Location: A Diamond Mine
Object: A toy car
Synopsis: Julia gets trapped in a tunnel of an abandoned diamond mine while trying to use social media to save a suicidal friend living across the country.
The Day My Earth Quaked
Sarah called as I reached the tunnel entrance at the abandoned diamond mine, one of my favorite exploring spots. “You caught me just in time,” I said.
“Julia? You exploring?” Sarah asked.
“Yes. At the mine, as usual,” I said. “You sound drunk. You okay?”
“I just want to tell you to keep fighting for those of us who can’t.”
“What do you mean ‘those of us who can’t’?” I ducked into the mouth of the main mine tunnel to escape the sun and dropped my backpack. I pushed my earphones in deeper and knelt down.
“Sarah?” I said. “What do you mean those who can’t?”
Silence. I checked my phone and pulled the ropes from my bag.
“I love you,” she said, and disconnected. I called her back. Voicemail. I called again and started unraveling my rope. Voicemail. I opened Facebook and messaged Mary: Message Sarah. 911. ASAP!
Sarah, Mary, and I had been friends for five years, though we had never met “in real life.” Sarah lives in Tennessee, Mary in Montana, and I in California. We met in a Facebook Group. It was a social media connection that birthed a fierce friendship. We all survived severe domestic violence. That piece of common history, and a bit of fate, bound us. Sarah was my inspiration. She persevered through more than I could have: child abuse, domestic violence, rape, homelessness…. Yet she was succeeding in every way: marriage, friendships, home-ownership, a great job. Then life got difficult again.
I listened for the Facebook chime from Mary and hoped for a call, or a text message ding from Sarah. I slid my toy car on the rope – every explorer marked their rope with a unique trinket so others knew who was inside – and tied a bowline to the anchor at the entrance.
My phone chimed. Mary: No answer. Got a freaky message from her. Worried!
Me too! Keep trying. I will too. I’m at the mine tunnels. Not much battery. I’ll stay up front to keep my signal.
I tried Sarah again. Voicemail. I continued preparing my gear, my thoughts racing with worry. My exploring partner, Erin, would be arriving soon. I wanted the ropes ready, which worked because Erin used a red ribbon as her marker and would tie it around the knots I’d already made.
Chime. Mary: She’s showing active now, but not answering.
She’s not taking my calls.
Chime. Mary: She said they took everything but my life. Left that to me to take. Is she suicidal again?
That’s what I’m worried about. Her voice was slurred when she called. I’m scared she overdosed.
Chime. Mary: omg! What are we going to do?!?!?!
Keep trying. I’ll call John for more help.
I closed Facebook and dialed my husband.
“What’s up?” he answered.
“On the table by the front door there’s an envelope from Sarah. Give me her address.”
“Everything okay?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I just need her address.”
“I’m not home. I’m—”
“You’re not home!”
“I’m at the store. Julia, what—” he said.
“Sarah’s in trouble,” I said. “I think she’s overdosed. I need her address to call the police.”
“Oh shit is right.”
“I’ll be home in five minutes. I’ll find her address and call the police.”
I hung up and took some deep breaths. My body was shaking. I sat down and opened Facebook.
New Message to Sarah: Sarah. What’s happening? Talk! Talk to me. Talk please!
Chime. Mary: Sarah just answered. Says she has nothing to live for.
Ding: Sarah: I have nothing to live for. I’m sorry. I’m a fool.
You are no fool. Sarah! I love you!!
Sarah, you are loved. You. Are. Loved! What’s your address again?
Ding: Sarah: I don’t want any mail.
It’s not for mail.
Chime: Mary: Did you get John?
Yes. He’s out. Heading home. ETA 5 min. Will call local PD ASAP. Sarah wouldn’t give me her address.
Chime. Mary: She’s offline now.
She’s not answering text now.
Chime. Mary: how much time we got?
I don’t know. Enough I hope. I banged my head back against the wall, exasperated.
Then everything started shaking. The rumble was deafening. I grabbed my helmet and put it on. Rocks started falling. I shoved my phone in my pocket, grabbed my bag, and turned to the entrance when a boulder outside rolled to block it.
I pulled my phone back out and messaged Mary: We have a new problem.
Chime. Mary: Is she talking? That’s a good sign.
No. I think we just had an earthquake. I’m trapped. Battery getting way low.
Chime. Mary: No! No! No!
Yes. Erin will be here soon. Sarah’s still offline. Keep trying her. I need to call John.
“I’m walking in the door now,” John answered. “Did you feel that earthquake?”
“I’ll call the rangers,” he said.
“No. Get Sarah’s address. I’m not in immediate danger. Erin will be here soon. She’ll see the toy car and call the rangers.”
“Julia, you are going to be the death of me.”
“I love you too. Get the address. Call the police.”
“It’s not here,” John said.
“Not here,” he repeated.
“Yes it is!”
“Julia, breath. You need to stay calm.”
“Try my desk. My phone is dying. Got to go.”
“Love you,” John said.
“Love you too. Get the police to Sarah.”
I took my water bottle from my bag and sipped. I checked my phone. 5% battery. I tried in vain to push the boulder from the entrance.
My phone dinged. Text from John: Police are on their way. They’ll call me after making contact. You ok?
Good. Erin is late. Call the rangers for me?
Ding: Will do.
I waited and inventoried my supplies.
Ding: Rangers enroute, but delayed. Report of a hiker pinned under a tree.
Dammit! I hope not Erin.
I opened Facebook to message Mary. Then my phone died, leaving me with worry as my only company.
I entered a writing contest. Unlike those where you enter a previously written submission, the Flash Fiction Challenge, sponsored by NYCMidnight, gives you the genre, location, and an object with 48 hours to write an original story in 1,000 words or less.
The genre must be the style of the story. The location must be the predominate location. The object must appear at some point in the story. One-thousand words maximum.
As far as what the judges will read, this is it. I can make changes to improve it for future use. What do you think? Any thoughts, comments, feedback? I’m not as worried about the genre, location, and object this time as I was last time, but I’m still curious what you think. Does it hit the mark?