It took them weeks to find the perfect spot to dig. Weeks of pouring over maps and looking at longitude and latitude, but they pinpointed a spot on the edge of a field about a mile from the village and then set about trying to find some shovels.
It was the beginning of the 6-week school holidays and although they had a lot of time, what they didn’t have was money to buy shovels. It took them the best part of 3 days to beg, borrow and steal the shovels they needed, but one fine morning at the end of July they began to dig.
They reckoned that by the end of the summer they’d make it to a little town in Australia called, Tinbury Falls. They figured that even though they were too young to drink, the locals would be so impressed with their effort that they’d give them a couple of beers.
‘Are you sure this is the spot?’ Andy asked, after the first day and six feet into the dig. Elliot wiped his brow and just nodded, his breathing still labouring under the strain of the dig.
They were proud of the ladder that they’d improvised to assist their endeavours, long branches stretched up from the bottom of the hole, with smaller branches bound by rope. It was a makeshift ladder for sure, but effective. As they dug deeper, they’d had to cut out small platforms into the wall of the shaft, so that ladders had a platform to stand on.
If they were proud of the ladder, they were joyous at the creation they’d made to get rid of the dirt from the hole. At the top of the shaft, they’d created a series of A frames that led to the middle of the field. Using a combination of buckets, rope and bark, Elliot had fashioned a pulley, conveyer belt contraption. You could pull the rope, which in turn heaved the bucket to the top of the last A frame in the series, dumped the dirt and then ran back down to the bottom. Andy declared Elliot a genius. Elliot didn’t object.
At times it felt like the earth was going to fall on top of them, toppling the ladders and leaving them stranded at the bottom, but the exuberance of youth pushed the thought deep into the recesses of their minds. It was taking them nearly an hour to carefully climb to the bottom of the shaft and when they looked up from the bottom, the sunlight was a mere pinprick above their heads. They carried down lanterns and continued to dig in semi-darkness, stopping only to eat and drink whatever they’d carried down in their backpacks for that day.
By the halfway point of their holidays, they’d began to stay down at the bottom of the shaft instead of making the long climb up every evening. Their waste they put in the bucket with everything else to be heaved up and out of site. They’d packed enough food to last a couple of weeks and lied to their parents about staying at each other’s home.
The heat down at the bottom of the shaft was intense and they striped down to their waist as the dirt clung to their sweat. They looked at the dwindling pile of wood that they’d brought down with them to make ladders back up and Elliot frowned.
As Andy dug his shovel into the ground again, a cool breeze shot up through the dirt. They stood back against the edges of the shaft and peered down into the hole. Below them they could see a field with a mound of dirt, and a series of A frames leading to a hole.
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