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.


2. Prophecies from a Vagrant

The water this year was as high as ever, 35 feet deep in some places (due to the flood). We decided we would canoe to the town of Steeprock, within walking distance of the quarries. We had headed out earlier than I expected, and after an hour of rowing, as Ty tethered the canoe to the dock, I checked my watch. I was surprised to see the little digital numbers glowing 8:30 AM. After the canoe was in place and we paid the landlord of the docks a fee to hold our canoe there, we began to walk up to the hill to the city “center”. 10 minutes later, we reached the church yard where Ty and I had spent the failing years of our friendship and I had spent some hours under the large willow tree which stood in the middle with Ashley, sharing our dreams and a few kisses. We sat under the tree and I groped around in the pockets of my bag for the camera. As Ashley’s lips brushed mine she asked gently, “What’s with the camera?” I replied, “I think we should record these momentous next few days through photos.” Both her and Ty agreed it was a good idea and Ashley flashed her signature cute smile at the lens as I snapped the photo. After I was sure the photo was worth keeping, I zipped it back into my bag and said, “Okay humble adventurers, shall we continue?” They all agreed and we strapped our bags to our backs securely and began our solemn march to the quarries, about a 10 minute brisk walk from the church. As we walked I asked Ty, “So what did you see when you went down there?” Ty responded, “Well as I said I went in blind but I could feel. I felt cold, slimy cement and lots of mud and gravel, but when I picked up a stone and threw it I heard it tumble down and I think there is a rock slide of some sort.” With that, excited so as to see what the rock slide was covering we quickened our pace. Soon after that, we reached a bout of thick bush. Ty pulled the machete from the scabbard on his belt and began to hack through the bush, despite some of it being cleared from the previous night. As sweat began to pour down his face he said, “This is the bush you have to get through, that is probably why nobody ever found this place, it is almost impossible to see from the road.” I loved the idea of finding hidden places and so both Ashley and I began to flatten the leaves and tear trees loose from the sod ground. In only 25 minutes, the three of us had made it to a clearing at which, while humming to himself and putting his machete back in its scabbard, Ty began to climb the hill that had appeared before us. We followed, our shirts now sticking to our backs from the sweat, and in only five minutes we appeared on top of what appeared to be a house foundation as Ty exclaimed, “Here it is.” We walked over to the hole in which to enter and I realized getting in was not easy. I was picked to go into the tunnel first and so went in legs first with my head down. As soon as I had entered the tunnel the air around me turned wet and cold, almost cave like. Ty passed me my flashlight and I gently flicked it on in a burst of blinding light. As my eyes adjusted to the light, I noticed I was in a sort of basement filled in entirely with rocks. I crawled on hands and knees to the lower part of the basement and felt on the ground, moving some rocks until I found what I was looking for and I knew it was a wall. The “room” I was sitting in was actually a full sized room that had been purposely filled in with rocks. To tell the truth I did not care about what lay beneath me but rather it was the lower level of the barracks. “The rocks seem almost deliberately put there… but why, to hide something?” I asked myself quietly. I did some incredible mental math in my head and I figured out that in order to reach the floor of the barracks, which was indicated by a marking on the wall at six feet that we would need to work about nine hours if we worked at a steady pace. I checked my watch and saw it was only 11:15 and we could easily clear it today if we put our hearts into it. Satisfied, I snapped a couple of pictures of the area before clearing so as to be politically correct and then climbed out of the hole. Immediately Ty and Ashley came running up and I said excitedly, “Well I was right. There is a lower level and you can see both sides had been filled in deliberately, evidently to hide something. Now, I did some mental math and if Ty and I haul the rocks out of the room at a pace of 10 rocks for every two minutes and Ashley carries them out and dumps them in a bush (so we don’t look conspicuous) then we can have the room cleared in nine hours, which is sometime tonight. So let’s get cracking.” We agreed with energy, excited to get to the bottom of things, literally and quickly began to set up our work area. Ty tossed a few rocks from the basement and I began to lay them in a make-shift fire pit in which I put most of our fire making kit. Ty then began hauling rocks through the small hole by himself while I helped a struggling Ashley set the tent up. As I weighed it down with a few of Ty’s rocks, I looked over at Ashley and she said, “This is kind of exciting you know. We are on a treasure hunt; it kind of makes me feel like I am doing something that will forever change the course of the world.” I kissed her on the cheek and said, “Well that you are.” With that I stood up, brushed the dust off my hands and made for the hole while I saw Ashley out of the corner of my eye beginning to haul rocks. Just before I slid back into the hole I threw Ashley my camera and said, “Take a few pictures of the area and us hauling rocks out will you?” She winked and that was enough for me to be satisfied. I slid into the hole where Ty, already covered in sticky sweat, had piled about 25 rocks in the time it had taken me to pitch the tent. I knew at that minute we were going to reach our nine hour limit. We quickly got into a system of passing the rocks down so Ashley could dump them. We worked like animals; neither pain nor sweat nor hunger had deterred us from stopping when we knew we were so close. Finally, after what seemed like hours of zealous work, Ty passed me the last rock, stretching him arms to pass it to me and then climbed out of the hole above me. I had not been out of the hole all day and as I stood up from the hole and stretched my back I felt incredibly free. Just as Ty crawled out behind me, covered in sweat and cradling a dangerously swelling finger obtained from a falling rock, Ashley returned from the pit having dumped the last rock. She turned to us as she wiped the sweat from her brow and said, “Let’s go for a swim in the quarry lake.” Knowing it was 200 feet deep I asked, “Shall we do a group dive so as to further the bonding aspect of the adventure?” Ashley laughed and said, “After a speech like that all I can say is hell yes.” We all laughed and stripped down to our swimming attire and then began to tear down the hill at breakneck speed, heading toward the cliff which we were to jump off of. We neared the cliff, linked hands, screamed and then without a second thought we jumped. As soon as we had jumped I realized the jump spanned 50 feet and I screamed, “Holy shit break ranks!”  We all fell away, Ty and Ashley to the left and right respectively and me straight down into a diving position. I closed my eyes and prayed the angels look down on me, and my prayers were answered as I plummeted into the cool, deep lake in a spray of bubbles. I felt all the sweat wash off of me and I felt immediately rejuvenated as I let myself float back to the surface. As I bobbed there in the water, Ashley and Ty close behind I yelled, “That was amazing, such a good reward for our work today.” Only needing a dip we began to precariously climb the fifty foot cliff, looking for foot holds as we did. We worked our way up, nearly slipping in some spots but after a good few minutes we pulled ourselves up on the rock. I saw Ashley stand up and immediately scream and fall backwards back into the water. I looked back in shock as she plummeted into the dark water with a tremendous splash. Ty gave me the signal to climb up and see what was going on. I breathed heavily, sweat pouring down my chest and pulled myself quietly onto the plateau, and my jaw dropped. There standing tall and broad was an aged man with leathery skin and wild, hungry eyes that were hidden behind strands of grey straggly hair. The man wore torn jeans and no shirt and walked barefoot. I fought my urge to run as Ashley had and stuttered, “Who are you?” The man looked up, surprised at yet another human being as he obviously thought he had scared them all away. His eyes glinted with a tinge of sadness and insanity as he pointed at the hole and said surprisingly well, “I am the man with no name, I have come here to warn you that if you go into that hole in search of the treasures, of the treasures that the media has fed you, you may not return to see the light again.” I fought the urge to laugh at this man’s silly prophecy as I replied, “And why is that?” He was snapped back out of his memory as his eyes clouded with tears and he said, “My wife and I were similar to you, young and in love. We had been to many places around the world in search of military cover-ups and illegal treasures. We found the Treasure at Cocos, and we had only recently discovered two of the scrolls of Alexandria saved from the library before the Earthquake destroyed the city when we were told of the supposed treasures within this tunnel. We moved out here in a heartbeat, and one night we found a tunnel that we were sure held the treasure. We dug far too deep into the tunnel, many hundred feet below the ground we stand on, the roof of the tunnel collapsed and my wife was killed instantly and I barely got out because the roof that had collapsed sent the water of the lake rushing in and I nearly drowned. I am here to warn you not to go, this tunnel changes you and the way you think. I leave you with this; if you go down there you will see things you have never seen before, that will scar you for life.”  

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