Kevin was watching the couple from his spyhole in the ceiling. They had completely forgotten about him as they whispered fervently to each other while bending over a document. They seemed to be very anxious about something. He hoped it wasn’t his bill. He had spent too long in this ramshackle old house undoing all the wrong that had been done in the past forty years or more. He wished they would go. He was getting a cramp in his leg and he really didn’t want them to find out that he was above their heads all this time. He should have made a noise when they came in at the start. It would be more than awkward if they found him now.
They left the room after rolling up the page and shoving it into the filing cabinet below him. Finally he could stretch his legs. He eased his way across the tight attic space and lowered himself down through the tiny gap in the ceiling. Nobody ever thinks of the workmen when putting in attic openings he thought. Just as well he was thin and wiry. He jumped down quietly and went to the door to peep out. He could hear the wife putting on the kettle as her husband said goodbye and headed back to work. The baby swinging in the bouncer gurgled and laughed as he saw him peep out and Kevin smiled back at him. His curiosity got the better of him and he went over to the filing cabinet and pulled out the paper to have a good look at what the pair were so secretive about.
It seemed to be an old map of the site they were on. Nothing spectacular about that except for the notes and number markings along the side of it. What could they mean? He followed the numbers and found they led to a spot just where the new extension foundations were to be dug.
“Kevin, Kevin, do you want some tea?” the wife shouted. He shoved the map back in and came down the hall smiling at the baby bouncing up and down in the kitchen doorway.
“Indeed I do, I never say no to a cuppa, Catherine.” he said and smiled at her. “Cake too. Sure you spoil me.” he said as he sat at the table. She sat down across from him, hardly noticing him looking at her as she cooed at her baby.
“Did you know I’m a Diviner” he said.
“Really? Water Divining?” She turned around interested.
“Oh it’s more about energy. Everything has it’s own energy field, you know. For instance, you have gold in the ground of this house. I can feel it.”
“You are an intriguing man, Kevin. Gold, I wish.”
“Ah yeah it’s probably a thread of it very far down. Everyone can feel it if they try.”
“I suppose that’s why you are so good at your job. Currents and energy lines, same idea really.” she said absentmindedly.
“Are you OK?” He said. “You seem troubled.”
“Ah yeah. This build is just taking its toll on me, and I’m not sleeping. Tell me, do you feel vibrations all around because I do and it’s keeping me awake at night, suppose that’s more energy fields. Hey, maybe I’m a Diviner.” She laughed. He looked at her strangely and she looked away feeling silly for mentioning the vibrations. Her husband thought she was nuts so she tried not to talk about it.
She went quiet for a moment as if deciding on whether or not she should tell him something. Kevin waited patiently. She got up and went to the dresser, took a grubby stained letter out from the drawer and handed it to him to read. The writing was beautiful and the eloquent manner in which it was written was of an earlier age. Kevin read it as she babbled on about it.
“See, it says there’s something really important buried here. It’s marked on an old map that was with it. We found it today in the old office. Isn’t this exciting? Maybe it’s treasure or deeds or a big secret to be revealed. If you weren’t having me on about the divining I would say it must be that Gold! Do you see where it says” (She couldn’t resist deepening her voice for more impact for the next part.)
“If this letter is found before one hundred years have passed please do not open the chest. It must rest a while longer.”
“There must be something important in it. Oh Thomas will kill me for talking about it. He told me to keep quiet until we find it. You won’t say anything Kevin?”
Kevin was reading the letter intently and hardly listened to her. The baby let out a cry and she stood up to get him. Kevin went off out to finish the rewiring job, phone in hand.
When Fr. Reilly read the text he was uneasy.
“Chest found. Meeting Urgent. Need to stop the digging. K”.
The priest forwarded it to the necessary recipients along with “Hall at 8pm.”
Kevin soon received a text back.
“Meeting in hall at 8pm. Full attendance.”
The town meeting went on unnoticed by the newcomers to the area as the summoned few all went up the dark avenue at the back. It was so seldom used everyone forgot about it. Fr. Reilly sat smoking his pipe as the people spoke.
“It can’t be dug up. Curse that man and his writing. It’s only fading in people’s memories now that the old generation are gone and this pair with their big fancy ideas of an extension are going to bring it all up again. Knew they were trouble, just like the ould fella”
“Families are only beginning to heal. It was an awful time in our history. That Fecker is still causing trouble from the grave.”
“What do you suggest?” said the priest. “that we steal it? It is theirs after all, they own the land, they are descendents of him.”
“We have to stop it.”
Kevin watched and listened and said very little. The meeting went on into the night as they planned their strategy to get the couple out of the house while they dug the chest up. Catherine and her husband,Thomas, slept soundly in their bed.
Kevin arrived bright and early the next day and resumed the rewiring of the building. He was uneasy about the woman noticing the vibrations. It was too soon, he would have to adjust it. He had days of work left here because of all those stupid sunken ceiling lights she insisted on upstairs so plenty of time to get it right. What was wrong with the old fashioned one light hanging from the middle of the room anyway? Nonsense. Mind you, he was raking it in because of it. His vibration scheme got him lots in commissions too. Wouldn’t be long before they were selling. He had a buyer waiting for this house at a good price. Nobody would ever figure that one out because most people were too ashamed to mention vibrations except for Catherine today. Nothing embarrassed that one.
He had been told to keep an eye on the build and find out exactly where the chest was located so they could dig it up and replace it before the couple even knew what was happening. He had the replacement in his car. A battered old chest with some old, day to day, untraceable items from the local pub. Part of him was sorry for Catherine, she was so animated when she talked of the chest. That was why he had insisted on putting a gold brooch in so at least she would feel she found treasure. It wasn’t a cheap one either. He had to buy an antique one so as not to arouse suspicions. Fr. Reilly was not pleased about that one but sure wasn’t there loads of money in the parish fund and wouldn’t that be the end of it then.
While the young woman and her baby were busy with each other in the playroom, Kevin examined the map in more detail, snapped some shots with his mobile phone and sent them. He went out and checked how the build was going. The men were digging away. They were very near the spot in the map. The chest would be revealed very soon. He texted the group “It will have to be tonight” and went out and chatted to the men about irrelevant politics in order to slow them down. Sean, the local handyman, was one of the men and he would help him there. He was always ready to stop work and chat.
Catherine picked up her ringing phone.
“Oh hello Jane. Tonight? Oh I don’t know. We haven’t a babysitter. That sounds like fun though. Could do with going out. Here, I’ll text Claire and see if she is available. School night though. Still it’s quieter here than in hers so she might do it. Call you back in a bit.”
Catherine smiled to herself, she hadn’t been out in a while. She texted her ‘sitter and looked at the time. Nearly eleven, Claire might just see it at break.
She rang her husband and told him they were going out and had a ‘sitter. “Wow” he said. “That was quick arranging.” “I know!” said Catherine smiling.
Eight came and the pair got into the taxi and left for the restaurant with their new friends from the village. They were looking forward to the meal. It wasn’t often they were taken to dinner and certainly not to anywhere as fancy as that.
“Baby sleeping, it should be quiet for Claire. Is everything in the build secure?” “Yeah” grinned Thomas.”All sorted”.
While they were enjoying their meal, a group of five people were wandering in their back gate to the site of the digging. Kevin, Fr. Reilly, Tom the local publican, Oliver from the garage and Sean. None of them were ever usually together but on this occasion they were definitely a team. Shovels in hand they went over to where Kevin directed them and started digging. Claire watched them out the window, keeping an ear out for the baby.
It wasn’t long before they reached their target. It was an old gun case. They pulled it out of the ground and laid it down. The outside was covered in leather which was fortunate as it meant the wood and the contents were dry and unexposed. Fr. Reilly rubbed the dirt from the top.
“Well, we better bring it back to the presbytery. We can’t be found here. Kevin, put the replacement in and cover it up exactly as you saw it. Sean, help him.”
The two men did as they were told, both mumbling under their breaths as they didn’t take kindly to orders and they didn’t enjoy being in each others company for long either. Oliver and Tom went with Fr. Reilly back to the presbytery to investigate the chest. Sean and Kevin settled the site, nodded at Claire and left to join the others.
When the chest was cleaned down. Fr. Reilly opened it and pulled out two rifles, some boxes of ammunition and a list.
“Well, now” said the priest. “This is what we were afraid of. Let’s have a look.” The list was a comprehensive list of who had been given what arms and who was targeted. It wouldn’t take much of an investigation to find exactly who had killed who from this list.
They read down through it looking at each other. “Nothing there we didn’t know already” said Sean. “Indeed, but better it isn’t in the papers none the less.” said the priest. “We don’t want all that hatred rising again now do we?” They all agreed, each in their own mind remembering the stories they had been told as children about brothers against brothers and sons slaughtering fathers.
“Well,now, that’s that. Tea?”
“Have you nothing stronger, Father? “said Oliver as he sat down.
The next day, Kevin arrived to Catherine dancing from foot to foot over a hole with small chest in it. It was about the size of a jewelery box. She picked it up and showed it to him. The workmen were as interested as she was and watched while Sean and Kevin looked at each other. “We have to wait. Thomas is on his way. He wants to see it too.” She brought it into the kitchen.
“Funny I thought it would be bigger. I guess I wanted it to be treasure. Probably nothing much in it really. Tea lads?”
They sat and waited. Thomas pulled in the driveway and ran in. “Well, where is it?” He came over to the table “Well, open it, open it. I haven’t got all day.”
“We were waiting for you!” growled Catherine. She opened the box and took the items out one by one. A clay pipe, a pair of spectacles, an inkwell and quill, an old timepiece on a chain.
“Rubbish, rubbish” said Thomas. “All this over rubbish!”
“Oh look at this brooch, I think it’s gold.” said Catherine. “At least that’s something. This must be the gold under the house Kevin!” she laughed.
“That’s a bit of a disappointment. I thought with the 100 yrs there would be something there about the Rising. Some big secret we could reveal. What a pity. I better get back.” Thomas left and they all went about their business while Catherine fondled her new brooch.
That evening when the workmen were gone and the baby in bed, Thomas and Catherine sat down in the sitting room, wine glasses in hand, laughing as Catherine stroked the brooch on her lapel.
“Let’s watch it now.” said Thomas and he turned on the screen. They sat and watched the men on the screen digging in the dark and carrying the chest out.
“What will we ask for?”
“We’ve done nicely already, with the brooch and the free dinner” laughed Catherine.
“Sure send it to them and see what happens. Don’t forget to make sure they know we have a copy of the list. We might get this build for free yet. Make sure it comes from you. Best let them think I still know nothing anyway. I want to keep this brooch. Cheers Granddad.” She raised her glass to the photograph on the wall.
“Tell me, can you feel the vibrations or is it just me? It’s really beginning to annoy me. I’m not sure if I even want to stay here.” Her husband looked at her. What vibrations? He married an odd one alright. No doubt she was edging to move again. Neither of them noticed the silhouette in their garden walking slowly up and down with hazel rods in his hands.
” I like the story’s mystery element. The surprise finale ….. is clever. The final image …… is powerful………….A layered mystery with exposition nicely planned, plotted and paced. The double reversal at the end …. promising even more mystery was very good and it let the story live on beyond the ending in the imagination of the reader. “ Competition feedback.