June 07 , 2010

Shaft 29


EXCERPT: "So you haven't heard the full story then? About the day it happened?" he asked.

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Junk is not, like alcohol or a weed, a means to increased enjoyment of life. Junk is not a kick. It is a way of life.In his debut novel, Junky, Burroughs fictionalized his experiences using and peddling heroin and other drugs in the 1950s into a work that reads like a field report from the underworld of post-war…

"No." said Rizzo. "Just that a few miners got trapped and never came out."

The foreman continued, "That whole day was a disaster from the time the sun rose. It was cloudy and we had trouble with heat lightning that day. No rain, just lightning shots that kept messing with the equipment all day. Lights kept going out, generators firing and misfiring, that sort of thing. By noon it was driving us all nuts."

"So you were here that day?"

"Damn right I was. Some of us were hearing the tommy knockers telling us to get out of the mine. Sometimes by random banging but some of us were hearing voices. And not just little whispers. I mean voices as clear as ours right now. Most of the crew were smart and cleared out quickly, but not those guys. Jim Jackson and his buddies were a little greedier, maybe a bit too driven to claim their stake of this rock. We tried like hell to warn him but he wouldn't listen. He had that gold fever in him bad. Really bad, like a sickness that keeps eating away at your soul."

"So what happened next?" asked Rizzo.

"We got out PDQ. And about 2 minutes later we saw a giant flash come outta the sky and whack the place, like a giant fireball from the heavens! This thing was huge and it knocked most of us flat on our backs, radiating heat everywhere. It even blinded one guy! Jack Mitchell. He got some of his sight back later but it took a few years. He still wears them thick dark glasses, even at night sometimes. Anyway the shot hit right at the top of the opening and then the ground shook like hell for what felt like an eternity. All we could hear was one giant rumble and the sounds of those guys screaming their lungs off from inside, but that didn't last long at all. After a few minutes everything stopped dead and all we heard was silence. Lots and lots of silence. Like even the birds and wildlife around here got the crap scared out of them. None of us knew what to make of the whole thing. And for a while none of us said anything, like our voices were struck dumb, you know."

"Did you try to....."

"Dig 'em out? Once the flash hit all of our trucks and equipment went dead. No batteries, no power. Nothing. And it stayed that way for days. The nearest town was 10 miles down the road and there was no point in trying to move any of that rock by hand. We all just picked up our gear, one by one and headed back down the mountain on foot. None of us said anything or registered any kind of emotion. We just walked and walked until we reached Kramer's Mill. And that's where some of these legends started because some of the residents down there saw the flash too, but not like we did. They didn't know what to make of it. After all this time most of 'em still don't."


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