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 expression of Boggs’s face told me he was down here for a reason, and that assumption was proved correct when he started walking towards the middle of the first row of carpark.
He stopped at a pylon, surrounded by concrete blocks, tiles and broken bricks that looked like they’d been deliberately piled there. Light on, he went around the back and emerged with a coil of rope.
I knew then what his intention was.
“You not going down there. That’s too dangerous.”
“It was, once. Not anymore.” He tied one end to the pylon and then unraveled it as he approached me, then three the remainder over the edge.
I watched it fall, reaching the bottom, conveniently over a rock. The section that was over the side was knotted at intervals. Anti-slip knots. He had come prepared. OR had come earlier to prepare for this.
“You’ve been here before.”
“Several times. I was looking for a way to get down to below the second level carpark and would have found this wall had those overzealous security guards not come down at the wrong moment. Aside from that, I had to wait to do this with you, just in case there was a problem.”
“What sort of a problem?”
I think his definition of a problem was a lot different from mine. This whole scenario was a problem. Was he thinking we could get down, take a look at whatever he was looking for, then get back up again?
“The guards might come back while I’m down there. I might need you to pull me back up. I don’t know, anything could go wrong.”
“And yet you still intend to do it?”
He had a second rope, thinner, that I hadn’t seen till the other went over the side. He tied that around his waist, pulled on it a few times to check the strength of the knot, then looked over the side.
To me, 30 feet looked like 30 miles.
“Wish me luck.”
I simply shook my head and took the rope when he handed it to me, then, after a minute. Perhaps saying a silent prayer, he went over the side, hanging grimly onto the rope.
“Keep your phone handy. I may have to call you.”
Then he was gone. It took a minute for me to gather the courage to look over the side again, and by that time, he was almost to the rock. Two more knots, I saw his feet touch down. There was no moss on it, and it looked worn smooth from a lot of water over a long period.
He looked up at me. “It’s like a huge cave.” Phone in hand, he disappeared under the carpark floor.
A closer look at the gap he had just walked through looked like it once had a wall there, but it had been broken away, leaving only the skeleton of reinforcing steel under to floor lip. There were also traces of the reinforcement anchors drilled into the rock below. It was obvious the force of the water had built up like flooding into a dam, and if the pressure was too much, the dam wall broke.
Well, that was never meant to be a dam, just a retaining wall for filling upon which the bottom carpark was built.
I think we could now positively identify this site as one of the two rivers that had existed back when the pirates worked this part of the coast.
Boggs was gone for about half an hour, so I found a spot to sit down and wait. He signaled me by yanking on the rope.
I stood up by the edge and pulled the rope in as he came back up, then, after a few minutes, he clambered over the side.
“We have to get going,” he said. “I think we can safely say this is the first of the rivers.”
He untied the rope around his waist, pulled the knotted rope up, coiled them and put them back behind the pylon.
As we headed back up to the mall level, he said, “I took some pictures of the body in the water. It looked like someone had tossed a mannequin in there, perhaps back before they sealed off the parking area. That’s only been there for a few years, judging by the rust on the latch, and hinges.”
“And down in the cave-like area?”
“The river, now only a stream, but running water none the less. Where it goes from there to the ocean, is not necessarily a requirement to discover. I thought it fed the marina pool directly, but it doesn’t. They actually have a pump house and pumped the water into the pool which is why it had to be treated to keep it clean.”
So that was the odd smell that came from it. It had been a constant battle to keep the water clean and fresh and keep the fish in it from dying. There had also seemed like a child screaming at the sight of a dead fish floating among the water lilies.
Approaching the pond we both heard what sounded like a brick dropping on the floor, and turned to look behind us. It was like peering into the gloom of a foggy night.
Boggs shrugged. “Must be a ghost.” Then he kept on walking.
I might have agreed with him, by back at the stairs where we had just come from, I thought I saw a splash of bright yellow move very quickly out of sight. It could have been my imagination, but I also thought I saw a light for a second before it was extinguished.
Ghosts didn’t carry lights. Someone else was down here, perhaps kids exploring. Despite the hazard signs, that meant little to kids who had nothing better to do.
I waited for a minute so so, until Boggs flashed his light in my direction, and asked, “You coming?”
There was no more movement, so it had to be my overactive imagination at work again.
“Yep, coming.” I ran to catch up.
We quickly passed the pond and overgrown garden and made it back to the hole in the wall, with an hour to spare before I had to get to the warehouse and start my shift.
“Did you find what you’re looking for?”
“Yes. We’re on the right track. Next, we have to find the other river.”
We made it back to the bikes and headed back towards the town. On the way, we were overtaken by a van with Benderby Security Services on the side of it, going too fast, and nearly knocked both Boggs and me off our bikes.
In the struggle to stay on the bike, I happened to see the man on the passenger side. It was one of the two men who had been down by the pond, earlier. If there were any bodies down there, they belonged to Benderby. Good to know.
© Charles Heath 2020