He should have never dared set his feet into the depths of that cave. What had started as a little adventure, something to tell his friends about had quickly turned into a nightmare.
Now, with his heart galloping and with the inescapable darkness as his only companion, he knew it for sure: he had made a mistake. What could he do now?
When it happened, Anthony Watteau was 63 years old. He had recently retired from his job as a mines engineer. After years of hard work and an impressive career full of accomplishments, he finally felt like he deserved some well-deserved years of rest.
Besides, the last few years had been particularly tough on him. A number of events had left him depressed, exhausted, and lost in life.
Two years ago, Anthony’s wife Lauren passed away. He lost the love of his life, his closest companion, his best friend, and his soulmate.
She was there for him even in the hardest moments of his life, when the pressure of work and the black dog of depression, which Anthony had struggled with all his life, became too much to handle for him on his own. And that wasn’t all.
Anthony’s son, Christopher, was no longer as present in his life as he once was. The young man had finished college and was becoming an adult. He was facing his own challenges and trying to make way for himself in the world.
Anthony understood that Christopher had his own worries. He was well aware that, for a young adult, sometimes one has too much on his plate, which often can make it difficult to spend time with one’s family. However, this truth sometimes became difficult to come to terms with.
Anthony accepted that his son may not always have time for him; but still, this didn’t change the fact that he felt terribly alone without his wife and his son.
He felt like he no longer had a purpose, and his job had started to become a burden on his shoulders rather than a source of direction. That’s why, at one point, he took a drastic decision.
He decided to quit his job, sell the old flat where he used to live with his family, and move to a house in the countryside. After all those years in the city, he felt like he could use some peace and quiet.
He wanted to spend his last days in the middle of nature, away from the city’s noise and bustle. But that wasn’t all: he also had some plans for how he would spend his time there.
He was looking forward to devoting himself to the study of philosophy. It had always been an interest of his; but his job took up most of his time, and he had never been able to pursue it with the seriousness he would have liked to.
He felt like perhaps he would find something in those books that would provide some sense to his life; maybe he would find some consolation from the fact that, after years of being a good professional, a husband, and a father, he didn’t have much to show for it. Little did he know that he was about to find something very different.
Soon after he moved into the new house, before he started setting up his library, the first thing he did was take a stroll around the garden. It was a big one: almost half a dozen acres. It bordered a forest nearby, and it could have been used for crops if the terrain wasn’t so sheer.
During his walk, he discovered something he could have never expected: in one corner of his property, there seemed to be a door to an underground cave! This instantly activated Anthony’s senses: he knew that could only be one thing.
That actually seemed like a mine’s entrance. But could it be possible? The previous owner of the property hadn’t mentioned anything like that.
After doubting for a few minutes about what he could do, he made a decision. He would walk through that door, enter the cave, and find out what it was. If only he knew how much he would regret that decision later!
With just the assistance of the flashlight app on his phone, he entered the hole. Soon enough, he could see the wooden props and the rails laid across the cave. They looked quite antique; from the 1920s, probably.
Anthony kept venturing further and further into the darkness, inspecting the structures and wondering what could the old miners be digging for while the mine was active. But after a few minutes, something happened.
He realized he didn’t know where he was. He was so absorbed by his own thoughts that he lost track of his way through the passages. Now he was lost in those labyrinthic, subterranean halls.
He panicked for a minute, but he tried to keep his composure. Surely, with the help of the flashlight on his phone, he would be able to find his way out. But then he realized something which made him gasp.
His phone was almost out of battery! It wouldn’t last much longer. At that moment, Anthony became overcome by fear: he tried to dial the police’s number for them to come get him out of that pit. There was no way he would be able to get out by himself in the middle of that darkness.
But before he could make the call, he realized it was too late: his phone died before he could press the green button. Anthony was close to despair. What could he do now?
With his heart galloping, he kept roaming around the halls, hoping to see something in the darkness that would remind him of the way he took to get down there; but he found nothing.
But shortly after, he saw something gleaming on the walls. As he squinted his eyes, trying to get a closer look, he noticed what it was, and he instantly felt his stomach drop.
It seemed gold! But could that really be? He couldn’t believe how the whole chain of events unfolded. It all seemed like a feverish dream.
Despite his mind racing with all the possibilities and thoughts on what he could do if there was actually an abandoned gold mine on his property, he eventually managed to find his way out of the cave. He took a few minutes to catch his breath. Then, he decided what to do.
He decided to call his old colleagues and set up a project to explore that abandoned mine and extract the gold. For the first time in a very long time, he was excited about an engineering project. He hadn’t felt like that for the last ten years of his career.
However, there were a few questions remaining: why was the mine abandoned? Why did the miners stop their work even though there was still gold in the depths of the cave?