Crashing Dark

You know that moment at the top of a roller coaster? That’s what it felt like in the moment before it crashed. The men’s stomach’s dropped as the beam cracked and a buckle gave way.

This just wasn’t a ride they signed up for.

Photo Credit: Levant Skip Mine Shaft view from top // British National Trust // Simon Jones 2024

Once the buckle gave way the men on the engine were doomed.

The god-awful bang, some would liken to the sound of a mortar shell exploding above their heads.

It was horrible. The groaning of the wood, the screaming of metal and men as they plummetted downward.

Time stretched for hours, but it would have only been 30 seconds.

Yet they stretched to infinity. From that first nauseating drop of the beam to the first crash was enough time for fear to take hold.

Its bitter electric hand gripping their throats and forcing the air from the lungs. The men waited. To live or die they knew not.

In the moments after the platforms fell 12 feet to the second crash the men had time to wonder what had happened.

If they would ever see day light or their families again. But the ricketty old engine was not done yet.

The lucky ones sprang from the falling engine to the relative safety of the mine shafts.

The rest rode the engine down. Into the dark abyss.

It finally stopped at the bottom, 2,000 feet from the surface. The beam lay broken and splintered across the shaft floor.

The men were alive, but trapped. In the dark.

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Alexandra Henning The Hysterical Historian

I write about politics, science, among other topics as the mood strikes through a historical lense.