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Chapter Four



And so they continue walking deeper into the mine. This far in, no trace of light is penetrating from the outside, and they both walk with their left hand extended, fingers lightly tracing along the wall.

Jason, walking in front, moves along with the confidence of one long accustomed to being in such dark places, with Timmy following so close behind that his breath is tickling the hairs on the back of Jason's neck.

The noises begin again, seemingly closer this time. Jason, with eyes straining to penetrate the gloom, knows what those deep, grating sounds are, but does not want to tell Timmy and cause him to worry about Beth any more than he already was. Yes, they are indeed getting nearer to the source.

Timmy, bored and daydreaming about how he hopes this Sundays match will end, with him as the star runner, of course, doesn't notice that Jason has moved off down a smaller branch on the right, while he is still walking along on the left, tapping the back of his fingernails on the wall as he walks.

His fantasy has progressed to the point where Sherry Greeves is throwing her arms around his neck and giving him the "victory kiss", which is always the highlight of these matches, when there is a very loud grating noise overhead, and he coughs a bit as sand and bits of gravel sprinkle down from above. Sneezing with a muttered oath, he has only now become aware that Jason is no longer walking ahead of him.

He stops and turns, drawing in his breath to holler his friends name, but is unexpectedly startled by numerous "explosions", causing him to quickly cover his ears as the pressure builds in his eardrums.

With a pain that feels like it has broken ribs, he is hit by a falling chunk of stone, and knocked off his feet with his head cocked at an uncomfortable position against the wall. As he lays there waiting for the rocks and dirt to quit falling, he wonders if Beth or Jason will come looking for him. For surely he is now trapped in here.

After what seems to have been hours, but could have been no more than 3 or 4 minutes, the thunderous noise has abatted and he hears what is only bits and pieces of grit sifting down from above. He stands, feeling the soreness on his chest, glad that nothing seemed to be broken after all.

Knowing the shaft behind him is blocked, he can only continue forward. Faintly, at the very edge of his perception, it seems as if he can hear a note, pure and clean, like a harp cord that has been plucked. "Now I'm imagining things!" he rellects to himself. "Even think that I see a blue light ahead, faint though it is". Shaking his head at his own imaginings, he continues on, walking faster and more sprightly, though he has not noticed.

"Yes, there IS a light ahead!" He doesn't understand it, but he feels drawn towards what lies ahead. The note that he has been hearing all along, has somehow been joined by another note, this one slightly higher in pitch. But the new note seems to be closer by. Very close. Looking around he can see nothing to explain any of this. With a start, he realizes that he Can see! There is definitely a light somewhere ahead.

Coming around a bend in the shaft, the light has grown almost to the point of hurting his eyes, which are fully dilated, and he slightly lowers them as he searches for the lights source.

He sees a shadowed notch in the walls surface about 40 feet farther down and on the right, and hurries towards it, knowing that this is where the light emits from. The notes in his ears are louder now, and ?calling to each other? That is the only description that seems to fit what he is hearing. And he feels an odd eagerness to reach that notch.

He suddenly slows down, and covers the remaining short distance with a bit of wariness, not sure of Why he feels so eager.

Having finally reached the notch he stops and looks with wonder at what is laying on the stone shelf. It is a blue stone, about the size of his thumb. He can see no sharp edges nor flaws, just a clear smooth stone, slightly irregular along the surface, and shinning with a brightness that brings tears to his eyes.

The notes are much louder, and he is sure that one of them at least is coming from the stone. But the other, the higher one, somehow seems to be coming from "elsewhere". He can no longer resist his desire to touch the stone, and with a small sigh, he reaches out and lifts it from its hard bed of stone.

And screams. And screams. The screams go on and on. The stone is searing his skin, burning him to the bone. The notes have grown in pitch and volume, crushing him down with their force. All his eyes can see, as he falls to the floor, is the blue light of the stone, burning into his mind as the stone itself burns into his hand.

At some point in this screaming, searing inferno, the light has softened. The fire has cooled. The notes have grown muted. He strains to hear them, and realizes why one of them seemed to come not from the stone, but from elsewhere. For that one note, the higher, quieter one, is coming from himself. Now he understands the longing he felt. He was supposed to find this stone. But why?

He senses a tug from the stone, "tug?", and shifts his eyes slightly to the side, even though he is now positive that he is not in fact "looking" in the normal sense of the word, but "seeing" inside of his mind.

What he sees when he "looks" where the stone directs, is so detailed as to make it seem as if he is actually there. He is inside of a cave, though this one is natural in nature, and there are numerous men standing around in front of a small stone alter. They are dressed in woven skirts, and have many beads and feathers strung around their necks, and twined through their hair. They are darker of skin then he is, and their hair is light to the point of looking almost white. The 5 men seem to be of differing age, though none could be any younger than 40.

They seemed to be performing some kind of ritual, sprinkling a blue powder onto the hugh fire roaring beside the alter as they chant in words from a language he has never heard before.

He can feel a longing from the stone. As if it is wanting to "go" to this scene that he is watching. He sees one of the men, this one with a large blue feather tied to the braid at the back of his neck, reach up and take something from the stone alter. He lifts the object up high in the air, and Timmy can now see that it is a strongly lit blue stone, much like the one that he found in the mine.

He senses a feeling of satisfaction and approval from the stone. So this must have been an actual event that took place at some time in the past. But how long a time? For he cannot remember a time when people dressed like that!

The stone is once again communing with him, but this time instead of approval, he senses an overwhelming longing coming from the stone. And knows that the stone must return to this strange place that he is seeing in his mind. Not questioning where this place is, or even how he will find it, he feels himself trying to communicate his agreement to help the stone return to its home.

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Beth carrys the basket of wet laundry out into the backyard, and leans over to set it down on the ground by the tree where the clothesline begins. She straightens up and looks off in the direction of the mines, wondering what could have happened to her brother Timmy.

When Jason found her, swimming nude in the inner lake that had formed in the tunnel after the mine had been abandoned, he told her that he thought Timmy had been killed by the cave-in. That was 5 days ago, and the wake was scheduled for this very evening. But she did not believe it. Her brother was not dead. She could feel no sense of conviction like there had been with Billy.

She realizes that she can see someone walking down the road over there by the Miller's decrepit mailbox. There seemed to be something vaguely familiar about the slight swagger. Squinting her eyes, she could just barely make out the red and blue bandanna that her brother always wears around his neck. With a yell of delight, she kicks the basket aside and takes off at a heart-thumping pace, running to meet her brother, grinning all the while.

Upon reaching him, she throws her arms around his dirty neck, and hugs him hard as she can. Oddly, she notices that his chest is extremely warm. Warmer than a 4 mile walk from the mines would warrant. Looking up to ask him about it, she notices that her brothers eyes are blue. But his eyes are brown!!! How could they be blue now?

Before she can ask him any questions, Timmy unbuttons the top 4 buttons on his shirt, and pulls it open to reveal his chest. Beth gasps and with a trembling finger reaches up to touch the blue stone embedded in the skin of his chest, not quite believing what her eyes are seeing.

"No! Don't touch it!" Timmy warns. Quickly pulling his shirt back over his chest, he says, "I don't know what it will do to anyone else who touches it, and I don't want to see you get hurt."

"But Timmy! What is that?" Beth cries.

Timmy shakes his head, "I'm not exactly sure how to put it into words. But I was meant to find it. And I must help it to get back to its origins, where ever that may be."

With that determined set to her jaw that the family was so familiar with, she declares, "And I intend to go with you. You need someone to look after you."

Listening to the sweet clean note that he can hear emanating from the stone, and knowing that it would not allow any harm to come to him, he gives Beth a rueful smile and says, "Ok sis. But we have to hurry and get the supplies together. I get a sense of time being an important factor here."

"Supplies?"

"Yes, supplies. I also get the impression that the place we are going to is farther then the Millers house!" Timmy teases.

With a laugh, they set off at a quick walk back towards the house. "HEY TIMMY!!", they hear someone shout. And with a muttered curse, Timmy takes off at a fast run.

Beth, not as quick on her feet as her slimmer brother, is soon over-taken by... . . . . . .


Chapter by Angel™