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Choked in a Chalk Mine.

This was a 750 word challenge story for the above images. The chair is from Eastern State Penitentiary and was taken in 2004, by Wiki contributor Bruce Cooper known as CentPacRR

I re-share it for Fandango’s Flashback Friday — December 11

What follows is a peek into the dangerous world of Sleuth Holly Ward. The whole story was written but fate has determined you the readers may never get to read it. For now revel in horrific events of the Numismatists Secrets.

Choked in a Chalk Mine.

“I must be dead.” Samuel heard a thunderous bang echo in his mind. He sat up and slammed his head against something wooden adding his discomfort. “Nope, I’m alive. Angels don’t crack people over the head every time they move.” Sitting up again, Samuel almost hit his head for a second time before grasping and throwing the table askance. It hit the old barbers’ chair and fell with a crash.

Samuel coughed in the dust he created. The thought of an angel brought another to his mind. “Holly!” the footballer’s words echoed around the underground chamber. He felt drunk as he stood and stumbled into the rough-hewn rock wall. It wasn’t totally dark, a light seemed to be glowing not far away. Samuel stumbled over heaps of rubble to reach it. Holly’s phone. It was half-buried. He dug it free and beamed its torch at the rockfall. It filled him with stomach-churning fear. That used to be the way out. Beaming the light around the room, Samuel highlighted the holly leaf on the wall. He was amazed his Holly had solved the clues to find this place. Now it was his tomb, their tomb. Samuel had refocused on the rockfall causing the light to glint upon a single tear. Holly was half-buried in the rockfall, sitting against the wall. That tear had made a track through the dust on her cheek. She looked angelic with her pigtails even in the state she was in. Samuel dropped beside her and felt for a pulse. At his touch, she came awake with a gasp and panicked.

“It’s okay, precious. Its Sam. Take deep breaths to clear the dust from your lungs.”  

Holly was wide-eyed and choking. She felt him lean her forward and rub her back. “Sam… What… Happened?” she rasped through her dry throat.

“The storm collapsed the mine. We trapped thanks to that bloody box.” Samuel highlighted the puzzle box on the floor by the table.

“What about Tom and Tee?”

“I don’t know, they were running out when last I saw them, I don’t know if they made it.” Samuel saw Holly’s tears coming fresh and fearful and hugged her close.

“I’m sorry, Sam. I should have just handed over the…” Holly dissolved into a coughing fit against his shoulder.

“It’s okay, we’ll get out. The police know where we are.” Samuel set her back against the wall and dug her legs free. “Do you think you can open that?”

“Of course, Holly can. She has a whole collection.” Holly allowed a playful sparkle to enliven her icy blue eyes. She loved a challenge.” she allowed Samuel to help her up and groaned.

“You okay?” he asked while holding her.

“I feel like my legs were used for target practice.” Holly put her hands on the barbers; chair while Samuel righted the table and put the heavy black-lacquered Hitsumi-Bako puzzle box on it. This one had pink blossoming Sakura cherry trees on the lid and something else. A circler indent on the side. “I’ll need that blasted coin. I hid it with Theseus so you’d be safe.”

“I know.” Samuel took the large golden dragon yen coin from his pocket with a smile. “A special lady said you’d needed this. I remembered all the things we did together until I remembered where we met Theseus and retrieved it for you.”

“Thank you, Sam.” Holly let her fingers play over the tree. It was the wrong shape.

“So, is this an easy one or a 12 month to solve one?” he asked.

Holly wrinkled her nose at him. “It’s simpler than that.”

Samuel smoothed her hair and watched as she manipulated the tree. One movement at a time. When it looked windswept, she put the coin in the slot. “Nothing happened,” Samuel noted.

Holly took his fingers and pressed the coin so they solved it together. This time the lid popped open. “Just like magic,” she said.  

“You’re the magic one.” Samuel removed the lid revealing a shocking cache. A twittering noise left it unimportant just then.

“No! Find the gadget, Sam.” Holly stiffened with fear and began looking for it.

Samuel found it among the rubble. A remote-control sized air quality sensor.

Holly took it from him and could have cried.

“What is it, precious?” he asked.

“H2S, thirty-five parts per million and rising!” Holly was shaking now.

“That’s hydrogen sulphide.” Samuel wrapped her in a hug. “It’ll bloody kill us and we can’t get out!”

The End

Thanks for reading!

Check out more of my tales in the Short Stories and Short Stories 2 tabs and have a great day!


6 thoughts on “Choked in a Chalk Mine.

Add yours

  1. Wow! Great story and great writing, Mason. Good to see you again, by the way. I really liked how you developed tension all the way through. I’m writing part II in my head right now, LOL! I’m pretty sure they escape, somehow, but we’ll see 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Jim. Thanks for reading. This is a very short version of chapter 28 from the Numismatists Secrets. One of Holly’s Workhouse Mysteries. Sadly I don’t think it’ll get to publication, but what follows is rather exciting.


    1. Hello, Gill. Thanks for reading and liking my story. This was an abridge chpt 18 of one of Holly’s full mysteries. Holly was just about to show how clever she is as I ran out of wordcount.


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