The Ghost of the Mines

The Ghost of the Mines and Seb’s Grave
By Bob Vahovick

Once upon a time, in the time of your grandparents or great grandparents, a stranger came though the coal towns. He was quite ordinary in most ways, wearing road-beaten travel clothes, and speaking with the tone of one from very far away. He camped on the outskirts and kept to himself, entering the towns as he needed supplies. Not one of the known local travelers, the townspeople were perplexed about where the stranger came from. Prompted by the townsfolk, one of the storekeepers once asked him where he was from. His reply was, “many places.” About that time, mysterious murders began to happen and people disappeared; the stranger immediately was suspected. The town folk grew angrier as the murders continued, until they drove the man from the town. The murders and disappearances ceased for a spell, but then resumed.

A girl named Honey burst into the Lantern tavern in the town where she worked, not long after the tumult had subsided. She was battered and told of a man who assaulted her near one of the mines. The tavern owner, Wolford, some staff, and a few patrons who knew Honey, took her immediately to the local elders, and she shared her story. One of the elders, a thin man known for his daring, declared time was being lost, and demanded they take him to the scene of the crime immediately. They lit torches and went to the place the girl described. There they tried to take the stranger into custody, but the man, declaring his innocence, fled into the nearest mine. The party gave chase and followed him to where the tunnels split three ways and they lost him. The party split up, posting Wolford at the intersection, but each group returned empty handed. At this point the story differs depending on the varying recollections. Some say the decaying supports near at the intersection gave way amid all the chaos, and the ceiling collapsed, sealing in the stranger beyond. Others say it was Wolford who kicked down the beams. In either case, it was decided that resources should not be wasted to release the trapped man. They went through a few of his discarded belongings, and found supporting evidence of his cruelty, including a document. One of the other elders from town, a woman who kept records and so could read, later revealed that the document identified the man by name: Sebner.

The murders and disappearances ceased after that, and the stranger was never seen again. Years later, that area of the mine was reopened, though no body was ever recovered. It is assumed the man delved as far as he could to find a way out, and perished somewhere deep and unexplored. Today, though no one knows exactly where Sebner may have perished, that area of mines is called Seb’s Grave. Miners speak of the ghost of the stranger who now haunts those mines, using whispers, sounds, and light to trick and confuse both miners and passersby. Seb, as the miners call him, lurks in the dark, stealing tools, throwing stones, causing collapses, and luring the curious deep into the ground to be lost, and flounder in the dark until their deaths.

Those who work the mines know they do so at great peril. Woe to those whose light goes out in the tunnels. Many of the miners wear amulets made with the hair of young girls, auburn or gold in color, similar to Honey’s, as tribute to her courage, and for good luck, and keeping Seb’s evil away.