The year was 1948, recovering from the the war, Poland was slowly regaining its strength. Living under the shadow of a mountain, a small mining town speckled with four room cottages for those who lived in the tiny village. Each cottage had a cobblestone foundation built with dark logs laid atop one another. You were able to walk to almost anywhere in the village. Throughout the village you could view the few citizens busily walking from place to place and other people riding bicycles through the town. Choices for work in this town were limited, you could be a merchant selling homemade goods to local villagers, or you could be a farmer gathering not much of anything for your family, but then you could choose to be a miner and work long days digging coal for big corporations. After a hard day of work the miners would gather around the old camp fire and tell their stories.
Sweat running down his thin but defined arms, moving his pick axe behind his back, then swinging toward the gray stone speckled with the small black coal that laid before him.
“Yuri,” Dike yelled to him in mid swing, “get over here.” Yuri the thin five foot eleven man, with his pick axe in hand, jogged over to Dike to see what he was babbling about.
“Dike what is it,” Yuri continued, “I was just in the middle of mining up some nice coal, and you know the boss...”
“Enough about the boss, Yuri, you have to check this out,” Dike int interrupted, “so I was mining, right, and then I came upon this dirt.”
“Big deal Dike,” Yuri implied, “we find dirt all the time.”
“No Yuri listen,” Dike argued, “this might be what you’ve been looking for all this time.”
“Are you talking about the diamonds,” Yuri questioned with a twinkle in his eye.
“Yeah, you see I was digging and I came upon this dirt and it had all of these pieces of broken glass and cans.”
“So,” Yuri asked.
“Don’t you see this could be signs of an older mine or something,” Dike explained pointing to the side of the tunnel where the dirt stood.
“Okay, so it might be something or it might not but let’s get a shovel and see what’s up,” Yuri inquired leaning against a large smooth gray rock.
“Hey Remi,” Dike called covered in dark dust.
“Yeah what,” Remi squealed.
“You got a shovel,” Dike yelled to Remi.
“Sure, but..,” Remi screamed back his face turning red.
“Just get over here,” Dike exasperated. Remi the tiniest miner came walking over through the dark tunnel with lantern in hand and dragging his rusting shovel along.
“This better be something good or I’m gonna tell the boss,” Remi blurted out beginning to get irritate.
“Trust me it’ll be good,” Yuri encouraged with a wink. Yuri snatched the old shovel out of Remi’s hands. Yuri grasped the shovel and began to scoop out the dirt from the side of the wet tunnel wall. Little by little Yuri scooped out chunks of the brown moist dirt with rusty cans and pieces of glass scattered through it. After five minutes of continuous work, hands moist with perspiration, Yuri found, what he thought, he was looking for. Tenderly Yuri took out a rotting wooden box with rough iron braces covering it. On the front of this box was an old metal lock that required a key, that had probably rusted away with time. Not finding the key any where near Yuri slowly broke off bits of dirty rotten wood from the old box. Dike and Remi peeked over Yuri’s shoulders to take a look at what laid inside.
Laying in the small box was a tattered pale yellow map obviously written in pen and ink. The layout of the map looked much like the mines they dug in today except with more passages and tunnels leading deeper into the mines. Remi’s eyes lit up when he saw the map for he had been forced into the mining business by his father. You see Remi never really wanted to mine, he wanted to explore the cold desolate Russian tundra mapping it out for the explores that followed his path. Instead of following his dream Remi was stuck in this mine out of his father’s will.
“This looks like a map of the old mines,” Remi said starring at the old map, “See the date on it, it says 1915, that’s three years before the wars started.”
“Eh maybe,” Yuri questioned with his head setting on shovel, “this mine use to be used for something else like diamonds or something.”
“I don’t know,” Dike said looking up, “but maybe Solak can tell us a thing or two. His father did run this mine back in the day. Maybe he’s got a story or two.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Yuri agreed with a smile on his face. Solak being back on the bright surface was a world away. Yuri, Dike, and Remi gathered the dark coal they had mined up and tossed it piece by piece into the four foot long mine cart. Together Dike and Yuri pushed the mine cart down the slender rails. Following them Remi trudged along carefully holding the aged map.
Slowly they made their way down the tunnel lit up by the orange warm glow the lanterns. Trudging along, the air light around the group, they pushed the mine cart into the one of the old caged in elevators. Soon the the group rose into the bright light of the smooth surface, their eyes refocusing to the bright sunlight. At the end of the elevator shaft was Solak, the five foot nine man had his hands on his hips awaiting the group.
“Where have you men been,” he yelled a whiff of onion coming from his mouth, “You’ll are five minutes behind schedule and you missed you’re lunch break. Ya’ll lucky that the other miners didn’t take all of the five elevators or you guys would have been stuck in the dark mines for a week.”
“But Solak, it’s not that dark down there,” Dike argued.
“Enough from you Dike,” Solak yelled back spit flying from his mouth.
“Actually enough from you Solak,” the boss said smoothly, “get back to work.” With that the boss walked back into his shack making plans for the next day of mining.
“Sorry about that guys,” Solak apologized his face pink from yelling, “I just put on an act for the boss... I’m trying to get a promotion.”
“It’s fine,” Yuri remarked grudgingly.
Yuri explained to Solak why exactly they were late. Telling him of what Dike found and how they slowly dug out the dirt to find a old map. Solak told Yuri and the others that his father told him stories of a grand cavern with diamonds sparkling from the stalactites. Solak expected that the cavern was lost with time for during the war all able body men were enlisted into the army. After the first war men tried to find the map and cavern again although most of the original miners had died or retired. Another war arose, soon after, Solak joined to continue his father’s legacy he explained.
After, Solak was finished with his grand story, Yuri said, “The best time to go on the hunt for diamonds will probably be near the end of the week. The big truck will be here to pick up the coal, so no one will miss us.” They all agreed on the end of the week to be the day for the big dig. Throughout the week the men prepared themselves for the journey into the mines. Dike told locals at the bar of how the map was found, although he made sure not to reveal any large details. Solak gathered his father’s old mining supplies to use on the dig. Remi spent hour after hour studying the aged map to make sure that he would know every little detail. Yuri sat awaiting the big day where his dreams would come true and told his wife of how they would be rich.
Then finally the morning of the excavation came.