The path before them looked spine-chilling, but they felt compelled to move forward when they heard Harley's loud barks. Matty and Jesse proceeded ahead without knowing what was waiting for them.
Jesse was frightened when he suddenly felt Matty's hands on his shoulders. Matty exclaimed that he knew what this was, but he couldn't hide the nervousness he felt from his best friend.
The Dream Team
When Matty Griezman and his best friend Jesse Mason announced they wanted to be “treasure hunters,” they were met with skepticism. The 20-year-olds didn’t find it funny.
It was a serious ambition, and they were eager to prove to their families that this was a legitimate career. However, they still needed to navigate a tricky situation to get started.
Matty’s dad, Anthony Griezman, though young, was a successful attorney in the Oakwood part of Dayton, Ohio. Matty knew that convincing his father wouldn’t be easy.
The pair had pooled their savings but were still short for travel expenses. The young men were sweating bullets as they approached Mr. Griezman. The success of their plans rested with him now.
Matty Knew His Father
Matty had been the apple of his father’s eye since he was young. With the same dark hair and startling brown eyes, they were like inter-generational clones of each other.
Mr. Griezman had always expressed disappointment that Matty hadn’t followed his career path. Knowing this, Matty knew what he had to do.
Jesse was shorter than Matty and quieter too. Mr. Griezman would often tell him to “get a haircut.” Standing before him to ask for money was intimidating.
Jesse planned to push his hair to the side, hoping it would appear shorter. Matty planned to strike a deal with his father. Neither of them knew if it would actually work.
Mr. Griezman’s stern face stared at the best friends through dark glasses. The pair felt like 8-years-old having to explain how they had broken the patio window.
Knowing that his father wanted him to join the family business, Matty promised if they weren’t successful after three months, he would complete his law degree and join his father’s law firm.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Mr. Griezman agreed to lend them the money. The boys were ecstatic and wanted to start packing, but Mr. Griezman stopped them.
He had one condition. He was only giving them two months, not three, to make a success of this. It was their only shot now. They knew it had to count.
In record time, they bought equipment, and the arrangements were made. They touched down in Cologne on a bright day. Their destination was Bernau – specifically the southern area of the Black Forest in Germany.
A 3000 square-mile wooded paradise, it supposedly was the site of priceless WWII relics. After finally reaching the forest, the young men immediately encountered a surprise.
A New Companion
The friends spotted a black dog frolicking around. She was very friendly and clearly lost. The tag on her collar said “Harley.” Seeing no owners about, they let Harley tag along with them.
She turned out to be a friendly companion and had a great nose. Finding her would prove far more fortunate than the men ever imagined.
Harley seemed to know the forest. Before long, she bounced along ahead. Her keen nose was onto something, and she led the men deeper into the woods.
After some time, Harley began barking ahead. Matt and Jesse rushed to find her and stopped when they noticed something unusual. There was something odd protruding from the ground.
The two enormous pipes stood, sentinel and silent, looming in the murky afternoon. They protruded harshly from the ground, and their metal was stark and menacing against the forest backdrop.
A shiver went through Matty’s spine at the sight of the foreboding twin metal soldiers... guarding what? What secrets were hiding beneath? – They would soon find out.
They Could Not Believe Their Eyes
As the men studied the pipes, they realized these were connected to something underground. Their excitement was palpable now. After circling for about 100 metres from the strange metal periscopes, they spotted the concrete entrance -- a dark rectangular hole that was sunk into the ground at an angle.
It was hidden by a grassy mound of overgrowth and dead leaves and covered with a wooden lid. With boyish excitement, the pair got to work removing the lid with a crowbar and peered inside.
Suddenly, Matty shouted in alarm as a black cloud of flies buzzed up into their faces. There were stairs leading down, and there was an old iron gate barring entrance.
A sign menacingly warned “Betreten Verboten.” Harley took the lead, following her nose. They mustered all their courage, took a deep breath, and slowly walked inside.
It Was Scary
Following Harley, the men headed down the stairs and entered the structure. It was damp and massive; and its smell was overwhelming. Harley’s echoing barks ahead in the murky darkness became unnerving.
Unpacking solar torches and flicking them on, they were greeted with an endless hallway. Suddenly, Harley went quiet. Now, the silence was deafening. Matt checked his research and jumped up in excitement. “This is a Second World War bunker,” he whispered with glee.
Proceeding With Caution
Now, all Matty and Jesse could hear was the thump of their own hearts and their careful footsteps, echoing off the walls and down into the dark. Harley had gone strangely quiet as she went on ahead.
Jesse checked his phone for the time, and was annoyed to see the signal bar on zero. They had been warned by locals that there were rumors of live munitions on the site, so they proceeded very, very cautiously.
A Dream Come True
The strange pipes connected to some kind of ventilation system. Decades of overgrowth up top had kept them hidden all along.
The recent frigid temperatures probably killed the bushy areas to reveal them. It suddenly dawned on them: they could possibly be the first people to see this place since the second world war.
Into The Darkness
The corridor seemed to go on forever until they reached a junction. Jesse warned that they should avoid taking any unnecessary turns to avoid becoming lost. Matty shuddered at the thought of being underground in the concrete labyrinth, wandering for hours with no way out.
So, without another word, they walked straight on. Then, something on the floor caught Jesse’s eye – something green and shiny.
As they neared the shiny object, they saw what it was. It was a green plastic bag from a local supermarket. Matty grew uneasy. Who knew who – or what – would be waiting for them further on, down in the dark?
Suddenly, the long corridor turned sharply. They must be miles underground now. The claustrophobia was suddenly unbearable. The dank smell grew stronger here as the corridor widened. Jesse thought he heard something from the distance and stopped abruptly, placing his hand on Matty’s chest.
They both listened intently – there was a faint dripping sound coming from up ahead. There were marks on the wall that looked like someone had punched at it with a hammer at random intervals.
Jesse didn’t know why, but the thought of someone down here, swinging a hammer deep underground in a forgotten bunker made his skin crawl. They rounded the corner, and Jesse half-hoped it would be a dead end. But it wasn’t.
There was a rusted yellow door that had been ripped savagely from its hinges and cast aside, revealing a narrow doorway of blackness. The immense door looked like the door to a vault and had Cyrillic writing stencilled onto it in blood-red ink.
But who or what had done such a thing? And how? Dale’s mind traveled to every horror story he had ever heard. What awaited them behind the doorway?
They passed through the doorway and came to another corridor. Harley suddenly let out a loud bark. Matty slipped, sending waves of stagnant water to the far side to lap at the walls.
As he flailed, his wild flashlight beam revealed a dark silhouette of someone crouching on the far wall as he scrabbled to get up. Jesse swung his flashlight blindly in the direction of the figure, but it was gone.
A Dangerous Situation
Matty got up and ran back in a blind panic, taking cover behind Jesse. This room was completely flooded. To Jesse’s dismay, the flashlight revealed that the walls were made of heavy lead.
The water, now disturbed, rocked eerily back and forth, releasing unseen clouds of gas. They hadn’t expected to find these silent and watery rooms – and they hadn’t brought respirators. The air was growing thick, and the fright left them reeling.
The urban explorers had unwittingly stumbled upon the secret back entranceway into the subterranean depths of Lager Koralle, built in 1939 during World War II as a naval intelligence school.
Shortly after, the German Naval High Command moved into the underground bunker and transformed it into their U-Boat headquarters.
Away From Prying Eyes
It was here – in the middle of the forest and away from prying eyes – the rockets were stored, silently aiming at Berlin. The subterranean entrance was little-known, even to the locals.
The tales of live munitions had ensured that errant teens and curious children stayed away. What mysteries would the pair find there, waiting quietly in the ruins and decay?
Matty and Jesse were rattled by what they had seen. The silence and the sensation of being cut off from the world was taking a toll on their senses. This environment was ripe for their imaginations to run wild, so they had to try to keep them in check.
Was there someone down there in the dark with them, or had it been a trick of the light? Either way, they had to get out. The noxious gases that could be in the corridors also posed a threat.
Going Back The Way They Came
They tried to trace their way back through the black labyrinth, but their navigational senses were useless below ground, with only flashlights to guide the way through the tunnels that all looked the same. Jesse’s heart sank.
Then, he saw something wink in the corner of a waterlogged room – a glint that caught the light and threw it back. He kneeled down and felt along the stone ground until his hand closed on something flat and solid with rounded edges. He slipped it into his pocket.
They must have turned at a junction further along. The flooded rooms had been further down the long corridor, on a level that was lower by a step.
Jesse’s instincts told him to move in a westerly direction and try to find the junction where they had taken the wrong turn. But they needn’t have worried – Harley knew the way!
Hurrying up the steps and bursting from the bunker, Matty and Jesse rested their hands on their knees and doubled forward, taking huge gulps of the fresh air. It was night – they could see the stars shining faintly through the trees.
That’s when Jesse remembered the prize he had found. He pulled the object from his pocket and shone the flashlight onto it to take a closer look.
The object was heavy, and etched on it were some nondescript numbers that read 999,9. Then it hit him. What Jesse was holding in his hand was a 500g bar of pure gold!
How long had it been down there in the forgotten bunker, lying in the corridor and waiting for him to find it? They had to look for more. With their eyes on the prize, going back down in the morning suddenly didn’t seem so daunting.
Exploring the rooms, they found an unused mortar shell. Above ground, Jesse used his metal detector, which indicated a solid presence in the ground.
Digging around in the corresponding area below, they made the discovery of a lifetime. It seems the soldiers based here all those years ago had hidden historical artifacts inside the bunker's walls.
A New Career
They found more World War II relics and other historical artifacts (likely confiscated by the German army). They donated some items and sold the rest to pay back Mr. Griezman before investing in better equipment.
Their ambitions realized the best friends had no plans to ever change careers again. Never finding Harley’s owners, they decided to adopt the treasure-sniffing pooch too. In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.