Cautiously navigating his way to the ute he found the radio and called for help.
“Hello, John are you there? Everything’s gone tits up mate, no lights on the ute and no hi-beams on the helmet. I’m down on level 15 can you get down here and give us a hand?”
“Anyone? I’m on level 15 with no lights.”
“Guys, this isn’t funny! I can’t see my nose to scratch it, get down here.”
Why wasn’t this thing working? They couldn’t blast with his tag still on the board so at the very least at the end of his 12 hour shift someone would be down to get him. He’d been sent down to perform a routine check up of all substations for levels 14 and below and it’d been one giant fuck up from the start.
“Now what do I do?” His voice echoed down the mine shaft creating an audience of one. The faint glimmer of the substation for level 15 could be seen deep in the distance, and he knew there he would find a radio.
The sheer void created by the blackness is overwhelming and he hugged the cold rock wall tightly to remind himself he wasn’t floating away. Inch by inch he shuffled along towards the substation, his cap light barely revealing a few inches in front of his face. It couldn’t have been a few metres later when a cap light appeared in the darkness, followed by another, and another until there were three side by side.
“Hey guys? Can I get a hand, the ute has shit itself.”
As he was about to take another step towards them the three lights started signalling to stop. There are three universal headlight signals that you obey or are immediately fired; they are to come to me, stop, and go back. Right now he was looking at three telling him to stop, stop, stop.
His foot hovered in the air for a second before planting back on the ground. The breath caught in his throat. The lights began to signal go back, go back, go back.
Without hesitation he turned and shuffled his way back to the vehicle. When he glanced back towards the substation again, the lights were gone. Just himself, and the darkness and he took a seat, and waited for the remainder of his shift to end.
The lights of the recovery vehicle were a welcome sight. “What’s going on mate? Haven’t heard from you, and your tags still up so we can’t blast without you.”
“Didn’t you hear me over the radio?” He asked with all curiosity.
“Nothing from our end, must be faulty. Let’s get you up and out of here, the shift boss wants to see you and get your report before we head home.” He felt nothing but relief being away from level 15 and seeing the lights of the office again was a welcome sight.
“So what happened today?”, Gordon, the shift boss sounded genuinely annoyed.
“I was doing the routine maintenance of the substations and my lights failed on level 15. After failing to radio in I waited for someone to come get me.”
Gordon’s eyes were wide and his voice was soft when he next spoke. “Mate, level 15 is abandoned. I thought you knew that? There is a gigantic collapsed hole in the middle of 15. It sounds like you were headed right towards it.”
“I had no idea. I was walking towards the substation when a crew of guys signalled with their lamps to stop and go back, so I did just that. I guess it was lucky they were there then.”
“Mate, no one has been down to 15 since those 3 guys fell into the stope and were killed last month.”
So this is a ghost story that my father has always told and it’s never failed to send a chill up my spine. He tells it a lot better, it’s definitely improved face to face. He says that it actually happened to a mate of his and when he tells it you can’t help but believe that. My father worked underground as a machinery operator in a mine for much of my childhood, and it’s here that the story is set. Full credit to him and anyone else it originated from, I just thought it needed to be shared.