Writing prompt: Part 4 of six-part series. Vivid descriptions, cliffhanger. 150-300 words


The pit was indeed hell, the noisiest, dirtiest, most densely packed area of the whole Martian mining system. An open pit filled with workers extracting ore with small explosives, hand picks, and even fingers to get at the small but rich veins of ore buried closer the core, then sending it down conveyers to be refined. Every single person wore breathers to filter out the dust, but Patina still felt she was choking on the air each time she took a breath. Amrak was nowhere to be found; no doubt, they had placed him as far away from her as possible.

It became a routine – hour after hour of tedious labor followed by not enough hours of nightmare-filled sleep and then back to the pit, six days a week. Patina watched one of the guards beat a man with the butt of his rifle for asking for water while not on a break. “You back to work, Duster,” he yelled. A collaborator, putting on the uniform to be spared their fate of crawling through the dust himself. It made her sick.

Midway through her third week, a man placed a small explosive to get at a relatively rich vein of ore. “Fire in hole!” he yelled, but nothing happened. He moved closer to see what had gone wrong and – BLAM! the charge went off right in his face, splattering his remains across the pit. Patina instinctively curled into a tucked position, but before she made it all the way in, she felt a heavy body fall on her, pushing her out of the blast zone. Another casualty? A savior? The only thing she knew for sure was that, even with the cuts and bruises, she was miraculously alive, and that felt damn good right now.

(c) 2017 Miriam Ruff All Rights Reserved