No one thought there would be gold in the mines. The miners had been digging there for years, and not once had there been a piece of gold between the coals. That was, until James Carlson came along. He was the one who had found the first piece.
It had been small, for certain, but James knew he wasn’t mistaken. This small, gold colored stone was his way to fortune. He had hid it in his pocket. He couldn’t tell the other miners. They would be all over him, demanding a piece as well. He couldn’t have that. Seeing he found it, it belonged to him now. Not to them.
When James had walked home that evening, he found that he couldn’t contain his smile. He’d found gold! Actual gold, that would be able to solve all his problems! He entered his home, carefully putting the rock in a save. As he sat down at the kitchen table, he began fantasizing about all the things he could do with the money he would get from it.
He could buy a new house, bigger and fancier. And perhaps even the more expensive clothing, making him look like a true gentleman. He would be able to quit his job as a miner! And then he hadn’t even started to think about the girls. There wouldn’t be a girl that didn’t desire him. They’d be all over him, asking him to like them. Mary would want him.
He sighed, thinking about her. Mary was the town’s librarian, and was a very pretty, intellectual woman. James had always liked her, but never had the courage to go up to her. Maybe now he would.
The next day James Carlson still went to work. He didn’t want to raise suspicion with his coworkers, and maybe he would find more gold. If he did, all his grant wishes could come true. He could live a life of wealth and prosperity.
That day, he felt joyful, working harder than he ever did before. He didn’t take any breaks, purely driven by the hope of finding another piece of gold. There would be more. There had to be more.
Finally, at the end of the workday, when most of the other miners had already went home, he saw a shining rock at the end of the shaft. He went to inspect it, only to see it was a bright red stone. Without to much trouble he managed to get it out of the surrounding rocks. He held it against the light, and grinned.
‘Ain’t this my lucky week,’ he said, putting the stone in his pocket, before going home. Once he was home, he put this stone next to the gold he had found.
Eating his dinner he wondered if he should go back. When he was alone he could work even harder. There wouldn’t be anyone to tell him he would overwork himself. He could dig wherever and how he wanted, and everything would be his.
James smiled, running back to the mines, dragging his work-gear behind him. Without thinking he ran into the mine, starting to work.
He dug the whole night, hacking his way through stone, hoping to find more.
It’s a shame that James didn’t pay any attention to his surroundings. If he did, he would have noticed that he had gone into the Forbidden Mine. The one they had to close two years prior, due to the chance of the whole thing collapsing.
He would also have heard the muffled laughter from some of his coworkers.
James would have seen the cracks forming in the pillars, holding the mine shaft up.
It wasn’t until the first rocks began to fall, that he realized he made a mistake. He looked up, dropping his pickaxe. ‘No!’ he yelled, ‘There needs to be more! There’s more!’ He grinned, when he finally found a small stone, shining in the dim light of the candle he had with him. He kept it in his hands, when he looked up once more.
More rocks began to fall. The dusty air filled his lungs. He coughed, needing fresh air. It was getting harder to breath. He tried to get out. Climbing over the rocks, stumbling several times. He needed to get out. Finally the floor became more even, and he ran, fast. In the distant he saw the light from the outside world. He ran faster, feeling the fresh air filling his lungs.
That’s when he saw them. His co-workers, looking in shock at the mine he had just escaped from. James slowly turned around, seeing the mine had collapsed completely. He looked back at the miners, walking towards them. One of them dropped a paint brush, covered in golden paint.
“Carlson!” they yelled, running towards the collapsed mine.
James felt confused. “I’m right here.”
Still, no one seemed to notice him. They ran past him, towards the mine. Why didn’t they notice him? Why couldn’t they hear him?
“He’s here,” he heard one of his fellow miners say.
He walked closer towards the rocks, and almost threw up.
Between the rocks laid his body, bloody and broken, a small, gold painted stone falling out of his hand.