40 years past and slate was on his own! He didn’t manage to convince the other dead miners to stick around with him, so they all went away to find a warmer place instead of the dampness of this mine. But Slate was fine, he liked it there. He was the youngest of those that died in that mine, only four and a half years old and that hammer that meant to hit the giant screw hit his head instead.
It was a fine morning, he walked up the hill with his father and ten years old brother along with other men and children from the village. The breakfast that day was not that grand. He had heard his mother telling his father that the cupboard is almost empty and they needed more supplies! So he gave her that last quid in his pocket and told her to be careful with it.
They took some important tools and gadgets, some food, cloths and went on their way. The little cottage they will be staying at was just too little to have more things. My pop’s friend will be cooking together that they had all agreed too! Rotation of the food rations.
It was not a rainy day, but was dull and cold, and when they finally reached the mine they all had to place their things in their little cottages that they will stay in for almost a month and then go inside the mine.
Slate has never seen anything like it, tunnels after tunnels until they reached a place that is so hollow and when you speak the sound echoes around. He thought to himself that it will be great if some men would sing. When he told his pop his thought, he told him not to be so daft as everyone needs to focus! Any damage to the slates will increase the time they are there and they will not be able to get their quota on time. They have to collect 5 tones of properly cut slates, pop said and to him that didn’t mean anything. He was only brought over to hold that giant screw pop said.
They had something to eat, had a cup of tea and they all went to bed in great anticipation to the next day.
In the morning and after breakfast they started to walk into those tunnels again. His brother and him walked in and found their position. The whole thing is simple! Slate will hold the giant screw on his shoulder pointing it to the wall of the mine, the ten-year-old will hit it calmly with a hammer. They have to be focused and strong, their dad said, so he was the main man, slate told himself. If he didn’t balance that giant screw on his shoulders and pointed it to the wall the brother couldn’t work and no slate is found which means they will have no money. I am focused, I am focused, he kept on repeating to himself. He would drift away thinking of too many things that he would rather do instead, like play with his sister, or help his mum around their house. Or maybe sing the many songs he used to sing with his mum and sister. However, he is a responsible young man (he told himself) and he must help the family progress. So every morning they would go inside the mine, find a good spot and he would hold that giant screw, while his brother would hit it slowly until a good piece of slate would split, they will call their dad who will carry it to the carriage and they will start hitting to get another piece. Or the Bother hits the screw, and once a good size hole is formed they will stuff it with the powder, they stay far and it goes bang, then they carry that gigantic piece of slate on a trolley (too heavy for him but the other children would help out as well) and they will pull it out so their pop will start to slice it with the chisel. Once they did few trolley loads they retire to the cottage. So this went on for days, and amidst the cold and dampness, more slate was sliced and more trollies were filled.
Slate was not excited anymore! He is tired, hungry and wants to play with his little sister instead of just being super careful with that screw! He also wants to stay longer on that bed but time is of the essence his pop said. Weeks into this “operation Honister slate mine” as his dad puts it, Slate told his dad that he doesn’t want to do it any more unless they all sing so he is entertained. So that day the father and his friends decided to sing. They all went inside the mine, the weather was colder than what it was before, and to make it worse it was raining and slippery. The men made-up a song and everyone joined in:
It’s a fine day at Honister
We slice the slate and administer
We hold the screw and hit it with the hammer
We love what we do and we know the money will flow and we will prosper
Slate is a happy child
He wants us to sing and dance
We will sing and dance until all our carriage are full
Slate gives us courage
Slate makes us laugh
He calls his dad pop and he calls his mother mom
He eats a lot of porridge
He just can’t have enough.
La la la lalala
It was indeed a fine day and Slate was happy, singing along and holding the giant screw tightly. They got more slate pieces that day than any other day. So the miners have all decided to follow his advice. Fancy that he told himself. He must also think of other ideas when he goes home to teach his sister. He feels that he is doing something for his family and not merely holding a screw.
One morning, he told his father that today he wants to hold the hammer and his brother should hold the screw. The father said no dear, the hammer is too heavy. How about I stand next to you while you hold the screw and we sing together. That was nice he felt. So that too happened. And the day ended nicely.
The next morning, he was not complaining anymore, so they went down the tunnels and started to work. They had a good amount of slate already and they only need to work for few more days, and will all the songs and dance that was happening in the mine, it was keeping him entertained. Of the miners shouted something and he turned at the same time that his brother hit the hammer, and instead of hitting the screw it hit his head. Blood was splashing and every one was running, he can see them gathering on him, the brother crying, the father was crying, the miners were crying and the kids startled. He can see all of this but he isn’t feeling anything? What happened? I am floating? am I dead? He goes to talk to his father and brother, and tells them that he is here, but they don’t hear him. Something is surely weird happening. Slate can see all the commotion but cannot realize it as he cannot feel it. Why are they all crying? Am I dead? I don’t want to die? I want my dad to get his money for what he had promised. I want to go back, come on men, try to revive me don’t just stand there crying. He say the men carrying him as the father and the brother are so sad and hysterical. He thought of his mother, and suddenly he can see her and his sister. What? How did that happen? Am I better off now that I am well, a ghost? Let me think of pop, oh my god, here he is again, he is in the mine. Ok for a lagh, let me think of the circus that pop took us to when I was much younger? Oh dear, here it is! I love this game.
Slate went back and forth to where his mother is and where his friends are, but always makes sure to come back to the mine to check on his father. They all p[acked up and gone now.
One day, he was alone hoovering over the various caves of the mine, and suddenly he can hear someone, who is that? He said. Can you show me yourself? Can you see me? As surely no one can see me anymore. Sure enough he was able to see the person, wait a minute, there are more people there. Young and old. So they gathered around and started to tell their stories to him and how they have all been killed either by suffocation from the dynamite powder, or by the hammer or the sledge or the screw or simply tumbling down the tunnels of Honister. One of them just fill and he became a ghost. Now because slate is the youngest they thought that they all must protect him from that giant ghost. They wouldn’t tell him who it is. They told him that this giant ghost makes them leave the mine as he says that he owns it. So they all of sort of disappear from his face when he shows up.
Years past, and the miners continued to come, he can see his father and brother also working, but they have a helper similar age to his older brother. They look sad though, so he goes and set in their cottage and tries to make sure that they are fine. When they are in the mine he organizes the place for them and make the place warm. However, suddenly no one comes to the mine again, he certainly didn’t know why? He hoovered around his house and he cannot see where his mum has gone? He was afraid that she had also died. He cannot tell.
One fine morning, as he was going round and round the mountains and the hills around the slate mine, he noticed few people, some were building a place, some with cameras and so on. And there was this young man that he liked a lot. He asked the other ghosts who told him that he had bought the place to make it into a place to make movies. No one wants the slate anymore. Slate was happy to see actual people. He started to go around Mark, and really wanted him to notice. But, no he didn’t notice. So he thought of an idea.
Every day when Mark comes to the area on his helicopter, Slate will be waiting for him, and will make some disarrangement to the place. Move things around, drop the fliers that are placed for the people to pick up around, open a window. Just what a naughty four-and-a-half-year-old boy would do. And still he wouldn’t notice? Come on Mark, notice me, Slate would shout. One day though Mark came inside the mine and Slate thought that would be a good place, as he know that his shadow can be seen at times there people would be looking up and he feels that. So that worked, and mark felt him. Of course if you know about the ghost world, if you can feel a ghost, you can talk to a ghost. Mark was happy and sad at the same time. This boy was killed in his mine. But he was happy as the boy can tell him stories, he lived there for a long time and he know probably everyone. But that is not what Slate had in mind. He wanted to ask the questions. Why did Mark buy the place, how did he see the mine, where is he from, why he thought that the place is nice and so on. Mark had all the time in the world as he had people who will do the running around and he was just managing.
These two became friends. They would talk for a long time, but only when no one is watching. They will take walks on the hills and see the area around. Mark learnt a lot from Slate, especially about the places in the mine that he didn’t know about. Slate was happy, he was showing Mark where are the areas that had a lot of green stone and how easy to get it out.
Each day they both walk on the hills, and Slate will act as the knowledgeable person, tell him about how many other mines there are and how much slate there is in all of them. Suddenly Slate sees the giant ghost. He is mighty giant this ghost. So he asks Mark to walk back as he doesn’t want the giant ghost to hurt Mark in any way. Of course mark wants to know why, but Slate pretends that its late and nothing is said.
In the evening the giant ghost comes to Slate and tells him off. This minefield in mine, no one owns it but me, why do you show it to this human? The giant ghost roared this to Slate. Slate was afraid, he sends a message to Mark, who was on his helicopter. Unfortunately, that day was too windy, So Mark tries to help slate and so he returned back to rescue him from the dangers in the mine and the helicopter hits the hills and Mark and Slate watch people crying, over Marks body. Now both of them are the protectors of the slate mine that will run for ever and ever.