Beneath Blair Mountain
Shannon Barnsley
(5 reviews)
Completed, SWP 2015. One of three novellas published in 1888's Summer Writing Project 2015 ... Show More
Genres:
American Gothic, Cross-Genre, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror, New Adult, Other, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Tags:
Appalachia, Appalachian, myth, folk, WWI, World War I, History, Irish, Immigration, Immigrant, ghost, fey folk, fay, fair folk, fairy, fairy tale, Boston, New York City, mining, factory work, Industrialization, Mythic Fiction, Mythology, Folktale, rural, urban, poverty, identity, Edwardian, county, small town, 1920s

October 30th, 1919, Boston

I kept running. Night was falling, though it barely changed a thing. Boston was grey by day and darker grey by night. The temperature was dropping. It was late October, not the time to find myself homeless again.

They'd long since stopped chasing me, of that I was sure. But what else was I supposed to do? I had nowhere to go and no one in the world left to call my own. Cavan was in the back of a paddywagon somewhere, Katie was six feet underground (or would have been if there was room enough in the cramped graveyards of New York City), Barrow was likely just a scattering of anonymous buttons and bones left on some godforsaken battlefield a world away, and God only knew what had become of my family.     

And if he did, it would certainly be the first time God had taken any notice of the Breckens, or any of the poor souls in Logan County.     

A man stopped cursing at his broken down automobile long enough to call out to me as I ran by. Perhaps he did really want to make sure I was okay, but I'd learned long ago not to trust anyone I didn't know (and to keep a weather eye on the ones I did, just to be sure). 

I tore past him, bumping into an Italian man who seemed to speak no word of English but "Chicago?", as if by repeating it enough he could will himself there. A woman screamed at her children from behind a small, broken window, filmed over with so much grime that the broken glass seemed an improvement.     

Four blocks over my searing ribs made me stop. My lungs were raw with cold and near ten years of soot and smoke. It felt like a hand was gripping my chest and squeezing the life from me. 
    
I put a hand out to let a brick facade support me for a moment. I panted. A man in dark clothes seemed to be eyeing me from across the street. He saw me looking back and mouthed something.     

It was just in my head, I knew. No one was after me. Who was I to anyone anyway? Did the coppers really think Cavan had told me anything of use?
    
The man was moving towards me.     

"You!" he cried out.     

My eyes darted about a moment ahead of my feet, searching for any escape. I could barely breathe, let alone outrun an able-bodied man. A barred entrance to the T caught my eye. It was boarded up, allegedly awaiting maintenance, but the thick layer of dust over the sign spoke of a long wait. 
    
"You! It's you," The man cried again. "Wait. I know you. Stop!"
    
I flew to the barred gateway underground and leapt through a space between the boards. It was longer down than through and my balance was off, sending me tumbling down stone stair after stone stair. I hit my shoulder landing and my legs, hip, and ribs on the way down. Broken bottles no doubt thrown through by passing drunks tore at me like briars as I fell. 
    
I hit my head at the bottom. For a moment I saw lights in the darkness, bursts of green dancing across my eyes. My head swam and I feared the dark would take me. Instead, I managed to half-turn myself to the side and wretch. My bones protested as I pulled myself up to a sitting position. I could feel the bruises that would flower tomorrow, but I had long ago stopped counting on tomorrow.
    
Thin as I was, I had barely made it through, so unless the man could pull the boards loose, there was no chance of him following me down, even if he had seen me go in. Still, that cut off the only way out for now. Who knew if there was another, let alone another I could find in the dark before tripping or walking off the subway platform. And it was colder down here.
  
Even if I managed to explore the place in my sorry, battered state without breaking my neck, I might freeze to death before finding my way out. Boston falls were more like West Virginia winters and I hadn't a patched coat to my name. I hadn't anything to my name now, though that was far from a first. I wrapped my arms around my chest, my thin, torn sleeves wet with blood from the bottles' unexpected wrath. The blood felt warm on my skin. For now, at least.
    
I took a breath, trying to quell the panic that had been pumping through my veins since they'd come for Cavan. However, that only left a sinking feeling that threatened to overwhelm me. I was going to die down here. I could push back the fear all I liked, but that didn't make it any less likely that this abandoned T station could very well be my tomb.

Still, it's not like I'd be the first Brecken to be swallowed up by the earth.
Log in to add a comment or review for this chapter Chapter updated on: 7/28/2015 8:36:30 PM
  • Yashita Ghazi commented on :
    5/31/2017 3:17:00 PM
    i am miss yashita ghazi i have a proposal for you via at (yashitaghazi11@gmail.com)
  • Neil Billings commented on :
    6/28/2015 2:01:17 AM
    Shannon, you are an excellent writer. You grab my attention and keep it.
    • ANN brown Hello good day, i will like to meet you in person, am miss Anna, am from France and am leaving in London, please contact me on my email id at (annh1brown@hotmail.com), for more information about me. because i have some important thing i will like to discuss with you privately. Hope to hear from you soon. Anna, thanks
      5/6/2016 12:35:06 AM
  • Pam Jones commented on :
    8/30/2015 6:33:34 PM
    Go, Brecken, go!
    • Shannon Barnsley Thanks for reading and commenting, Pam!
      8/31/2015 7:51:40 AM
    • ANN brown Hello good day, i will like to meet you in person, am miss Anna, am from France and am leaving in London, please contact me on my email id at (annh1brown@hotmail.com), for more information about me. because i have some important thing i will like to discuss with you privately. Hope to hear from you soon. Anna, thanks
      5/6/2016 12:34:51 AM
  • anna brown commented on :
    3/31/2016 2:22:38 AM
    Hello good day, i will like to meet you in person, am miss Anna, am from France and am leaving in London, please contact me on my email id at (annh1brown@hotmail.com), ... Show More
  • Kaysie Kent commented on :
    8/31/2015 3:26:50 AM
    Fabulous. 📖 Bravo Shannon! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
  • Kerry Barnsley commented on :
    8/25/2015 10:18:57 PM
    This opening reminds me of the first Matrix. When Trinity reaches the bottom of the stairs, you are hooked! :D
  • A S commented on :
    8/16/2015 12:31:43 AM
    Ooh, I'm instantly drawn into the story. You're a strong writer, and a keen storyteller and it shines through right in the first chapter. You have a great command of ... Show More
    • Shannon Barnsley Thank you, Allison. Much appreciated. Thank you for reading and commenting.
      8/20/2015 6:26:42 PM
  • Katya Kolmakov commented on :
    8/16/2015 4:12:30 AM
    Very very engaging! I've read the whole chapter on one breath! Perks of being a speed reader :) nice visuals and engaging ambience! Definitely reading the next chapter now!
    • Shannon Barnsley Thank you, Katya! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. I hope the next chapter lived up to your expectations.
      8/20/2015 6:26:02 PM
  • Laura James commented on :
    8/18/2015 2:00:59 AM
    Looking forward to reading in total. laurajames F90
    • Shannon Barnsley Thank you, Laura, both for stopping in and commenting. It's always great to connect with other Hampshire grads. I'll have the rest up shortly.
      8/20/2015 6:25:03 PM
  • Neil Billings commented on :
    6/28/2015 1:59:49 AM
    Shannon Barnsley is a talented writer. I am pleased to call her my friend.
    • Shannon Barnsley Aww. I am pleased to call you my friend as well. And that is high praise from such an excellent storyteller as yourself.
      7/2/2015 6:21:59 PM
  • Neil Billings commented on :
    6/28/2015 2:01:21 AM
    Shannon, you are an excellent writer. You grab my attention and keep it.
    • Shannon Barnsley Thank you! I'm glad to hear it! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
      7/2/2015 6:21:09 PM
  • Neil Billings commented on :
    6/28/2015 2:01:14 AM
    Shannon, you are an excellent writer. You grab my attention and keep it.
  • Neil Billings commented on :
    6/28/2015 2:01:14 AM
    Shannon, you are an excellent writer. You grab my attention and keep it.
  • Neil Billings commented on :
    6/28/2015 2:01:07 AM
    Shannon, you are an excellent writer. You grab my attention and keep it.
  • Neil Billings commented on :
    6/28/2015 2:00:59 AM
    Shannon, you are an excellent writer. You grab my attention and keep it.
  • Anonymous commented on :
    6/7/2015 9:59:53 PM
    I want more please
    • Shannon Barnsley Glad to hear it! I'll have more up later this week. Thanks for reading and commenting.
      6/8/2015 8:47:44 AM
  • Margaret gave
    6/8/2015 10:01:02 PM
    Love it! This story hit the ground running and I'm excited to be along for the ride.
    • Shannon Barnsley Excellent to hear. Pun intended? I'm glad to have you along for the ride too. Thank you.
      6/8/2015 10:07:15 PM
  • Kelton gave
    6/7/2015 5:58:40 PM
    This opening grabbed me right away. I can't wait to see where this goes!
    • Shannon Barnsley Thanks! I'll have more up later this week, so I hope you like it.
      6/8/2015 8:49:32 AM
  • 6/7/2015 11:27:32 PM
    I'm hooked. So many possibilities. Eagerly await next chapter.
    • Shannon Barnsley Glad you liked it! Thanks for reading and commenting. I'll have more up soon.
      6/8/2015 2:17:18 AM
  • Kelton gave
    6/7/2015 5:58:52 PM
    This opening grabbed me right away. I can't wait to see where this goes!