Small Town Roots

Writing Prompt: “A small town discovers that the long abandoned mines beneath them are larger than previously recorded – and seem to be growing.”

Anne Walker pulled up to the Sherriff’s office and quickly stepped out of the her vehicle. It was early morning, but the office already seemed busy. She let out a deep sigh and made her way into the office.

“Sherriff, we have a problem,” A man stepped forward and engaged Anne as soon as she was through the door.

“Good morning to you, Phil,” Anne said as she walked over to the coffee machine.

“Ah, right. Good morning, Sherriff. We have a problem,” He replied.

“Yeah, what sort of problem?” Anne asked as she poured herself a cup of coffee.

“We got three concerned families with missing teenagers calling in every three minutes.”

“Which teenagers?”

“Tyler Sanchez, Molly Young, and Rachel Day.”

“Tyler Sanchez,” Sherriff Walker shook her head. “Have we checked the local bars, ditches, and hospitals?”

“I know that was a joke, but we have checked in with local hospitals. No sign of any john or jane does,” Phil said.

“Uh Sherriff?” A second man called out for Anne as he held a phone. “We got a report of a abandoned car near the Eastern edge of town near the old coal mine. Just spotted. We’re checking plates now but we think it might belong to Diego and Mia Sanchez.”

“Alright. I’ll go check it out,” Sherriff Walker said.

“Booker is on his way,” The man said.

“Let him know I’ll meet him there,” She replied before talking her coffee to go.

Sherriff Walker drove through the small town of Havensburg and past the two stop lights to get to the eastern outskirts of town. Long ago there was a small mining company that mined coal out of the nearby hills and a train line that ran through the town. But for the past fifty years Havensburg hasn’t had a train and the shallow mines had been boarded up. Sherriff Walker knew that sometimes teenagers were dare each other to enter the caves or hung out there to drink watered down beer.

Sherriff Walker pulled up and saw another sheriff car parked next to a red compact car.

“Good morning, Booker,” Sheriff Walker said as she stepped out of her car and took a sip of her coffee.

“Morning Sheriff,” Booker said. “Just ran the plates and we’re waiting on the results.”

“But it probably belongs to The Sanchez’s.”

Booker nodded.

“Any sign of them?”

“I did a quick search. Looks like some sort of makeshift fire pit in front of the old mineshaft. Could be new but it could be old,” Booker said.

“What about inside the mine?”

Booker let out a laugh.

“I was waiting for you Sherriff before making my into the mine,” He said.

“Very kind of you.”

“Of course,” Booker smiled.

The two of them stepped away from the abandoned car and walked down the small embankment. They followed a narrow path between trees and thick shrubs until they came to a small clearing. Sherriff Walker could see the scorched patch where teenagers would start fires. There was also a variety of plastic bottles, beer cans, and other trash littered about.

She walked over toward the makeshift fire pit and used the toe of her boots to stir up some of the ashes. Underneath there were still small pockets of hot embers.

“Fresh fire,” She said. “Someone was definitely here last night.”

“Any idea where they went?” Booker asked.

She glanced around to the wooden area and then to the opening of the abandoned mine.

“Either out into the woods or into the abandoned mine, if I had to guess,” She said. “We need to get a search party out here.”

“TYLER! MOLLY! RACHEL!” Booker yelled as he brought both his hands to his mouth to act as an improvised megaphone.

They stood there for a moment listening for a response.

Booker shrugged.

“Worth a shot,” He said.

“Sheriff,” Anne’s radio buzzed.

She pulled the radio from her belt and held it to her mouth.

“Sheriff Walker, here.”

“Just got the plates back. They belong to the Sanchez’s.”

“Alright. Well Booker and I are here and there is definitely some evidence that someone was here last night but we haven’t found them. We need a search party out here as soon as we can,” Sheriff Walker said.

“Yes Ma’am. Sending everyone we got.”

“Over and out,” Sheriff Walker said as she put the radio back on her belt.

“Booker, you wait here and flag down the others. I’m going to take a quick look inside.”

“Are you sure?” Booker asked.

“Yeah just want to poke my head in for a minute,” She said as she pulled a large flashlight form the belt and clicked it on. “I’ll be back in five.”

Booker nodded and proceeded to head toward the road.

Sherriff Walker stepped past the fire and approached the entrance to the abandoned mine shaft. There were some wooden boards nailed in place to keep it closed, but through natural processes and rowdy teens, most of them were gone. She was able to easily step over a board and make her way inside the mine.

Using her flashlight she looked around. At the front of the mineshaft, there were a lot of graffiti and over markings made with paint or carved with knives, but the further she went into the shaft, these markings faded to blank stone walls and pieces of lumber on the sides and overtop.

“Tyler. Molly. Rachel. Anyone there? It’s Sheriff Walker. Anyone?”

Her voice echoed down the mine shaft but she got no response.

She was about to turn around and go back, but something caught her eye. There was a glint of light as her flashlight reflected off some sort of liquid.

She slowly approached and continued to shine her light. Up close she saw there was a small pool of liquid and she could smell the iron in the air. Blood.

Sheriff Walker pulled her gun from her belt and held it at the ready.

“Tyler! Molly! Rachel!” She called out again as she looked around with her flashlight.

About twenty feet down the tunnel her flashlight caught the sight of a jacket laying in a crumpled ball. She approached and knelt down to examine it. There was a high school letterman jacket with large tears in it, covered in blood.

She slowly put down her flashlight and grabbed her radio.

“Booker! We have a situation. Booker, can you hear me?”

Her radio buzzed with static but no one responded.

She placed the radio back on her belt and picked up her flashlight. Slowly, she moved forward and she noticed that not too far from the jacket was a break in the mine shaft. Around the stone was large, deep scratch marks in the stone and it looked like there was another tunnel shooting off form the main mine shaft. There was also a trail of blood leading deeper into the tunnel.

“Tyler! Molly! Rachel!” She called out again, her echoes bouncing off the walls and down the tunnel.

There was no response other than her own echo and then it went silent for a moment. She was about to take another step forward when she heard a low growl in the tunnel. It was deep like a large wolf or bear.

She shined her light deeper down the tunnel, and she saw a glimpse of sort of creature. It was some sort of humanoid with a skinny frame, long arms and legs, large claws on its fingers, and large eyes.

Seeing the light, the creature let out a sound like a howl and began charging toward her.

Sheriff let out a shot from her handgun before quickly darting. She ran fast down the mine shaft toward the front entrance.

“Booker! Booker!” She screamed as she ran.

The creature let out another growl and she could hear the creature behind her, making up ground.

Her heart was pounding as she ran as fast as she could. She rounded the corner and saw the light from the mine entrance while also hearing hte creature behind her.

“Booker!!” She screamed even louder as she sprinted for the exit.

She was running so fast, that she didn’t see the one board near her feet. Her foot snagged on it an she tumbled forward, landing hard on her side, at the entrance of the mineshaft.

Sheriff Walker rolled onto her back and pointed her handgun back toward the mine shaft, ready to fire, but surprisingly the creature had vanished, nowhere to be found.

“Sheriff! Sheriff!” Booker emerged from the brush followed by two other officers. “What’s wrong? Was that a gunshot?”

Sheriff Walker looked over at him with a look of terror on her face.

She laid there trying to speak and catch her breath.

“I saw….I saw… there’s some sort of monster in there and it got them. It killed them. It’s making tunnels. And it killed them. “

Header Photo Credit to West Virginia History on View

Writing Prompt submitted to r/WritingPrompts by u/YouWereAHelmetChild

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