In the wake of Leopold’s death, a note was left behind in his study. He explained, in what read like a confession, that he was going back to the place to where it all started. The hollowed cave at the bottom of the cliff.
A group tried to search for the body. But the haunting, hallowed darkness of the cave forced them to turn back, as they could not find a single thing. As a result, they boarded up the cave and plastered the warning ‘unsafe for entry’ across the boards.
Swimming in the area became off limits, and parents didn’t want their children to go anywhere near the cave. Though it didn’t stop the youth from making it a popular hangout. One where they would always sneak out to at night and tell ghost stories about their founding mayor, while gathered in front of the closed entryway.
That night, Daniel stood in front of the boarded up hole in the wall, which now looked like a manifestation of those years of ghost stories. Vague graffiti of a warning, damp rotting wood and rusty barb wire from the years of sitting beside the ocean.
He put his torch down and debated how he wanted to tackle opening the wall up. For him, it was an awkward situation of ‘is it going to be okay to yank this wood off with my hands? I don’t really think I want to touch it because of how gross it looks.’ So he grabbed a nearby rock that was jagged and flat enough to pry the boards open.
The rotten wood gave away too easy and fell to the ground, breaking apart at Daniels feet. He made a face of disgust as he dropped the rock and pick up his torch again, slowly inching his way through the cave.
The eeriest part about this cave was the sheer hollowness of it. The torch in his hand could not light the path in front of him, rather it was consumed by the darkness. It all sent a chill down his spine. Maybe he could have waited till day? Perhaps he should have insisted Theo to come along? A part of him wanted to turn back, but Daniel was so far into the cave, he couldn’t tell if the entrance was still behind him.
A whistling of wind and other unidentified noises slowly started to fill the air. Because he did not recognize the sound, he began to call out to it, thinking it would answer back.
“Hello?” spoke Daniel, with a faint and trembly voice.
“..Bonjour?…” came back and equally faint reply.
Surprised that he heard an answer, he spoke up again. “Is anyone there?”
and again, a reply came back, echoing through the darkness.“…Il ya quelqu’un?”
“Is that french?” He said a third time.
“c’est que français?” Came back. It was french, but it wasn’t a reply to what he was saying, It was what he was saying. But the cave twisted his words around to a completely different language and gave it back to him.
“Okayy!” he shouted, slightly annoyed with a language he didn’t understand. “…Bienn!” came back to him just as quickly. Daniel decided that keeping quiet was a better answer. He didn’t understand french, and he hesitated on the idea of bumping into someone he doesn’t understand in such an uncomfortable location.
He continued to walk forward as if he had no other choice. He thought about how surprisingly large the area was, as he was walking for quite some time and still haven’t found anything. He held the torch in all manner of directions; high above his head, low to the ground, as far ahead and behind himself as he could make it. Still nothing in sight but the ground he’s walking on.
Just then, a faint figure in the distance. A clump on the ground giving signal to the light of his torch. As he got closer, the shape started to resemble a human skeleton in tattered clothes. It sat there slumped over with a revolver laying in it’s right hand.
The body of Leopold Smith sat in front of Daniel, who was in awe of finding anything in this forsaken darkness. The once expensive suit, now shambled from dried blood, dirt and cobwebs. Nothing else on him for anyone to find.
For Daniel, it was a sign that he must be getting somewhere. He surveyed the area for a clue on where he should go next. to the right of him was the first indication of an actual path to take. All along the side of a wall, was a stone walkway that made it’s way down. A safe bet on where to go next as it appeared to be the only way down, unless he didn’t mind the 40 meter drop off that was in front of him in other directions.
Daniel continued onward, down the path. Hugging the wall, not out of fear but because it was physically there and he felt comfort in brushing his hand against it. As if he felt finally free of the darknesses grasp.
While on the way down he noticed strange things about this path. Steps, moulded by the stone, were starting to take shape. Holsters for torches were attached to the wall beside him. Were people here before? Were they making a home down here?
More environment was starting to take shape. He could start to see ground below. A gigantic mound of dirt and coffins stick out every which way. Relief overcame him, which quickly turned into reservation. He found He wasn’t the only one down here, as all manner of torches, and lanterns were illuminating some sort of operation.
Daniel hugged the wall tighter, as he saw figured poking out of the mound, grabbing coffins and taking them down. getting orders barked as they open up each casket looking for something.
He put his torch down as he made it to the bottom of the steps. That suspicious activity did not want to get noticed. He ducked behind some stalagmite to get a closer look.
A handful of the figures looked like gruff, hardened men. With each coffin they looked in, they either put them off to the side or carried them onto a nearby ship. A woman sat at a table with parchment and quill, taking note of the contents within every coffin. They behaved like graverobbers that have done this too many time before.
‘What were pirates doing down here?’ he thought. A strange coincidence if anything. He assumed that they must have been there for a completely different reason, but are banking on the convenience of all these discarded bodies.
The next coffin they were digging out caught his attention. The dark coffin with gold trimmings that his uncle was buried in. He gasped now thinking that he had to do something before they took his uncle away, and he’d be on an even longer wild goose chase.
He watched as they presented the coffin to the woman. Maybe there’s a chance that the coffin would be discarded, and there was nothing of importance inside? She examined the contents and pointed towards the ship. Disappointed that his uncle is now cargo, yet it didn’t surprise him that a man with such expensive taste, would be buried with any assortment of gold or jewelry.
He had to think of a plan. What he going to jump out in front of everyone and ask for his uncle back? No, they don’t seem like the type that would talk it over. Could he fight them off with a torch? Daniel was far too outnumbered for that to work. His best bet was to sit it out and wait for them to finish.
He figured that if he waited for all the pirates to finish looting, and gather back onto the ship. He would take that as an opportunity to sneak aboard and find his uncle’s coffin. He did have serious doubts that it was even going to work but in these types of situations he’s willing to try.
But while he was thinking of his plan of action, there were things that he failed to notice. He failed to see one of the pirates take the woman aside and whisper something. He failed to see them look in his direction. He failed to pay attention to the slight halt of production, and he certainly didn’t notice as one quietly snuck behind him and knocked him out cold.
If he was ever in a situation where overthinking was a problem, this was definitely it.