Part Twelve of my Free Serial

Breaking Ground is a Darkeningstone novella – it's a standalone book: a bonus story. I'm presenting it here in weekly parts. Each part on this site is tagged ‘breaking ground' so you can find all the published episodes easily. I'll add a link at the end of this episode. I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 11

2007

I slumped onto the sofa next to Dad, stretched out my arms and legs and yawned.

Dad looked up from his laptop.  “Did you enjoy your new toy?”

I picked up a cushion and swiped it at him.  “It’s not a toy.”

He chuckled.  “Only teasing.  You know what I mean.”

“Yeah,” I said.  “It was good.  Thanks.”

He smiled and went back to his computer, tapping at the keyboard, engrossed.

I watched him for a second.  I wanted to ask him something.  But when Dad was working on one of his “projects” it was best to leave him be.  I picked up the TV guide and idly flicked the pages, looking at the pictures, listening to the clicking of Dad’s keyboard.  But when he started his tuneless humming routine, I couldn’t wait.  “Dad,” I said.  “It would’ve been nice to…you know…find something else.”

He didn’t look up.  “Hm?”

“I just thought we might find some more bits from the plane, that’s all.”

Dad glanced up at me.  “I know what you mean,” he said, “but I suppose they retrieved as much as they could when it crashed.”

“I guess so.”

“You never know though,” he said.  He shot me a knowing look.  “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

I sat up straight.  “What?”  I said.  “Are you looking for stuff about the plane?”

“Not looking for,” he said.  “I’ve already found it – just now.”

“Show me.”

He turned the laptop so that I could see the screen.  “This is a Miles Messenger – the plane that crashed.”

I looked at the screen.  “So, is this what the old man told you?”

Dad frowned at me.  “Have some respect,” he said.  “And it’s not just him anyway.  I checked.  It’s true.  Look.”

He switched to a different browser tab, and the screen filled with text.  I looked up at him.  His eyes were alive with excitement.  “OK, OK.”  I put the magazine down and leaned forward so that I could read the page.  It was all there: times, dates, eyewitness statements describing the crash.  The plane just fell, they said.  It had just tumbled from the sky.  I shuddered, wondering what it must have been like for the men inside.

Dad pointed to the bottom of the page.  “Have you seen this?”

The heading simply said, Casualties.  I read the list of names, the pilot and three passengers, all dead.  I sighed.  What a horrible way to die.  “Go back,” I said.  “Show me the plane again.”

“Uh, hang on.  There you go.”

I scanned the images.  It was an odd little plane with three tail fins.  But I liked it.  It had character.

“And take a look at this.”  Dad selected an image, and as I watched, he zoomed in to the picture of the plane’s cockpit.  And there it was.  The altimeter was identical to the one we’d found.

“Wow,” I whispered.  “That proves it.”  A cold shiver ran down my spine.  It was all true.  The plane had crashed, men had died.  And what had we done?  Poked around and dug holes.  It didn’t seem right.

“There’s something else,” Dad said.

“What?”

He hesitated.  “Now don’t be disappointed.  I know you wanted to find something valuable.”

I pulled a face.  “What are you going on about?”

“When I was searching for any finds up on the Common, I came across this.”

Again, he switched to a new tab.  This was a report from a local newspaper, dated December twenty-first – just a few days ago.  The title: “Christmas Bonus for Local Farmer.”  I read as fast as I could.  A farmer, digging a drainage ditch on the edge of the Common, had unearthed two pieces of ancient jewellery.  He’d taken them to the local museum, and they’d brought in an expert.  According to her, they were from Neolithic necklaces or amulets.  They hadn’t been able to work out the value yet, but it was likely to be high.  The amulets were buried deep in the water-logged peat, and that had preserved them.  The expert said that, considering their probable age, she’d rarely seen such intricate carving and never in such beautiful condition.  And, there were two of them, a matching pair.  They weren’t just rare, they were unique.  Museums around the world were already showing an interest.

I looked up at Dad.  “Aw, we were so near.  How come we didn’t find something like that?”

“Well, it would’ve been nice,” he said, “but you know, we didn’t stand much chance.”

“Why not?”

Dad chuckled.  “Neolithic,” he said.  “Stone Age.  They didn’t have any metal for you to detect.”

“Huh.”

He ruffled my hair.  “Don’t worry,” he said, “you keep looking.”

I gave him a small smile.

“You’ll find something special one day,” he said.  “I know you will.”

—-

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This was actually the final chapter, although an afterword follows, and it will help you to get more from the piece.

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