Of Mines and Monsters

Beneath by Perrin Briar is set in a very small coal mining town where mining coal is the only industry and activity. If a person were not involved in coal mining, they would not live there. In this short story, the reader can see that coal mining has not increased much in sophistication from the advent of coal mining, at least not in this town. Miners went into the darkness. Equipment failure of any type had the high probability of resulting in fatalities. There was an almost unbreakable bond of brotherhood joining coalminers so that in the event of a disaster, the slogan was like one used by the US military, “No one left behind.”

On Mark Johnson’s first day on the job, he had fallen into a mineshaft. He was found alive but in such terrible physical condition that death was a preferred option. While we know from this that death is familiar to miners and that it is one of the risks of the job, the latest periodic disappearances concerned the community. Miners were disappearing once per week.

Daniel and Mason were completing a shift and leaving the mine to go home. Mason dropped something and had to go back for it. He didn’t return. Daniel felt an obligation to look for Mason. Daniel found much more than he was looking for, things that would affect the entire community.

This is a very short story that describes well the daily concerns of miners. Those concerns are fact and placed in the context of a horror story with difficult-to-describe monsters. The short story occupies 40% of the download followed by an excerpt from the author’s longer novel, Resistant. I make it a practice not to read excerpts appended to teaser short stories. I like Briar’s writing style and give this short story four Amazon stars but if I decide to read Resistant it will be in the longer version. This short story is a good presentation of the author’s writing talent.

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