NaNoWriMo day 20 – at 42500 words the end is in sight. That is an end to the challenge of 50000 words, but not the the story arc. I am more than pleased with what I’ve written & where it’s taken me, as opposed to where I expected to take it. I quickly hit the point where events & characters moved the story in directions I wasn’t planning when I started.
Not that my sub-textural intentions weren’t met & fulfilled. They certainly were. Thought at times I did feel my female protagonist was suffering more than was necessary but that may make her a more complex & real character as a result.
The biggest challenge was the sex. I wanted to maintain a low level of explicitness to reflect how such things were handled in the literature of the times – mid 20’s. Also I have had it reflect the education & knowledge base of the those involved. I also limited the sex acts that did happen between the guys so that they wouldn’t become too knowing. These were men drawn together by circumstance as opposed to sexual attraction. Yet at the same time I wanted the sex to be hot, fun and maybe a tad fetishy. But anything that is sexual that doesn’t involve penetration already has a fetishistic undercurrent going for it.
I did my research & was comfortable with my choices. As I’ve said before, I think, my theory is that it was the more educated people who judged the sexual interactions of others. It’s been fun to make my male protagonist such an innocent that he doesn’t even know the meaning of ‘buggery.’ After all it was an ‘unspeakable’ affront so why would he know of it?
(continuation of Monday’s excerpt)
With his right hand he undid the belt that was holding him back. That give is left arm just enough give that he could reach the catch and unscrew the bolt that held it. The nut bit into his fingers. His sweat made it slippery but he was able to turn it. He pushed the bolt up but the trap didn’t budge. He’d expected it to swing down as it opened. He paused and recollected that he had to slide the brace out of the way before the trap would open. His right hand ached holding so much of his weight. He jammed his right fingers into another of the drain holes, this one closer to the trap.
He wriggled his left hand free, wiggled his fingers to bring some feeling back into the hand. The reached up and the brace bar slid out with a loud squeal.
“God get me through this.” he whispered. “I’ve been as good as I can be. You know that. This isn’t the way any man wants to die.”
He got a fresh grip with his left hand and with a burst of speed swung his feet up at the trap. It popped up a couple of inches under the blow.
“Fuk,” he nearly laughed. “It’s goes up not down.”
With another kick he got to to open about a foot but something blocked it. Some debris fell through it.
He undid the other belt that was anchoring him to the cage. Fully free his right arm could reach the lip of the trap. Gripping it best as he could he he let go his left hand’s gip and grabbed with it at the lip, missed but on the second try got a solid grip. He inched along and with a hand on either side of the door pulled himself up and into the narrow opening he had managed to create.
There was lumber and more rock debris in the car. He got his shoulder and chest firmly on the floor and pushed at the debris as best he could. The cage shuddered and jolted down an inch or so sending the cage door down on his back.
He lay there a moment to catch his breath. He knew he wasn’t going to fall into the shaft and needed to breath while he figured out what to do next.
“Hello! Hello!” came from below him. “You okay. Birk hello!”
He recognized Sandy’s voice.
“Nearly there!” he called back as loudly as he could.
“Lost Red though.” He began to cry.
“Wasn’t sure if it was one or two of ya that fell.”
Birk heaved his shoulders, pushed up and got the trap back to the point where he’d opened it before. He reached out and grabbed the the grid and pulled himself through till he was entirely in the cage. The trap had been held down by a coil of the cable that was used to pull the cage up and down.
If that was broke it meant they weren’t able to use the cage for any sort rescue attempt. It would have to be replaced.
He sat for a minute his his knees pulled up. He shoulders ached like they never had bore. There was a sharp pain all along his right side. He ran his hands over his face and the fingers on his right hand stung with the salt. He licked at the fingers and tasted blood.
“Hello Birk MacDonnell! Hello!” These voices sounded more distant.
“Shel Malone is that you?” He called back.
“Right lad. We’re on the level below yours. How’s it looking?”
“Cage jammed tight. Cable broken.”
“Snapped like a boot lace.”
“Jeff Harney and Frankie are on their way up.” Shel called up from his level.
For moment he thought to tell them not to send Frankie. Frankie was the biggest of the lot. He wasn’t sure how much more weight the cage might hold. But it he didn’t have the strength to keep shouting. He stood slowly. His knees weak but held him. He pulled what he could off the trap door and propped a chunk of lumber under it in hopes that that would keep it open.
He fished in his pockets and found a chunk of the bread he’d been eating when the collapse started. He put that in his mouth wishing he’d stuck his tea bottle in there instead.
“I’m going to keep going up.” he shouted down.
Stepping on debris he was able to get to the top edge of the cage. The scaffold holds were easy to find. Hand over hand he pulled himself up till he feet found the rungs to support him as he worked his way up.
He wondered why no one had started down. The rescue teams were always pretty prompt in an emergency. Although he had no way to keep track of the time he was sure it had been a couple of hours since the collapse had happened. He also wondered why the shaft was still so dark. There was little to block the light. He swung onto the next level.
“Hello! Anyone here?” He peered into the dark. There was answer. He reached for the nearest pit wall and walked a few steps into the seams. “Hello! It’s Birk MacDonnell we were on level 8.”
No reply. These miners must have already been evacuated. His foot kicked something. He reached with his hand and found a lunch pail. He flipped open hoping there was a tea can in it. It was empty.
He turned around and made his back. Fingers brushing the wall to keep him moving in the right direction. The change in air told him he was back at the shaft leading up.
He quickly found the rungs leading up. He kept his mind focused on what his body was doing. Hand up, find hold up, up. There had to be a song in that for Clancy “This is the hand, this is the hold, this is the hand that finds the coal, this is the hand that finds the hold.”
how the uncaged bird sings