The sky was dark as usual, the paths were narrow, the lights remained on all day and were seen in every house as it was the only source of light down here. Manon was walking to the library to meet a friend. Schools was starting in a week and she had two more books to read and some research to do. Her friend was her cousin Ted, a boy who dreamed to be a scientist and bring the people back to the surface. Manon was a dreamer, anything was possible for her if she put her mind to it, so Ted was the source of her dreams. The library was a square building on the outskirts of the village. So to get there, Manon crossed many paths and creeks, swaps, bridges, fields and backyards.
Ted was waiting for her busy calculating something
– Hey Ted
– oh hi, you’re early, he said without lifting his head from the calculator
-No…. YOU are BUSY. Did you find anything yet ?
– Not exactly but I have some lead.
– oh yeah ?
– Yep. I’ve found in Mr Carson’s office an old map which shows an ancient route going out of town and ending in a kind of dead end.
– ok, what’s in the dead end?
– I don’t know! We must find out.
– What? How?
– We must find some torches and…. explore
– But…. that’s out of town and it’s forbidden to go out.
– Well… maybe the answer Is there. If is we must find it.
Two days later Ted and Manon met at the same place. Each of them had a backpack. Manon looked nervous, she kept looking back where she came from expecting to see someone rushing to call her back.
– Stop worrying and come on.
Carefully not to be seen they went round the library looking for the lost path. The tall grass made their escape easier. They walked in the tall grass for a few minutes, the town’s lamps faded little by little and only their footsteps could be heard. Ted walked in front and Manon a few paces behind him.
– Ok we’d better turn the torches on now, he said
They kept on going, crossing creeks and ponds every once in a while. There was no sound except for their footsteps in the grass. They’ve walked for a few hours before arriving to a wide round stony place. Both remained silent looking around. There was tall grass almost all around and on the opposite side of them there was the dark mountain wall. It was a dead end.
– What now?, asked Manon
– We search, he replied pointing the torch upwards
They couldn’t see the top of the mountain or should we say the wall perhaps. There wasn’t enough light and the summit must have been quite far.
– I guess that the answer is not up there, said Manon
– I don’t know. There must be something here though.
The stepped on the stony surface, looking for something unusual. Every stone was perfectly round and as hard as a stone can be. Ted was puzzled by the place, he couldn’t figure what was this place for.
– What if the answer is in the grass around us? asked Manon
– Yeah… could be. Ok you start over there, yell if you find anything and don’t go far.
They split, starting by the mountain’s wall toward where they came from. There was nothing except grass, frogs, rabbits, insects and water. After several minutes they met at the trail.
– So far, nothing new, he said
– Should we get back?
Ted looked up again, he didn’t want to leave. There was something to discover, he just couldn’t see what.
– We must camp here for the night. Something will come up in the morning.
They unpacked, and settled the camp. Soon after, they were both asleep.
“Hey, we gotta go there?”, said one in his deep voice.
“Yes. All the treasure that we have stolen from the village is safe there. We need to recover it from that place and flee faraway before someone else discovers it”, said the second one, leading his companion. The men walked towards the place where Ted and Manon had been camping. Manon was a light sleeper so she immediately woke up. The men spoke something else too and though Manon couldn’t understand it, she knew they weren’t the only ones there. The men did not see the children and they continued walking.
Manon tried to wake up Ted but he was fast asleep. She decided to peek out of their small tent through a gap in the corner. She looked out to see two dark figures in the distance walking with lamps which turned dimmer every passing moment.
The men had walked quite a distance and they had to climb up now. They chose to wait for sometime and rest. Ted was still asleep and Manon slapped him hard on the cheek. He suddenly woke up with a startle and stared angrily at Manon.
“Ted. Stop looking at me like that. You don’t know what I just saw. Two explorers like us, who went walking in that direction,” she said pointing to the right.
“Holy! How could you not wake me up!! Do you understand what you just did!?”
“Yes. I very well understand what I just did. I woke you up.”
Ted and Manon trotted as fast as they could with their torches in the direction which Manon had indicated. After sometime, Ted suddenly tripped over something. They realised it was a person’s leg. The man who was fast asleep, just turned over to the other side, unaffected by what had just happened. Another man rested beside him. Manon realised that these were the two men whom she had spotted earlier. Ted stumbled upon a map and flashing his torch he realised, he had just found what he had been searching for so long. A way. A tunnel.
Ted and Manon tiptoed towards the narrow staircase that led to the tunnel somewhere on the top. They climbed it and finally after an hour or so, they reached the entrance of the tunnel, panting.
“I can’t go further anymore”, Manon panted, dropping down on in front of the entrance.
“Not now, Man. We are almost there. What’s the use of giving up when you can see your destination right in front of you? Let’s do it. Come on.” Ted said, trying to encourage himself and her. Manon raised her hands asking for help. Ted held them and pulled her. They both entered the tunnel and embarked on their journey to the exit of it. The end of the tunnel meant the end of the summit. A way to the top.