A story inspired by Castello di Brolio – Episode 4

Another story inspired from a visit to an old castle in Italy.  It was, of course, written while traveling on a plane, though I’m not sure if it was from Calgary to Toronto, or New York to Vancouver.

But, there’s more to come.  Those were long flights…


Another fifty or so feet along, I stopped at an overhead grill.  The metal was showing on the tunnel side, but on the other, I could see bushes.

I think I knew where we were.  This was where the road crossed a small bridge and headed towards the castle entrance.  It was on the northeastern side of the old battlements, and going straight under the road would take us to the eastern wall.

Whether we could get out of the castle there remained to be seen.

I took a step and saw Jack stop and turn around to look back the way we had come.  A moment later a beam of light came from the break in the roof of the tunnel.  Perhaps the man had decided there might not be ghosts in the hole.

I heard the man’s voice travel up the tunnel.  “Looks like a cavern of something.”

That something he might guess to be a tunnel.

We had to go.

I moved quickly in the opposite direction, into the dark, the sound of more rocks falling from the roof following us.

Another hundred feet or so we reached a wall, a dead end to the tunnel.  It looked to me that it had been bricked in the recent past because it consisted of house bricks, not cobblestones.

The surface was wet, and there was the sound of dripping nearby.

Jack sat on the floor.  Nowhere to go, for him it was time to rest.

We couldn’t go back.

I pulled out a knife and poked it into the mortar, and the blade disappeared when I pushed it.  The mortar was soft.

I pushed hard on the wall midway up, and it moved.  I decided it might be easier to kick at the wall, making it easier if it collapsed.

It created a hole about a foot round.  Further kicking made it bigger so that I could stoop down and climb through.  Jack went first, and I followed.

It came out into a clearing surrounded by trees.  Through the branches, I could see the forest on the other side of a paddock.

Jack once again stopped.


Jackerby and one of his men.

“I’m sure there used to be a drainage tunnel somewhere here.  Those men got into the tunnel yet?”

“Working on making a hole so they can jump down.  No long now.”

“Go back and help them.  I’ll keep an eye out here in case they find the exit.”

I heard the other man leave.

A minute passed, then two.  Then Jackerby said, “I know you’re there Sam.  I’m alone out here, and I’m on your side.”


© Charles Heath 2019

Are you keeping any secrets?

It’s a theme I have used in a number of stories because it fascinates me the propensity some people have for explaining the unexplainable, and actually, believe they have convinced the other person.

It works sometimes, but not everybody is prepared to accept their lies.  Especially when their alibi crumbles before their eyes.

Better not to have said anything in the first place.

Or, better still, don’t do anything that you have to cover up later on.

Or perhaps I’m turning a molehill into a mountain.

I’m suffering from indecision, one of those moments in a writer’s life where either you get on with it, take a holiday, start a new story, or finish another one.

I want to get on with it, finish it, sent it to the editor, and then move on, but I can’t.

I’ve written three different endings to this story and I’m not happy with any of them.

Over the last few days, I have taken a break away from it.  Every time I load it up and sit on the page where I want the end to start (a rather curious mix of opposites) it draws a blank.

Will I take it out with a ‘bang’?

Will I let a few of the secrets out of the bag?

Will I try to set it up for a sequel?

Wow!  So many possibilities.

The crux of the matter is relationships where people keep secrets from each other rarely survive, though sometimes it depends on how big the secret is.  In my mind, if I was the one who was thinking about keeping a secret (most likely impossible because I can’t keep a straight face) I would share it.

If it was my partner keeping the secret, I wonder how I would react.

It’s an interesting question and begs the question of how much of ourselves is woven into the fabric of our characters.

We can if we haven’t the experience of keeping secrets only guess at the outcome.  Or if we do, how much easier might it be?

Perhaps I’ll sleep on it one more night.

Back on the treasure hunt

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.


I never realized Boggs had this thing for treasure.  Seems a long time ago one of his relatives was a diver, found a wreck, and with it gold bullion.  He became rich, and the wealth in the family lasted till Boggs’ grandfather, who frittered away the last of the fortune on dodgy land schemes and supposed match tree forests in Ecuador.

It was up to him, Boggs told me, to restore the family fortune.

I couldn’t see how this was going to happen sitting in a bar that openly advertised treasure maps and an owner who was only too happy to tell the story of the Spaniard to anyone who’d listen.

The problem was, no two versions of the story were the same.

Whilst Boggs was taking in the fourth or fifth rendition of the story, I looked around at the clientele.  They were certainly more interesting than the treasure.

Mostly here for the sun and surf, there were two notable exceptions, and if I was to guess, they looked Spanish.

Or was it my imagination working overtime.

They seemed very interested in Boggs, from time to time looking over at him, and then muttering to each other.  Conveniently, they were along the path to the restroom, so I took a stroll, and lingering a moment near their table, I listened to the conversation.

In Spanish.

My Spanish was a little rusty but what I thought I heard, “Boy, map, find out what he knows, gold, and it’s in the hills somewhere.

The phrase, there’s gold in them thar hills came to mind.

But for the moment I think we had a problem.

When I came out of the restroom, the first thing I noticed was the two Spaniards had left.  When I looked over towards the bar, where I left Boggs, I noticed he too, was missing.

All of a sudden I had a very bad feeling.

I ran outside, just in time to see the two men bundling Boggs into the back of a car, and drive off.


That’s where I fell asleep

© Charles Heath 2019

What happens after an action-packed start – Part 9

It’s still a battle of wits, but our hero knows he’s in serious trouble.

The problem is, there are familiar faces and a question of who is a friend and who is foe made all the more difficult because the enemy if it is the enemy, doesn’t look or sound or act like the enemy.


My turn to put him under the spotlight, for a minute, then two.

“There are no optional questions here, Mr. James.”

No, but some needed careful consideration, like throwing the dead pilot under the bus.

“Roy, the pilot, was adding some hours to his fly time, probably looking for a promotion.”

“So it was not a proper sanctioned operation.”

Looking for a scapegoat higher up the food chain.

“You need the commander’s authority to go up, so it was sanctioned.”

“Then this commander could have ordered the pilot to fly into the no-fly zone.”

My thought too, but I wasn’t going to fuel his suspicions.

“For what reason, after all, it’s not called a no-fly zone just so people can write the words on a map.”

He didn’t reply.  I had thought he might tell me he was the one asking the questions.

He let me stew for a few more minutes, then, “You don’t seem to know much about anything Mr. James, whereas we know a lot about you.”

The ‘you’ he was referring to wasn’t just me, but our whole operation and what we were doing, which, of course, I wasn’t privy to.   Did we have a spy in our midst?

“One more time, Mr. James, can you tell me what the helicopter was doing in the no-fly zone?”

It was accompanied by another of those smiles, all-knowing perhaps, or trying to make me believe he did.  But the bottom line was if he did, he was not going to tell me.

Instead, the smile turned to a scowl.  “I do not believe you are as uninformed as you say you are so I suggest most strongly that you give up this appearance of innocence.  I shall ask once more Mr. James, and if you are not forthcoming, the matter will be out of my hands.  I assure you, you will not like the alternative.”

I was sure I wouldn’t like the alternative.

“The answer sadly will still be the same, so if you must, I’m sure I won’t be able to talk you out of it.”


© Charles Heath 2019

Who wants to go on a treasure hunt?

My mind will not rest.

Down here, it is summer, and the last few days have been rather hot, well, it is summer after all, but tonight it is particularly hot.

So, as I can’t sleep, I’m lying on the couch staring at the ceiling, otherwise known as the cinema of my dreams.

Where am I?

Well, the location is in keeping with the weather, hot, humid, and cold drinks are mandatory.


I have no idea where or when I got sucked into this game of searching for treasure.  Boggs had been reading some newspaper article relating to a Spaniard who had survived a shipwreck off the coast and had supposedly come ashore dragging his treasure chest, all that he could save from the sinking ship.

I think my priorities may have been slightly different.

Standing on the beach where Boggs believed the man came ashore, we looked inland at the coastal plain now overbuilt with holiday houses and apartments, behind that, some parkland, under threat from the developers, and behind that, the mountains.

I could guess what Boggs was going to say next.

“It has to be somewhere in the mountains, a cave perhaps.”

My map told me there was a mountain face for about 25 miles in either direction and rising to two to three thousand feet up.  I didn’t calculate the area, I just considered it big.

“If he came ashore here, dragging a heavy chest, and barring all of this building, he would take the most direct route inland.”

He pointed in the direction he thought the Spaniard took.

My eyes followed his arm and stopped at a beacon halfway up the hillside. 

That was a long way, pulling a heavy chest.

“Not up the hill, maybe, but somewhere along the base.”

“And don’t you think every man and his dog would have made the same assumption, and covered the ground already.”  The treasure hunt was beginning to bore me.

His expression changed, the sort that told me he might not have considered that possibility.  Boggs was like that, always thinking he had the original idea.

“Perhaps, then, a drink and more thought on the matter.”

We trudged through the soft sand to the bar just off the sand, a small place called The Spaniard.  A sign on the window said ‘Treasure Maps for sale’.


Well, the bar was air-conditioned, and the beer was cold.  I have one myself and see where this cinematic experience goes

© Charles Heath 2019


“What Sets Us Apart”, a mystery with a twist

David is a man troubled by a past he is trying to forget.
Susan is rebelling against a life of privilege and an exasperated mother who holds a secret that will determine her daughter’s destiny.
They are two people brought together by chance. Or was it?
When Susan discovers her mother’s secret, she goes in search of the truth that has been hidden from her since the day she was born.
When David realizes her absence is more than the usual cooling off after another heated argument, he finds himself being slowly drawn back into his former world of deceit and lies.
Then, back with his former employers, David quickly discovers nothing is what it seems as he embarks on a dangerous mission to find Susan before he loses her forever.



A story inspired by Castello di Brolio – Episode 3

Another story inspired from a visit to an old castle in Italy.  It was, of course, written while traveling on a plane, though I’m not sure if it was from Calgary to Toronto, or New York to Vancouver.

But, there’s more to come.  Those were long flights…


There were eleven stormtroopers and eight on Johansson’s group. One of those would be in the communications center, leaving, at worst, eighteen men out looking for me.

I also assumed that Jackerby would approach the search in much the same manner as I would, the men in pairs, as in one on one situations, he knew that I would have the advantage.

Four pairs would be inside, doing a room to room search, from the top down.

Five would be outside, one group in the center, one group at each of the corners, all working the perimeter, all in constant communication with each other.

In normal circumstances, I would be caught.

These were not normal circumstances.

Jack padded his way just ahead of me, stopping every few yards and both sniffing and listening.  At a junction he would stop, waiting, then make a decision which way to go.

I had to trust his instincts.

Just ahead of me there was a cracking sound followed by falling rocks and a shaft of light.

An opening in the roof where it was too close to the surface.

Jack went quite still.  Voices.

“Be careful. Or you’ll fall down that hole.  They should have told us the ground around here is on top of an old mineshaft.”

“Could be where they buried the bodies hastily before they left.”

The man was referring to the story the Germans had killed about a hundred of the nearby villagers and buried them in a mass grave near the castle.  No one had been able to verify the account, nor had anyone found any skeletal evidence.


“Let’s get out of here,” I whispered to Jack.  “The last thing I want to see is a ghost.”


© Charles Heath 2019