river of time

May 14, 2010
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Sweat was glistening upon his forehead and his hold upon the cliff was weakening. Dan murmured a prayer to God and summoned his last source of strength. “This one is for Johnny”

Earlier that day, the black clouds eclipsed the sun as a storm approached a mining area. The TV blared in the back ground, with a weather man predicting heavy thunder storms rolling in from the West. The secretary’s face cringed at the sight of the black clouds. She walked into the main office to inform the project manager of the impending storm. The manager yelled into the next room to activate the warning light for the miners not to set any explosions. Flipping the switch caused the electrical current to flow down the wire through the wall, across the rusted copper wire attached to the building and under the grass toward the tunnel. The current enters the cave on a thick wire, and moves down the wall traveling far into the depths of the cave. The energy surged into the warning light blowing the fuse to never warn again. The light was meant to warn the miners not to place an explosion because of a storm. This is a common practice due to the ionized air tends to set the explosives off, but now the light only stares as the miners continue on their tasks.

“My it’s a beautiful day for mining” said Keith as he wiped the sweat from his forehead.
“What does the weather have to do with mining anyways? It’s not like we get to enjoy the sunny days.” said Johnny. Dan stopped and turned toward his son. ” Each day whether stormy or sunny, at work or play, holds a certain wonder that we need to embrace. Johnny, you need to learn not to forsake the short time we are given on this earth. Even though you’re down here working hard, you should enjoy the people you’re with. Keith stopped picking to join into the conversation.
”Yea Johnny, your dad and I have spent our best days in h*** holes like these.” Johnny turned away from the veteran miners.” No way I’m going to do this for the rest of my life.” Keith handed a drill to Johnny “Quit complaining and get to work, boy” Johnny rolled his eyes and took the drill to prepare for his job.

The secretary stared at the black clouds looming over the mountain. Lightning flashed for a few seconds followed by the sound of thunder seconds later. The project manager knocked at the door holding a coffee in each hand. She walked over and took the one he marked as hers, and returned to look at the storm.”What’s on your mind?” said the project manager. “I don’t know. I just have a feeling that something isn’t right.” The manager turned toward the secretary.
”You turned on the warning light right?” “Yes, of course” replied the secretary.” Ok then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.” The two stared out the window as another flash of lightening hit the ground, but this one arced toward the cave. Moments later an explosion went off in the cave followed by several other explosions.” I thought you said you turned the warning light on!” yelled the manager as he ran to the main office.” I did. I swear I turned the warning light on.” Said the secretary. The Manager went to his desk and dialed the number for the emergency response team. “This is mining team A1 53, we’re located at Sleepy Mountains. We have a cave in with a possible miners trapped. Ok I’ll make sure no one else enters the cave. Thank you.” The Manager returned his phone, and slumped back into his chair.

Dan finished marking the wall with red dots.”Ok Johnny these marks are where you’re going to drill, and place the explosives.” Johnny nodded and walked over to the wall with his drill. Dan watched as Johnny tried to position the drill on the mark. The drill went on and off in short bursts as Johnny tried to keep the drill steady. Dan yelled “stop!” and walked over to Johnny’s side, carrying his trusty pickaxe.”OK son let me show you how an old Miner does this.”, and pushed Johnny off to the side. Dan took his pickaxe and slammed it into the cave’s wall in one swift motion, leaving a perfect size hole.”Keith and I will finish making the holes while you plant the explosives.” Keith picked up his mighty pickaxe and joined Dan in making the holes. Dan finished and turned toward his son.”Johnny, are the explosives ready?” Johnny moved to the final hole to place the explosive, then turn to give the thumbs up. Dan nods, showing his approval of his son’s work. “Ok Johnny, come over here.” Johnny turned to walk away, when suddenly a piercing white light filled the room. Lighting shot through the cavern to strike the explosives. The cave rumbles from the force of the blast as rocks fall from the ceiling. Dan runs toward Johnny, but trips over a fallen rock. Like a chain reaction the other explosives started to go off shaking the cave, and causing the rest of the ceiling to cave in. One rock falls onto Dan’s leg stopping him from getting up to reach his son. Johnny falls from a blow to the head by a rock, and lie motionless as more rocks fall to form his tomb. After a few minutes the cave became eerily quiet. Dan looked around for any signs of life.”Keith!! Johnny!! Dan’s call was only met by his own voice echoing throughout the cave. He looks at his leg to see only his kneecaps and a boulder where his foot should be. Dan used all his strength to move the boulder, but to no avail. He looked around and spotted his pickaxe just a few feet behind him. Dan Stretched his arms out and ignoring the searing pain in his leg, he grabbed his pickaxe, and pulled it toward him. Using the pick end, Dan dug a hole under the boulder. Once the hole was big enough, Dan turned the pickaxe over, and put the handle in the hole underneath the boulder. With three breathes, he pushed all his weight on the pickaxe, agonizingly lifting the boulder off his crushed leg. Dan quickly removed his leg while screaming in pain from his injuries. A pile of rocks shifted, and a slight groan escaped the rubble. Dan, using his pickaxe as a walking stick, moved over to where he heard the moan. Even the pain gnawing at his bloody foot could not stop him from reaching his son. Dan fell to the floor to start removing the rocks from the buried body. “Johnny, Johnny are you alright, son?” Dan was answered by the deathly silence. Dan removed the last rock to see his mangled son lying motionless. Tears streak down Dan’s cheek as he takes his son into his arms and rock him back and forth.” It’s alright son. Everything is going to be ok. You just need to hang in there for a little longer.” Dan refused to believe the truth that his son was dead and continue to rock him back and forth. The last thing Dan heard was the sound of an enormous roar as the rocks supporting the ceiling cracked and snapped, entombing the pair deep in the earth. Dan’s vision turned black, and he fell deep into the darkness.

Dan heard nothing, saw nothing and felt nothing as he drifted slowly down. Far away he heard a small sound that he could not name. The sound grew louder and louder to the point where he couldn’t even hear himself think. It was the sounds of water rushing past him, and slamming against the smooth rock. Dan noticed that he wasn’t being pulled under any more, but was slowly moving toward the surface. He opened his eyes to see the light growing brighter as a small hand drug him toward the surface. Dan burst out of the water, and landed into a boat. Gasping for air, Dan looked up to see his rescuer. The man was about five foot tall, and had a shiny egg shape head. Next to the man was an overcompensating fishing rod with a white gloved hand at the end. Dan recognized the hand as the one that has just saved his life. His eyes returned to the small man sitting across from him. “Thank you kind sir. Without your help I would most likely be dead. I’m curious how I got here though, and where here is?” The small man took a bow, and gave a smile that shone like lightening. “Dan you’re a very lucky man, yes indeed. I received orders to make sure you live. At the moment you’re having an out of body experience, and this place is the river of time running through your life.” Dan looked at the small man in shock. The small man continues not giving Dan a chance to speak. “This river at the moment is just one, but whenever the person can make a choice that’s when the river splits. In fact if you turn around you can probably see the river you just took.” Dan turned around to see a long river, but far back he caught a glimpse of three giant rock walls splitting a river into four separate rivers. The small man waited for Dan to turn around before he continued. “Each river has a completely different outcome from all the other rivers.” Dan raised his hand to interrupt the small man.”So can you take me back to the river where I came from, so that I can save my son from the cave in?” The smile faded from the small man’s face as he turned his head away from Dan. ” I’m sorry Danny, but my boat doesn’t work like that. I can only travel forward in time. I know it’s going be hard dealing with your son’s death, but it will get better Danny.” Dan looked at the four rivers, and then back to the small man. “If you can’t take me to my son then I guess I’ll have to do it by myself.” The small man shook his head.”Look you can’t fight the river of time. The current is too powerful for any man to swim against.” Dan picked up his pickaxe and looked down at the water. He saw cars parked in front of the cave they had entered that morning, and people walking out carrying the injured on stretchers. Next he saw a paper declaring only one survivor made it out of the deadly mining cave in. The small man placed his hand on Dan shoulder and give him one last warning. ”If you go past this boat I will not be able to save you. There is still time for me to take you back to your body.” Dan shrugged off the small man’s hand.” My life means nothing compared to the life I can give my son.” His pickaxe in hand, Dan took his dive into the cold river of time never to see the boat again.

Dan struggled to swim against the rapids toward the side of the canyon. His body bounced against the rocks that were jetting out of the water like being inside a cruel liquid pinball machine. Up ahead, Dan spotted three rocks near the edge of the canyon wall. He slipped past the first two, but was able to grab onto the last one. The wall wasn’t far away from the rock he was resting on, but it would be quite a leap considering how numb his body felt. Preparing himself, he pushed with all his might off the rock and slammed his pickaxe into the side of the cliff. The rapids struggled to pull Dan down the river but his pickaxe was firmly seated into the stone, allowing him to pull himself out of the water. Dan was precariously positioned on the edge of the canyon wall, finding small crags in the rock to position his feet and hand. Removing his pickaxe, he slammed it into the wall next to him. The pickaxe made another hole allowing him to move slowly down the river.

His muscles began to burn after an hour of traversing across the cliff face. Dan stopped to see the conditions of his legs. They had turned blue, and a fear crept into Dan. The sun tried to keep Dan warm from the freezing rapids, but he was to numb to feel it. “Will I be able to make it?” but he quickly dismissed the idea right away. “I can’t give up. I’m going to save you, Johnny.” Lit by his new drive to save his son, Dan continued across the cliff’s side. Finally he made his way to where the river had last split. Peering into the depths of the water, Dan searched for an image of his son. Immediately below him, Dan could see the sight of the lightning striking the explosives and the collapsing of the rock upon his son and Keith. Sweat was glistening upon his forehead and his hold upon the cliff was weakening. Dan murmured a prayer to God and summoned his last source of strength. “This one is for Johnny,” Dan whispered. With one last slam of his pickaxe into the wall, he pulled himself forward, using the momentum of his strike to propel himself forward into the icy depths of the water. If nothing else, if he died, at least he had given it his all.

Dan heard nothing, saw nothing and felt nothing as he drifted slowly down. Far away he heard a small sound that he could not name. The sound grew louder and louder, whispering into his ear. The sound seemed like a metronome of half notes going through an endless cycle of beeps. Feeling started to return to Dan’s body, and he realized that he was in a bed with a thin blanket, and a small pillow. His eyes slowly opened, but all he could see at first was a white blur. He tried again to open his eyes after giving them a quick rub. Gradually his eyes focused. Dan could now see that he was in a hospital. “Dad!” Dan turned his head to see his son standing in the door way with a cup of coffee in one hand. Johnny walked over to his father’s bed and gave him a hug.” We were so worried that you were gone for good.”
“What happened to me?”
“While we were walking to the mine we found you passed out on the ground by the entrance. You were soaking wet and freezing. The doctor said you were in shock, and about to die of hypothermia.” Dan winced in pain when he moved again to grab the coffee. “The doc also said you’ve been pretty beat up. You shouldn’t be mining when you’re in this condition. You’re lucky this time, but you need to take it easy.”A knock came from the door with Keith entering. ”How you feeling Danny?” Dan looked up to Keith.
“I feel like today is the best day of my life.” Keith smiled at Dan
“You look like the happiest sick person I’ve ever seen.” Keith peered out the window and said “It looks like their’s a terrible storm a brewin’.” Dan smiled back at Keith.” Yea, I guess you can see good in everything.

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