TITLE: Deadly Promises
GENRE: Middle school historical fiction
Southern WV coal fields in 1921. Buddy's cousin and best friend is buried in a roof fall.
“Don't just stand there with your mouth hangin' open, boy! Dig!”
It took Buddy a few seconds to realize they were yelling at him. He grabbed a chunk of rock from the pile and threw it to the side. He grabbed another, then another. Faster and faster they slung chunks of rock, coal, and slate away from the man buried beneath. Little by little the crushed body appeared. One of the miners tilted his head downward until the light on his cap lighted the distorted face.
“This ain't no man,” he said. “This here's a boy.”
Delbert's mangled body lay silent in the dust.
Buddy's knees buckled. His body sank to the earth and he could do nothing to stop it. After what seemed an eternity of falling, his knees touched the ground. His head spun; his world surreal. He couldn't breathe even though the dust had settled.
“You know this boy?” a voice asked. Then someone was hoisting him up by one arm.
Buddy tried to pull his eyes away from Delbert's flattened skull. One empty eye socket stretched down his cheek and blended with his nose. Brain matter and blood seeped into the earth.
“You know this boy?” the miner asked again.
Buddy opened his mouth, but no words formed. He nodded.
“Go git his folks. We'll gather him up and bring him out.”
Buddy nodded again, but his feet did not move.