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Black Hole

Short Story by Les Furnanz  October 1, 2009

Page 2 - Dawn

The valley below displayed early fall colors at edges of green fields. As David climbed the trail from Marcilhac he welcomed the autumn sun's warmth. He could make out his barn west of the village cemetery and the hill as it rose from fields to the base of the cliff. The hidden cave entrance should be somewhere there. It felt good to exercise and let his mind wander. After climbing 300 meters to the plateau, he would descend on another looping trail.

The map he discovered in the barn this morning was confusing. Dad had not been a good sketcher and writing was illegible in places. Appearance of the site may also have changed in sixty years, thought David.

His thoughts jumped to his father's request. On the day Dad died David had been too shaken, too confused, to probe for more information. Now he realized Dad had held the information until the end because he feared the discovery would leak and he needed the income the property provided. David admired his final request to find the cave's treasures and donate them as a family legacy to the government for a commitment to make it a public site. His excitement was rising at the prospect, but even if he were to find the treasure, could he convince any governmental agency to adopt the site?

In preparing for this trip he had researched the geologic, prehistoric, and recorded history. One Web site had homed in on the Célé Valley and allowed him to explore via satellite pictures the terrain and villages. He located his property and found photographs of Marcilhac and its abbey. It was an engrossing search, particularly concerning Pech Merle twenty kilometers away. He wanted to see firsthand this cave and paintings, earth's oldest discovered artwork. Perhaps he would learn something to aid him in his own search.

As he descended the connecting trail looping back into the valley David searched his land below him. From this new angle he made out the narrow "V" formation of his father's map. It supposedly pointed at the hidden cave entrance. He could see that the formation would be difficult to find depending on the angle of the sun, the lighting conditions, or the view perspective. He stopped and studied the relationship to surrounding cliff, landform, and forest features, and then he pulled out the map to jot a few notes. He again picked up his pace, admiring the views of the harvested cornfields bordering the treed river. As he entered Marcilhac, tired and hungry, he was glad Raphael had taken him up on his offer for lunch.




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