TITLE: The Color of Gothic
GENRE: Dark Fantasy
The snow along the trail was black as a raven. The burros' manes froze as they lugged ore carts up the hill. Gusts swirled through the valley building snowdrifts taller than most men. But the wind did not sting inside the earth. It was trepidation that pierced the heart of Dell Collins.
Even the seasoned miners feared the black tunnels of Gothic's Jollytime Mine. Dell watched them whisper and cower as if darkness crept from the coal through their bones and into their souls. Death and mining were no strangers. But the corpse found yesterday had no blood. Not a single drop splattered the rocks, tainted the body or even lingered on the wound. That's what Doc Parker called it, a wound.
In the heart of Colorado's Elk Mountains, sixty-five frightened miners toiled for coal with pickaxes, pry bars and shovels. Most of them were as jumpy as jack rabbits, especially those deep within the earth. Dell felt the anxiety, but managed to control his emotions. Though he wasn't taking any chances, keeping his sloppy cousin, Quinn, close. Two men in a fight were better than one. He also needed to focus Quinn's mind on the coal. Scared miners make mistakes, deadly mistakes.
"Rabid cougars have been known to act in strange ways," Dell said as he worked the rock.
"But no one saw a cougar or bear or even a mangy raccoon yesterday." Quinn's tone exposed his nervousness. "Those Hungarians are talking all kinds of crazy things."