The Darkroom Mystery

Morgan, a young adventurer with a gorgeous girlfriend by his side, has it all. But his world is turned upside down when his friend tells him of a closed off tunnel deep inside the mine quarry only miles from his home. After much work, he and his freinds make it to the quiet mining town and despite a prophetic warning from a local, they enter the tunnel. The deeper they go, the more they realize how in trouble they are. Soon, they are caught up in a world of political cover-ups, treasure, greed and the unshakable predicament of death itself.

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3. Descent into Hell

With that and a slight bow of his head he went rustling off into the thick brush and I was left with a dumbfounded look and a deep thought. Ty pulled himself onto the plateau and helped a dripping wet Ashley up as well and I said, “That was the strangest man I have ever met. But let me tell you that his little speech did not discourage me from going in. We enter the tunnel tomorrow morning early, but we have to find some way to get in.” As Ty built up a fire and whittled the sticks so as to make hot dogs I wandered over to Ashley and said, “Do you want to go into the tunnel right now, maybe get a head start on the game?” She smiled and agreed as we went down to the hole, yelling to Ty of our activity. As Ashley slid in next to me I felt that cave like sensation washing over me. There was a staircase that led down into the lower room and we edged down it slowly, cautiously for fear of it collapsing. I quickly flicked on the flashlight and scanned the bare room that was surprisingly larger than I had expected, the rock that had previously filled in the cavity had distorted the size. We scanned the walls quickly and all of a sudden Ashley yelled, “Look at these.” I saw her standing there only two feet away from me, examining several hanging green lamps that looked as though they were meant for use in a photo darkroom. I shined my intense light into the lamp and read the etched out serial code and a date: 1938. This meant that the building was built and used by somebody, most likely the army during the heat of the Second World War for one reason or another. Unfortunately, the find was pointless unless there was a way into the tunnel, which appeared to have been blocked off and hidden. I turned to Ashley and said, “This means there is a way into this tunnel and it is in this room, this concrete is wet and soft so it will be easy to break through once we find a general outline.” We got down on our hands and knees and pawed the floor, wondering if it was perhaps a trapped door lost with age. After reaching into every small cobweb filled corner we finally accepted that there was nothing in the floor and so we moved to searching the walls. We ran our hands along the cracked walls, feeling for perhaps false wall made to look like concrete. Just as we were about to give up hope I noticed a hole in the wall in which the concrete had been disturbed and I yelled to Ashley, “I found something come here and help me.” Ashley yelled for Ty and then came to my side and examined the crack in the wall, outlining it again and again with her fingers, no doubt trying to figure out what it was used for and how it was filled in. Tyler joined us and said, “I figured it out, the government used this to hide something not test for nuclear weapons because if they were testing why keep it so secret and go to such great lengths to hide it.” We agreed he had a good point mostly due to the fact that we did not have any good ideas either. We continued looking for an imperfection or a way to get in until I felt an area a few inches to the left of the hole and it was hollow. I yelled in victory, “This is it, this is just hollow plaster, the rest is pure concrete!” I stood up and bored my fist into the plaster, pulling it away until there was a decent sized hole about the width of a man. I screamed in joy as we broke around the weak concrete around the plaster and soon had made the hole large enough for a man to fit through comfortably. Feeling victorious, hungry and tired we crawled out of the room and rolled onto the cool platform above. As Ty began to cook dinner Ashley and I lay there, staring at the sunset in awe and appreciation for God’s green earth. After about 10 minutes Ty yelled to us that dinner was ready and we walked over to the delightful warmth of the fire and began to eat, solemnly and in reflection for the days ahead. As soon as we were done eating I stood up and announced, “We got to get into that hole by daybreak tomorrow so I say we hit the sheets. Personally I am going to sleep under the stars tonight because I won’t be seeing those for a while.” Ashley and Ty bid me good night and went to sleep in the tent obviously intent on spending their last night above ground in a comfy sleeping bag. Although slightly disappointed, it did not deter me from enjoying my natural sleep. As I lay there on the hard cement, with my arms behind my back and the stars above me, a wave of sleepiness washed over me and I promptly fell into a dreamless sleep. The next thing I knew the bright and rising sun pierced my eyes and I wrenched them open and sat up, stretching my arms and legs to get the blood flowing back to them. As I walked over to the fire and began to nurture it back to its former glory and started on breakfast (a delightful pineapple crisp) I yelled in the direction of the tent, “Get up guys, we got a big day ahead of us!” Not seconds after I had said that Ashley and Ty stumbled out of the tent fully awake and lacing up their boots. As I finished up breakfast, Ty and Ashley packed up the tent and packed in one bag only the essentials, leaving the other stuff including the tent that we would not need tied up in a tree, away from bears. As we were leaving the pot, we ate right out of it and after wiping it clean we tossed it into the bush along with the other bags. Then we doused the fire, took one last picture, strapped the bag up, attached ourselves together with rope so we would never get lost in the cave, armed ourselves with flashlights and then ventured into the cave. As we hit the ground of the lower room, the cold air greeted us and nipped at our bare skin. We walked over to the hole and I bent on my hands and knees and stuck my head inside. Immediately the temperature of the air around me plummeted to a frigid degree and I could see my breath as steamy tendrils. I aimed my flashlight around searching for the sudden dripping of water in the distance but found nothing, but I did find that the area we were in was a large deep cavern with sheer cliff like walls. I directed my ray of light on the floor of the “room” and was met with pitch black. It was extremely deep as I had only just realized so I stuck my head back into the room and asked Ty to pass me a flare. He dug into the bag and pulled out the flare, gingerly passing it to me.  I immediately tied a rope to it which I had tied to the ground below me (the rope was 500 feet long so I prayed that it would be long enough). Then, my eyes on my watch, I dropped the flare. After three seconds I heard it hit what appeared to be metal with a clang. I calculated the chamber was 300 feet in depth and armed with that information I called the others onto the small ledge. I turned to them and said, “The floor of the chamber is 300 feet down there and there is something metallic, in other words it is something worth finding. Now, to make sure we don’t kill ourselves in the effort to get down, we are going to tie a rope to this hanging piece of what appears to be train track because it is the strongest stuff around. Then we are going to tie the rope to each other so if one of us dies we all die.” Ashley looked at me hesitantly but all the same agreed to go through with it as she tied the rope around her waist, hooked to Ty by a large carabineer and then to me by yet another. Since there was nothing valuable and breakable in the bag, which I did not want to bring down with me I aimed carefully and it dropped down into the pit, landing with a resounding thud. I turned to Ashley and Ty as they stood hesitantly on the small crumbling platform and said, “Okay guys this is it. We are all tied up here, I have tied this rope off to this wall climbing piece here, so we are going to rappel quickly down the side of this wall, letting our rope out as we go. As long as the carabineers don’t break we will be fine. Now let’s go!”  With nothing but a deep breath, I gripped the rope tightly, swung out momentarily and slammed back to the wall with my back to the inky black. I pushed off again, letting out rope as I did and I landed square on the flat stone ledge some 10 feet from my original spot. I was breathing heavily, both adrenaline and nervousness pumping through my veins indefinitely. Trying to sound calm, I called to the others to follow my lead and then I continued on my slow, dangerous path to the bottom of the pit. After 20 minutes, the lot of us were only five feet from the ground and so we decided to cut ourselves off from the rope. We opened our carabineers and the rope immediately tore out of them, and once all three of us had been freed and fallen gently to the ground they hung there, looking like snakes tempting Eve in the Garden of Eden.  As I flicked on my flashlight I turned to the others and said, “Okay here we go, those ropes should be there when we get back.” My flashlight had finally turned on and so I quickly scanned the cavern. It was quite large, with a railcar track and a railcar that was falling apart cutting straight down the middle. On our side was what appeared to be a guard post, and as I knew such posts had some indication of the army to which it belonged. I walked over to it, and after looking around the exterior walls I made for the door. After fiddling impatiently with the rusty handle I managed to get it open. I breathed deeply and beamed the ray of light into the room. It was a somewhat small room, with a little desk which had an overhanging lamp. I noticed that the single drawer had a lock on it that had been broken. I took it off easily and then opened the drawer. Inside was a gun, still as shiny as the day it had been placed in the drawer which gave me the impression that whoever was trying to reach it did not succeed. Now concerned as to why one would need such dramatic safety measures down here, I loaded it and gave it to Ashley who took it gingerly. She put the box of bullets in her back pocket and then I pulled out my Wolfe.44 and loaded it, slipping it into the back of my khakis. Just as I went to close the drawer I noticed the screws had been tampered with. I dug my fingers beneath the piece of wood and pried it up, unsettling the 70 year old dust. In the hidden drawer there was what appeared to be a file folder titled: Military Barrack E859J-12. I had a gut feeling that the barrack we were in was indeed E859J-12, so I flicked open the file. There were some papers that informed us this was a Canadian barrack and under subsection 12, titled commanding officer I read Joelle Paxton. For the next subsection the handwriting had converted from neat and elegant to messy and blocky and the subsection was titled: Status- Exterminated. A shiver ran down my spine and all of a sudden I knew why that gun was there, someone was killed in the fight to hide whatever secret was hidden. I turned to the others and said, “There is something missing. If he was exterminated then shouldn’t there be a…” “Body!” Ashley screamed rather impressively, finishing my answer. I spun around and saw her clutching her chest in fear and resisting the urge to vomit. I followed her outstretched finger and it led me to a wardrobe. Feeling nauseous I closed my eyes, opened the door and then opened them again. There, wearing a Canadian Army uniform was a skeleton! It had a rope around his neck and I noticed the right side of his face was pulverized. As its empty sockets stared out at me, mocking me and examining me I said, “What a brutal death, I wonder who could’ve done it.” I turned toward the door and was just about to leave when Ashley exclaimed excitedly, “Look at this!” I spun around and shined the flashlight in Ashley’s direction. She was standing next to an incredibly detailed map that was titled in the same messy handwriting: Railcar Directory. Intrigued as to where they all met up, Ashley and I traced all the railcar lines in hopes of finding a central meeting point. About a foot down the page Ashley’s finger met mine and we had found it. It appeared to be larger than the chamber we were in. I looked out the window and noticed that the main cart track which supposedly led straight to the middle of the chamber and I noticed that it was caved in, large boulders had tumbled in front of the entrance and blocked it indefinitely and I knew at that minute we would have to find another way in. I scanned the map in the light and after straining my eyes in my effort to follow the zigzagging tunnels until finally I found one directly in front of us about 50 feet. We packed up, throwing the map into the bag and then with nothing more than a second glance we stepped back into the cold of the chamber. We walked across the vast, empty chamber and entered cautiously into the tunnel. As we tested the timbers of the seemingly unending tunnel and we ran our hands along the walls, Ashley said absent mindedly, “Is it me or does the ground seem a bit hollow?” Just as I opened my mouth I heard a penetrating crack and I spun around startled. I watched in awe as the main beam supporting the tunnel cracked and began to fall toward the ground. I reacted quickly, shoving Ty out of the way and then moved to Ashley. Just as I gripped her shoulders I heard Ty yell, “Duck!” I spun around and the first thing I knew the beam had thrown us out of the tunnel. We landed next to Ty in a crumpled heap and I yelled, “Are we all right? Nobody is dead?” We all stood up and assessed one another; amazingly we were all fine despite a bruised rib and a few cuts. After I recovered from the incident, I grabbed the flashlight and aimed it into the hole where the roof tunnel once was. At first glance it appeared an empty chamber, an air pocket if anything but then I noticed it had walls. I scrambled on top of the rocks in an effort to get into the room and after a moment I gained a hand hold and pulled myself into the chamber.  I stood up and scanned the room with my flashlight. It appeared empty but one thing I noticed was the room had heavy tile all over the walls, intricately covering something beneath the walls. I walked over to corner of the room and flicking open my knife I carved out the grout. After that, I dug my fingers behind the tile and pulled it off, revealing vapour barrier beneath, rotted out from the moist atmosphere. I pulled it off and my jaw hit the floor and my heart jumped into my throat. Beneath the vapour barrier was a wall made of glassy amber! I was intrigued at this and decided to pull apart the rest of the room. While the others lay in wait beneath me I spent the next hour prying tiles of the walls and tearing into the vapour barrier, revealing more and more amber. As I pulled off the last strip I sat back and acknowledged my find, I felt like I was in heaven. Ty and Ashley, obviously concerned by the sudden silence yelled in unison, “Are you okay, what is up there?” I began to laugh in joy as I yelled, “A secret room, hidden for decades beneath the quarry. All I can say is we have made the find of the century. We are standing in the middle of a piece of history, lost for decades. We are in the Amber Room!” It almost felt surreal, this find was worth at least six million dollars and all I saw in my eyes were dollar signs and BMW’s. I helped the others up into the room and we sat in awe, bathing in the glory of our find. After taking many photos we dropped through the hole with the backpack and onto the other side, deeper into the tunnel. We walked down the long winding tunnel with baited breath, anxious to see what was in the main chamber. As we walked I said, “If that is the Amber Room back there then I am guessing this base was taken over by the Nazi’s at the end of the war. They had raided synagogues across Europe and were left with millions of dollars in religious and monetary treasures, including the Amber Room. The story is that they were sent all over the world which indeed they were but my guess is that after the German’s landed a sub in Newfoundland so the story goes they left, drove through Hudson’s Bay, inland to Lake Manitoba where they forced their way in and left all the treasure.” Suddenly, as we rounded a corner I spotted a light and the sound of running water was significantly more prominent. Excited at the prospect of what lay ahead, we walked steadily faster and moments later we were standing at the foot of the water source. The water source turned out to be a waterfall. I peered through the waterfall in an attempt to find out what was behind it. Ashley’s voice penetrated my mind as she said, “Do you see anything?” I peered through the wall of rushing water and noticed something: a shimmer, a glint! I turned to her and said, “I see great things, I have never seen that many shiny things.” Excited beyond words, I tossed the bag through the water and I heard something metallic roll across the crude dirt floor. I turned to Ashley with my eyebrows raised and then we all linked hands and with a deep breath we jumped to the other side of the waterfall.

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