Part Eight of my Latest 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.
Dad opened his hand and smiled triumphantly.
Squatting next to him, at the edge of the hole he’d dug, I squinted at the grimy round object in his hand and wrinkled my nose. More junk. “What is it?”
Dad stared at me. “Can’t you tell? Look closer.”
Dad held the thing out toward me. All I could see was a flat disc, coated in mud. What was Dad getting so excited about? I craned my neck to examine it more closely. There. Beneath the layer of mud, there was something. “What are those marks?”
Dad rolled his eyes. “For goodness sake,” he muttered. He dipped his find back into the hole and swirled it gently through the water. When he took it out again, it was clean and clear to see. “Do you see?” he said.
The disc was corroded, but most of the original black paint remained. And there, around the edge, the white and green markings were clear to see. “Yeah,” I said. “Numbers. Is it a speedo?”
Dad looked at me and gave a heavy sigh. “No,” he said patiently. “It only goes up to nine. Look.”
“Oh yeah. What then?”
“This is the key thing. This here.” Dad tapped the disc.
“All right,” I muttered, “keep your hair on.” I looked closer. The letters were scratched and scuffed, but I could just about make them out. “A, L, T,” I said. “What’s that, the brand or something?”
Dad sighed. “Everything isn’t a logo,” he said. “It’s an abbreviation – short for ‘altitude.’ It’s an altimeter, from a plane.”
“Oh.” I smiled as the penny dropped. “Of course.” I looked at Dad. “But what’s it doing here?”
Dad tilted his head to one side. “I don’t know for sure,” he said, “but it probably crashed.”
“Wow.” A plane crash. It wasn’t the sort of thing that happened so close to home. It didn’t seem real. And yet here we were, digging up part of it.
“Here,” Dad said, “take a closer look.” He offered it to me and, gently, I took the flat metal disc from his hand. I looked down at the altimeter’s scratched face. I’d seen ones just like it in the old war films Dad liked. I pictured the luminous hands that would’ve shown the plane’s height. Had those hands spun backward as the plane plummeted toward the ground? Had the pilot bailed out? Had anyone been killed?
I looked up at Dad. “What sort of plane do you think it was?”
He shook his head. “I’ve no idea,” he said. For a moment, he looked thoughtful. “But maybe, if we have another go with the metal detector, we might find some more clues.” He grinned. “If you want to, that is.”
“Yeah,” I said, “we can’t stop now.” I handed the disc back to Dad and jumped up to my feet. Maybe we’d find something bigger next time, something really cool, like a joystick. Maybe even some bullets. I grabbed the metal detector, and slid the headphones over my ears. I flicked the power button and looked at Dad. “Let’s get started,” I said. “And next time, it’ll be my turn to dig.”
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