. 

Feeling sticky and sweaty from the trip, I had a cold bath, knowing that otherwise I would not be able to sleep. John apparently had no such problems. Refreshed but now wide-awake, I stared through the window at the starlit sky.

"What really happened that night?" I wondered.

"If the story was true, then who killed that man? The idea of a skeleton as killer was ridiculous."

John's mind was on the same thing for his voice came through the dark.

"What do you think really happened?"

"I don't know," I replied truthfully.

"I have no idea and there is no way of ever finding out not that the man is dead."

"There is," John spoke up.

"There is!"

His voice sounded strange; there was an unwarranted determination in it.

"We can go and see for ourselves."

"I doubt if you will find anything tomorrow the old man hasn't seen before."

"I don't mean tomorrow, John said excited,

"I mean now! It is 2 AM, we could be at the mine by 2.30 and still have time to climb down leisurely and just sit near the pitons and wait. If we see something we simply climb up out of harms way."

"Don't be stupid," I yawned. "Tomorrow is early enough. Besides that we have no flashlight and we don't even know where to go."

A note of triumph crept into John's voice.

"Didn't you notice, the old man left us his flashlight and while talking he was doodling a map on the napkin. I took it and studied it while you had your bath. It is not far and not dangerous at all. If you don't come, I will go alone."

From the tone in his voice, I knew nothing would persuade him not to go. He was stubborn. "Sometimes I wonder if he taught mules how to be stubborn." I thought irritably.


As John predicted we got to the mine by 2.30 AM. Under the starlit sky, the big open hole looked black and menacing like the very mouth of hell. With an uncanny sense of direction, John found the spot where the pitons were and without even looking at me, made his descend.

"Does he have a tryst with death?" I wondered,

"Was it his name the owl called that first time?"

Slowly I followed John whom the darkness had swallowed without a sound. The pitons seemed solid enough and well placed, yet, fear twisted my stomach in knots. With that strange sense of humor that sometimes comes to us in difficult situation I thought about a suitable epitaph for my gravestone:

"He first lost his brains and then his life."

About halfway down, I got caught in the powerful glare of John's flashlight.

"Shut that . . . light off." I yelled, swallowing the expletive for I hated to loose my life and risk loosing a happy eternity in the same breath.

I fumed as I made my way down.

"What brains!" 

It was a relief to stand on solid ground again. John played the flashlight over the walls and down the tunnel. It looked harmless enough. I felt better.

"If we stand near the pitons at the bottom of the shaft we could be up very quickly," I reasoned. However, I had not counted on the power of fear . . .

In an act of mock bravery John, however, decided to sit on the opposite wall of the shaft diagonally from me. We waited. The silence began to gnaw away on my confidence. What was going to happen? 

Like silver coins dropping on a hard surface the three chimes of St. Andrew's bell came floating down to us and then - the owl hooted.

I gasped.

I wanted to call out to John that we should leave but found neither my voice nor strength to get up. There was no sound from John either. An uncanny silence filled the shaft and the tunnels as if waiting for something dreadful to happen. Then . . . My mind registered no surprise when the light suddenly appeared at the far end of the tunnel nor at the faint sound of chains being dragged over the rocky ground. I suddenly realized I had expected it. I had known instinctively, when the owl hooted for the first time, that I too had a tryst with destiny. 

It seemed but seconds ago since I first saw that light far far away and heard the sound of metal being dragged over stones and yet the creature was almost upon us. It looked like a skeleton, exuding a dread that made its need for weapons superfluous. The bony fingers of his left hand held an old mining lamp; tied around his neck was a piece of chain covered with rust - or was it blood? Hell stared at us out of those eyeless sockets. It seemed about to pass us by then - the owl hooted.  

The creature stood still. Its head slowly moving back and forth as if undecided whom to approach first. Then abruptly it turned towards John. It was only then that I heard the drops of water falling. To my ear, they sounded like the beating of a drum - drumbeats announcing an execution. John's face displayed abject horror. A nameless fear had pulled back the skin of his face making him almost look like the creature that silently, menacingly moved towards him. John's eyes were big and his mouth open in an effort to beg, to plead, to ward off that hand that slowly but inexorably moved towards him.

However, pity was absent that night.

Then the hand touched him.

A scream of agony tore from John's throat echoing and re-echoing, rising and falling through the runnels and caverns of the old mine.

Then, abruptly, but for drip, drip, drip of water - silence. 

My mind refused to accept the evidence brought to it by the eyes. It just couldn't have happened; it couldn't. However, neither would it accept the certainty of annihilation, which was but feet away. I was next. I tried to struggle to my feet to flee but before I could move my leaden limbs, the creature was upon me. It stared at me malevolently, without a trace of pity. A dread beyond dread fell upon me. My mind screamed  "No! No!" while trying to melt into the rock. The bony hand inexorably reached out to me and then - touched my head. I screamed in utter terror, "No! No!" A searing pain shot through me and my world became an abyss, a dark bottomless pit, into which I was falling, falling, falling . . .  

It was Mike who saw us lying unconscious at the bottom of the shaft. Two hours later a rescue team hauled us up. John had terrible burn wounds while I, saved by the shouts of Mike and the glaring light of his powerful torch, had only burn marks on my face.  

Mike, so I heard later had woken up in the middle of the night, and by some premonition checked our room, found it empty and realized we had gone to the mine. Waking up Mary, he rushed to the mine fearing for something terrible. He reached in time - for me. The beam of his powerful torch made whoever or whatever was about to kill me flee.  

The next day a powerful explosion rocked the area. The authorities acted with great speed. Though claiming ignorance regarding the nature of our wounds, the Government had decided to block the entrance to the mine fearing - what? Those who were in the vicinity of the blast claimed that, when the last few pieces of rocks cascaded into the shaft a high pitched wail floated into the air and with a sigh faded away.  

What dreadful thing was lurking in that old mine? What secrets did it have to protect? Did we see what we saw? Now we would never know. The explosion put a stop to the quest for answers. However, the mystery would live on - forever.