Mum took me home and gave me a soup, leek and potato, I think. She petted over me and finally asked the question I had been dreading.
“Wolf, what got over you? Why did you go over to the polar bear? I’m not happy and you’ll need a good explanation to get out of this one.”
I sighed and touched my cut again. It would probably leave a scar.
“Well . . . In a nutshell, Soleil dared me to go to the bear. I didn’t know she was a mother bear with hungry cubs and an empty stomach! I was just standing there, in front of her and then she moved so fast, I didn’t know what was happening. She just . . . whacked me!” Mum sighed and muttered something under her breath. I think I heard the words ‘Soleil’ and ‘damn to Hell’.
The next morning my cut felt marginally better but it was very sore and made eating difficult. I went over to my huge tree, a pine tree. It wasn’t actually mine, but I’m just about the only one who ever touches it, anyway. I climbed up the first five or six metres, monkeylike, then settled in to my favourite position: nestled in the crook of two branches. I could see the whole village from here. The view was pretty amazing.
Anyway, I scanned the houses for anything out of the ordinary. It had become a habit to do this, though I’m not sure why. It looked all clear, just about. Except . . . except there was a group of huddled figures in dark clothes scurrying toward the base of the huge caves. I leaned forward. What were they doing? It didn’t look normal, whatever it was. I decided to investigate. I hurried down the tree and sprinted around the village and past the half-frozen river. The caves loomed up ahead of me, and I ducked behind a large rock. The dark figures were walking into the caves and I was close enough now to see they weren’t wearing the usual coats and boots, but were instead wearing long cloaks. I had no idea what this was about.
I decided to go after them. I had a vague whisper of instinct that I probably shouldn’t let them see me, so I crept up to the mouth behind rocks, scurrying quickly and quietly. As I approached it, I thought back to when I’d first come here, almost a year ago now. Dad had an excited look on his face and mum was a little unsure but fine. I had been sad, lonely and thoroughly angry with my parents. They had forced me to leave my friends everything good about life back in Sydney, which is 16000 kilometres away. 16000! And now I’m stuck I some tiny place in Greenland. I’m not even sure what the town is called, Nanortalik or something. Anyway, the whole reason we are here is because dad got a really good job offer, a one-of-a-kind sort of thing. The job was mining a newly discovered gemstone, called Aerite. It is worth millions for one square centimeter of it. I have only ever seen it once, and I was completely in awe. It was the most beautiful silvery-moon colour, and when you looked at it in a certain angle, it looked like it had a million dimensions. It was beautiful. And it was only found almost a kilometer under the sea.
So that’s why we’re here. So my dad can mine Aerite and mum and me can be bored, do chores and congratulate dad when he finds a millimeter of Aerite. Not very fun sounding, is it? So, anyway, now I was staring up at the huge roof of the cave entrance. The hooded figures had disappeared around a passageway, and I went into it, silent as a dead person. The passageway went on for about ten minutes then opened out into cavern quite big, the opposite walls were hidden shadow. The hooded figures were huddled in a circle around some table, I think. They were talking to each other and I could catch glimpse of what they were saying-
“Millions . . . We’re going to be . . . So beautiful . . .”
I wasn’t sure what they talking about, it was all too obscured or quiet. The figures left the cavern for a room adjoining to the cavern. Then, when they left, I saw what was on the table. About three handfuls of Aerite were heaped on a plate. The Aerite was twinkling as if it had caught the rising sun, even though the only light in here was strong UV light. They were sparkling and shining with all the beauty I remembered, if not more. But was the Aerite doing down here? They should be locked in the vault in the town hall safe. Something wasn’t right down here. I hurried back the way I came and stubbed my toe on a rock. Who cares! There was heavy feeling of fear in the pit of my stomach.
When I got home I was thoroughly out of breath. I pushed the door open and went into the kitchen to get a chocolate biscuit. I was halfway to the cupboard when I noticed mum slumped in a chair. It sounded like she was crying.
“Hey, mum, what’s wrong . . . ?” This didn’t look good. Mum looked up from her hands and her eyes were a dim blue colour, not the usual spark of cornflower blue. She took a deep breath.
“Wolf, there’s been an explosion down at the mine center. No one knows how many are dead or injured. And it was your dad’s shift when the explosion happened!” her voice cracked and tears streamed down her cheeks. I stopped. Explosion. Dad. Dead.
Good? Bad? Ugly? What do you think?