Author : Rick Tobin

“You speak English, Mario? I don’t know German and you don’t speak French.” Emil put the phosphorescent torch down by the other resting miner. They took their break secretly, amid the dust and constant reverberation from other slaves mining the deep caverns.

“Some. Little bit. We speak here. So deep few come and they don’t burn us.” Mario coughed, looking at the dark blood splattering his tattered sleeve.

“You have it. You know it is bad.” Emil pointed at the glowing spurts reflecting the yellow glow of their lights. “They will put you in the surface if they see this. Here.” Emil rubbed the gray dust over Emil’s sleeve until the grime no longer shone under the torchlight.

“So long. These many years. So many faces in my head lost in these caves. I have tried to stay alive since the War, when they took us from the battlefield. You were there. I almost long for the smell of the trenches. At least there was water, even in the bombardments. There was horror, but no torture. None of these monsters driving us like cattle; only the madness of men, Earth men, to destroy us.”

“I heard from a crew in the cross tunnels that someone was on the surface and saw a flash on the Earth. Somewhere in the orient. Maybe a volcano, but it was bright as day. Maybe another war. We saw some new faces in the haulers. They had the new stare. Remember that, when we first were captured?”

Mario nodded, still catching his breath in his shattered lungs. The cloying humidity and high oxygen content pumped through the diggings ate away his stamina. The dizziness would return before the end of his shift. He would only think about lifting his pick against the walls, not knowing if he was actually lifting anything. That was all that was left…just imagining the movement to prevent the burning prods from the overseers.

“Mario, someday they will know.”

“Who?” Mario whispered.

“Us…those left behind. They will come here someday and find out the Moon is a slave market and that this horrible place is hollow. They will feel the blasting. They will see the lights in the craters and the ships bringing fresh workers here. Someday.”

The tattered men pushed up as the hum of an overseer patrol cart came near, pushing them to continued until they would be jettisoned on the dark side.

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