Reminder: Free short story – see below “A Pearl for Your Enjoyment”
The new manuscript is almost ready to go off to the beta readers. I am almost sure I will name it “Shadows on the Cape” – maybe.
Current Weather and Tides
Dates to remember:
‘Author Talk’ at Cooktown Library on Wednesday 3rd August 2022 at 10 am
‘Meet the Author’ at the Cooktown Nature’s Powerhouse on 5th August 2022 at lunchtime.
Sitting in the park enticing visitors to the Cooktown Markets to view my novels. Saturday 6th August 2022.
‘Author Talk’ at Burdekin Library on Wednesday 10th August 2022 at 10 am
Hoping for a visit to the Home Hill Newsagency.
Keep safe, Keep smiling, Keep reading, Keep writing.
A Pearl for your Enjoyment
Excerpt from the novel Rhylla’s Secret by Elizabeth Rimmington.
Setting the scene: Mount Isa Mines 1933. Vince Bonano was an underground driller and Greg was his offsider. This scene is based on a similar event as told by a diamond drilling consultant working in the district in later years.
For two days the tunnel leading from their drive-shaft to the stope had echoed with the footsteps of mining engineers, management staff and drilling consultants from surrounding exploration companies. Vince Bonanno had attended these meetings, standing silently in the background listening to the discussions.
The stope was blocked. The stope was a perpendicular shaft passing through all the other drive-shafts ending on the lowest of all the drive-shafts. On each level, the dollies filled with the ore were transported by the shuttle locomotive back along the drive-shaft before diverting into the tunnel leading to this single stope-shaft. The contents of each ore-dolly were then tipped out into this shaft to fall hundreds of meters landing into large skips at the basement shaft. These skips were hauled by another locomotive to the largest supply cage and transported to the surface on their way to the crushers, classifiers and smelting plant.
On the first day when the blockage became apparent, the shift miners working the drive-shaft had been employed in attempting to release the blockage with their picks, sledgehammers and shovels but all to no avail. Now it was time for serious contemplations to resolve the issue.
Eventually, the decision had been made. Vince was informed when he started his shift. A hole was to be drilled at an angle through the floor of this shaft and into the blockage within the stope shaft. Once that was completed, dynamite would be packed down the hole and fired to release the jammed ore. Vince and his off-sider, the man he knew as Greg, were given the delicate job of drilling this angled hole.
Unnecessary personnel were removed to the surface; only the shift boss and his miners on the shift were left in the drive shaft. Once the drill and its support leg were set up, Vince began the work with Greg’s assistance. Vince’s mind was totally absorbed in the delicate task. The thought of his assignment to kill Greg, forgotten. After several hours, the screech tone of the drill changed. Vince slowed the drill. He signalled his offsider – nearly there.
But at that moment, the vibrations of the drill triggered the blockage to stir. Small rubble of ore fell away down the stope from below their level. It gathered momentum. Vince felt it in his machinery and lifted his head sharply. He turned to warn Greg to get out. The warning was never delivered. With a tremendous roar, the blockage gave away completely and barrelled down the stope-shaft. A large rock smashed into their tunnel floor ripping the leg from under the drill. The handle end of the drill swung up sending Vince’s jaw up into his brain. Blood sprayed a halo around his head which in turn spun one hundred and eighty degrees, snapping several cervical vertebrae in the process. Vince flopped lifeless onto the floor. A wall of rubble bounced into their tunnel and buried the driller.
At the same time, a large plate of rock broke away from the roof of the tunnel above Greg’s head. It began to fall. The top edge of the rock plate jammed itself into the corner of the tunnel roof and tunnel wall. The body of the plate swept downwards and like a mother hen tucking its young into the protection of her body the rock plate collected Greg and slammed him into the wall. The rock swept down until it jammed its base into the floor less than three feet from the wall itself leaving a secure cocoon for the man’s body. Blood ran from a large wound on Greg’s head. More blood poured out from a wound hidden under his body. After being flung over his head, Greg’s right arm tucked his face into his armpit.
The rush of ore and rubble falling down the stope ceased. A thick cloud of dust spewed through the tunnel and settled over everything – choking, suffocating dust. Despite the huge ventilation shafts throughout the mine, the dust hung around those areas where air circulation was poorest. Men rushed into the tunnel from the drive shaft all wearing handkerchiefs or similar cloths tied across their faces. Steve and Billy were first to the accident site. They slid to a halt in front of the small hill of ore and rubble where the drilling rig had once stood.
“Saints preserve us,” Steve whispered.
“Where the hell are Vince and Greg?” Billy’s voice was no stronger.
“I’d say they’re both under that hill with the drilling rig. No one will be alive under that.”