It was the last thing he would have ever imagined finding at the bottom of the dark waters.
People snapped photos and spread rumors as the crew inspected the area for more clues. It was a 200-year-old mystery laying right before them – and he had a sneaking suspicion what it all meant.
Fontane hated the Paris nightlife. It brought nothing but rowdy drunkards and ridiculous tourists that only brought rubbish and destruction.
Having a specialty in engineering and preservation made all the problems around him stand out like a sore thumb. The worst was the canal. It was his personal pet peeve.
The marvellous, intricate waterway had been built by Napoleon to bring in fresh drinking water and easier city access.
But instead of a beautiful river, it was murky, slow-moving gunk not fit for even the fish living in it. So, when he got called in to head the draining and clean up, he nearly passed out with joy.
He had vast teams at his disposal and an even bigger budget for any necessary repairs.
Redirecting the water was the first obstacle, but he knew the worst part would be seeing whatever lay at the bottom. As the water levels lowered, and he saw what awaited the clean-up team, he wanted to cry.
Mounds of beer bottles, lighters, shoes, warped plastic containers, and countless other trash poked out from the mud.
Fontane wanted nothing more than to march up to every bar and hit the patrons in the head with the very bottles they had tossed into the current. But then, he saw something unexpected.
It was a glint of silver, something different than the rest of the mess.
They had already found two boom boxes, a toilet, a washing machine, fifteen shopping carts, and two firearms that had brought the police. The workers tugged hard and dislodged it with a loud squelch. It wasn’t alone.
Fontane cursed under his breath.
It was one of the shared city bikes that Paris had pushed through in an attempt to reduce cars and carbon emissions. It seemed several idiots had stolen many of them, only to toss them into the canal. The more they dug, the more of them they found. But that wasn’t the biggest thing waiting for them.
Miles downstream and they were finally nearing the famous, crowded Place de la Bastille.
Maybe if more people saw what was happening, they would start to care … and therefore care about their precious city. The green, slimy walls reeked of rotten fish and stagnation. Then, Fontane spotted something out of place.
A patch of wall was practically falling apart. Without the water and waste to hold it in place, it was now crumbling down.
Fontane let out a long, frustrated sigh. If they had done this decades ago, it wouldn’t be in such a horrendous state. He looked closer. It wasn’t a hole … it was a tunnel.
It certainly wasn’t one of the outlets or rain draining systems. It was old and made as if someone without any concept of engineering had decided to start digging.
But the Place de la Bastille came into his peripherals, he came to a startling realization – one that would need experts.
Not everyone knew what the Place de la Bastille was originally used for.
Before the Revolution, it had been the site of a prison. Even though there was nothing left, foundations still slept under the soil and 200-year-old secrets still waited. Months later, Fontane’s suspicious were proved correct.
It was an escape tunnel. The winding path it took away from the past penitentiary, and shoddy workmanship, strongly suggested that someone was trying to get out of their jail cell.
One part being much bigger than the rest of the system also told them something else that was very interesting.
It seemed that someone, or many people, had tried to expand the path but failed miserably.
Maybe past citizens or miscreants had dreams of secret tunnels and smuggling that literally came crashing down on their heads. Since nothing of value was found, besides a new history fact, there was only one option left.
Fontane frowned as a tourist tossed a coffee cup on the sidewalk. It rolled into their canal and the clean-up crew scolded the litterbug.
The repairs to the tunnel were well under way. They couldn’t have the roads caving in after all. The canal was starting to look like something respectable again. But he wanted one more change.
If he had his way, he would bring back the prison. Maybe a few days in a cell would make people think twice about being disgusting and disruptive to his fair Paris.
Even when the project ended, he was going to keep an eye on things. He wouldn’t let all their hard work go to waste.