Sapper – a story adjacent to Cloverleaf

“Are you there yet?”

The only things George was currently happy about could be listed on two clawed fingers: he was underground, and when he was not digging, he was getting tolerable and semi-regular meals.

“You started me five miles away.  No, I’m not there yet. It’s only been three days and I’m not a miracle worker.”

He would have been politer – he HAD been politer the first sixteen times – but every time he had to answer, he had to stop digging.

“You’re an earth-Worker, though.  A mole. Shouldn’t this go fast for you?”

“It goes faster…. sir – master… when I can focus on the Workings.”

“Watch your tone, slave, or you’ll be digging with nothing but your hands.”

Then it would be years before their tunnel was dug. “Yes sir.  Of course.”

George went back to digging.

The work was not easy, but it wasn’t onerous.  He was, as his new owner had so clearly pointed out, a mole Change.  He liked being underground far more than he liked being in a slaver’s cage in the sun.  He liked digging.

He did not like that he was digging towards Cloverleaf.  George had a pretty well-developed sense of self-preservation, and Cloverleaf was not the sort of place you wanted to mess with.

It definitely wasn’t the sort of place he wanted to be digging into, not when you could walk through the front gate.

Of course, if he walked through the front gate – if any of the rumors were true – they’d have to free him, so he was pretty sure he’d never be allowed to do that.

So he dug.

And dug.

And dug.


“Are you done yet?

“Need a little fuel, sir, and some water.  Maybe two more hours until I break through.”

“You’ve been at this for weeks.”

“Are the weapons done yet?  Everything all set up?” He took the water that his owner handed him, despite the complaints.

“Almost.  When you are all the way through to the other side of the walls, stop and come get me. We’ll have to pull up all the weapons and be ready to go right when we break through.”

“All right, sir.”  George took the food he was handed – supplies were getting thin, but they still needed to feed their digger – and ate it quickly.

This was still a bad idea. But he hadn’t come up with a way out of it yet, and his owner was getting more and more impatient.

He waited until the man was gone, back to the weapons and the army and everything that was waiting for George’s tunnel to be done.

He kept digging.  Digging, digging. They’d been moving lower and lower down.  He didn’t know if his owner noticed. It was going to be a long climb up to Cloverleaf.

Still, he kept digging.

Two hours later, he felt the outer wall above him.  

Ten minutes after that, he dug into open space

there was a tidily tiled waiting room in front of him.  There was a sign on the wall, written in three languages.




George considered the signs, looked behind him, and headed left.

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4 thoughts on “Sapper – a story adjacent to Cloverleaf

  1. Yay! As I read it I was hoping George would find a way out (my lady thought before the room was that he was going to pop up, try to collapse the end of the tunnel, and quickly flag someone down).

    Now I’m picturing, “Hello? Is this where I go to surrender? Please?”

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