Ian stepped aside as the workers’ cars rolled within the gates. Stars almost died in the morning sky as plant operators checked oil levels and other mechanical attributes before climbing inside the cabins. Peter, led three other labourers over to the tool shed and took out shovels and mattocks. They stood aside in waiting for the machinery to loosen the soil before clearing away debris.
Deklin whistled and gestured. The driver within the cab of a green machine nodded. It rumbled forward to a predetermined spot where Ian had stopped work the day before. Nearly forty years old, the ancient behemoth displayed veins of orange, rusted into the cracks of its paint. Older in technology, the machine started and ran on diesel as did the other earth-working machines. The workers thought Deklin bought the ancient machines to save money; Ian knew better. True enough, his employer had to save money as he had a struggling family business barely surviving financially from job to job. Deklin had a philosophy- the more sophisticated the machinery was; the more could go wrong with it.
Ian had seen the wisdom of his words long before he met him. In mines all over the country, modern machinery had more working parts and intricate electronic systems making for more breakdowns. Deklin’s ancient relics, although slower, proved more reliable. In the long run, they got more work done as they worked uninterrupted.
The green drill; for lack of a better name, poised its down turned thick bar over the cleared ground. It lacked the spiraled head of the earliest drilling equipment, merely a featureless bar. Everyone watched the large red power gem on its side as the first rays of dawn crept over the neighbouring hills. Ian thought Deklin made a wise purchase when he bought the vehicle. Its bar was the forerunner of the modern drills. The red gem absorbed the sunlight, and flickered as it charged up before staying fully illuminated. Its slightly pointed tip pounded the ground; a mighty thump, but doing little to penetrate.
Ian felt a tickling sensation under the soles of his feet as the drill activated. It sent a shock wave beneath the earth, allowing the drill bar to sink a few inches into the soil. A series of shocks at regular intervals sent it lower each time, eventually reaching a measured line up the bar.
Deklin waved, dismissing the drill.
“Alright, Ian, you’re up now.”
Ian nodded and slipped the strap of his leather satchel over his neck before making his way over to the excavated spot. Deklin hired him for this specific reason. Ian had worked as a miner, and therefore had a detonation license. He leant on his side and reached down the newly made hole. Its sides scored his thick forearm. His fingers found the bottom at the extremity of his reach. He had to claw at the base a few times to clear away any loose soil before setting the charge.