Deklin tightened his lips, about to make an angered retort when Peter broke the silence.
“It might not be as bad as you think; boss,” he said softly.
“Ohhh what?!!” yelped Deklin.
“No, he might be right,” said Ian. “Canberra’s about 900 years old. A lot of its rebuilt on top of the older city. This hole we’re looking at might have nothing to do with modern day council. We should have a look to find out.”
Deklin looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded.
“Ok then; who’s going down there?”
“I’ll do it,” said Ian. “It’s my mess.”
“Alright, get the crane over here.”
A man in his forties with pointed sideburns jogged to the yellow vehicle. He opened the driver’s door as a second man climbed into the rear cab.
Ian slipped on rough leather gloves and waited by the side of the hole. The diesel engine roared on starting, then the machine chugged as close to the edge as possible. Its boomed swiveled with the administrations of the boom operator. The hook swung toward Ian, then slowed to a stop within arm’s reach, lowering to ankle height. Gripping the cable, he stepped into the stirrup as Deklin halted beside him.
Deklin held a lantern up to the sun and waited for the power gem to light up.
“That should be good for four hours.”
He handed the lantern to Ian as Deklin gestured down. The cable unwound, taking Ian into the cavernous darkness. Depressing the lantern’s switch, bathed the expanse in bluish white light. It spread further than he imagined, finding brickwork and a huge central mound of dirt. In the midst of the mound, he saw curved surfaces, pale grey in colour, no doubt part of a huge pipe wall. It wouldn’t suit his purpose to alight on top of the mound as he’d have to reach the cavern floor to properly investigate.
He pointed. “Take me over there!”
Deklin relayed orders. Ian’s view hovered over the mound, then moved in the desired direction. His change in perspective gave him an overall glimpse of huge concrete pipes, three in all, meeting in the middle.
“It looks like a t-juncture for storm water pipes!” he cried, his voice sounding hollow.
The ground fell away as a slope from one of the pipes, making for a smaller basin between the clay and the pipe wall.
“Take me down there!”
The hook lowered. He stepped off onto sloshy ground.
“That’s enough!” he called out as the hook nestled onto the damp floor.
The light from the lantern well illumined the small expanse. It had little to draw his attention except for a yellow and black portable road side barrier. Bringing his lantern closer, he inspected the small orange hazard light. In itself, it looked unremarkable. Roadside workers today still used them. He merely wondered how long men had used these? It could have been used on any modern roadside with no one being any the wiser that it might have been… a couple of centuries old?