Day 75: The Bottomless Pit

Tom and me found a little crack in the ground while exploring an old coal mine nears the Petersons’ place. We was carrying lamps and goofin off and Tom tripped and broke his lamp, just shattered it all over the mine. Thought he was bein a doofus, trippin on his own two feet, but he said he caught his shoe on a thing. Took my lamp and looked lower.

“Don’t you dare break my lamp, Tom,” I warned. Really, I was scared as hell thinking about finding my way back out in the dark. We could get trapped, get real lost forever. Which would be better’n if they found us. Our folks always said to stay clear of the mines. They’dn’t be pleased if they found us down here, livin or dead.

Tom didn’t listen. He just pointed out a crack in the floor.

“That’s what I tripped on,” he said.

“How deep does it go?”

“Probably not far. Just a tiny ol crack. I seen bigger.”

We couldn’t see very deep down it, but it looked big enough to toss some marbles down. So we did so, makin careful to drop em straight, so’s they wouldn’t click on the sides of the walls or the like.

If we aimed careful enough, we never heard the marbles hit bottom.

We started usin an old mine pick to chip off bits of the floor and walls to send down the pit again, listenin real close with our ears in the crack to hear what we dropped hit bottom. Never heard nothin.

“Might be there’s water down there,” said Tom.

“Then we’d’a heard a splash.”

“We just need to set some light down there. Get a view.”

“Crack’s too thin, dummy.”

Tom lifted the pick and chipped at the corners of the crack. Parts of the lip crumbled away, sinking down and down and down till the crack became a hole.

It was gettin late, so we had to go home. But the very next day, we was back, with more light and some rope to lower lamps down the pit. It almost looked like it got bigger overnight. Maybe the pick weakened the mouth of it.

The light didn’t show a bottom, but the walls was wider the lower into the pit we lowered the lamp.

“Just a little lower,” I said. Tom was hangin onto the end of the rope with his whole arm in the hole, all up to his shoulder. I was peerin down, lookin for the bottom, and…

That was when the mouth of the pit crumbled some more. Tom’s scream didn’t stop, it just faded until I couldn’t hear it.

I called after him, I really did. Over and over, for hours probably. Never heard a thing back. But I didn’t want to get too close to the mouth. Bits of it kept fallin away, like a powder. Soon it almost blocked the exit, so I had to get out of there. I didn’t wanna leave Tom behind, but I had to get help. And I didn’t wanna die.

By the time I got mine and Tom’s folks out to the mine, the mine was gone. Caved in to a wide pit. They called it a sinkhole. And it was still growin. Sinkin more and more. It was like Tom and me fed it, and it just got hungrier and hungrier.

My folks and me had to move counties. Then we had to take a big boat across the ocean. But the newspapers said even that wouldn’t save us. Because the pit was thirsty, too.



Today’s three random prompt categories were, “A bottomless pit,” “Nitpicking,” and “This is the way the world ends.”

There was a bottomless pit in the Tom and Huck movie. The thought of something being bottomless always creeped me out as a kid.

– H.


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