Opa was grumbling around the house, wandering from room to room. “Oma, have you seen my keys?”
She laughed, “I was wondering what you were doing, going ‘round and ‘round the house. No I haven’t seen them, have you asked Marbles.”
At the sound of her name, Marbles got up from her nap and stretched, doing a perfect downward dog. She walked over to Oma and waited.
“Marbles,” said Oma, “Opa has lost his keys, please find them.”
Marbles nose started to twitch and she hunted for the scent. She went to the key bin by the window and then walked over to Opa, sitting in from of him, wagging her tail.
“Keys are in your pocket” said Oma. Her warm laughter filled the room. “Good job Marbles.”
Opa rubbed Marbles on her neck, “Thanks Marbles, another mystery solved.”
Just then, Opa’s cell phone rang. It was from Toby, his grandson.
“Opa, something is happening under the Cowichan Valley. Earthquakes Canada is reporting a series of tremors beneath the valley floor. They seem to be centred below Mt. T’zouhalem and are less than magnitude one.”
Opa’s face reddened. “That’s where the last sightings of Evil Fawn were reported, where that fawn tricked me and caught me in my own trap. He must be up to something else. I had better go check it out. Do you want to come along Toby?”
“I don’t think so, I had better stay here and monitor what’s happening. I just added some more Raspberry Pi’s to my supercomputer and want to make sure it’s stable.”
“How many Pi’s is that now?”
“Two hundred and fifty six.”
“Wow, that’s cool. Okay. I am going to take Marbles up the mountain and see what she can sniff out. She has such a good nose.”
“Don’t forget your back pack, I’ve added more tricks to it.”
“Will do. Call you when I get to the cross.”
Marbles and Opa drove down Mt. T’zouhalem Road, past Providence Farm and parked close to Saint Ann’s Church. They walked through forest till they reached the mountain and then it was a steep climb to the cross. Marbles was off leash, sniffing through the brush, running everywhere she went. Opa was breathing hard, complaining about the climb. A young couple, coming down from the top, stopped and asked Opa if he was doing okay?
“I’m fine. Just forgot how steep this trail is. I’ll go slower and make it up to the top.”
“Be careful when you get to the top. The cliffs are dangerous.”
Opa just nodded and continued up the trail, Marbles stayed close, the rich forest scent giving her nose an interesting bouquet. When they reached the cross, Opa gave Toby a call.
“Anything new to report?”
“No, Opa, the tremors are continuing, about one every half hour. Have you felt anything?”
“Not a thing. Can you give me a better location to start searching. This mountain is big. Sure wish I had packed some water. I am so thirsty.”
“The tremors are coming from underneath the highest spot on the mountain. Just follow the trails along the top of the cliffs and see what you find. Marbles should discover something. Oh, can you reach into the backpack and pull out the first thing you touch?”
Opa reached in and pulled out a metal bottle, full of water. He drank some then poured water into a cupped hand for Marbles to drink. “Thanks, Toby, at least you were thinking.”
As they continued their hike, two Ravens followed them, sometimes high above, sometimes along side, seeming to float in the up draft that came from along the cliffs. They warbled and cawed, sometimes sounding like a gong, other times sounding like laughter.
Opa called Toby. “Those two ravens are back and I swear they are keeping on eye on us. And something else strange, I sometimes see glimmers of something shiny in the brush. When I go to check it out, I can’t find anything. I’m not sure I can trust my eyes.”
“Reach into the backpack and tell me what you pull out.”
“Hey, this is cool. It’s an infrared camera.”
Opa turned it on and scanned the area around him. He could see half a dozen hot spots on the ground in a ten meter circle around him. They would disappear, then reappear in another spot. Opa tried to see what they were but every time he moved the leaves out of the way there was nothing there.
“Strange, I can see their heat but I can’t find them. They move fast. This is bugging me. First the ravens, and now this strangeness. I do not trust that evil fawn, not a bit.”
“Go on Opa, keep walking, you’re bound to come across something.”
Marbles started to bark, her voice coming from the forest. Opa followed the sound into the trees. She started to bark frantically. Opa ran through the trees, glimpsing flashes of light from the forest floor, the ravens flying from tree to tree above him. The barking stopped abruptly and then Opa saw a hole in the ground directly in front of him. He tried to stop, his feet skidding in the mud. He slipped into the dark hole, falling, falling before he landed in a deep pool of water. Marbles had fallen in before him and they were both swimming in the dark. Far above them, Opa could see a small round opening, which framed the pale blue sky. He reached into the backpack and pulled out a small waterproof flashlight, Turning it on, the light revealed shear rock walls reaching up to far above them and he noticed a tunnel heading off into the dark. He swam over to the tunnel entrance and pulled himself out of the water, then helped Marbles out of the water. Marbles gave herself a mighty shake, water spraying everywhere. Opa checked his phone, but it was dead. He reached into the back pack and found a dry set of clothes which fit him perfectly.
After putting them on, they started down the tunnel. After just a short distance, the ground started shaking for a moment. Then the tunnel became quiet. Marbles pushed herself against Opa’s legs. Dripping water echoed around them. They could faintly hear the ravens calling out behind them, the sounds drifting down from the mountain top. Marbles growled. Opa shone his flash light on the tunnel walls and caught a glimpse of a cricket that looked as if it was made from metal. As soon as the light hit it, the cricket darted away, disappearing into a crack in the rock wall. Opa moved the light over the tunnel walls, spying two more of the metallic crickets who acted like the first one, vanishing when being discovered.
Opa took his glasses off and cleaned them on his t-shirt. After replacing them, he and Marbles continued down the tunnel. It soon split into two.
“I wish I could talk to Toby.” Opa muttered. “I don’t know which way to go. Left or right. Marbles, which way should we go?”
Marbles sniffed the air and then started down the branch to the left. Opa followed and they walked for another five minutes before the tunnel ended with a flat blank wall. Opa reached into the pack and pulled out a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for himself and some kibble for Marbles.
Opa then turned off the flashlight for a moment. “Marbles, when I turn on the light, can you pounce on one of those shiny cricket things?” Marbles barked softly. Opa counted. Three. Two. One. He turned on the flashlight and Marbles jumped into the air, like a wolf after a mouse, placing her front paws over one of the crickets. She started to bark and Opa reached under her paw and took out the cricket, holding it in front of the flashlight. It was made of some kind of metal, looking like a cross between a cricket and a grasshopper. It’s antenna waved around and both eyes moved around independently. One watching Opa and the other was on Marbles. Opa could feel it shaking in his hands and then it grew so hot that Opa had to drop it and off it scurried, disappearing under the wall at the end of the tunnel.
Opa turned off the flash light, got on his hands and knees, and looked closely at the base of the wall. “Marbles, I can see light coming from underneath this wall. It must be a door, I hope there is a way to open it.”
Marbles put her nose at the base, sniffing in deeply and then started scratching at the wall. Standing up, Opa started looking around, feeling the wall for any kind of crevice or latch that might open the door. After a few moments, he gave up, finding nothing.
He leaned his back on the side wall, beside the door, and gathered his thoughts. “Marbles, I’m sure this must be a door. There is light on the other side and you could smell fresh air. I’m worried that it can be opened only from the other side which means that we are trapped here. Lets go back and explore the other passage.”
Using his elbows, Opa pushed himself off the wall. When he pushed, he felt one of his elbows press into the wall with a click. The door slid upwards, disappearing into the tunnel roof and bright light blinded both of them.
………..To be continued
Toby’s Suggested Links: Raspberry Pi
Opa’s Suggested Links: Vancouver Island Earthquakes