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Flash Friday 20/05/2016: Tunnel Vision

May 20, 2016

“But dad,” Robin said. “What are we doing in this tunnel, anyway?”

“I’m glad you asked,” Kent said, leading the expedition with a flaming torch. The light shone against his aged face and round spectacles. “I’ve just finished digging this tunnel so that we can uncover the buried treasure detailed on this map. I’m at the very last step, so I thought it’d be a good learning experience to show you what treasure hunting is like.”

“I understand that, but why am I rolling this barrel of gunpowder?”

“Ah! That’s for the final step.”

Seemingly satisfied with his explanation, Kent fell silent with giddy anticipation as he walked down the tunnel, the soft rumbling of a barrel behind him.

“When we find the treasure,” Robin said, “what happens then?”

“Then, my son, I can finally start my life as a pirate captain, hire a motley crew, and sail the seas looking for treasure. And then when I die with a peg-leg and a hook for a hand marking my career, you’ll take over as captain of the ship. Would you like that, Robin? To command a pirate ship?”

Robin shrugged. “Rather be a baker.”

“Oh? Well, um. You see, bakery and piracy share a, uh, a lot of aspects. So you’ll love it, I’m sure.”

“Sure,” Robin said, sounding not entirely convinced. “One more thing; why did you dig this tunnel sideways?

“Listen, Robin. When you’re in the business of finding treasure, sometimes you have to do weird things to get what you want. The map clearly stated to dig down at the point it specified and then sideways, with enough room for an adult to walk down while ducking.”

Robin looked around the tunnel. “This must’ve taken you an awfully long time.”

“Yes, well. It’s amazing what kind of people you can make dig a large tunnel when you offer them a share of ancient Aztec riches.”

“Aztec?”

“Ah! Here it is.”

The light from the torch lit up a wall blocking the tunnel, its stone face cold and clammy to Kent’s touch. Kent stared at the wall, as if imagining what was behind it.

“Doesn’t look Aztec,” said Robin.

“Shh! Doesn’t matter what it looks like, now, does it? What matters most is what it is. If this map says what I think it says…”

Kent put down the torch, unravelling the map in his pocket. Peering at its contents, he nodded to himself.

“Yes,” he reassured himself, folding the map back up. “Sure enough, we’ve dodged all the traps and pitfalls of excavating the Aztec temple itself, and gone straight to the wall of the royal coffer where all the treasure is kept. Hence why we needed to dig sideways. Now all we need is to blow this wall open and it’ll all be ours. You see, Robin? Just need to follow what the map says, and they’ll never let you down. Now pass the barrel.”

Robin expressed doubt about staying in the tunnel while exploding a barrel of gunpowder next to a wall, but Kent felt that he had to be ready to jump in as soon as possible, else ‘someone else might dart in and steal the lot’. The amount of smoke that filled the tunnel after the explosion went off, nobody had to fear of anyone ‘darting in’.

“Alright,” Kent said, wafting away the remnants of the smoke. “Time to make our legacy, kid.”

“Hold on,” Robin said, pointing at the gaping hole the explosion made. “I can see torchlight through there.”

“That’s right, Robin. You see, the Aztecs were very intelligent people and knew how to make things such as torches that burn forever. Probably. Of course, the light might very well be said torches shining light upon the piles of gold in the treasury. All we have to do is get through this hole in the wall, and–”

The room Kent and Robin stepped out into wasn’t what they expected. There were metal iron bars along one side of the room, like a large prison cell. The place Kent and Robin stood, however, appeared to be on the inside of the cell. To the right, a group of scruffy-looking people were huddled in the corner, looking at Kent and Robin with a mix of both awe and anticipation.

“Hello?” Kent said. “Is this where the Aztec treasure is?”

“Holy smokes,” one of the scruffy men said. “Someone did it! Some idiot actually believed that bloody map! Let’s go, lads!”

With a cheer, the men rushed to the tunnel entrance, their momentum shoving Robin and Kent out of the way. Soon the room was empty, the loud cheers down the tunnel being the only sound.

Before either found the energy to speak up, guards stormed the corridor outside of the cell, aiming flintlock pistols at the pair. “Stop!” one of them yelled. “Don’t move a muscle!”

“Best do as they say,” Kent muttered to Robin as he put his arms in the air. “I heard their blow darts were especially deadly.”


838 words

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