Zach Stearns is a high school student who is looking forward to majoring in creative writing in college.
The Mine is a short story written by Zach Stearns. It was originally supposed to be a personal, unpublished project.
There I was, sitting on my couch, bored out of my mind. Just hours beforehand, I had been fired from my job at the Nevada Geological Testing Facility, which had been my passion for twelve years. I had gotten the job at the facility because of my brother, Ben. Years before, he had disappeared without a trace. The only thing I had left from him was the notebook he had left.
I stood up from the couch and walked over to the table where the notebook was sitting. I walked over to it, still unable to decipher what it was all about. While I was flipping through the pages, I noticed something I hadn’t before. There was a page with three sets of coordinates. I ran over to my computer with the notebook, opened a map, and inputted the three coordinates.
The three coordinates were in three of the most random places: Alaska, Russia, and Denver. This was the only thing I had left of Ben, so I wanted to follow the coordinates. I wanted to find Ben. First, I wanted to go to Denver because it was the closest to my home in Nevada. I grabbed my coat and headed to the airport for the next flight.
I woke up as the plane landed. I was in Denver. I rented a car and started to head for the coordinates. As I got closer, I realized that the location was in the mountains. I arrived at a mountain with a trail circling the sides. I ditched the car, as there was no way for me to drive up the mountain. I began my trek.
At the top, there was a metal rod sticking straight up from the ground. I reached for it without thinking, feeling a jolt of electricity coursing through my body. I looked around and saw that the rod had come out of the ground. I grabbed it, beginning to examine it. The tip of the rod had a very unique structure, coming out in a tri-wing.
I went back to the car with the rod, knowing that I’d be going to the next coordinates; it looked like I’d be going to Alaska. Since there was no way I was going to be getting a flight with a big metal rod, I decided to drive. Throughout the sixty-hour drive, I only stopped once at a hotel. I got to Alaska, realizing that the coordinates were in the middle of a long stretch of land. From off in the distance, I saw that there was a small building off in the distance.
As I approached the building, I noticed that it was an elevator to a mine. I cautiously entered the elevator, not knowing what to expect. I put my hands on the chain and pulled, lowering myself down into what I assumed was a mine. I kept descending for what seemed like forever.
Finally, the elevator came to a stop at the bottom. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Giant trees were visible for miles, a large, bright sun was visible in the distance, there were crystals that turned to liquid when I touched them. By far the most beautiful sight was the water. An endless lake stretched on into the distance.
I walked over to the shore, seeing a bag. Ben’s bag. I ran over to it, digging inside. There were three things in the bag: his water bottle, a copy of Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Ben’s journal. I opened up the journal, reading the last entry:
I want to go home. I can’t leave because someone pulled the elevator shaft back up. It’s getting too hot and the water is undrinkable. Tonight, I’m going across the lake.
I read through a few entries, finding one that caught my eye:
The sun I see is under the surface. It’s the core of the earth and it’s too hot for a human. Verne was right. It’s beautiful down here, but it’s not bearable to stay in.
I felt like I had to go across the lake, try to find Ben. I grabbed as many logs and sticks as I could find, bundling them together with bamboo shavings and vines. Once I finished constructing the base of the boat, I grabbed one of the giant leaves and attacked it to the pole I had brought down with me.
I dragged the boat forward into the water, hoping it would float. It did, and the wind dragged me forward instantaneously. I looked back at the beautiful landscape I had been on, hoping that something just as beautiful would be on the other side.
I got to the other side of the lake in about six hours, being greeted by a beautiful red landscape covered in dust. It looked like I had instantly been transported to the Grand Canyon – if the Grand Canyon had tons of moss and flowers growing on it.
I walked over to the canyon wall, feeling it. It was damp. There was water on the other side.
I paced around the zone I was in, eventually spotting something written on the wall. There were tallies – fourteen of them. I continued looking around, eventually finding a sharp cliff. I looked down, towards the bottom. There was a bright sun-like ball of fire.
There was also blood. The canyon wall, red with blood. I felt like vomiting, so I pulled myself away. Ben must have been starving. I had to get out of there, had to get home. Since there was water on the other side of the wall, there must have been a source. I grabbed a rock and started rubbing it against the wall, trying to get through.
The walls were surprisingly thin, about two days worth of rubbing. That’s when the water broke through, starting off as a small stream before the entire wall came down. The canyon filled up in just seconds, leaving me only one choice: I had to swim up.
Upwards I went, swimming for the light above. I kept flailing my arms as my vision started to get blurry. Everything went dark as I felt the air from the surface bash my face.
I woke up on a wooden surface – a boat. Three dark-skinned men were looking down at me. I stared back, wondering where I was. I slowly stood up, making sure I didn’t scare the men. I looked around. Russia.
The third coordinate was Russia. I was free.