Check back every week for a new instalment of the online exclusive by Richard Cozicar The Ice Racer
Thoughts of escape are momentarily forgotten as we stand by the iron rail transfixed by the sight of the large bowl carved out below us. The layers of lava rock have been removed exposing deeper rings of bedrock. Machinery and men below claw at and scrap away the ground in search of oil deposits.
Large dinosaur looking metal structures lift and lower, their large steel wheels rotating in a macabre symphony, scraping, straining steel grinding and squealing adding to the rhythm of the eerie scene.
Small human figures move among the machinery, their voices rising up with the cacophony of earth drilling equipment. Mixed with the sounds of man and machine come the strong stench of exposed oil deposits and damp rotting earth.
The noxious fumes of the nearby molten lava mix with the sweltering heat and volcanic ash in an assault our noses. If there actually was a hell waiting in the after life like the one the elders back at the Capital spoke of, I am positive that it would resemble the Adams Mountain oil mine.
The thick choking atmosphere breaks through my trance. Out of the corner of my eye I glance Annaliese trying to use her robe to stop the intrusion of fowl air from overtaking her. Without thinking I peel my visor off my head and against her protesting brush back her hood and pull my visor over her head then adjust the air scrubber.
Annaliese stops protesting and looking into her face I notice the pupils of her eyes growing larger as her face looses colour. At first I am not sure what is happening to her but then she raises a finger and motions behind me. Rotating my head I see two guards walking in our direction from the cliff building.
“How good are you with that gun?” I whisper. She shrugs and gives me a weak smile. “When I give you a signal raise the gun and shoot.” I instruct her as I spin on my heels and start walking to meet the two. I use my body to shield Annaliese’s actions from the sight of the approaching guards.
I raise my hand in greeting and when I have moved several yards away I holler for Annaliese to fire as I drop to the ground. Bullets sing overhead. The two men from the cliff-building take a second to realize what is happening. One twists as a bullet bites into his shoulder, the other dives off to the side dropping his rifle in the process. The diving man comes to rest against the metal railing protecting the cliff.
I bring my gun up in front of me and I pull the trigger. My aim is not true but with the two of us firing the guards are trapped and unprepared.
A banging on the locked door to our side joins the myriad of sounds. Risking a quick glance I can see the door shaking in time to the pounding, the bound guard I had left jammed against the bottom of the door preventing the door from opening.
“We have to move.” I yell back at Annaliese then jump up from the ground and push ahead, the rifle held in front of me covering the stunned guards. Without looking back to see if Annaliese is with me I cover the distance to the cliff building with a few quick long strides. The guard Annaliese shot is lying on the ground clutching his side, his buddy remains pinned against the rail with nowhere to go.
Closing in I kick the fallen gun aside and stand covering the two guards. Annaliese arrives by my side.
“Grab their rifles.” I ask her while motioning the two fallen men to stand then I point back toward the building. “Move.” I bark at them. I dare not risk another look back at the door to the mine but the hair on my neck bristles as I half prepare myself for shouts from that direction and a shot in the back.
With added urgency I shove one of the guards to speed things up. Following close behind the men enter the building. Stopping by the door I close it and lock it before I look around. We find ourselves standing in a single room building with a spacious interior, the walls are built out of rock and reinforced with steel, a window is set in the wall facing back toward the entrance of the mine.
A table with several chairs is set off to the side, some counters run around the exterior walls and at the cliff side of the building are two steel doors overlapped at the middle. On a console to the right of the doors levers and buttons protrude dotting the surface.
Pushing the guards toward the chairs I shoot a confused look at Annaliese.
“Is there no way down into the mine from here.” I ask her. She nods toward the overlapping doors.
“There is an elevator behind the doors that lowers on pulleys.” She tells me. What the hell is an elevator I want to ask her but decide against it, I have enough on my mind at the moment.
She whirls on one of the guards. “Show me how to use it.” The guards remain still. I raise my rifle and shove it into the chest of the wounded man.
“Now.” I threaten. “Or we will figure it out over your dead bodies.” Nervously the guard walks past Annaliese and describes the buttons functions to her. When she figures she can operate the elevator she nods and gestures for the guard to join his partner.
“Do you think you can work that?” I get the same shrug she gave me when I asked her about the rifle. “Sit down.” I tell the guards and follow them over to the chairs. The wounded guard seats himself first, the other moves slower. I stare the man in the eye running my mind over ways to subdue these men. The wounded guard moans, his attention is occupied by the bleeding and pain caused by his wound.
The second guard looks nervously between his wounded partner and me and then back to his partner. As he glances away from me I swiftly swing my arm that holds the butt of the rifle driving it into the side of his face. The guard crumbles onto the chairs and I quickly do the same to his partner.
I grab a chair from the table and jam it under the door lever then take a quick glance back to the entrance door. I can see the door slowly starting to open.
“We’ve got to go.” I rush to the overlapping doors waiting for Annaliese to show me this elevator. I watch as she presses buttons. A whirring sound can be heard behind the doors and then they slide apart revealing a small metal room.
“Move to the back.” Annaliese tells me then hits another button and rushes in to join me. I stand with my back tight against the wall; Annaliese stops in front of me. The doors slide closed and we wait.
The metal room shakes and with slight hesitation I can feel the room lowering. Slow at first and then it gains speed. Not really fast but quick enough or at least I hope it’s quick enough before more of the Prophets men storm the door of the cliff building.
A new Canadian Author with too many ideas in his head. Surprising even himself with where his stories go.