Here’s the thing…
Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.
I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.
But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.
Once again there’s a new installment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.
The passage heading towards the marina was littered with fallen rocks, timber beams, and roofing material. Much of the damage was in this wing, where the marina had started falling apart.
It was a problem with the foundations. A long and costly investigation had found that the marinas foundations had been inadequately built on a shifting base, made worse by the seasonal water flow.
It was interesting to learn that the event that caused the start of the problems had not occurred in a hundred years, but had been noted in an early newspaper report, and only that it was a phenomenon,
No one at the time had any interest in building there, and it was understood when the navy built its marina, there was no mention of anything untoward happening that would preclude the construction.
And, over the life of the project, nothing had happened. It was why, when the mall was being touted, no one really knew anything about flooding because it hadn’t happened in living memory. That only came later, after the damage was done.
We reached the end of the passageway and found the stairs leading up to the walkway around the marina was closed off. Someone had pulled a board away and we could peer through the crack.
There was daylight beyond, and we could see the large cracks in the staircase, and along the walls either side. There were two sets of stairs up both at the end of a mall passageway, and, in between, there were steps down into the carpark. To one side of that was an elevator lobby, but the elevators would not be working.
But, just out of curiosity, I pressed the button. The light came on, but nothing happened, and, a second later, it went out again.
I looked up, but Boggs had not moved from the top of the stairs.
These steps were not blocked by a barricade, but there would be some difficulty stepping over masonry that had fallen from the roof, which now had a gaping crack and a few pieces of concrete missing. I could see the steel reinforcing and it was rusting.
A few years, all of it would eventually come down.
“You sure this is safe,” I asked.
“Been here a few times. I reckon it hasn’t changed much in years.”
He was looking at the map again, and I peered over his shoulder. The stairs were there but looking down we could only see as far as the landing. There were cracked and broken tiles everywhere, and the handrail had been bent severely out of shape by a boulder now wedged in the rail.
Boggs put the map in his back pocket and said, “Follow me.” He started walking slowly down the stairs, flashing his cell phone light ahead so we could see if there were any hazards.
At the landing, we looked further down the stairs, and these were cleaner. Also, the wall which kept the marina out had a crack in it, and it was damp which meant water was seeping in. The smell was of mold, and I wondered if that could be good for our health.
I followed him down to the first level of the carpark. In the distance, looking back towards the front entrance of the mall, way in the distance was the slatted entrance gates, light seeping in through the cracks.
Between us and those gates were several cars, crushed by a huge concrete beam that had fallen on them. I remembered, then, that there had been a husband and wife in one of the cars at the time and they’d been killed. Their children had been luckier, the youngest had to go to the restroom, and that minute delay had saved them.
Still, it would not be good seeing your parents killed in front of your eyes.
“This place is giving me the creeps,” I said and shuddered.
They said there were ghosts, and I now believed them.
“What are we looking for?: I asked.
“Evidence of the underground river.”
“That would be long gone by now, since they built this lot over it, and some of it falling into it.”
“We shall see.”
He then went down the next flight of steps to the bottom carpark, and I followed. There was less debris on this level, but it was much darker down here, and with only Boggs’ cell phone light, we couldn’t see much else.
“That’s strange,” Boggs said, having taken a dozen or so steps to the right.
“What is?” I wondered what his definition of the word strange was.
“There’s supposed to be an open section here where the wall fell away, pushed by the water flow last time it flooded. The report said that a section here wasn’t anchored properly with formwork, hence the ease in which it was moved.”
I looked at the wall. It seemed to be still intact to me.
Boggs pulled out a pocketknife and tapped it against the surface.
The false concrete chipped and fell away, and a closer inspection showed stippled plaster over plywood, very damp plywood. Boggs extracted a knife and worked on the wall, clearing a foot square, the damp plaster easily peeling away.
A false wall, one that no one would think twice about if they were not looking for it.
Boggs then scraped sideways until the blade hit metal, then he scraped around it until a gate-type bolt was exposed. It didn’t have a lock. It was rusted shut, so Boggs found a rock and hit it a few times, shaking it loose. He opened it, then tugged on it.
Was he expecting a door to open?
“Give us some help here.”
We both pulled on it, and it gave way, showering us in plaster pieces. At least we weren’t smothered in dust.
As it opened, light flooded in, almost blinding me.
I let Boggs open it the rest of the way while my eyes adjusted.
Then I tentatively looked out.
From where we were standing, we could see the two levels of the marina walkway, broken away at this end above the doorway, and a big hole in the side wall of what was the marina pool. We could see, and smell the seawater, and beyond, the ocean.
Looking down, there was a sheer drop of about 30 feet, and under us, there was an opening. At that 30 feet was flowing water, and through the water, I thought I could see clothes.
“Is that a body down there?”
It looked like one.
“No. Don’t think so. Someone probably threw a clothed dummy down there for fun, once when this was open. I’d say it was closed up to make the place safer. Anyway, we’ll soon find out. We’re going down to have a look.”
© Charles Heath 2020