Gone But Not Forgotten – Part 16

I haven’t felt much like posting all 3 sections, but am posting this section here for people to read.  Next week, I will post the last 2 sections. 

In the last episode, Matilda was leading her crew on a solo dive in the mine. Though her supervisor had said he would be with her, he surprised her at the last minute. Neither of them could have anticipated what happened next, an explosion in the mine.

The next ladder had fallen out of the wall and the safety ring wasn’t terribly secure, but their lines were not long enough to reach the ladder at the next intersection.

“Tie off, reverse numbers,” Matilda said automatically. Jane clicked on first.

“Wait!” Stella yelled. “I’m ten!”

“I’m ten now, you’re three. Shut up and wait your turn.”

Stella was in a panic and shoved Jane aside. Both women lost their footing and fell. The floor, already unstable, collapsed. Jane dangled from her rope, but Stella’s was not yet attached. Screaming, she flailed around trying to attach her line, but it fell out of her grasp. James lunged for her, forgetting he and Bobby were roped together. The floor could not take their combined weight and crumbled.

Stella fell, her face a mask of fear and panic. Her line snaked down behind her. She never made a sound. James and Bobby dangled by the line as the others scrambled to help them back up.

The safety ring groaned as they swung over the pit, bending in its concrete block. James hung still, watching where Stella had fallen, but Bobby, dangling beneath him, was desperately trying to take the hands of the others who had lain down to distribute their weight around the hole.

The two strongest men were on the edge of the hole as the rest of the team moved off down the other tunnel to reach the ladder. Matilda pulled up Jane and together they held the men’s belts.

“Call base,” Jane grunted.

“Base, this is 4-6-2.” No answer. “Base, this is 4-6-2, do you copy?” Static.

“4-6-2,” the speaker crackled loudly. “…position? Ladders collapsed… to ladder seven.”

“We are at ladder seven, Base. Floor is collapsing. One member down, two in trouble!”

“Say again, 4-6-2.”

She repeated herself more slowly.

“Cannot get to you, 4-6-2, you’re on your own.”

The floor was cracking where the two men were lying, trying to bring Bobby and James up. James still hung limply, but Bobby struggled to reach the men above.

“James! Help me!”

“She’s gone,” he stared wide eyed, unable to focus on anything else. His hand moved slowly toward the release button on his belt. “I’ve got to find her, help her.”

Bobby saw the direction of his hand. “James, no!”

He yelled, fighting to reach safety, pounding James with his fist in a desperate attempt to break his trance.

The floor gave more, causing the men at the lip of the hole to falter and slide back just as Bobby’s hand brushed the air where they had been. A look of anguish crossed his face as he looked up at Matilda one last time.

“I love you,” he whispered as James’ hand reached the release button, sending them both to oblivion.

“NO!” Matilda screamed, throwing herself toward the hole.

Both men and Jane had to drag her away as the floor continued to fall inward. The entire center of the room was gone and deep rumbling warned of further cave in.

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