To Alaska (Part 2)

Frank looked up at the mine, and then to the whistle that seemed to last an eternity. He took a second to admire his newly acquired pick axe. The handle was firm and needed to was in need of a good swing. The pick was too shiny and pointed, it needed some stains and dents. He gripped it hard and shook it a couple times. It was the shake of acceptance and excitement to use his new toy.
He saw a friend of his Tim a heading in the mine so he hurried to catch up to him. When he caught up to Tim he put his hand on Tim’s shoulder to let Tim know he was there. Tim was partially deaf, and Frank never wanted to scare or startle Tim. Tim turned his head and smiled, pulling Frank in with his arm. He didn’t speak much, but Tim’s actions always explained his emotions. He had dark black hair that was starting to gray, and barely stood 6 feet tall. Somehow he always came to work clean, with his hair slicked back in perfect form. He was a gentle man, and his frame fit his personality. Frank gave Tim a smile, patted his back and gently stepped away to get his equipment.
He went over and grabbed a hard hat from the rack. It was cold to his head, and he welcomed the idea that he wouldn’t have to be shocked by a cold helmet anymore. It started to sink-in that this is the last time he would be entering the dark and dreary world he called work for so long. There was a smile and a thought of sadness, was he sure he wanted the future he planned. There was still time for him to change his mind. There wasn’t much more he could think when the whistle blew again. He pushed the clasp together and hurried into the mine.
It was a long walk to his section, passing a couple of his soon to be ex-colleagues. Casual waves and short jokes seemed too common on his walk, but he knew he wouldn’t get it anymore so he took it in. He flickered his headlamp at each group to show joke back, trying to blind them for a second.
When he finally arrived Tim was adjusting his equipment to start the day, and his other colleague, Larry, was sitting on a rock. “You sure you want to leave this place? Black lungs and stained skin ain’t what you dreamed of the rest of your life?” Frank never was able to get a good read on Larry, he was friendly and distant. Standing nearly 6’7″ and full of muscles Larry was an intimidating man. His would laugh when others couldn’t compete with him, but also was pushing his body too hard for his age. He was still young, in his mid to late twenties and had the energy to match it. Larry would show a smile but then yell at a moments notice when something didn’t go the way he wanted. He was odd, but Frank tolerated his attitude because he spent so much time with Larry.
“Just trying to move on to something new and exciting. You’re too young to be thinking about that kiddo, but I’ll show how to enjoy a last day.” Frank replied.
“Yea, I hope so! You’ve been here way too long old man! I’m happy for you.” Larry laughed as he said it.
Frank couldn’t tell is Larry was serious or poking fun at him. Either way, he was excited to get his axe dirty. He walked into place, gripped his axe tight and let fly for the first collision with rock. It felt good. It felt strong. It felt right. This is what he knew and loved. Regret started to pour into his mind. Would life really be better? How would other people react to his personality? He shook his head, this was right. He was meant to retire and get out of this place.
Break time arrived faster than he thought. His new toy had plenty of dirt and dents on it, but it needed a rest. As he walked to Tim, the cave started to shake. He put his hand to the wall and put his index finger on his lips to keep Larry and Tim quiet. Another shake. As he felt the walls rumble, he looked at the lights that started to flicker. Larry grabbed the radio and pulled the communication button, “Guys, what is going on? What is the shaking?”
There was a 15 second pause as the 3 guys looked at each other. Tim was slightly out of the loop, but he could see from Frank and Larry’s face.
“GET OUT OF THERE” A voice no one recognized yelled back.
Larry dropped the radio, and without saying anything started to run towards the entrance. Frank grabbed Tim and shook him to get his attention. As he shook Tim, the cave shook again knocking both men to the ground. Tim got the point. He stood up quickly and reached for Frank. As Tim pulled him up, the cave shook again. This time a rock dislodged from the top of the cave and hit Frank in the head.


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