The wide road led to the exit. At least that’s what Jake thought. But after the next breakthrough the road became narrow. The corridor was dark, gloomy and damp. It smelled delicately of musk. Or so it only seemed to Jake, who didn’t really know the smell of musk. Far away — he looked at his companion. Snake, or rather Stanislaw was his forefather.
They’ve been walking for an hour. Jake got himself a job at the salt mine as a worker. That was his plan. To take care of something that will take his thoughts away from the past. The past still hurts. Such a typical story of failed love, marriage and all that kind of bullshit. Nobody would say, it was something special. Just rubbish. But there is a big difference. When you hear it from somebody and when you experience it.
All he wanted was to forget. That’s why he moved as far as he could. To the end of the world. At least he thought so. After all, America is quite far away. It was a thousand nine hundred years old. The world was developing in great stride. Everything was changing in the eyes. America was in crisis and Europe was thriving. That’s why he decided to take the opportunity. His friend heard from Polish immigrants that there are salt mines in Poland. Old and well-known. He checked it out. In fact, the mines were surprisingly old.
Where are we going? — Jake asked. He could not stand up to the fact, that Stanislaw was a very clever and very quiet at the same time. He liked to talk. At least now, in this dark space which he did not know yet well, he felt odd.
Be patient — asked Stanislaw. We are going to see something, that my masters told me to check out. In one old part of the mine somebody heard something. But…
But was to scary to check it and ran away — laughed Jake.
I would not be laughing — said Stanislaw, looking back at Jake. His dirty jacket made him look like a crazy nobleman, running away from his castle by unknown corridor, afaid to pay his debtors. In those times people in the mine of Wieliczka had a funny custom of wearing quite casual clothes. Those, who held some positions, were obligated to dress in proper uniforms. So they ended up walking around dirty stuff in uniforms like this.
I did not mean to offend you, Stan — said Jake. Just trying to make some sense of it. This saltmine is older than anything I ever seen in my life. And every step I make here I jump into some history.
That is true — Stanislaw seemed to be happy with his explanation. Eventually he looked like that. This part of the mine is as old as seven hundred years. No one ever seen it often than few times a year. Just to see, whether some work must be done not to let those vast empty chambers to fall down on the people working below it. Saltmine of Wieliczka is now going 200 meters deep. Here work had been prohibited in XVIII century. No salt to be taken, to dangerous and so on. Anyway. Those times also rumours were going around that He is living in those chambers.
Jake did not make any comment. He knew about Him. This story is as old as mine itself. Everyone here believe he is a real person, demon probably.
A lot of people say he’s actually a Warden or Warden. This Warden protects the treasures of the underworld. Or he is some fallen angel. Or a soul who must atone for guarding the salt. Who might know that. But everyone’s heard of him, and some have even experienced his presence. Sometimes he plays tricks, takes food, or warns of danger. And sometimes he’s a little dangerous, and he can even kill if he thinks someone is a threat to the mine.
I do not know — Stanislaw said slowly. Was it here? There was a corridor leading on the right, not left. I am sure. Here is a sign, small cross and date 1543, probably related to some event. This part was damaged by fire this time, some people died. But nobody found bodies or even skeletons. Stanislaw’s face looked oddly in the dim light of the torch.
You right — said Jake. I remember that plan, that master of the chambers showed to us. He did not mention, that in reality Jake was a engineer, who worked in South America in odd places, making discoveries for ancient archeologists. But that was different time. He was accustomed to stories like that. That was the reason for him to came in Wieliczka and employ himself as an ordinary miner. He had some papers to cover his work before so that wasn’t difficult.
Then suddenly his torch light waved and he felt odd cold on his hand. What the hell — Jake shouted.
Stanislaw looked back at him. His face was pale. However that was quite difficult to look pale in already dark place like this. But was damn pale and shaking a bit.
That was him — he whispered. Do not move! He looked on his side.
There, on the salty rock small incision appeared. Just crack. Not much but enough for the miner to know what that mean. Danger. They step into unknown corridor.
What are you doing — said Jake? — we must came back. He pointed backward.
No! — said Stanislaw — crack appeared. It means that this part of the mine will be broken soon. The Warden already helped us out, signalling by himself that danger. Every time he ever appear in the history of the mine, whoever was trying to go back, died.
Okay — said Jack. No problem. But we only have some little food and we would not be able to survive long. Anyway, hurry up. He looked on the ceiling, where other small crack appeared. Then when they walked half way of the odd corridor, sudden big bang sound happened.
Never say never
Job in the mine was business as usually. Nobody even had glimp of suspicion, what is happening the same time in the mine. First level was quite well known. Rarely in use. Most of the job was going much deeper.