The Dividing Tide – Episode 31

Garren strode down the path leading from the crib hut, a heavy black kettle in his hand.

The bright winter day was in contrast to his mood. He’d been disappointed when the captain had taken him from the clay store and put him to work as an errand boy. Surely he was worth more than that?

“Sorry, lad,” the captain had said. “Nothin’ to do with me. Boss’s orders.”

Garren hadn’t needed to ask which of the two Nankerris brothers he’d meant. Arthek had had his eye on him ever since he’d walked into his office on that first day. Garren knew he was being reminded to keep his mouth shut.

And now he’d been given the job of kettle boy while young Jimmy was off sick with scarlet fever! It was degrading. Kettle boy was a job for lads straight out of school, not a grown man.

He skirted the settling tanks and coal shed and headed for the water pump. He’d just placed the kettle down when he heard a soft thundering sound.

He stood up, listening. The sound grew louder and louder until suddenly, a carriage turned into the entrance of the mine.

He watched Arthek pull hard on the horse’s reins as he attempted the sharp turn into the yard.

He’ll never make it, he thought, holding his breath. A moment later, there was a high-pitched whinny and a loud crash.

Garren began running, past the pumping shed and down into the yard. The carriage was on its side, its uppermost wheel spinning. The horse had broken free and was disappearing in the direction of the clay pits.

His first instinct was to run after the horse and stop it before it did any damage, but a groan from beneath the carriage stopped him. Arthek was trapped, the heavy structure pinned across his chest. His eyes bulged and his face was turning blue.

Garren assessed the situation. If the carriage wasn’t lifted immediately, the man was going to die.

Shouting for help, he stooped down and cupped his hands beneath the edge of the carriage, and heaved. Nothing.

He redoubled his efforts until his arms felt they were being wrenched out of their sockets. The carriage lifted an inch, then, agonisingly slowly, another inch and another, until he was bearing the entire weight of it. He was rewarded by the sound of coughing as Arthek began to breathe.

Every fibre in Garren’s body screamed for him to put the carriage down, but if he did Arthek would stop breathing again. Somehow he had to keep holding up the cart until help arrived.

Sweat trickled down his face. Every second seemed like an hour but at last, just when he thought he could hold on no longer, he heard shouting and the stomp of boots on the cobbles.

He felt the weight of the carriage lifted from him.

“All right, son,” a voice said. “We’ve got it now.”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.