Friday, November 1, 2013


            The torchlight flickered wanly as I tunneled further from the lava pit. I was in the deepest part of the mine. The air was filled with minute dust particles rising from the bedrock, and the cavern echoed with the ring of iron pickaxes on stone as my fellow miners sought the treasures of the earth. Behind me, the glowing lava pit bubbled and hissed.
            I checked my pack. I was loaded down with cobblestone I had inadvertently collected, but among the useless rock were real finds: a stack of redstone, a pile of lapis lazuli, gold ore, iron ore, and an alarming amount of coal. It was just about time to return to the surface, to place the ore safely in the furnaces, to stow the lapis and coal, to give the redstone to the engineers among us so they could create massive technologic wonders. I was on my last pickaxe and it was showing signs of wear. It would shatter soon. I sighed. The trip back to the surface was long. I would work until the pickaxe broke, I decided, and then make the trek back to the base.
            I hacked away at the nearest block of stone. And there, behind it, was paydirt: a green-veined block of the elusive emerald. Our whole group had only found two of these in the weeks we had mined this spot, and the engineers were clamoring for more. I sang out my find. My friends cheered, and I began hacking at it with a will.
            And then, before the block could crack enough to release its prize, I heard the bone-chilling sound of a monster. I knew what it was, and that it was close, even before my friend screamed, “Creeper! Creeper! Look out!”
            I abandoned the emerald, whirling to face the oncoming monster. Its face was twisted in a hideous scowl. Its body was covered in scales of sickening green, and its four stunted legs moved with alarming speed. It raced toward me, inexorable.
            Desperately I fumbled in my pack for my sword. I grasped stone, and a shovel, and my lunch, a roasted chicken, and then it was upon me. I flailed about with the chicken—no time to grab the sword! But it was no use. The creeper was repelled once, but it was too late. It rattled and swelled. All I could do was watch in horror as the thing exploded, and everything went to black.
            I came to in the bedroom, my friends clustered around me in concern. “You alright?” one asked.
            “My emerald,” I gasped. “Did anyone grab my emerald?”
            They looked at one another guiltily.
            “Shit!” I yelled, and charged out of the room to the mine entrance.
            “Wait!” my friends screamed. “Your armor! Don’t go down there!” But I paid them no mind. I plunged down the long stairway. Every second counted, but I could run no faster. The stairs went down and down and down, through the mountain on which we had built our base, under the river, deep under the forest. The dig at the bottom was a maze. I leapt over ridges of stone, piles of dirt. I took a wrong turn, swore, and raced the other direction, past a startled zombie, dodging the cruel arrows of a hissing skeleton. Finally, I found the lava pit, and my own beginning of the tunnel.
            I searched all around the space, screaming. There was nothing there. No coal, no gold, no iron, no redstone. And my emerald. My emerald was gone.

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