Well, I'm back after a few weeks of working on several possible stories along with having life go back to normal. This story is going to be a stand alone with no ties whatsoever to any previous works. There really is no mystery though one is mentioned. The first paragraph alone is just a set up for the rest of the story. Tell me what you think of it by leaving a review! You know how much I love hearing from all of you! Enjoy! - I revised the end of this chapter. I felt that it was missing something more and was very vague. Sorry for that! I hate it when I don't explain everything. This time, I hope this sounds a bit better. Enjoy!
Nancy Drew was in Arizona for a little break from life by joining an archeological dig of a recently found Native American site. The site was in cooperation with the University of Arizona and ran by a professor named Marcus Windham. Although it started out to be relaxing for her, not having a mystery to solve or her personal life going haywire, several artifacts went missing soon after she arrived and a mystery formed. When the case started heating up, Nancy decided to ask for help from two of her closest friends: the Hardy boys. Within a day of them arriving, Joe overheard a conversation that could break open the case for the trio.
"Are you sure you heard them correctly, Joe?" Frank asked as he followed his younger brother through the old mining tunnel. Nancy brought up the rear, looking around with her flashlight and listening to the brothers in front of her.
"Yes, Frank, for the thousandth time!" cried Joe, the beam of his flashlight bouncing off the dark tunnel floor. Although the mine had not been in use for over a hundred years, the tunnel seemed to be a haven for teenagers using it as a hangout as trash and debris were scattered throughout. The occasional old-fashioned lantern could be seen hanging from the walls here and there while rusted mining tools were seen semi-buried in the dirt. "I heard two guys talking about moving the 'merchandise' to the seller's rendezvous before the auction. It sounded like they wanted it done quickly hence the reason why I dragged you out here so quickly."
"Did you ever think that they knew you were there and lied about it to set a trap?" Frank stated. Although Frank couldn't see it, Joe rolled his eyes in annoyance before answering his brother.
"Yes, I did, Frank," Joe replied through gritted teeth, not hiding the irritation in his voice. "I understand that but I don't think they knew who I was let alone that I was even there."
"You keep believing that, Joe," Frank grumbled.
The trio walked in silence until they reached a dead end in the tunnel where it was partially collapsed from years of disuse. With only a lantern overturned on the floor, there was no evidence that someone had recently been there let alone a cache of artifacts.
"So, where is it, Joe?" asked Frank, his anger rising. Joe looked around the cramped tunnel, searching for anything out of the ordinary.
"I…I don't know," he stammered, looking confused as to why there was nothing there.
"Maybe they moved the stolen artifacts before we got here," Nancy suggested, looking around with her flashlight.
"It's not possible, Nan," Joe said, perplexed. "We came over here minutes after the conversation I heard. They wouldn't have had the time to get out here before us."
"Or maybe Joe was being a dumbass, gullible enough to believe two men he didn't see or know who they were!" Frank yelled, his voice echoing down the tunnel.
"Hey! I am not a dumbass!" Joe cried. The two brothers glared at each other before the younger one spoke again. "Just because it didn't come from the great Frank Hardy doesn't mean I didn't hear it! I know what I heard, Frank! They said it was here! I know I didn't see who they were but that doesn't mean I was hallucinating the whole thing!"
"Whatever, Joe," Frank said, rolling his eyes. "I have had enough of your antics. How do we know this isn't some prank you're pulling on us?"
"Why would I do that in the middle of an investigation?" Joe yelled, throwing his hands in the air. "You know me better than that, Frank! I'm tired of you not believing me!"
"Enough of this!" yelled Nancy. She stepped in between the brothers before either one could do something they regretted. "Both of you are acting like little kids! Grow up! There's got to be something here or we wouldn't have come all this way!"
"I can't believe you, Nancy!" cried Frank, looking at her in disbelief. "You're taking his side on this?! You were telling me earlier that this might be a wild goose chase and even you know Joe is wrong most of the time!"
"I may have said it was a 'wild goose chase' but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt!" she yelled back. "I can't believe you, Frank Hardy! He's your brother for God's sake! You have to trust his instincts just as much as he trusts yours! What is wrong with you anyway? You're never this edgy!"
"That's none of your business, Nancy! You two can stick around and search for the invisible stolen artifacts. I'm going to go find the real ones!" With that, Frank turned on a dime and stormed back down the tunnel, leaving the other two in shock and silence.
"What's up his butt?" Nancy asked Joe, turning toward the younger Hardy. She could still hear Frank grumbling as he walked down the tunnel. "I've never seen him so angry."
"I honestly don't know, Nan," Joe replied though he averted his eyes from her questioning stare. Nancy had a feeling he wasn't telling her the whole truth but she didn't say anything. The two searched the dead end, feeling around the walls, thinking maybe there was a door or separate tunnel they didn't know about.
"Joe! Look at this!" Nancy cried out after a few moments of silence. She dusted away a small hole in the wall, pushing a button inside. Although the walls were made of dirt, a partition of stone built into the wall shifted open, revealing a large cavern. As the two stepped into the room, artifacts from different eras of time sat in neat piles and rows, the jewels and gold glittering in the beam of their flashlights.
"Woah." Joe looked around the room in shock. "I was beginning to think that I was wrong about what I heard."
"Well, you were right," Nancy smiled. She picked up a necklace and examined the gold encrusted with sparkling jewels. "This doesn't look like something that would be in the dig, though."
Joe looked over her shoulder at the necklace and frowned.
"If it didn't come from Professor Windham's dig site, where did it come from?"
"I'm not sure," Nancy shrugged. She shined her flashlight on another artifact, a clay bowl that was still intact. "Now that is from the dig. I remember cataloguing that one myself last week. At least we know where some of this stuff came from. Let's get back to Frank then call the Sheriff and Windham."
"Why don't we just leave Frank out of this?" Joe grumbled.
"Now, Joe," Nancy said, putting her hands on her hips. "Frank needs to know especially since you two argued over this just a few minutes ago. I would have thought you wanted to rub it in."
"True but I think it would go on deaf ears. He's being a little bullheaded over...nevermind." Joe stole a glance at Nancy see if she noticed his slip-up. Nancy gave him another look and he cleared his throat. "Well, then. Let's go."
Shaking her head, Nancy placed the necklace in her pocket and led Joe out of the cavern, closing the secret door. The two began walking toward the tunnel's entrance, the only sounds were their footsteps scraping in the dirt. Although they could not see Frank, they heard grumbling ahead of them.
"It sounds like Frank is still upset with us," Joe said. He turned back to Nancy when he realized she wasn't next to him. She had stopped several feet behind him, a look of confusion etched on her face. "What? What is it?"
The rumbling grew louder with Joe soon realizing that it wasn't Frank he was hearing. Nancy's eyes went wide as several clumps of dirt fell to the ground from the ceiling. The tunnel was beginning to cave in around them and they were nowhere near the exit!
Frank stormed down the tunnel, grumbling to himself about Joe. He stopped just around a corner and heaved a sigh. He wasn't really mad at Joe for overhearing the two men talking. There were other things at play that he just couldn't control. With Callie dumping him a few weeks before, Frank was still a bit upset though not entirely devastated over the whole breakup. He thought that maybe helping Nancy with her case would take his mind off of Callie. He and Joe held a room adjacent to Nancy's and knocked on her door after Joe fell asleep soon after they arrived. Frank went into her hotel room, calling her name but soon realized that she was in the shower. He was about to leave when something caught his eye on the dresser nearby. A necklace lay in a heap near the TV but it wasn't the necklace itself that got his attention. Looped onto the chain was what looked like a ring, the gem sparkling even in the dim light of the room. Although Frank wasn't into snooping on his friends, he was a little taken aback by the ring. He looked over at the bathroom door, still hearing the shower running and leaned over to check out the jewelry. The ring had a large, solitaire diamond in the middle, the gem winking at him as if laughing in his face. His heart fell slightly, knowing exactly what it meant. Nancy was engaged and she never even mentioned it to her closest friends.
Although he didn't have any inclination of trying to hook up with Nancy while they were in Arizona, Frank still felt somewhat betrayed. Not just by her though either. With Joe stealing off to Las Vegas with Vanessa two months before, one could only think of what had happened while they were there. The couple seemed different when they returned and hadn't said anything though Frank had a feeling. As he stood in the tunnel, thinking of everything going on, Frank felt as if he were being left behind by the two people whom he loved and trusted the most.
He continued his way back toward the entrance of the tunnel not hearing Nancy and Joe yelling behind him nor the rumbling going on around him. It wasn't until he felt the dirt hit his head that he realized that the tunnel was collapsing. He was just about to the entrance when he turned around to see where Joe and Nancy were. The two were running toward him as more and more dirt and rocks fell around them all.
"Hurry, guys!" Frank yelled, motioning for them to quicken their pace. He stood at the entrance to the tunnel, silently praying that his brother and friend made it out before the tunnel completely collapsed.
Frank turned on his heel and ran for the entrance just as the tunnel shook around him. He looked back to see Joe helping Nancy up from the ground as if she tripped. Frank was about to go back to them when Joe urged him on. The tunnel around him began to collapse as he watched Nancy and Joe struggle to get to him. He was only a few feet from the tunnel entrance when it almost completely caved in around him, covering him with dirt and rock. Frank rushed the last few feet into the blazing sunshine. He squinted his eyes as they adjusted to the sudden bright light and turned back to the tunnel just as the entrance collapsed, completely blocking anyone from getting in or out.
"Joe!" Frank screamed, stumbling to get back toward the tunnel. Using his hands as shovels, he tried digging through the pile of dirt before him. "No! Nancy!"