Twin Beeches -- an Illinois Love Story
Author: paul schoaff

Chapter 53
Life, and Death

David crawled painfully and slowly along the tunnel.  As he got farther from the Cupola shaft, the inky darkness engulfed him.  Every foot he advanced gave him a little more confidence he was doing the right thing.   'It can't be much further', he thought.  Then his outstretched hand fell upon something that felt very different – fabric, with something hard beneath it.  'I'd better see what this is, and how close I'm getting to the wall'.

 

He stopped and lit a match, one from the pack he had to light the gasoline fueled blowtorch he used to soften oil based paint to make it easier to scrape.  The first match worth of light left him incredulous.  The second told him what he had seen was real.  The third absolutely identified the obstruction as the bones of at least one human being, with some clothing still clinging.  There was a large fracture on the back of the skull.  Another skull seemed to be there, too, protruding from under the torso of the first, larger skeleton.

 

First a coal mine, then a cemetery?

 

And right there, too, was the wall.  Bricks, stacked closely together.  He wondered how someone could lay bricks without mortar.  One push with his good leg told him how.  They didn't use much mortar.  The bricks were covered, on the basement side, with a layer of lime plaster, apparently with no mesh to hold it together, for when he pushed as hard as he could, the whole wall caved in to the basement with a dull crash!  

 

He crawled, over the debris of bricks and basement junk the falling wall had covered, free of the tunnel and the skeletons.  Every movement agony, but he knew if he stopped to rest, it might be the end for him.

 

A few minutes later, after assuring himself there was no one in the house, he struggled painfully on his hands and knees up and up to the second floor balcony and tried his cell phone again. 

 

This time the call went through, “Nine-one-one.   State your emergency, please.”

 

 

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