Friday, January 16, 2009

Chapter 17

The Treasure Cave

The morning dawned clear and warm. This would be the day! With a heightened sense of excitement they hid all their gear in the shallow cave where they had spent the night, covered the opening with brush, and started out for the spot they had identified the day before. They only took a few digging tools and pry bars. They didn’t think they would need any explosives. If they did, they would have to return another day.

They dropped down off the ridge into the deep narrow canyon. In half an hour they were at the spot they had pinpointed with the metal detector.

“Where shall we start digging?” Inquired John.

“Over there,” responded Chris. “You can always spot a place where someone has buried something. No matter how careful they are, after a few years of settling, a depression will form over the spot. See the depression there,” as he pointed it out.

After clearing away the brush and loose rocks they began digging. About four feet into the hillside they ran into a rock wall. They could see that it was man made--carefully laid stonework in an orderly pattern. They pried it apart until they had a hole and could look in. There was a large, dark opening behind the wall. Flashing a light inside they saw the reflection of many flat metallic surfaces.

John was so excited he could hardily contain himself.

“We’ve done it! We found the cave! It looks like it’s all there! It’s just like in the story. Let’s open it up some more so we can get inside.”

He energetically started prying out more stones. He didn’t notice that Chris was hanging back and didn’t seem to be sharing his enthusiasm.

Chris interrupted his fervor. “I don’t feel good about this. I think we should cover it up and go back to camp and think it over.”

“What are you saying? We just find the greatest treasure in the world, and you want to cover it up! You must be crazy. Two days ago you were mad at me because I said we might not be able to take any of it. Now you don’t even want to look at it?”

“I know, but I just don’t feel right about it. Something’s wrong. I’ve dug in hundreds of graves, and searched through all kinds of ancient ruins, with never a second thought, but this is different. I’ve never had a bad feeling like this before. I think this place is cursed.”

“Oh come on! Everything is all right. You’ve just got ‘buck fever’. It’s natural with something this big. You’ll get over it. I’ve been thinking about it and I think it really is all right for someone to find these records. I was reading in the Book of Ether where Moroni talks about the plates. He seems to think that someone will find them.” John then quoted Moroni, “’whoso findeth them, the same will have power that he may get the full account[1].’ You see Moroni was expecting someone to find the plates. We’ve found them, and there’s nothing wrong with it.”

Chris: “But it doesn’t say that just anyone will be allowed to find them. It’s probably talking about someone with authority--someone who has the approval of God. I don’t think that applies to us. Besides I remember reading that part and it seems like its just talking about one set of records isn’t it? Not all of them. I just don’t feel good about this. Let’s bury it and leave.”

But John turned and without another word crawled inside the hole he had made. Chris hurried to the hole and watched him. He could see him examining the different piles of plates and the objects on the rough stone table with his flashlight. Then to his horror John pulled apart one of the binding rings and removed one of the plates.

“No John! Don’t do it! Put it back! Let’s get out of here!”

John ignored him and continued to sort through the plates. Chris felt a terror come over him. It was a feeling he had never experienced in all his previous close calls. Now he was shaking uncontrollably. What was happening to him? Then he realized that it wasn’t just him. Everything was shaking. As he tried to stabilize himself, he realized that it must be an earthquake. Rocks started falling from above. As John yelled frantically for help, the entire hillside broke loose sliding down, covering the opening, and drowning out John’s screams.

Chris frantically began clawing at the rocks and earth. He had to save John, but how? All the tools were now under several tons of rock and dirt. Suddenly he realized that he couldn’t move his foot. Looking down he saw it was pinned under a boulder. He concentrated on getting it free. After several minutes of digging and prying he was able to get it loose.

“Why wasn’t I buried too?” he wondered. “I must have moved back away from the opening when I felt the tremor. But what can I do? My foot’s crushed, I don’t have any tools, and I can’t make any progress digging with my hands. I’ve got to go for help.”

Ignoring his injured foot, he started down the mountain. He found a broken branch to use as a make shift staff and worked his way down the ridge as fast as he could. He was feeling frantically desperate, but knew he had to stay calm if he were going to save John.

He hadn’t noticed it before but a storm was threatening and huge black thunderheads were lowering all around him, he couldn’t even see the valley below anymore. Thunder started echoing on the heights all around him. It looked like he was in for a drenching.

As he moved lower he felt a strange sensation. All the hair on his body seemed to stand on end. Suddenly there was an explosion as a lightning bolt struck. He was in the middle of an intense blue light, and then everything went black.


He felt like he was waking up from a long dream. He looked down and saw someone laying flat on the ground below. The grass was burning to the side of the man. He wasn’t moving and Chris wondered if he were injured. He wanted to help. He was afraid the fire might burn him. He tried to go down and shake the body, but couldn’t. Then he recognized the clothing. It was his body! Was he dead?

Slowly he started drifting upward and away from the mountain. The farther he went, the faster he traveled, until it seemed like he was being sucked through a dark tunnel. There appeared to be an opening at the far end, and there at the end, was a pinpoint of bright light. He wondered why he wasn’t afraid. He had always hated roller coasters, and this felt like a roller coaster racing in a tunnel at the speed of light.

As he reached the light at the end of the tunnel he not only didn’t feel frightened, he felt wonderful. He had never felt this way before. It was as if he was in the ocean, but the water was love, and waves of joy kept washing over him.

He moved farther into the light. At it’s center was an angel. At least Chris thought it must be an angel. But this Being shone with an incandescence he had never seen before. At first he thought that he might be burned by the brightness, but the light wasn’t hot. It seemed to be the source of the sea of love that surrounded him.

Now the Being was asking him questions, but there was no sound, only thoughts coming into his mind. He seemed to be watching a movie. The movie was his life. It flashed before him like a film on fast forward. He felt all the pains of his failures and the joys of his successes. Was this the judgment? But he didn’t feel like he was being judged. He only felt acceptance and love.

“You know you can’t stay.”

The thought jolted him. Of course, he wanted to stay! Things had never been better!

“You must go back. Your life isn’t finished.”

“Don’t I have a choice?”

“No you must go back and complete your life. Do not try and go to the cave again or to take anyone there. It is protected and you must stay away. It isn’t the time for it to be revealed. Soon you will meet a woman. I want you to marry her.” Chris remembered John.

“How can I help John?” he thought?

“Don’t worry about John” the thought came into his mind. “John is dead!”

Before he had time to digest this last thought he was moving in reverse. The light receded into the distance.


Suddenly he was in tremendous pain. Everything was dark. He was soaking wet and cold. What had happened to him! He heard voices.

“Look, he’s not dead! He’s coming to.”

“Are you all right? Did you get hurt in the earthquake?” asked another voice.

“No I don’t think so,” said the first voice. “Look at his burns. I think he was struck by the lightning”.

He didn’t know whether they were speaking in English or Spanish. Finally he decided it must be Spanish because it reminded him of his grandmother reading him nursery rhymes.

“Where am I? Who are you?” mumbled Chris.

“I think he’s blind,” said the first voice ignoring his question, “he can’t see anything. Hurry and get the men from the village. I’ll stay here with him. Bring some blankets. He must be cold. He’s been out in the rain and wind a long time.”

[1] Ether 1:4

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