Sixteen hours of night and day.
A heavy pickaxe bows.
Cobalt alloy screams blue tears.
Miners don’t get much work these days. Talks o’ cave-ins and such send them away, the young ones. This is an old man’s game.
In the Underveil—that’s what we call it, our home—there are less places to dig, before surface worlds catch wind. We can go deep, deeper than hell, but there’s magma down there. Not too friendly for us, molten rock. Overhead surveys note the land is filled with what’s left, but there was a lot of building prior to the war. Stone is stone. Mass en masse.
There’s talk of going up topside, but I don’t believe it for a second. Mayor has his whole henhouse tied up in this mess. The people grow tired of his excuses, especially since Susan McGrath started getting people spooked. New Austin is big, but the word travels fast. She can cross her heart and hope to die all she want, but us miners work hard to be down here. It’s going to take more than a few fanciful words to get us on board. Daddy was always a union man, but not me. I’m my own.
We’s hirin’ kids now. Lord have mercy. Been a while since we had to resort to that, but they eager to please. It don’t help none when we have to bury ‘em—don’t help me none, shit. They go deep; follow the tunnels to monoxide pockets. Mint gas has been a problem in the fermentation rooms down near the iron quarry. They don’t even smell it, just feel tired, dizzy, then dead.
Simon screams bloody murder at me, like it’s my fault or something. I’m just doing my job. I have to tell the mam an pap anyhow.
Still, the outrage gets me thinkin’ all hours of the night space. Food’s running scarce and water treatment is nearly out of degradables. Soon we’ll all be drinking Scotty water—nothin’ but piss.
Us miners will stay out of it. I’ll make sure of that. We watch, that’s what we do. Ain’t no iron hot worth strikin’ yet.
But that Susan… she might be on to something.