Andy sat on the ground with the chest resting between his legs. Rain continued to fall down from the heavens, slowly washing away the mud from the chest. Andy continued to sit there, staring at the treasure he unearthed, wondering what could possibly be inside. Thunder echoed softly in the background as the storm slowly passed, making its way through the valley.
Andy placed his shovel on top of the chest, picked it up, and headed back under the willow tree. He placed the chest at the foot of the boulder, knelt down, and started wiping the remaining mud away from the latches keeping the contents of the chest safely inside.
The chest must have been in the ground for several years as the latches were corroded to the extent that they were one solid piece. Andy took his shovel and began hacking away at the first latch. He was gentle at first, not wanting to damage the contents inside, but became more forceful as the latch refused to let go.
Finally, the first latch broke off after several minutes of beating the resistance out of it. Andy wiped the beads of sweat streaming down his face, took a deep breath, then started on the second latch. To his surprise, the second latch came off after the third hit. Andy grabbed the front handle and tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. The corrosion over the years had welded the seam shut tight.
“Fuck!” Andy said out loud in frustration.
He began looking over the chest trying to figure out how to get it open. He didn’t want to just start hacking away at the seam; whatever was inside had to be extremely valuable and he didn’t want to risk damaging it. His mind was racing, trying to figure out how to get it opened when an opportunity finally presented itself. The removal of one of the latches had created a small opening in the seam, just big enough for the tip of his shovel to fit inside.
Andy took his shovel and wedged the tip of it in the opening. He wiggled it around gently, trying to get more and more of the shovel inside the seam so he could create enough room to pry the lid open. It was arduous work. Apparently, the chest didn’t want to relinquish the contents it had been keeping safe over the past several years.
He worked the seam for several excruciating minutes, being careful with every move of his shovel, but working as quickly as possible, the suspense of what lay inside growing stronger and stronger with each passing minute.
Finally, Andy created enough space where he could get his fingers inside the seam. He took a pair of leather gloves from his backpack, put them on, and tried to pry the chest apart. He pulled with all his strength, but the chest wouldn’t give.
Andy sat still and began to breathe deeply, calming himself. Once he was centered, he began inhaling and exhaling quickly, in short, “sniffing” breaths, building up his strength for one final attempt. He placed his fingers inside the seam, took in one more inhalation, and held it, harnessing all the power he had within him. Then, he slowly let out a primordial roar to the gods, invoking their help, and pulled with all his might. His muscles screamed in agony as his roar grew to a crescendo, rivaling the thunder in the background.
And then, it happened.