River Hideaway

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
When he broke through the wall, he was surprised to see an opening filled with cobwebs.

Submitted: May 02, 2017

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Submitted: May 02, 2017



The Shepard family was looking for a second home in the mountains, and a river lot with a house overlooking the water sounded wonderful. Jim and Beverly Shepard drove up to the house on weekends and brought Tiki, the family Yorkie named after Tiki Barber, a player for the New York Giants for ten seasons. Tiki was left in the basement garage whenever the Shepard’s left the house. Each time they returned they found him whining and staring at the back wall of the basement. There were also scratch marks on the wall and floor, as if he had been clawing at them.

Jim thought he better do some research into the house and its surrounding community, so he walked down the river to Colson Miller’s place. Colson was a crusty old-timer who generally thought fish made better companions than people, as evidenced by his habit of spending half the day fishing and rebuffing most people’s attempts at conversation. Yet for some unexplainable reason, Colson had taken a liking to the Shepard family.

Jim knocked on Colson’s screen door, and when there was no response, he walked down to the river and found him fishing. Colson acknowledged his presence with a nod, then reeled in his line and walked to the bank. Sitting down beside Jim, he used the break to change the lure on his line.

“Colson, tell me about the history of these homes.”

“No mystery there. The houses were built along the riverbank by some big city development company looking to make a few dollars.”

“Did anything unusual happen during construction?”

Colson shrugged. “They had to cut back into the hill in some cases in order to lay some of the foundations, but that’s to be expected when you’re building on the side of a big rock like this.”

“What about the mountain? Any unusual history here?”

Colson stopped and thought for a moment. “I remember my grandad telling me that there used to be a mine around here, but I’ve never seen it.”

When Jim got home he told Beverly about the mine. Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of whining and scratching. Jim looked around. “Where’s Tiki?”

Beverly pointed at the basement. “I must have left the door open when I went down to the garage earlier.”

They went to the garage and found Tiki pawing at the wall.

“What is it, boy?” Jim asked.

Tiki responded by pawing even harder.

Jim decided he had finally had enough. Maybe an animal had made a nest in the wall, or maybe Tiki smelled something dead, but Jim was going to open up the wall and find out what was going on.

The next day he rented a mason saw and cut out a four-foot-square hole in the wall. When he broke through the wall, he was surprised to see an opening filled with cobwebs. Tiki growled at the dark expanse, and Beverly scooped him up and carried him upstairs, closing the basement door firmly between them.

Jim shone a flashlight into the opening, but he couldn’t see far. The cobwebs reflected the light back at him. He didn’t smell anything other than dank earth, and he was fairly certain an animal hadn’t been this way or else the cobwebs would have been disturbed. He had no idea what had gotten Tiki so upset.

“Do you think this is the entrance to that mine Colson talked about?” asked Beverly.

“Must be,” said Jim. “You can see the ground would have been flat along here. The builders must have used the shallow opening and placed this foundation wall over the entrance.”

“Jim? Aren’t there bats in caves?” Beverly asked, obviously concerned her house was about to be overrun with bats.

He chuckled. “Well, if it would make you feel better, the first thing I’ll do is put in an access door so nothing from out there can make it in here. I’m not ready to seal this up for good. I think Colson and I would like to do some exploring.”

Jim spent the rest of afternoon building a frame around the opening and installing a small door with a padlock. Afterwards it was time for them to head home, but Jim was already making plans to explore the mine with Colson when they returned in two weeks. Beverly had made it clear she wasn’t going to step foot into the mine.

When they returned two weeks later, Jim carried their bags upstairs while Beverly unloaded groceries from the car. When she was alone in the garage, she heard a knocking on the small door. She dropped the bag of groceries and ran upstairs to get Jim. “Jim! Someone is knocking on that door you installed in the garage!”

 “What? No way! I doubt that old mine has another entrance or someone would have found it years ago.” Jim grabbed the key and went down to investigate, but he did not hear anything. It seemed like a good time to explore the mine.

After a quick phone call to Colson, Jim gathered his best flashlights while he waited for his neighbor to arrive. Colson soon arrived in old grubby clothes and a banged up helmet with a light attached to it, all of which he claimed were remnants of his caving days. Jim unlocked the padlock and cautiously opened the door. His heart was beating fast as he turned on his flashlight and noted the cobwebs were still intact. How could anyone have knocked on the door without disturbing them? Beverly must have been mistaken. Maybe Tiki was just scratching at the door again.

Jim and Colson crawled into the dark, brushing down the cobwebs as they went. They didn’t have to travel far before reaching a room large enough to stand up in. The back of the room had marks on the sides where picks had dug into the dirt and rock. The floor was level, and there appeared to be the remains of wooden tracks leading to the back. The room was about fifty feet deep, and there was no one there. Jim could find no explanation for the noises Beverly heard or for Tiki’s strange behavior.

“Jim? Look at this,” said Colson, handing him a leather-bound notebook. He pointed to a ledge along the left wall. “Someone left it over there.”

Jim handled the notebook carefully so the pages wouldn’t fall apart. “It’s a diary of one of the miners who dug the mine.” He flipped through the pages, reading selected passages to Colson.


August 26, 1837 - Having won this 40 acres in the Georgia land lottery some years back, and then having to pay the Indians in order to open this mine, we have at last found a quartz vein that looks promising.


February 20, 1838 – Found out that the Dahlonega mint is now accepting gold. If we could only find enough gold to sell to them, we might be able to keep the mine going longer. Our supplies are running low, and the quartz vein is hardly producing any gold. We will keep digging for another month.


May 17, 1838 - The Indians are very upset, and there may be war. The government is rounding up the Indians for movement to land west of the Mississippi.


May 25, 1838 - Giving up the mine. There is no gold, and the Indians in these parts are threatening to attack.


There were other details in the diary about the mining operation. Jim would take it back with him to the house for further study to see what else he could find out about the mine and the early inhabitants of the area.

Jim shined his flashlight around the area for one last good look, and a bright flash caught his eye. Colson saw it too, and the two of them walked over to the corner where the light was shining. Jim bent over and picked up an old coin, and after rubbing it on his shirt to wipe it off, he realized that it was a gold coin!

He started laughing. “Imagine that! Here they thought there was no gold in this mine!”

In the following weeks, Jim started doing research around the period of the gold rush in North Georgia, and he ran across an old article about a bank robbery where the stolen gold was never recovered.

He thought about the gold coin he had found. Could it be possible that the gold was hidden in the old mine?

The next morning he found Colson cleaning out his tool shed. He expected Colson to laugh at his crazy idea, but instead he picked up a shovel and his old caving helmet and said, “Only one way to find out.”

They spent the rest of the day digging around the mine, and they were just about to call it a day when Jim’s shovel hit something solid in the soft dirt. Clearing off the top he realized it was not a rock, but a metal box.

The two of them carried the box to Jim’s tool bench in the garage, where they went to work prying the box open. They were speechless when they lifted the lid and saw bright and shiny gold coins, looking like they were freshly minted.

Colson thought about the display of gold coins at the mint that were stolen a few years back, “Jim, the old mint building is just not the same without the display of gold coins that were minted there, do you think we could replace the display with some of these coins? They would love that.”

“Great idea! We’ll let them pick out what they want, then we will talk to a coin collector about the rest, we can split whatever money they bring.”

Colson and Jim shook hands in agreement, and Jim had the feeling it was only the first of many adventures they would have together.

After the box of gold coins had been unearthed from the mine, there were no more sounds from the door in the garage, and Tiki no longer scratched at the door.

© Copyright 2019 Caverhubert. All rights reserved.

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