The rhythmic fall of his pickaxe was natural by now. The cold in the deep shaft bit in, and the only way to fend of it’s icy fingers was to move, to work. The steady rhythm continued, each blow from the worn down metal breaking further into the cold dry rock of the ancient mountains. Manchaary continued his work. He would search for brown crumbly coal in the mountains for several days before he and his friends would take what coal they had to the nearest village. The brown coal was invaluable, as it kept the populace of Verkhoyansk warm throughout the winter. Then there was Manchaary. Manchaary was an orphan, but not in a grimy rundown orphanage, his was a soft, comforting orphanage in a small town far from here. It had been too soft and comforting for Manchaary. When the small, stocky black haired and tanned siberian was thrown into the real world, he was anything but prepared. Manchaary had always been, and was still, one to get lost in dreams.
His bags were already heavy with the dry coal from the patches he had found earlier. He felt safer here in the tunnels. The stone around him made him feel like he was protected by a castle. The walls of the mountain were thick indeed, but this was a dangerous castle to be in. His pickaxe hit the rock, but this time it gave way revealing dry brown coal. He shoved what was there into his back. It wasn't much, but it all added up. His clumsy hands struggles with closing the bag. He left it open. He changed direction and continued the rhythm once more. This was the life as a rough miner in northern siberia. He fell back into the trance of mining. The rise and fall. The rise and fall. and then his hammer hit something harder than the dry rock he was used to. curios, he flicked on the light of his helmet, and to his surprise the light glinted back. His heart leapt in his chest, and sped on as if in a race. He hurriedly wiped of the ore with his glove. And his heart didn’t stop. Silver. He wasn't sure how pure, but silver. He forgot his friends, he forgot the cave, all he could think of was warmth. Of going to a better place. Of leaving these harsh mountains for good. He dug all of it out immediately. It was a good amount. It would get a person out of Verkhoyansk for good, and give them enough money to live on for along time. But only one person. He hurriedly emptied his old torn bags and stuffed them with silver. It wasn’t his friends, they didn’t find it, they only split the coal profits he told himself over and over in his head. He took one long intake of cold musty air, the air like breathing in the mountain itself, for the last time. He headed back up the shaft. He had to go. Now.
He made good time up the shaft, passing the entrances of the other miners. Thats all they were, he was sure now. They were just other miners. He found their provision stocks, and took wood, canned food, some matches, a tent and a blanket. He didn’t need anything else, he was going on foot. He loaded his gear in his bags, and headed off. He made his way through the great waves of snow, one after the next. Snow was all he could see. He stumbled down the mountain till he reached the hard part of his journey. The plains. The vast stretch of cold, desolate, and ghostly plains of all snow. If he was thinking, he would have made camp at the foot of the mountain till the next day. If he was thinking, he would never abandon his friends. Fellow miners he reminded himself. Just fellow miners. He decided that his fortune could not wait. He started across a cold plain. Soon the night came. He pitched his tent and set up camp. He didn’t need to eat this night, he sat inside the tent, bundled up, and thought about what to do next. He knew only his fellow miners. He had to get over them. He was not mean, just desperate for his opportunity to get away. This was it. His restless legs wouldn’t let him sleep, he sloppily packed up the tent, and moved off again.
The next day at the entrance of the shaft all the miners emerged. What they saw did not comfort them. Supplies were gone. One of them was missing. They however, could do nothing about it. They were not foolish enough to go looking for a friend in the harsh mountain. Regardless, the had limited supplies left, some scavenger had probably taken them, they suspected. Abram, the leader of the small group, gave the word to move on. “May Manchaary be remembered as a fair and kind man, none of us here will ever find another friend as Manchaary” he said as he gave the order. “Move on”. They picked up their supplies and set up camp at the foot of the mountain. They waited, as they should. A fire was built, and everyone enjoyed a meal after a few hard days of work. Everyone except Manchaary.
In the mean time, Manchaary had found a new rhythm. A walk. He had walked all night, but didn’t want to rest. He was full of fear. He had never before been out on the plains on foot. The frozen ground had turned his legs into more of a wooden stilt than a body part. He was lost. He didn’t know whether he should go left or right. It all looked the same. The day passed by and it seemed he had already traveled the whole globe. Night approached with it’s greedy hands grabbing anything it could feel. He struggled to set up the tent, and by the time he finished night was upon him. He set up a fire, and attempted to light it with the matches. Every single one of his 4 match broke, none would catch fire. His heart would be racing, but it was too cold to race. He could no longer remember the warmth, or the savory broth they would make at camp. He could only remember that he had to keep walking. He packed up his tent again and started off to some direction. He then stopped, and looked down. One of his toes wouldn't move. He tugged on it through his boot, it snapped clean off. He moved off in shock, which was easily recognized in his pale snow bleached face, not wanting the rest of his stilts to break. They were only necessary till he got out of here, the cold silver in his bag reminded him.
The miners broke camp at dawn, and set out across the plains. They rode snowmobiles, all were doubled, sometimes tripled up. They dragged the coal on sleds behind them. Every once and a while, they would use their compasses to tell in which direction to go. They were making good time. At nightfall, they set up camp again, they were halfway to the closest village. Manchaary, was far behind. He was forgotten, as miners often died, it was a dangerous profession. They ate another warm meal, and bundles up in the tents. They moved the snowmobiles next to the crackling fire, which seemed to leap with joy. They didn’t want to wake up to frozen snowmobiles.
Manchaary spent the same day walking, and walking, and walking. He never could stop. It was an ultimate marathon. He knew he needed to get out. He walked what seemed to be the entire plain twice, but in reality, was but a small section. He did however move past his fellow miners. As night approached, he kept walking. Manchaary at last came into sight of the closest village, it was dark. He had made it. It was done. He stopped about a kilometer from the village. He was able to rest now. He was there. He lay down on the ground, and closed his eyes, this would be the last camp he would need ever make, he thought to himself. He never woke up. The thick snow that fell that night would bury Manchaary that night, clutching the bag with silver over his chest. Putting the bag of silver over his heart. He was never discovered.
The rest of the miners came into town that night, and they stayed in a small house. There were only five of them now. They thanked their host, and departed in the morning. They had things to do. Slowly they make their way out of the broken little village. The closest village to the mountains. The small village resembled an old hound from afar, bent over with age. It was a very old village, and ancient village. And the miners would never see it again. Because the miners had to deposit the large amount of silver that had mysteriously been found near the provisions. The silver ore would be enough to get them all a better life. Not to be able to get away, but able let them live happily, and settle down in one of the bigger cities. They would all live happy and remain friends, not just fellow miners. All but Manchaary, who lied buried beneath the snow. Manchaary, who even now was forgotten.