Need For Speed 2 by D.I. Jolly
“Grant here today?”
Said Walter as he hung his hat and slipped into overalls.
“Morning boss, he’s in 2.”
Replied Barbara without even checking the registry.
“What again? How many days is that now?”
“6, in a row.”
Walt let out a sigh and shook his head.
“I’m glad someone’s down there, I just don’t understand why he’s suddenly so eager.”
Looking up for the first time Barbara, shrugged and said thoughtfully.
“One kid already, one more on the way, he can say he needs the cash all he likes, but I think he does it for the quiet.”
Having a couple of kids himself Walt knew the truth when he heard it, but at the same time knew that Tunnel 2 was a long way to go for a bit of peace and quiet.
“Well, whatever the reason he’s going to have some company this morning.”
Barbara’s eyebrows went up in surprise.
“Really? You? Into 2?”
Walt nodded and picked up a size 4 hazmat suit, then slowly made his way to what was the oldest and slowest elevator in the company, which also happened to be the only way to reach the infamous Tunnel 2. The place where few miners dared tread after the numerous cave-ins, and the even more numerous rumours of strange goings-on. Because no matter how sensible you are when you start out, after spending enough time working underground, usually locked into a full-body suit for hours at a time, everyone becomes a little bit superstitious.
The elevator eventually squeaked to a stop and after pulling open the door Walter was a little surprised to find Grant standing there waiting for him.
“Howdy boss, what brings you down to 2?”
“As it happens, coming here to ask you the same thing did. 6 days in a row, is everything alright?”
Grant’s smile was only vaguely visible beneath his visor but it was there.
“2 is just a tunnel sir, just like any other. They all gotta get worked eventually.”
While Grant was correct, and as far as the business was concerned anyone who just went into 2 and wasn’t being ordered down there was a win, but something still felt off.
“That really all there is to it? I remember a time when people threatened to picket because of 2, and I seem to remember you being a face in that crowd.”
“Things change, can’t spend my life being scared of a tunnel boss.”
Walt stared skeptically but was running out of reasons to keep the conversation going.
“As long as that’s all it is, you’re not hiding from something? Everything is alright at home? I mean I know Linda is expecting again, congratulations by the way, but everything is good with you?”
Grant raised a hand to tip his imaginary hat.
“Thank you, sir, and yes everything is great at home. It’s going to be a little boy this time, Grant Jr. And sir if it’s not so bad to ask, what else could it be? Tunnels is tunnels sir and I’m a miner. If I’m too scared to dig a hole I’m too scared to do my job. I just realised one day that that’s all it was. The lift needs some work, and I spent most Thursday checking support beams, but otherwise, it’s just a tunnel, sir.”
Walter thought for a minute trying to think of more to say, of a way to get more information out of Grant. Even though he couldn’t put his finger on it he still felt that something was wrong, or at least, that there was more going on than he knew.
“Do you want me to send any help down here, give you and hand? Keep you company?”
“Well, that would be lovely sir, always happy to see folks, but don’t force anyone. You know as well as me that people are scared of 2, and I don’t want to cause anyone grief. I’m happy to just quietly get on.”
Walter nodded and finally decided that Grant really was just working the tunnel, which was, after all, his job. He turned and stepped back onto the elevator then stopped.
“Hey, why were you standing here waiting for me?”
“The noise this thing makes when it moves I could hardly believe my eyes that someone else was coming into 2, thought I better go greet them in case it was a new kid gotten lost. Or if it was you, sir. I know none of the other fellas would come down here if they didn’t have to, and with me here they don’t.”
Walter considered then answer and then stuck out his hand.
“Well, thank you, Grant, I appreciate that you’re doing this and keep up the good work.”
Grant shook his bosses’ hand and waved the elevator away, then waited until it was out of sight before removing his mask and breathing the actually perfectly clean air. He then replaced his suit in its usual hanging spot and made his way back down deep into tunnel 2 until he reached his work station. Picking up his pick-axe, he rested he head against the section of exposed tentacle that linked his mind with his master’s and thought.
“It’s alright, they won’t come back.”
“You did well servant, now keep digging and soon I will be free.”
“yes master’ thought Grant and he started swinging his pick again into the rock. Smiling and quietly whistling to himself, happy in the knowledge that once his master was free the world would be a better place. He didn’t know how exactly, but he felt it whenever he connected to the tentacle, that everything was going to be just fine, as soon as his master was free, everything was going to be just fine.