Deep Vein Trombonist

This is the story I entered into the contest that my Old Man Cut Short posts have mentioned. The theme of the contest was mental health and I didn’t place in the top three although the ones that did definitely deserved it.

I’d appreciate to know what people think about this.

candle in dark

Deep underground where sunlight can’t be seen, the ore veins glisten in the light of a candle half burned out, dripping wax onto the floor.

Two people lived here. A woman of striking appearance whose shining blonde hair glowed in the candlelight in a way akin to that of how the sun illuminates the moon in the icy blackness of space, this woman is Clara. Clara’s purpose was to play her large brass trombone to entertain the miners who worked in the mine during the day.

Clara was cohabiting with a trumpeter called Nref. Nref’s story was a mystery to Clara, all she knew was that Nref had stumbled into the mine one day when she was totally lost. All Nref owned was an unbelievably shiny trumpet. Other than both of them being blowers of brass instruments the two had little in common, their hobbies weren’t shared and Nref had a childlike appearance with jet black hair that was like a shadow in the candlelight. The night they met, the pair played together throughout the night and they lived together ever since, kindred spirits loving tooting together in a strange, confusing world.


Life in the mine was interesting, exciting even as the miners would open up new spaces which could be explored and the women would make these spaces their own. Eventually the mine dried up. The miners closed the mine entrance, not realising their entertainers were still inside.

Clara was the first to try leaving the mine, the first to discover that the two of them were trapped. She decided that telling her friend would just cause unnecessary worry and panic, so she kept quiet, not speaking a word about the issue and trying to carry on as normal. The trumpet and trombone continued tooting together day and night, leaving Clara so content that she almost forgot about the issue which Nref was so blissfully unaware.

Days went by and provisions started to run low. The last of the food that the miners had given them in exchange for hearing them play was now having to be carefully rationed so the pair could survive for as long as possible.

Nref noticed that Clara was rationing. She noticed how neither of them were eating as much as they had been previously. When Nref Confronted Clara, the trombonist was forced to tell of how they were trapped. After talking for a while, they agreed that it was best if they handle things sensibly, ration the remaining supplies carefully and try to dig their way out with the bits of wood and broken pickaxes that had been left behind.


It didn’t take much more than a day before the women realised they couldn’t escape, even with all their effort combined. Survival was now their only focus.

When Clara went to get her share of the food she found that all of it had vanished. There was only one other person in the mine. There was only one other person who could have taken it, Nref!

While Clara was being claimed by hunger and paranoia, Nref was losing trust for her friend as well. Why didn’t she speak of the mine being closed? Why didn’t she stop the miners closing it? Did she want it to just be the two of them? What was she planning?


There was very little communication between the two women, just sneering glances. They wouldn’t even play their instruments together to pass the time anymore, suspicion overwhelmed them each time they dared. They each claimed half of the mine for themselves.

Inevitably hunger and distrust climaxed in a physical fight where the two friends attempted to tear each other apart, tooth, fist and nail. That fight had no winner.

In the night following the fight, Clara crept into Nref’s section of the mine. Nref was sleeping. Silently, Clara picked up the trumpet that had been left laying on the ground. As she crept through the mine she found her sleeping friend. She raised the trumpet high above her head and just as she was about to bring the thing crashing down Nref woke up screaming.

Clara needed food, her slain friend was made of meat. She tried to bite down on the arm of the fallen woman. Her teeth went through as if Nref wasn’t even there. Clara looked around. The trumpet wasn’t there. Was Nref ever there?

Image credit to Pexels user Rahul.

If anyone has an image more suited to the story or anything you’re willing to let me use please comment below.

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