by Edd

     We’re in a middling gallery, me with my pick and Paul his shovel. I’ve just pried a ‘harbinger’ out of the wall along with a number of one and two syllable words when the thumping starts. I take another swing, knocking a ‘dross’ and a ‘kettle’ away from what with a little luck will be a ‘dissolution’. But the blows from below unsteady me and my pick smacks ‘diss’ to the ground.
     Paul grumbles. “Hardly worth picking up,” he says, barely heard over the now incessant hammering.
     He leans his shovel against the mine’s wall. “That’s no test,” he says. “I think they’ve got it in operation. Let’s go see.”
     We take the rickety elevator down to the lowest gallery, taking on two or three miners every level. Once there, we see three carts waiting to ascend. The others walk down the gallery toward the deafening roar, but Paul plucks my sleeve and points at the lead cart. He sifts through the vowels and consonants, locating a ‘lorgnette’ and a ‘syncopate’. He puts his mouth next to my ear. “Not bad,” he yells. “They might get this thing perfected, and then where will we be?”
     “It will be easier for you,” I reply. “You know Japanese.” There’s not a machine yet can pick those symbols out of a wall.
     The machine’s pickings are thin. This first cart is chockablock with single letters, nonsense strings, and pre- and suffixes. Word is, once this machine works more accurately, they’ll challenge a miner to a race. Might be me; my percentage of polysyllables is more than satisfactory.
     I move to the second cart, and chuckle to see the words ‘blow’ and ‘almighty’ adjoining one another. Paul brushes past to inspect the third cart. Just as I spot ‘rickety elevator’ he laughs long and loud. “We have nothing to fear,” he yells. “It doesn’t even know how to spell.”
     Looking to where he points, I see the word ‘middling’. “That is a word,” I say. Attached to it in front is “we’re in a” and behind is “gallery”. Something about it seems familiar.

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One Response to “Subtext”

  1. David Says:

    February 1st, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    good ending. are stories not yet told down there somewhere, and will they only be found when the events unfold?