The Rescue

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
An event in the past comes to a conclusion.

Submitted: June 01, 2014

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Submitted: June 01, 2014

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The Rescue_Booksie large.jpg

THE RESCUE

The three young men had been walking for several days looking for the most propitious area for mining minerals. They were in a strange land with an even stranger atmosphere. The mountains had suffered from very severe landslides since the dawn of time. The maps had to be continuously restructured in order to prevent those who would travel there from having accidents. Once, long ago, there had been trees growing on the mountain slopes, but nowadays there was no one alive who could remember them. The slopes were covered in earth and stones and not much more. Animal life was also at a minimum, and the few insects to be seen were ants and beetles. The whole area was desolate, and then there was always the wind.

The three men were Rudy, Chris, and Matt, who had met up when studying mining at college and had worked on various sites together. Rumour had it that the dry, dusty place where they now found themselves, was a rich source of minerals, and they felt the attraction of perhaps finding a mother lode of minerals and getting a name for themselves in the mining world. The journey up the mountain had not been without difficulty, and as the evening closed in, they knew that they would have to spend the night up there. Their four-wheel-drive had been left at the foot of the mountain, well out of the way of a landslide. They needed to feel that in a moment, if things got nasty, they could make a rapid escape. “We’d better set up camp here,” Chris said.

“Fine, but it’s necessary to find somewhere hard to make sure the tents don’t blow away during the night. Haven’t you noticed the wind never stops. We’ll have to anchor the tents down hard and fast,” Rudy responded.

Matt had carried the heaviest stuff up the mountain. Fortunately the route wasn’t too bad, although it was rather slippery underfoot with the earth shifting all the time. “I’ll light a small fire and prepare some soup and meat. The fire will have to be not too far away from the tents, so that we don’t need to rush back if a gust of wind breaks it loose,” Matt said, putting down bed rolls and going to a spot not too far away to build their fire.

The three men sat down in the doorways of their tents and ate and drank their supper. None of them was the slightest bit interested in the food, they only wanted to do what they had gone there for, and then go back, or go to another location in their search for a possible mine. The fire was dampened down and they got inside their sleeping bags. Outside the tents, the wind never stopped, blowing all night. As there was no animal life up there, there were no animal calls or other noises, and the three slept deeply.

A weak sun was shining when they woke up and went outside to make coffee and have breakfast. Their ablutions over, they decided to follow the map and see if that day would be more fruitful than the previous one.

Matt suddenly tripped over and cursed, “What in the blue blazes is that?” he said, pointing to a wooden beam sticking up out of the earth.

Rudy and Chris joined him. “Are you OK?” Rudy asked his companion, hoping there were no broken bones.

“Yes, I think so. Here, help me up, you two,” Matt said, clambering to his feet. “Take a look at that. What is it?”

Rudy and Chris stared in the direction Matt was pointing to. A beam of wood was sticking up out of the ground. What caught their interest, was that it didn’t belong to a tree, but had been cut and sanded down, therefore it had to belong to a structure of some kind. They went to their baggage and took out small tools that they used for digging when looking for minerals. They were unable to dig very deep, but enough to find out what might be underneath the earth’s surface. The main problem was, of course, the loose soil, and the wind. After they had been digging for a while, they understood that they had come across some kind of small building. As it was such hard going, they rang back to their head office to get someone to bring up some stronger tools for digging deeper.

“I reckon whatever is below ground, was once the entrance to a mine,” suggested Rudy.

“Whatever it was, we’ll have to wait till there are more of us to go down and see if there’s anything worth all the trouble,” Matt said, still wondering what it could be. He didn’t say that his ankle was still aching.

 

The earth was powdery. It hadn’t rained for ages and it blew around like a fine, dark-brown dust. Seen from above it covered everything. There was nothing that stood out individually of its own accord. When there was a gust of wind it blew upwards into the air, changing the landscape. Once again settled down, it hid everything beneath it.

 

The noise of a helicopter was heard, and the three men watched as it came down not far from where they had camped the night before. The soil blew up and entered their eyes and mouths. The pilot landed the craft and the door opened, the pilot and two more of their friends got out. Now there were six men standing on the side of the mountain, all carrying tools used for penetrating the earth. All of them were experienced miners and keen on finding a mother lode. They strode over to the beam of wood and began digging. After two hours they were able to discern the roof of a small shack or hut. Even so, they were very tired and the idea of digging in such loose soil was ridiculous and they knew it, so the pilot rang back to their head office, and informed the person at the other end of the line, that they thought they had discovered a small mining hut. The answer was, that the following day they would send better prepared people to the site. The three friends Rudy, Chris, and Matt marked the spot with coloured cloths, and got into the helicopter with the others and watched wistfully as the mountain and its secret gradually disappeared from view. The four-wheel-drive would be driven back by one of the other men.

 

News got around that something unusual was going on up in the mountains, but as no one knew anything much, the secret was still kept hidden, as it always had been. A few days after the young men had made the find of the beam of wood, a group of engineers arrived at the site and set about clearing it to find out what had happened, and if there was an old mine there. The men worked hard and steadily, and then went to tents at night to rest till the next day, when they would begin all over again.

The wooden hut came into view after four days. It must have been buried by the dusty earth for a very long time. But for how long? The soil around the hut was cleared away, making it possible to get down to the front door. The hut was in a fragile state and they were all afraid to enter. As the men cleared the earth away they could see the hut was leaning at a strange angle and not standing upright. They spoke among themselves and came to the conclusion that at some time there must have been some sort of a landslide. The windows had been glassless for ages and when they tried to look inside they saw only more earth. This confirmed their suspicions of a long ago landslide. The hut had stopped because the earth had impeded its progress down the mountain. Slowly they managed to get the door open and make a gigantic effort to get inside. It was so dark they had to turn on blinding torches to be able to see if there was anything except earth present. The men moved around very carefully, not knowing what might be under their feet.

Chris said, “Isn’t that a scrap of cloth just there?”

They all saw a piece of cloth, not very big, that looked like a rag lying in the powdery soil. Rudy bent down and shouted, “There’s a body here!” They all stopped in their tracks, and stood staring at Rudy. He pushed some of the earth back and their eyes fell on a skull with a hideous death rattle grin and the mouth wide open. One of the men said, “We can’t go any further, we have to call in forensics and find out what all this is about.”

 

Kim and Diana had been in the wooden cabin when it had begun moving. At first it was barely perceptible but very gradually it had gained momentum, and the cabin with the two women inside it had slid faster and faster down the mountainside till there was nothing to be seen through the windows - only dark, dusty earth. The cabin stopped moving. There was nowhere else it could go. It had arrived where it would stay. Kim and Diana were in total darkness, Kim said, “We’ll just have to wait till we are rescued.”

“I hope they don’t take too long,” Diana said.

The landslide had taken place in the early hours of a Thursday morning. The women’s main worry was, would anyone know what had happened. The sound of earth falling came to their ears, as well as the strong wind which ceaselessly blew the dried up earth around. Both women wanted to open the front door and windows, but that was out of the question, as the earth would have burst into the cabin.

 

The forensics arrived at the indicated spot in another helicopter, and carrying body-bags managed to get inside the hut. Rudy and his mates stayed outside the cabin, and the new arrivals went inside. The forensic team removed the earth from the rest of the skeleton already found, and then went on cautiously to see if there were any others, and if so, how many. The rest of that day was dedicated to clearing out the cabin of the earth and anything else of interest. A second body was found, and the dust was carefully cleared away from the skull, which, as in the first case, also had the grim death rattle expression. The two skeletons were placed into body-bags and gently taken to the forensic helicopter, and flown back to the laboratory for an in depth examination.

 

The three young men, who felt responsible for all that had happened, flew back to their base in the first helicopter that had gone to the mountain.

“It makes me wonder what they were doing up there,” said Chris, who felt puzzled by the fact that the cabin hadn’t travelled any further down the mountain but had stopped where it had.

“We’ll have to look up any information about the mountain and try and make sense of the cabin and the two skeletons.” Matt suggested.

The pilot added, “That particular mountain is not considered to be of any interest for minerals, in spite of you three believing it is. Those two might have felt the same as you, and went ahead with their plan to find a mother lode.”

“I suppose it’s a tempting idea to want to find such a lode and become rich overnight,” Rudy said.

“Has anyone picked up the pots and pans that were there with the two skeletons, and also any documentation that would help in identifying them?” the pilot asked.

“The forensics have taken everything they found, and we’ll have a look at it when we get back to base,” Chris said.

 

Back at the base, the material articles and the sparse clothing that had been found on the skeletons were all laid out on different tables. The main problem that the scientists had, was that everything was full of earth which had to be cleaned off as gently as possible, so as not to destroy what could be the only possibility of identifying the skeletons. The shoes were old fashioned walking boots, but it was still easy to read the labels inside. All the data that the clothes had on them was fed into a computer, which eventually would give them the years of manufacture, from then on it would be a matter of finding out the shops or stores that had sold these items.

In the room next door, the two skeletons had been laid out on separate tables. The two people in charge of looking after them had brushed them down as best as they were able to. Both skeletons had a full set of teeth which made it easier to fix their ages. There was still a fine layer of hair, and one had been a red-head and the other blonde.

There was another room that held many computers, full of stored information of the area from far back to the modern era. When the scientists had gathered all the information they could from the two skeletons and their possessions and clothes, they fed it all into a giant computer. They searched in the archives of old newspapers and discovered articles about the disappearance of two young women, Kimberly Smith and Diana Brody.

The recounting of how and where the two skeletons had been found, was then published in a local newspaper, asking if there were any relatives who remembered them to come forward. The question that the men who had found them asked was, why had they been there? In later articles more information was added, explaining that both the women’s fathers had been miners, which had inspired their early interest in following in their paternal footsteps. It was nothing new that the women had gone to the mountain in spite of its bad reputation, many others had done so before them. There was no information about the exact time when they had left and gone for the long walk up the mountain. The local citizens had heard about how the women’s fathers had always maintained that there was a mother lode of minerals up there, and pointed to the mountain as they were speaking. The news of the two young women disappearing didn’t remain as worthy of being a front page article for very long, and they were never mentioned again.

 

Kimberly had been going out with a young man called Scott Macmillan, who had tried to get a group to accompany him up the mountain to find the women. He was wasting his time, no one was keen on going up the mountain, and in any case the weather was getting worse, the wind was stronger every passing day, and the two women were left to their destinies. Only time would tell what took place up there.

 

Then the rains came for one whole month, turning the dusty earth into solid mud.

Local television and radio stations broadcast the news of the find of the two skeletons, with their names and the date when they would have gone to the mountain. Some distant relatives of Kimberly came forward, but in Diana’s family there were no living relatives in the area. As a result, the two friends’ remains were buried in the local cemetery, paid for by the authorities as a tribute to them. They had made the effort to go up the mountain, in spite of opposition, and without the help of anyone better qualified.

 

The case of the missing women was closed at last. Rescue had come a hundred years late, but it had come.

 

The wind still stirs up the earth on the mountain like a dark, dirty cloud, and there are still some who try to go up there to find a mother lode of minerals. The fate of the young women hasn’t made anyone give up hope. The ever-changing landscape is the only witness as to what actually happens there.


© Copyright 2017 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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