Tag Archives: prompts

Frank Formsache

Image taken by Frank Formsache, who manages to capture breathtaking details in beautiful scenes. See more of Frank’s photography on his flickr photostream here.

I want to document certain changes I have witnessed on site recently, starting from the discovery of the pit, to geological anomalies and later strange behaviour I have noted from the men. This is not about me, and my perceived understanding of what may or may not have been unearthed in this quarry. I have a logical  and sound mind, a man of science and physics, and the last week has raised… No. Let me start again. This is bigger than me.

Something has changed here since we found the pit. It appeared in the quarry one morning when we woke to eat breakfast. The chewing mouths fell silent and cups of coffee spilt as we witnessed a hole in the centre of our dig site, astounding in its size and depth and inexplicable being. Gathering around its circumference we had two main questions. Who, and why? Workers, supervisors and watchmen were questioned for any insight or leads but the answers were the same: nobody saw or heard anything suspicious overnight. While inquests were carried out we used the reserve drilling equipment to carry out readings on the shifted sediment and groundsoil investigations at the bottom of the pit. The water table had sunk and there were large samples of black soil, rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and manganese. We couldn’t fathom the presence of a soil typically found in the tropics. Our thoughts clouded with the false possibilities we raised. A tectonic shift or earthquake? No other sign of disruption in the surrounding hills and valleys, and no reports of any shaking from those awake. An asteroid strike? Again, no sightings of flashes or explosions, and the debris from any collision would not be neatly piled to one side of the crater. A sinkhole became the most likely scenario, and a large proportion of the men repeated surveys (having already been passed weeks prior) of the soil and its composition, for no building work could take place on unstable ground.

For the longest time I suspected a joke. It became obvious, however, that this could not have be done by our workforce. To dig a hole of this magnitude (no exact measurement was undertaken, but my trained eye would suggest a rough circle 200ft in diameter at its widest and 80ft down at its deepest; and although the pit sloped gradually to this depth, I was uneasy to walk too close to the edge) would have taken our thirty-five men days to complete. No, the notion that a rogue faction of pranksters from within our ranks was laughable.  The night following the discovery of the pit my assistant and I walked atop the excavated mound of sediment. It was all deposited on the west side of the pit, piled high and steep, and one of the officers warned against such a climb. But curiosity got the better of me, and after a gruelling ascent we reached the top. Despite the bizarre and frustrating circumstances (for this interruption I knew would delay the project, even threaten its abandonment entirely), we admired the view of the surrounding quarry. That is, until my assistant shouted as we watched one of the cranes at the edge of the pit begin to move. We could see there was no man in the cab; as crazy as it sounds it was moving of its own accord. There was no slope, and no visible force to push the crane in. In all honesty, it appeared to us it was being dragged. Helpless to act, we shouted out to get the attention of any nearby workers, but it was too late as the crane toppled over the edge into the pit below. The machine lay discarded and rigid, as if in a state of shock.

The head supervisor left without permission the next day, leaving me in charge of the men. My first objectives was to extract the fallen crane. They set to the task with discipline and efficiency, but when I attempted to stop them at five they insisted they wanted to continue into the night. I was impressed if a little confused at their dedication to the cause, and retired to my office. I was awoken at an early hour of the morning to the sound of several machines operating from what sounded like the pit. Anxious I left my bed and walked down to the hole. The men, dripping with sweat and moving in almost synthetic unison, were slaving away, entranced.

They did not listen to my commands and they would not stop working. I put up with this for another 24 hours, what else could I do? It seemed I was the only man in this quarry who still regarded sleep as essential. Even my assistant traded his administrative duties for labour, to join the men working down in the pit. They had changed. There was no lust for women or cars or money, just an insatiable need to dig. Soon my frustration got the better of me and only when I struck one man in the face did they stop their work and pay attention. So disturbed by a sense of malevolence I felt from each one of them, that I ran back to my office and barred the door firmly shut and fastened the shutters over the windows. That night a group of them tested the door handle and whispered unintelligible words through the broken glass. I kept my lamp burning throughout the night. I should give up on this pit. Some questions cannot be answered, and some answers cannot be understood.

They don’t sleep or eat anymore, I don’t think. The machines are running night and day and when they do stop, I hear earthly drums and distant wailing from down in the pit. I should probably try and force my way out of here, it’s been months and still no one has come for me. But despite the threat I like it out here. The air is heavy with salt as if we were stationed on a seaside coast. While I have not seen the men with my own eyes for a week they still leave meals and water outside the office. If they meant me harm, why would they bothered with this? The next time I sense one nearby I shall try to get its attention. Ask what they are doing down in that pit. Maybe I can help.

© Nicholas J. Parr, 2016.

The first entry in a new series of posts to encourage me to write more. I’ll post a picture (taken by me unless credited) and find something to write about. Not much, just a little. Reading is beneficial but you need to write to write better.


Seeping away the tide fell down the beach and he waited above for his baskets to rise from the shallows and ground. Gulls stalked the wet sand while the last of the evening swimmers returned to their towels and away into the approaching evening.

He guided the jeep down the slipway, raising a hand of apology to a family who waited at the bottom until he was clear and onto the beach. Although they smiled they did not look at him and he felt like he was a great inconvenience on this quiet evening on this quiet beach. The tires floated over the sand crackling upon dried seaweed. He drove a circuit of the beach as it was near deserted now and the gulls watched intently until he drove too close then leapt into the air and hung above. He pulled the jeep parallel to the receding tide and stopped. The radio hummed softly and with the waves massaging the shore with care and the birds crying above in that half light between the land and the clouds it was a beautiful moment. He cut the engine and sat, face half out the open window to observe the dull warmth of the setting sun and those darkened rocks offshore.

When he was a boy he would ride down to this beach on his bike and wait for his friends at the top of the slipway. If he had enough money he would buy an ice cream from the kiosk across the bay and eat it on the walk back. When they came they would swim out to the rocks. They were good swimmers all of them. Sometimes they would go too far but that was the excitement of it. Youth, when unsupervised, is forgotten. Once his friend Tommy had stepped on an old fishing hook out on the furthest rocks that you have to squint to see and the hook had gone right through his middle toe. He went pale and cried though there was no blood. On those rocks with half a mile of water between them and the beach they thought he was going to die. Tommy didn’t want to move or be left alone so he volunteered to swim back alone to get help. He swam as fast as he could and he ran all the way up the beach to the kiosk, where a man who was also a lifeguard worked, and together he and the man both ran down the beach with a jacket and a ring. When he reached the water he shielded his eyes from the sun and peered out to see all of them swimming towards them, far away. He saw them circling Tommy, taking turns to support him, shouting encouragement. It looked like sharks taunting prey before the kill. When they finally reached land they collapsed and laughed and cheered and embraced. The hook had fallen loose from Tommy’s foot on the swim back.

If he wanted to go out there he could reach them easily now-to stare back at the beach like he used to all those years ago with aged eyes-but those rocks suddenly seemed more distant than they ever had when he was a boy.

© Nicholas J. Parr, 2015