Ian’s entry for the short story contest: An Archaeologist’s Nightmare

As Ian, (aka The Eternal Omniscient Sage) doesn’t have a blog of his own, I am delighted to have his entry to the contest here. His lack of blog does rather concern me over what therefore I may do for his in return as blogroll addition and writing a guest post are not possible.

Everyone else who has written one will be linked here after the deadline, and prizes etc will be dealt with then.

Enjoy!  The blue is the story starter and the rest is Ian’s.

An archaeologist’s nightmare

Many years ago while Alex was a student, he spent some weeks one summer
helping on an archaeological dig. The weather was fine and while the work
was quite boring, the other people were pleasant and he found he was making
friends.

One afternoon, he was kneeling in a ditch with the sun beating down on his
back. He was slowly uncovering something buried in the earth but when the
piece of pottery came free, so did something else. Looking down with utter
horror, Alex saw poking out of the mud, the milled edge of a coin, it was
edge on and only half exposed, but he knew immediately what this meant.
Milled edges had not been used on coins until a couple of hundred years ago.
He was dumbfounded. But not only dumbfounded, he could see his future
collapsing. He needed his dig notebook to pass his final exams and this find
meant that all his careful scraping and recording of what he had thought
were the remains of a Neolithic round house were, frankly, rubbish. Nothing
above that coin could be older than, say, 150 years. 

What should he do? Alex stared long and hard at the coin, sticking
derisively out of the mud, shining like the tears starting at the corner of
his eyes. He found that he was seriously considering “losing” the coin and
he started at the thought. He had not been a diligent student; he had missed
lectures and turned up with a hangover at more than was the average rate for
archaeology students, but he had always refrained from borrowing others’
work or plagiarising for his assignments. Something always seemed to be
looking over his shoulder and he generally accepted that if he’d done wrong
then it was his responsibility. 

What should he do? And then a rush of relief came over him. Of course, the
whole team had been tramping around last night looking at each other’s work.
Somehow this coin must have fallen from a careless pocket. He chuckled,
bent, picked up the coin and laughingly flipped it in the air.

When he caught it with a flourish, it glinted again in the sunlight and Alex
lifted it nearer to his eye to examine it. Although it was dirty he could
tell, from his lectures, that it wasn’t British, which struck him as
peculiar. No student or member of staff had been abroad recently. In fact it
was one the major complaints among them that they never got to dig abroad
like many other universities seemed to be able to arrange. But maybe it was
a memento and meant something to one of the others. Alex realised that this
thought had swung the balance. He would play it straight and mention it at
the evening meal so that whoever owned it and valued it would be able to
reclaim it. What would happen next was anybody’s guess.

There was only an hour to go before it would be time to pack up and he
scraped desultorily at the soil. He would remove another layer before
collecting his things together, he resolved. Then he started again, his
trowel had begun to uncover sand and with a few more scrapes he realised it
was not just an odd pocket but that it extended and a quick trowel all over
his trench floor convinced him that it was a layer covering the whole of the
area he was digging and maybe across the whole site. His trench, after all,
was the deepest.

This day was full of puzzles thought Alex. He squatted back on his heels to
rest his wrists and picked up the coin again. Losing his balance he pitched
head first back into the trench, right onto the patch of sand. He just had
time to see that the coin bore the figure of a kangaroo, before a voice said
“Hi Cobber” and he was in bright sunlight.

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One thought on “Ian’s entry for the short story contest: An Archaeologist’s Nightmare

  1. Wow! That was indeed a deep trench:) All the way down to Australia!! Super Imagination.
    If that happened to me – I’d start calling myself Alice!

    It had quite a twist at the end:D

    Regards,
    Shafali

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