“Why don’t you show us where you want us to sleep tonight? That way we can put our bags in the rooms; and have time to draw maps, so that we will not stay lost the whole time we are here,” Stacks laughed after making his comment, and being playfully swatted on the arm by Candace.
“It is not that hard to find your way around this house. At least it isn’t once you see the layout, and see how each generation added rooms, meant to suit their own tastes, as well as add their own part of history to help each generation get to know them, as real people and family.”
“Are you saying that this place is like having a family museum?” Stacks asked with awe in his voice.
“That’s exactly what I havebeen telling you. Each Antechamber is filled with furniture, portraits, and photos that were important to the generation who built it. Nothing has been changed since my first great-great-however many greats there should be, grandfather first settled here. The only thing anyone else does is have repairs done as authentically as possible.”
“Wait here, I have a feeling everyone will be as excited about taking a tour of this place tonight, as I am,” Stacks said as he bent down and placed a quick kiss on Candace’s mouth, then left to gather the others for a tour of her home.
Candace slowly raised her hand and touched her lips where Stacks had kissed her, and then with a sigh and a smile, she turned and waited for everyone to join her.
It was not long before everyone joined Candace in the living room, anxious to tour the large sprawling estate.
“When do you think we should start going through all those papers,” Blaster asked, looking down at the trunks stacked neatly on the living room floor.
“Tomorrow will be soon enough to get started on those and search for hidden passages, but for tonight let’s get everyone settled in their rooms. However, first thing on the agenda is a tour of my home.”
“As Candace took them through the many rooms of her home, everyone was in awe of the beautiful antique furniture and portraits that graced the antechamber, and foretold the age of each section of her home. However the most surprising area of her home was when she led them through an antechamber filled with ‘Old West’ memorabilia, which led to her private rooms.
Stacks felt as if he had truly stepped back in time. Candace’s entire section of rooms, from the ceilings, to the floors, and every piece of furniture, was made from hand-hewed oak.
“Oh wow, Candace, this is beautiful,” Gloria and Sheila said at almost the same time.
“Thank you, I happen to love these rooms most of all. It was the first rooms built on this property when my great-great, however many, great-grandfather Bordeaux bought this land from the government. I think it was in the late eighteen-sixties. There were originally two rooms with only an attic, built by the great-grandfather Bordeaux. I think my grandmother said that after five years and two children, they added two more rooms.”
Taking them into the two bedrooms she was talking about, Candace told Gloria, “These rooms will be yours and Sheila’s, if that is alright with you.”
“Oh, it’s more than alright,” Gloria said.
“I think it will be fun sleeping in these rooms,” Sheila, said as she sat down on the bed, then jumped up as if she had been shot squealing, “Oh my God, Candace is this a feather mattress?”
“Sure is, it is the same style of goose-down mattress that they had back then. Naturally it is not the original, these mattresses are Hungarian goose down, but it fits the rooms’ history,” Candace said as Sheila sat back down on the bed and sighed.
“I will never want to get up in the morning,” Sheila said, her voice low and silky.
Blasted leaned his long muscular body against the wall, then with a yelp he felt himself falling backward.
“What the hell,” Justin Mead said, as everyone turned to see what made Blaster yell out.
Blaster was nowhere to be seen.
“Where did he go,” Stacks asked no one and everyone.
Edward Rothman was standing looking at the wall, when he said thoughtfully, “He was standing right there, when Sheila drew our attention to the bed.’
Everyone agreed, but at that moment, they heard Blaster say, “I’m right here,” and then the large wood panel in the wall swiveled opened and Blaster stood there with a wide smile on his face.
“Are you alright?” Stacks said as he stepped over to look at stacks bruised face.
“Man do you look rough. What the heck happened to you?” Tommy Collins asked before anyone else had the chance to say anything.
“Well, it seems as though I have found another secret passage. I couldn’t see anything, but when I fell, I tumbled down some steps. I felt around until I found the steps again, then I felt the wall and worked my way back up stairs.’
“How did you get this panel open?” Candace asked as she stood there inspecting the open wall panel.
It took me a while to figure out how to open from inside there,” he said motioning with a head movement. “But there is a handle inside there on the wall.”
“No Blaster, I mean how did you get it open to get in there in the first place?”
“Oh that. I’m not sure, but I think I must have pressed on the boards, just right for it to open, when I leaned against the wall.”
As Candace started to push the board back in place, Stacks reached out his hand and stopped her, saying, “Wait a moment Candace. Do you have a flashlight? I think someone needs to be inside there just in case we cannot figure out how to open it.”
“I suppose your right about that. I have cleaned and polished these walls for years and I have never had it open up for me,” Candace said as she opened her closet and took out a flashlight.
Stacks asked Mead to stand inside and Blaster showed Mead where the handle was, in case they could not figure how to get the panel opened. After pushing on the panel for some time, Stacks and Blaster finally pushed on the board next to the one that had opened, and the panel quietly opened up. The only difference being, this time it did not automatically close.
“Wow. Now that is too cool. I think we should some extra flashlights and all go take a look at what Blaster found,” Sheila said excitedly.
Stacks did not think that it was a good idea, especially this late in the day, but when Candace agreed with Sheila, he reluctantly agreed.
“I think we should take our weapons down there,” Blaster said thoughtfully.
“Why would you think that?” Gloria asked him.
“I got the feeling when I was down there, that whatever those steps led to, it was big and underground. If I am right, then there could be snakes down there. I do not want to run into another snake unprepared,” Blaster said with a visible shiver.
“I’ll agree with that,” Jamerson said as he motioned for Mead and Collins to go with him, to gather the weapons and flashlights.
While they waited for them to return, Stacks took Candace’s flashlight and walked down the steps to see if he could make out how large the underground room was. The three women waited nervously until he returned.
“What did you see Boss?” Blaster asked, when Stacks came back into the room.
Stacks had a look of utter surprise on his face when he walked in.
“It’s not a room, it’s a cave or a cavern, I think,” Stacks said, shaking his head in amazement.
“It’s a what?” Candace asked disbelief evident in her voice.
“A cave or cavern, I can’t remember the difference between the two, and not a little one either, from what I can tell.”
“A cave is a natural underground void large enough for a human to enter, while a cavern is a large cave that was formed through things like acid rain. Another definition for cavern can also be series of connected underground caves,” Gloria said in her best school teacher voice.
“Thanks Mom. In that case it’s a cavern made up of connecting caves, “Stacks replied.
“This just gets better and better,” Gloria remarked, quietly, almost as if she was talking to herself.
“Yeah, but you have to admit, that ever since we met Candace we have not had a dull moment,” Sheila said with a grin on her face.
“That’s the understatement of the year,” Jamerson said as walked into the room.
“If I was a complete idiot, I would have to ask what’s next, but…,” Blaster said grinning at Candace.
“You are an idiot Blaster. In case you didn’t notice, you did just say it,” Mead said as he playfully slapped Blaster on the back of the head.
“Except I didn’t say it, I just said that if I was a…,”
“Shut up,” everyone said at the same time.
After the laughter died down, the flashlights were passed out and they all headed, single file, down the stairs and into a large cavernous room.
“Would you look at this,” Gloria said looking around her.
“Yeah, and it has passages going off in five directions,” Candace replied.
“I think we need to separate into pairs, so that we can cover a larger area,” Mead said as he walked across to an opening, which he hoped, would lead him deeper into the cavern.
“Alright, but we need to start heading back here in about an hour and a half. Which means we should be back here at ten o’clock,” Stacks said, looking down at his ‘Doxa divers watch.
When Mead turned to leave, Blaster called to him.
“Wait up,” Blaster said as he walked over to him. He handed him a couple of pieces of chalk, “You will need to mark the walls, just in case this place is larger than we think. Also, someone needs to go with you.”
“Smart thinking, the only problem is, I wish I would have thought of that myself,” Mead said, as he accepted the chalk.
Blaster handed out the chalk, and then asked everyone who wanted to go with Mead. Sheila said she would go with him, and they left.
Collins and Blaster headed off to the back of the cavern and into a dark passage that was almost hidden from view.
Gloria looked at Edward Rothman, looped her arm in his, and said, “Come on Edward, you can be my date for the evening.”
With a gallant bow of his head Rothman said, “My pleasure indeed, madam.”
Stacks smiled at Candace, “I guess that means you’re stuck with me.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Candace said as she, mimicking his mother by looping her arm through Stacks.
Candace and Stacks walked for about thirty minutes, down a long winding passage, before they finally came to an open area large enough to be called a room.
“I cannot get use to the idea that there is a cave under my home,” Candace said as she wiped the spider webs from her face.
“I would imagine it’s a shock, but I think it’s great. Just imagine how much history is down here,” Stacks said as he looked around the room.
There were smaller passages of to either side of the one they were presently on, but after some debate they both thought it was best, if for tonight only, that they stick to the largest passage.
“Um, Stacks,” Candace said as she looked around. “Look over there on that wall. Is that Indian cave drawings?’ she said as she moved closer to the wall, shining her light up to a ledge that was at least fifteen feet above them.
“Sure looks like it to me, but I can’t be sure.” He said as he added the light from his flashlight to hers, in an effort to make out what they were looking at.
Using both flashlights to illuminate the wall Candace breathed in sharply and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness. It’s a pictograph of a war between Indians, soldiers, and the early settlers. Look here,” Candace said pointing to the first section of the drawings. “See the Indians seem to be fighting a bunch of settlers, but over here,” she said using the beam of her light for pointing to another part of the drawing. “Here we see what looks like soldiers running down the hill, aiming their guns and shooting at them. It is so beautifully drawn, it takes my breath away. Just think about it Stacks, this was possibly done by my great-great etc. grandmother’s family.” Candace felt closer to her family, at that moment, than she had in years.
Stacks stood beside Candace watching the glow of love for her ancestors fill her eyes and face. He wanted to kiss her more now than he ever had. Now was not the time, he told himself. There would be time for kissing later. He was deep in his own thoughts of love for her, when he heard Candace talking again.
“I wonder how anyone managed to get up on that ledge,” Candace said, as she looked around for some way up onto the ledge.
Slowly moving the beam of his light to the right then left, along the ledge, and seeing nothing he shrugged and said, “Beats me. I thought maybe there was another cave opening or passage that would lead to it, but I don’t see one from here.”
“I guess we need to try one of these passages, but I have no idea which way we should go. You know something, I think this place is so large a person could get lost and never find the way out. Its spooky in here” Candace said as she inched closer to Stacks.
“Yeah, it is kind of spooky when you think about it. I am really glad Blaster thought about using chalk to mark our way back,” Stacks said, moving forward towards the largest dark passage.
Candace had not seen Stacks move away from her as she headed to a small passage way, that was to her right, directly under the rock shelf she and Stacks had looked at. She had just started down the path when she tripped and fell, sliding into the small room. She lifted her head and looked up to see stacks of human bones, all around her. Candace screamed.
To be continued…