Authors: Trevor Baxendale
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Published in 2007 by BBC Books, an imprint of Ebury Publishing. Ebury Publishing is a division of the Random House Group Ltd.
© Trevor Baxendale, 2007
Trevor Baxendale has asserted his right to be identified as the author of this Work in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988.
Doctor Who is a BBC Wales production for BBC One Executive Producers: Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner Series Producer: Phil Collinson
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For my Three Wishes
Martine, Luke and Konnie
and for my Dad, Alan Baxendale, for still enjoying
'At the end of this tunnel is the treasure,' said Nigel Carson.
The two men with him started to laugh.
'What's so funny?' he asked. He shone his torch back at them so that he could see their faces.
Ben Seddon was a wiry young man with mousy hair and steel-rimmed spectacles. There was just a hint of derision in his thin-lipped smile. 'Come on, Nigel! Have you listened to yourself?' He adopted a melodramatic tone: '"At the end of this tunnel is the treasure!" Honestly, I feel like a character in a kid's adventure book.'
'Get real,' Nigel said. 'We're talking two million quid in
here. This is strictly for grown-ups.'
'Well, I've always liked a good secret tunnel,' said Duncan Goode appreciatively. He was taller, bigger, with untidy blond hair. There was an amused glint in his blue eyes and he spoke with a soft Welsh accent. 'Especially one that leads to
He said the last two words with gleeful emphasis.
Both Duncan and Ben started to laugh again, and Nigel swore at them. 'You weren't laughing when I showed you the map,' he snarled. 'You weren't laughing when I showed you exactly where the gold was hidden and how we could get it. You weren't laughing when you both realised how much we'll all be worth when we find it!'
'Lottery rollover,' said Ben, sounding a little more serious. 'I understood that bit all right.'
'Sorry, Nigel,' said Duncan. 'We're just a bit, y'know, hyped up. That's all.'
'We don't have much time,' said Nigel. 'Let's just get on with it.'
Nigel pointed his torch back into the darkness ahead, but the beam just disappeared as if swallowed whole by a huge, black mouth. In this section of the tunnel, there was just enough room for a man to stand up straight and hold his arms out at the sides. His fingertips could just brush the walls. It was cold and damp and claustrophobic, but none of that mattered.
They were, after all, going to be rich. The plans showed the exact position of the tunnel's end, and the treasure chamber was just beyond that. They weren't far from it now.
Ben was still smiling. 'What are you going to spend your share on, Dune?'
Duncan had to stoop slightly to avoid scraping his head on the ceiling. 'I dunno. A nice car, probably. Nothing too fancy, mind. I don't want to blow it all at once.'
'You'll be able to afford a whole fleet of nice cars,' snapped Nigel.
'All right, nice cars,
Oh, and a new house for my mum, definitely. And if there's anything left after that, a Cardiff Blues season ticket. How about you, Ben?'
Ben licked his lips. 'First off, I'll pay all my debts. I've got a student loan like you wouldn't believe. If there's anything left after that, then I might set myself up in business. Computer services, that kind of thing. And the car I'd buy – the
car I'd buy – would be one of those slick Aston Martins, like James Bond has.'
'Sounds good. What about you, Nigel?'
Nigel's voice echoed irritably from the shadows ahead. 'What do you mean?'
'What are you going to spend the loot on?'
'I don't know. Does it matter?'
'You must have some idea!'
'There's more to this than fancy cars and presents for your parents.' Nigel looked disparagingly at them again and sighed. 'I sometimes wonder why I brought you two along. You're like a pair of big kids.'
'Sorry Nigel,' they chorused dutifully.
'Shut up. Here's the end of the tunnel.'
Nigel's torch beam flickered across a wall of soil. He played the light all around the area and above their heads. Thin, stringy roots hung down from the ceiling, full of thick cobwebs and tiny, scuttling spiders.
'Yuck,' said Ben. 'Creepy-crawlies.'
'Ignore them and they'll ignore you,' advised Duncan softly. 'Just don't offer them a share of the loot!'
They chuckled again but Nigel held a hand up for silence. 'Belt up, you two. This is it. We're right on top of a pile of eighteenth-century gold that's going to make us rich beyond belief.'
Duncan moved forward, touching the wall of soil, appraising the job as best he could in the meagre light. 'Just a few metres beyond this point, you reckon?'
That's right. According to Ben's computer model, the treasure chamber's not much further along the tunnel – ten metres, tops.'
Duncan looked at Ben. 'Fair bit of digging.'
'Worth it, though,' Ben said.
'Well, whatever happens – it'll be a laugh, won't it?'
'I'm in this for more than laughs.' Ben was looking serious now, staring at the tunnel end as if he could see through it to the treasure beyond. The proximity of all that gold had dampened his sense of humour. 'When do we start?'
'As soon as you can,' Nigel replied. 'I've arranged for picks, shovels and a wheelbarrow. There are some heavy-duty lamps as well – you'll need light to work by.'
'And what about you?' asked Duncan. 'What are you going to do while we're digging?'
'Maintain our cover, of course. As far as the people up there are concerned,' Nigel gestured upwards, through the roof of the tunnel, 'we're assessing the area for the tourist board. I've booked us into three rooms at the local pub.'
'Hiding in plain view, eh?'
'Well, come on then,' said Ben Seddon. 'What are we waiting for?'
Nigel told them where the equipment was and the two men set off back up the tunnel to fetch it.
After a while, when he was absolutely certain he was alone, Nigel took a small object wrapped in chamois leather out of his jacket pocket. Carefully, almost lovingly, he unwrapped the little parcel.
Inside was the stone.
He honestly didn't know what else to call it. To him, it was always just
It wasn't very big; about the size of a man's heart. It was smooth and dark, like a large pebble, but unlike any other stone it was warm to the touch. Always.
'How close?' Nigel asked in a whisper. 'How close am I now?'
The stone didn't always respond to direct questions. But if Nigel relaxed, if he emptied his mind of all thoughts except for those the stone needed, he could often sense some kind of reply. He rested the fingers of his right hand on the stone and closed his eyes. After a few moments he could feel the heat spreading through his hand and arm, as if thin tendrils of fire were working their way upwards, slowly and inexorably, towards his brain.
It still frightened him when he did this, when he tried to communicate with this lifeless lump of rock. He could feel his pulse quickening, his breath growing shallow, his skin prickling with sweat. It always felt as if he shouldn't be doing this, as if he was attempting something that was strictly forbidden and incredibly dangerous. But, unfortunately for Nigel Carson, that was exactly the kind of feeling that spurred him on.
Slowly, slowly, the warmth entered his mind and, without warning, suddenly gave way to a piercing coldness, as if a steel blade was being inserted into his brain.
Nigel opened his eyes. 'It's here, isn't it?'
just a little further-
'What will I find? What is it?'
'Yes, I know, but...' Nigel swallowed. 'There has to be more, doesn't there?'
A smile began to spread across Nigel's lips. But it wasn't his smile. It was the smile of the stone.
It won't be long now,' Nigel assured it.
-the rising is near-
Nigel didn't understand half of what the stone said to him, but it didn't seem to matter. Yes, it scared him. Yes, it sometimes felt as though he was going mad and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
But no, he wouldn't have stopped even if he could. Not even when the stone forced its way deep inside his mind and made him fill the empty tunnel with a dark, desperate scream of pain.