Try this…..a cave in the mountains, a woman’s shawl, a box of old coins and a shotgun
The flickering light from the torch coated the etched stone walls as the masked man slowly made his way through the cave. He had been walking through this granite maze for hours, the grip of his old double-barrel shotgun firmly in his grasp. His hold on the gun had been so tight that one could’ve sworn it was simply an extension of his being, a lethal prosthetic. His breathing was heavy against the cloth tied around his face, his lungs further burdened by the thick, old air that remained still in the cave. The acrid smoke from the torch further suffocated him, occasionally causing him to go into a coughing fit.
The man put a hand to his brow, his knuckle clearing away sweat that hadn’t been absorbed by his cloth mask. He imagined it couldn’t be much further — each step increasing his anxiety. The torch’s flame touched a particularly volatile portion of the wood, sending sparks spitting out at the gray walls. The explosion of light gave the man a brief burst of visibility, allowing him to see a chest of some sort in the distance. It had only been a few paces from him, but he was so far from the entrance of the cave that all light had been completely snuffed out. Cautious, the man approached the chest, kneeling down in front of it. He looked down at his right hand, the shotgun still pressed into his palm. He let his grip on the weapon loosen, the weapon falling to the stone floor. The noise of metal quickly meeting stone sent an echoing crack throughout the cave, although it was completely drowned out in the man’s head by the sound of his own heartbeat.
The latch on the chest was rusted, the wood itself covered in iron dust. His fingers scratched at it, the sweat from his palm causing him to struggle. The tips of his fingers found a flaw in the wood, allowing him to pop open the latch with little effort. He flicked the top of the chest open, the lid smacking against a granite wall with a thud loud enough that it startled a few bats that had been deeper in the cave.
The masked man held the torch up to the contents of the chest — the light flickering off of gold and bronze coins. The man ran his hand into the box, his fingers knocking around the various pieces of metal. He bit at the corner of his cheek, curiosity causing his fingers to go deeper into the box. His eyes lit up wide for a moment before narrowing. He felt something different.
The tips of his fingers hooked a piece of cloth buried deep under the coins, slowly pulling it out. As it became visible his eyes narrowed further — it appeared to be a woman’s shawl. His free hand ran over the textured piece of cloth. It had been covered in dust and residue from the metal coins, most of the threads torn and way beyond repair.
A noise echoed behind him — the sound of boots pounding against the granite floor. He grabbed a handful of the coins, wrapping them within the shawl before snatching them off into his pocket. He grabbed his shotgun from the side of the chest, quickly leaping to his feet. He held the torch out in front of him, entrusting his safety to the depths of the cave.
He didn’t look back.