This is a Friday Fictioneers submission for July 8th 2015. Thanks to Stephen Baum for the photographic inspiration.
Some of the men join in, tunelessly.Today, he finds himself not minding quite so much.
They turn a corner, and he falls silent but the men keep up their caterwauling.The foreman turns to look at Chester, perched in his cage.
“Canary’s fine,” he says, “The air’s clear.”
Chester doesn’t say anything, wouldn’t say anything even if he could. The foreman doesn’t know he’s been holding his breath.
As far as I know, the practice of using canaries as living carbon monoxide detectors was a reality in the coal mining industry. Why they opted for canaries, I don’t know. You’d think a nightingale would be more musical and an owl would be able to see better in the dark. If I’d been a coal miner, I’d have probably wanted to take a swan because its powerful wings would act as a fan and help keep me cool. Also, if I found myself in an Orgreave type situation, its famed arm breaking might come in handy, though I reckon most people would be scared off by its hissing. It might sound daft but I remember saying to my future wife at the time that the one thing which kept Billy Elliot from cinematic greatness was a dearth of swans. Though at least there weren’t any geese, either. I hate geese, me.
As an aside, I know it’s implausible that a canary would be anatomically capable of pulling off something like this, but I’d argue that all the singing might’ve improved his lung capacity. As to how he was intellectually able plot his revenge, well all I can say is that’s the beauty of fiction.