When the mine foreman of Blue Mountain coal mine is approached by authorities investigating a terrorist plot to cause an underground explosion, he could not believe what he was hearing. Why would someone want to kill miners in an Appalachian coal mine? And even more perplexing to Mark was the difficult planning required for this horrific act. Who would do this? Before this mystery can be solved, Mark must acknowledge how his actions contributed to the deadly plot that could potentially murder dozens of miners underground. During his investigation, Mark is pushed to the edge of reality. Did a ghost of a miner killed in Blue Mountain mine actually assist Mark?
There really was no choice for Jennifer Johnson. She could choose the life of her daughter, or the many lives of her fellow miners. What would your decision be if those were your only options? Somehow, Jennifer would have to reconcile in her own way the bloody aftermath of the catastrophe if it occurred. Is Jennifer evil, or was she forced to do evil things for a satchel full of money?
I have been married all of my life. That is my response when I am asked how many years my wife and I have been together. We share many memories, good and bad, but I shared few elements about my work. I knew she worried about me when I was at work underground. That's why I often kept quiet about work details. I didn't lie, just understood there were some events better left untold. I do not think that I am the only miner guilty of this faux pas, keeping quiet about underground dangers. Spouses find out eventually, though. This is the same paradox my character, Mark Morgan, encountered. He loves Nettie deeply and always tried to be honest with her. Their relationship is strained by Mark's underground investigation. Sometimes honesty is not the best policy. Sometimes it is dangerous.
The history of coal mining demonstrates the inherent dangers of working underground. Mining laws have been written to prevent miners from being exposed to these dangers unnecessarily. Mechanization and technology have greatly improved safety, and reduced fatalities underground. And yet devastating explosions and seismic events have recently taken the lives of miners. These extreme events often lead to confusion about the location of miners underground due to the harsh conditions and isolated entries. Miners have perished because rescuers could not locate them quickly enough to be saved. Technological advancements have provided a means to track miners underground. Tracking tags are worn by miners for their own safety should an extreme event occur. Except this safety tool quickly turned into a tool for company officials and regulatory authorities to track miners for other reasons. What if a miner dies and the authorities and company officials suspect something other than an accidental fatality? Could they track another miner to the scene of a fatality who denied being there?
In 1983, my protagonist, Mark Morgan, began working underground at Blue Mountain mine. In my book, Mark has a flashback of his first Christmas working at Blue Mountain. As one of the youngest crew members, Mark was glad to be part of the group and only wanted to be accepted. Later, Mark would understand that there were definitely better ways to be remembered, although he cherished the memory from long ago. I hope you enjoy this humorous recollection shared by Mark Morgan in "Blue Mountain Explosion."
I have been retired for nearly eight years after spending a lifetime working in underground coal mines. I continue to have dreams, and at times, nightmares from my past life as a coal miner. Every time there was a fatality underground, a part of me died with that person. It is devastating to lose a co-worker and friend to the mountain. Twice, the shaft mine where I was employed had violent explosions that forced the immediate withdrawal of employees, and the sealing of the mine for months to extinguish the ensuing mine fires. These incidents were traumatic for every miner involved. My mine foreman went inexplicably missing while hunting. The disappearance may, or may not, have been related to his employment at the mine. Authorities have yet to solve the case more than eight years later. Sometimes these memories are triggered, and my subconscious madly dances with these events in my nightmares. I wish it would stop. This excerpt demonstrates how my main character's nightmares force him to see the unimaginable.
In my first excerpt, mine foreman, Mark Morgan, meets the ghost, Jack Bonney. In my second excerpt, the dedication and love my protagonist, Mark Morgan, and his wife, Antoinette, share are expressed. In this excerpt, Mark Morgan and the superintendent, the company safety inspector, two federal inspectors, and Mark's assistant mine foreman are investigating abnormal overburden pressures on the underground longwall mining system. Demonstrated during a dangerous and life-threatening event, Mark maintains his composure and implements emergency procedures to withdraw miners from underground to the surface. Mark communicates with Robin, the security officer whose training allows her to initiate plan protocols from the safety of the surface communication center. Witness Mark's reaction and description of the event in this excerpt.
My protagonist, Mark Morgan, had sustained injuries in a mine accident as he attempted to save a fellow miner. The day after being discharged from the hospital, Mark was summoned to Blue Mountain's conference room at the mine site to be questioned by federal and state mine inspectors about the fatality. His testimony did not go well. Already involved in a conspiracy investigation, Mark was unsettled about the fatality. He decided to conduct a dual investigation, and learn everything he could about both. Mark was scheduled to return to work underground the next day, and looked forward to one last quiet evening with his wife before returning to the difficult days ahead. Mark had not confided anything to his wife about the conspiracy for fear she would be in danger. Antoinette, he called her Nettie for short, always put their relationship and family first proving her unconditional love, honesty, and support. Was Mark doing the same for Antoinette by agreeing to assist with the conspiracy investigation?
There is a misconception that my book, Blue Mountain Explosion, is about coal mining. That's like saying "Star Wars" is a story about outer space. Blue Mountain Explosion is set, for the most part, in a shaft mine that to many is as alien as any world created. My protagonist, Mark Morgan, is familiar with his world and the dangers that exist. During his investigation to prevent a tragedy from happening underground, an explosion to murder dozens of miners, he relies on his knowledge of the mine in an attempt to prevent this horrible act. Except Mark was recently involved in an accident where another miner perished and he was seriously injured. Mark is struggling to cope with the accident, and the conspiracy he is investigating. Mark feels alone and isolated. Then he meets an ally that will be invaluable to his investigation. This excerpt is when Mark first meets the ghost, Jack Bonney.
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