The mines are terrible. I thought I would adjust to the darkness, and the thick black dust that covers everything. To the constant din of picks, and drills, and distant explosions. But the longer I toil the more I loathe this place. It’s like an endless maze that we poor souls must dig until we find a hole to call our grave.
I miss you more each day,
I haven’t seen the sun in days.
We subsist solely on coffee black as night and dried beef, all tainted with coal dust.
Last night they brought down these birds, they told us it was to test the air, to make sure it was safe to breath and not flammable (which I guess is the same thing.) I heard a new sound last night, like deep, ragged breathing, only much too loud for human lungs. They say it’s a subterranean river of some sort. I wonder if I’ll live long enough to see it.
Every day I spend apart from you hurts more that the last.
I’m not sure if you’ve been getting my postcards since I haven’t heard back from you in a couple of weeks. I’m writing anyway hoping that maybe the postman has just been delayed or maybe you’ve been out on holiday.
We passed the river last night, deep under this wretched mountain. I can’t really do it justice I’m afraid, but the whole thing glowed like it was made of green fire. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It was the first moment of rest or joy I’ve had since we started tunneling what seems like forever ago now. But I would give it up for even a brief moment with you.
The birds are still healthy, so the boss says we have nothing to worry about and to keep pushing deeper. He says we should meet the team coming the other way any day now.
There’s one thing I can’t get out of my head. After my shift, when all of B-Crew tucks in I can still hear that breathing sound. I asked some of the guys about it but they deny hearing anything of the sort. I wonder if it’s just their breathing as they sleep, and some trick of these blasted tunnels echoing and distorting their snores.
I hope to see you soon,
My beloved Derek,
It wasn’t the river or the restless breathing of my fellows. We’ve found some… thing here under the mountain. I don’t really know what it is or how to describe it. It is… titanic. Our best guess is some sort of giant lizard sleeping peacefully in this seemingly endless cavern. It’s breathing shakes the walls and rains down rocks from the ceiling far above.
I don’t know what we’re going to do.
The boss sat us down after we pulled back into the tunnel a ways and told us we’re getting low on rations. He says we were supposed to meet our relief crew coming the other way about a week back.
His black, soot covered face was streaked with tears as he dumped out a bag containing all of our letters back home. He told us his boss had ordered him to collect all of it so the powers that be could review them for sensitive information before actually mailing them.
We almost killed him then, only his letter were there in the pile too, and he showed us a tintype of his wife and little boys.
The walls are shaking even more now, and we just got a report that some of the branching side tunnels are falling in. That rushing, howling wind, those giant breaths, are irregular now… like a man struggling to wake up.
I love you, Derek, and I always will.
Think of me if you ever get this, and think fondly of our time together.
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