" Hay Luke! Where ya off to? "  Asked his neighbor John. Adding,
" The steaks are just about done. "  John was referring to the backyard barbeque they had planned to celebrate the start of the summer solstice.

" A carrier brought me a message from Bonesky - referring a fellow professor. Someone brought in a two hundred pound hunk of pyrite. He doesn't want to leave it, so if I want a look I gotta do it now. Shouldn't be more than an hour. Save one for me. "  Said Luke as he saddled his horse.

John shook his head with a smile. He knew Luke would be gone for a lot more than an hour.

" Luke had to go look at a rock. "  John said to his wife, who was busy with the food
preparations.

" I knew that was going to happen. He's never made a barbeque on time. Stacey called and they were bringing Jack's brother. "  John's wife stated.

Luke rushed through the door of the science lab in geology building.

" Hi there, I'm Luke Summers. "  Luke said while staring at the large pyrite sample resting on a lab bench.

" Hi. "  Said the boy who brought in the pyrite.

" Where did you find this. It's magnificent. "  Said Luke as he walked around it.

" In an abandon mine up Slow Mile Canyon. "  Said the boy beaming over his find.

" Wow. I have never even seen a picture of a sample this magnificent. Would you consider selling it? "  Luck asked.

" Na. I just wondered what it was. It sure looks neat. "  Tommy replied.

" Are there more pieces like this one? "  Luke asked.

" I don't know. It's real narrow in the back, and I could feel the rock shift, so I got out. "  Tommy replied.

A week later Luke and John were on their way to Slow Mile Canyon. When they got there at nine o'clock it was already 106 degrees. The smooth ventricle sandy colored cliffs glistened in the morning sun, and there was no shade or hint of water.

" We should have brought more water.  "  Said Luke shaking his canteen.

" We should have sent a couple under grads to do this. "  Replied John staring upward.

They tied their horses and began to make their way through the bolder field at the mouth of the canyon, then trudged up the narrow ravine toward the top.

" We're gona die up here. "  John said breathing as hard as he could.

" Yah. Isn't what I was expecting. At least not this time of year. "  Said Luke.

" Sounds like their blasting at PICO. "  John stated.

" Pico has a mining operation around here? "  Asked Luke.

" Gold. Probably why there was a mineral deposit like that pyrite. PICO has mine sites all over this area. Could be anybody. "  Answered John.

" Look up there. Looks like a cave. "  Said Luke.

" Well, lets take a look. "  John said looking around for the easiest way up.

" I'm guessing repelling down. "  Luke stated.

" Luke old boy. That's not going to happen. By me anyway. "  John replied looking at the top of the cliff face.

" No rope anyway. "  Luke said as he began climbing towards the cave entrance.

John walked up the ravine a bit to avoid a being hit by a falling rock, or Luke.

" Kinda small. Doesn't look like this has had as visitor for a long time. There's a pictograph though. Some kind of bird. "  Luke reported.

John started to make his way to cave entrance. About halfway he exclaimed, "  Did you feel that? "

" I didn't feel anything. There's some rubble bouncing around. You all right? "  Asked Luke.

" Yeah. " Replied John.

" That's not old. It's a band. The kind they put on cattle. Probably by someone who used to ranch around here. "  John stated.

" Let's see what they left behind. "  Luck said as he crawled into the darkness.

" Smell guano? "  John asked.

" Na. Humid though. Kinda earthy. There's a soft breeze. I guess it goes thought to someplace. There's a heavy quartzite vain. Somebody's hacked it up. Real tight. Looks like a collapse about twenty feet ahead. "  Luke stated.

" How bad? "  John asked.

" Can't tell just yet. The quartzite vain is getting a lot bigger. "  Luke said moving rocks to the side.

" Cave-in, blasting, let's go. "  Suggested John shining his lite around.

" Looks sound. Besides, it's cool in here and an oven out there. " Luke replied while pushing rocks from the cave-in out of his way.

" That breeze hits the spot. Here's the remains of a cigar. "  John said.

" Did you touch it? "  Asked Luke.

" Why? "  John replied.

" You hope it's the remains of a cigar. "  Luke chuckled.

" Very funny, and no, I didn't touch it. But to make sure, here, what's it taste like? "  Said John, pushing the item in question toward Luke with his foot.

" I'll take your ward for it, for now. Put it you pocket, and we can discuss it later. "  Luke suggested.

" I'll leave it for the next passer-by if you don't mind. "  Replied John.

" Ah. The vain looks untouched up ahead. "  Luke stated.

Thirty minutes later they where both on hands and knees making their way further into the cave. They were mesmerized by the quality of the quartz crystals protruding from the vain on the side of the cave.

" Ah. Pyrite. "  Luke announced focusing his light on a portion of the quartz vain.

" Significant? "  Asked John.

" Na. It looks like it's just the beginning of the pyrite deposits. Seems to increase from here. "  Luke replied shining his light along the vain.

The thought of making a grand find drove them further into the mountain. Before long, Luke was on his stomach, and John was on his back squeezing inch by inch deeper and deeper into the dark.

" Kinda tight. "  Said John.

" Widens up a bit about three feet in front of me, and I can see a pin point of sun light. There's water seeping from the roots hanging from the ceiling, and the rocks a bit cooler too. "  Luke stated.

" I can't go much further. "  Said John in a strained voice.

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Robert Evan Howard
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