A Kentucky ghost story.
They sit huddled in the belly of the beast, two miles below the earth’s surface, in dark as black as pitch once the embers have been doused. The heat is unbearable in the tight cavern filled with sweating bodies. Thick coal smoke fills Robert’s nostrils and mouth, leaving a film of bitter grit on his teeth as he breathes in the essence of death in the very mine that has been killing his people from the ground up.
It started by killing the men who came for its coal, collapsing in around them or setting them ablaze. Their greed for its riches seemed to feed its own greed for theirs. No one knows for sure why the babies stopped living, or why they finally just stopped being born, but we all have our suspicions. The boils that grow in their throats, the oozing sores inside their mouths are all the evidence they need that they are a dying breed.
At fifteen, Robert is the youngest boy. The last child born in Paradise.
The eldest of the townsfolk insisted they could find answers down here in the bowels of the Cumberland Mountains, to seek out the spirits of those they lost. Some believe they can talk to the spirits, maybe help them cross over if their souls are trapped. Nothing makes sense to Robert—what they’re doing down here—but then, nothing’s made sense around here since he can remember.
Copyright © 2013 Kate Raynes