I was still holding the photograph in my hand. I looked at it once more and noticed a peculiar graininess in the texture. Beemish must have noticed that I wasn't paying any attention to him, for he sullenly asked:

"What's wrong? Do you recognize something about the photo?"

I shook my head. "N-no," I said. "Or rather, I should say that the photograph strikes a chord of sorts. But we'll soon know. We'd better get to the office before the shift goes on. Payroll'll be made up tonight and he'll have all the sheets there."

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Johnny was in the supe's shack. I'd left Beemish outside, explaining to him that it were best he did so. Johnny was alone. I asked him what I wanted and he showed me the sheet. I happened to look through the window and saw Beemish's face through the glass. He was watching us. I smiled grimly at him and nodded my head to show him that I'd gotten what he wanted.

He was impatient, inwardly excited; it showed in the sudden jerky sound of his high voice:

"Well? Did you find out?"

"Yes," I said. "Funny thing, Sorensen's working on my shift and in the same stope. Of course we don't ask anyone their name, but usually somebody knows."

"So what do we do now?" he asked. "Tell you what," I said. "Come along with me. I've got to get things ready. And by the time I'm through, the rest of the shift will be there."

He was willing.

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We hitched a ride on a dump truck going back in number twenty. At the short branch I hopped off, picked up a couple of helmets and lamps for the two of us, got the lamps going, and started down the railbed.

We were about twelve hundred feet in. The air was still okay but I knew that another hundred feet, where the tunnel narrowed and made the turn toward the stope I was working, the air would become heavier, damper.

There was the sound of voices and feet coming toward us. I stopped Beemish and drew him back along some muck sheets along the damp walls. He grunted a sour something about his suit. Then the crew came along, their lamps making glow-worm lights in the near distance. They all looked curiously at the neatly dressed Beemish. A couple of them greeted me. Then they were gone.

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At the turn we clambered over two trucks lying empty on the tracks and started up the stope. Timbers blocked Beemish but I showed him around them and we came to the stope.

"It's a shame about your suit," I said. "There's a good bit of water seepage here and this muck's heavy with it."

"Must we come here?" he asked bitterly.

"If you want to meet Sorensen?" I said.

"Lead on," he said.

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Neural Network Novellas: Wanted - Dead Man #8