The Story of Albert Jameson by Horace Brickley

Albert Jameson was a young man of indomitable will. He was a part-time adventurer and a full-time storyteller. The only things more fantastic than his exploits were the exaggerated tales of his escapades, which were first told, and first exaggerated, by none other than Albert Jameson. Everyone in Longmont had heard the story of how he wrestled a cougar on Haber Hill, or the yarn about his date with the Oil Baron's daughter, wherein he bested the “World's Second-Largest Samoan” in fisticuffs. His most famous story, however, is the one that he never got the chance to turn into a legend.

No man, woman, or child in town ever had the courage to enter the abandoned silver mine, not since the night a couple of lovebirds went in the night after a walkout strike on April 2nd, 1930, and never came out. There was a rescue group sent in to find them when their friends at school finally spit out where the young lovers were headed. That rescue group, of three hardy Texan silver miners, died when the wooden supports collapsed a few minutes after they entered the mine.

The mayor deemed the mine a hazard, and he forbad anyone to enter, lest they run afoul of the law and be hit with a hefty fine and jail sentence for trespassing. The mayor's handling of the tragedy earned him a second term, despite the fact that silver mining was the backbone of the small town's economy. After the mine closed permanently, workers had to go up to Dell City and work on the oil rigs. Fifty years of silver mining in Longmont, from 1880, which was the discovery of Silver deposits in Hudspeth County, to 1930, the year of the tragedy, came to a close over the loss of five people. Granted, those five people accounted for almost five percent of the marriageable population of Longmont, but the town conspiracy theorists say that it was the mayor's ties to the McCulloughs, the prime stock-holders in the Dell City branch of Standard Oil, that influenced him to close the mine and send workers up to Dell City. Whether it was the tragedy, the anti-union stance of the mayor, his alleged ties with the McCulloughs, or the Great Depression that pushed the mayor to condemn the mine is unknown, but it got condemned and not a soul set foot in that place from 1930 until 1953. Twenty-three years went by between the tragedy and when the stagnant air in that silver mine entered the lungs of Albert Jameson, which was, coincidentally, his age at the time.

Even at twenty-three, and even in the nuclear era of 1953, Albert Jameson, besides being a fantastic bullshitter, was one of the only young men in town that read anything other than the Bible. Albert loved horror stories and comic books, and particularly he enjoyed Action Comics and the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. It was from these stories that he learned how to tell a great story, and also where his sense of adventure was first sparked. It was rumored that after he read his first Superman story, at nubile age of nine, he ran through town picking up anything in his path and the throwing it as far as he could. Naturally, his mother spanked his pink ass to deep dark red, but the stinging smacks couldn't squash his lust for thrills. He ran away on a bi-monthly basis, and after the third or fourth time the town sheriff got tired of chasing him, and his mother got tired of reporting him missing. Usually Albert wouldn't be gone more than a few hours, but, as he grew into adolescence, the windows of time for which he was missing extended. When he was fifteen he was gone for a solid week, and that was where the infamous cougar story came from.

Albert's stories started off plausible: there were cougars in West Texas, and if a cougar attacks, the best option is to fight back. While wrestling a cougar doesn't sound like the brightest of ideas, there were stupider things Albert could have done, or claimed he had done. But the more Albert got to telling stories, the less realistic they became. First, he had encountered a cougar and wrestled it into submission. Two years later the story was virtually unrecognizable. Albert had wrestled the cougar, shown dominance over the feline which charmed the creature, and then it followed him around for the rest of week that he was missing from town. After he had grown fond of the cougar, Albert realized that it was indeed a wild thing, and wild things were best left in the wilderness, so he let it go. Given enough time, any story can go from truth to fiction.

As Albert aged, his stories started off more and more bizarre and implausible. The aforementioned Oil Baron and the Samoan story is just one such example of his more fanciful stories. Albert also spun many a yarn about the supernatural and preternatural, as if he was a character in a Lovecraft story. He had encountered a phantom in Sierra Blanca, tracked the infamous Chupacabra in Salt Flat, and he swore up and down that he held palaver with Sasquatch in the Guadalupe Mountains.

These stories of Albert's amazed the local children and the more superstitious locals, but they didn't endear Albert to most of his peers or elders. To most of the town, Albert was the charismatic fool with too many stories up his sleeve, but seldom did any person, young or old, stop Albert from telling his tall tales. Nor did any one try to convince him to stop going on his little expeditions.

Neither his closest friends, nor his mother, nor the citizens of Longmont had any idea that he was planning on going into the silver mine. In retrospect, they should have put the dots together, as he had purchased a pickaxe from the hardware store, and borrowed a bit of rope and a headlamp from his best friend Dale. Albert entered the silver mine with the help of his pickaxe much the same as he went on his bi-monthly escapades: alone and unimpeded.

When he got a few feet into the mine, and took in his first breath of that cool, stagnant air, Albert turned on his headlamp. He didn't want to alert anyone in town as to his whereabouts, since Albert was not on the sheriff's list of favorite people. It was unlikely that if Albert was caught that he would have escaped the fine and punishment for trespassing.

Unlike the warm and sticky weather of the typical Summer night in Longmont, the subterranean pathways of the silver mine were cool and the air moved downward into the dark passages leading further away from safety. After Albert made it past the part of the entrance that had collapsed on top of the rescuers, he searched the fallen Precambrian rock for bones and remains. He gave up his search for the morbid leavings, and he turned towards his fate and continued deeper into the mine. Albert was a courageous young man, but his mind couldn't help but wander to the unspeakable, indescribable, Eldritch horrors that lay in wait for him.

Inside his rucksack, Albert had a bit of Texas Toast, some deer jerky, water in a canteen, and a memo pad with a pencil. His memo pad was where he perfected his stories, and it was filled with improbable tales and mythical creatures. When the pad was discovered, along with details of how Albert met his end, there was a story of Albert tracking a Jackalope across Culbert county. It was a story he never told, but given the chance Albert would have fed the flames of the local legend.

Albert walked further and further into the mine. He looked at the walls of rock for any writings or marks that might have been left by the lost couple, and he shone the light of lamp intermittently on the sediment coating the floor of the cave. In truth, he didn't know what he was looking for, as he was only guided by a child's sense of adventure. Albert had matured physically, but his mind was rooted in the world of the stories he read and the tales he told.

All Albert could hear were the echoes of the snaps and crunches of the small rocks that he trod over in his worn shoes. He felt the cold sweat running down the small of his back and the old air that seemed to sit uncomfortably in his nose and lungs. He had been walking through the mine for half an hour, and he finally arrived at the dead end of the main passageway. Albert looked around with his flickering and slowly dimming headlamp. He saw nothing but the metamorphic rock, but he imagined he was in the lair of an insidious cult of demon worshipers. The thought would have scared an average man half to death, but it steeled Albert because he felt that only he, the brave and mighty Albert of Longmont, could save the lost couple, now middle-aged, or even spectral, from an eternity of damnation at the hands of this dastardly cult.

Albert quickened his pace and looked for the nearest turn in the cave. The rock wall opened into a narrow passageway to his left. Albert felt drawn into that section of the mine. He knew he needed to get to the bottom of this cult business, for the safety and prosperity of Longmont and the greater Hudspeth County. As he rounded the turn, his headlamp flickered again, and when the light stopped flickering it was dimmer than beforehand. Albert marched onward into the darker passageway. The silver vein was brighter in this passageway, so it must have been less molested by the years of mining than the main passageway. Albert imagined that this was a newer pathway in the rock that was cut by the miners prior to the strike in March of 1930, but the miners must have cut too deeply into the rock and disturbed the Indian spirits that lay there. Cultists from Dell City and Salt Flat must have moved in to the mine at night, during the strike, and set up shop. While the miners were away, the cultists did their evil work and desecrated the mines, and when the couple happened upon them, the cultists took them captive.

Albert was looking dead ahead, and after a few minutes of walking through this secondary pathway, and daydreaming about cultists and malevolent happenings, the path ahead darkened and narrowed. There was a small and faded flag in the ground next to an opening on the right side of the passageway. As Albert neared the flag, his headlamp flickered again. He turned towards the opening, and as he turned he placed his right foot too close to his left and the sole of one shoe caught the other and Albert tripped. Albert stumbled headfirst through the opening and crashed into an adjacent outcropping of rocks. His shoulder and hips collided with the unforgiving stones. Jarred by the sudden impact, Albert tried to correct his balance and he pedaled away from the loose rocks and fell into a pit. Albert was so caught up in his dreams of besting the malefic cult and springing the captive couple from their bondage, that he hadn't taken heed of the flag's warning.

Albert landed without assistance of the luck he had enjoyed for his first and last twenty-three years. His right tibia and fibula fractured upon his foot's collision with the floor of the pit, and as his body collapsed to the ground, unable to support itself, his left arm instinctively shot out to break the fall. Instead of the fall being broken, Albert's left hand was rendered useless. He passed out from the pain of the multiple fractures.

Hours later Albert returned to consciousness. There was still light coming out of his headlamp, but not much. Despite the excruciating pain it caused him, Albert turned around, so that he was lying on his back. He used the dim light of the headlamp to look at the mess he had gotten himself into. Albert had fallen no less than fifteen feet into a pit, and the way he landed had destroyed his chances of getting out. There was nothing he could tie his rope to, nor was he strong enough to pull himself up with one hand and one leg. Albert surveyed his situation for a time, and he tried not to look at his leg or left hand. The sight upset him.

He felt his injured bones sitting useless and fragmented within his skin, putting pressure on the surrounding, swelling tissue. With much pain, Albert opened his pack. He opened it not to get the water, nor the food, but to get the memo pad and the pencil. Albert knew he was doomed. He knew there were no cultists, and he knew the couple was long dead. They were crushed and folded up in some damned pit, just like he was, or they had long ago starved to death in this inhospitable place. Albert also knew that no one else knew he was down here, and they wouldn't know he was in trouble until it was far too late. They might not know for a couple of days, or they might not know for a couple of weeks. It was this thought that made him cry.

In that pit, with a twice-broken leg and a mangled left hand, pulsing with unending pain, Albert Jameson wrote his final story. He didn't scream for help, he didn't eat, and he didn't drink any of the water. He didn't try to claw his way up the steep wall of the pit in a futile attempt to save his life. He wrote with his pencil, until it became too dull to write, long after his headlamp went out completely. Albert Jameson wrote until he couldn't write anymore, then he laid back down and he stayed there until he died.

Two weeks later, Albert's mother got to worrying about her curious boy. She hadn't seen him, and she knew full well that he hadn't run off to college, nor had he run off with a girl, since he was such a queer boy, and no self-respecting Texan female would marry a fool like that. Albert's mother asked around town about the whereabouts of her son. Sixteen days after Albert had entered the mine, the dots were connected. The pickaxe purchased from the hardware store, and the borrowing of the headlamp and the rope from Dale were telltale signs that Albert had ventured into the silver mine, or some other nearby cave. After twenty-three years, another rescue group, mostly comprised of Albert's friends from grade school, traveled into the mine.

It took the new rescue squad three hours, but they found Albert Jameson's body. His memo book was sitting on a rock near his rucksack to the right of his body. After they took him out of the mine, Dale, Albert's best friend, got to reading Albert's memo pad. He read about the meeting with the Sasquatch. He read about the tracking of the Jackalope. He read about the encounter with the Chupacabra in Salt Flat and the phantom of Sierra Blanca. He read about how Albert went into the mine all by himself. He read about how Albert made a big mistake and tripped into a pit. He read about how Albert broke his leg and his hand. Last, he read about the story of the cultists from Salt Flat and Dell City and their captives, the poor lost couple, and then the writing trailed off.

Horace was born in Vallejo in 1984. His family and he moved up to Washington in 1991, and they lived in a heavily wooded area on the edge of a small town. There wasn't much to do out there, so he got to writing stories to entertain himself. He's always had an interest in writing, but he only started writing stories on a regular basis in the last two years. He teaches history and English, and is heading out to Asia to teach abroad this year. He keeps a blog of his short stories at