Gold Fever [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Marshall Masters
eBook Category: Science Fiction/Fantasy
eBook Description: Three adventurous college students set out to find abandoned Spanish gold mines in the hills of Arizona and find unexpected danger and ancient mysteries along the way. The experience not only creates a bond among newfound friends, but also launches a whole new future for humankind.
eBook Publisher: Yowbooks.com/Your Own World Books, Published: 2003
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2005
A Rocky Start
15 Reader Ratings:
Mark Hoffman leaned over the steering wheel of his 1994 Ford Bronco. "I think I see the number. Yo, Highway Man, you sure this is where she lives?"
Tony del Corso clenched a small flashlight in his teeth, rechecked the red circle he'd drawn on his tattered Tempe, Arizona, street map, and looked out the passenger window of the 4x4 at they passed a street sign. "Yup," he replied slowly. "We're on Road Runner Drive, so 438 should be up ahead. Go slow man, so we don't overshoot."
The sunrise of the first day of their spring break was an hour away, and the two were anxious to pick up the third member of their party and head out for the back hills of the Prescott National Forest, certain they'd find adventure and GOLD!
Mark wondered if the deep throated roar of his modified Bronco would wake any of the residents of this upper middle class neighborhood, and went light on the gas pedal. "I gotta say, this whole setup has me worried."
Tony shrugged. "What's to worry?"
"For starters, I've never met Cindy before. All I know is that she was your trig tutor last semester. It was your idea to invite her in, provided she'd put up the expense money for this trip."
"So what was I supposed to do," Tony shot back. "You blew the trannie on that upstream donkey trail machine on our last trip." He held his hands upward, "Let's follow the stream to its source you said. The next thing I know, I'm shelling out the last of my allowance to get us towed out. Not to mention wasting three weekends helping you to rebuild the frickin' trannie. Since we're both flat broke, it's either take Cindy in as a third partner or we're out of business for the rest of the year."
"I was just talking rhetorically."
"And pigs can fly."
Three years earlier, Mark and Tony had pledged the Sigma fraternity near the Arizona State University campus together and now shared a small room in the fraternity house. They were Sigma brothers for life, colorful language and all.
Mark had been born and raised in Glendale, Arizona, where his father ran a small post office. After graduating high school, he spent a few years "bumming around" as he called it and while he was the older of the two, he never leaned on their age difference. Blessed with a photographic memory, he found it easy to maintain the highest grade point average in his fraternity as a history major.
Aside from his father, he also had a sister who now lived in Alaska and he only spoke once in a great while, whereas he and his father hadn't spoken much at all since his mother had passed. Still, their love for each other was strong. His father bought him the used high-mileage Bronco as a gift before he started ASU and would occasionally send him a few dollars, mostly on birthdays and holidays. However, the mainstay of Mark's income came from odd jobs and student loans, part of which he'd used to buy an old Nikon camera. Hence his nickname of "MotoPhoto," which always made the sorority girls giggle. He was a handsome young fellow with a rugged outdoors appearance and he enjoyed all the one-night-stands he cared to have. While the girls were well-coiffured and ever-ready, they'd exhaust his attention by the third or fourth roll in the hay. While there was a lot of hay to roll in, his roommate Tony was much less of a woman's man.
Tony del Corso majored in graphic design with a minor in photography. They often enjoyed talking about their shared love of photography. He was an out-of-state student from a large Italian family in Boardman, Ohio, and because his last name of del Corso meant "of the highway" in English, he was tagged with the nickname "Highway Man."
Tony had the physical characteristics of the stout Italian farming stock of his lineage and had been an only child. His doting parents agreed to finance his education with a small monthly allowance, provided he never took a part-time job. He called the arrangement his 'gilded cage' and made due. A devout Catholic, his mother would send him religious icons and rosary beads each month-all of which he dutifully stored in an ever-bulging suitcase under his bed.
During his college years, Mark kept in close contact with his high school sweetheart who was attending a nursing college in the Midwest. They always spent the summers together in Boardman, and his secret ambition was to pop the question after graduation.
Because Mark and Tony both came from working-class families and had a shared love of photography, their fraternity paired them up in a double room and the two clicked. Like peas in a pod.
In his junior year of college, Mark had become interested in prospecting for gold after writing a paper on the history of prospecting in Arizona. After a few tentative trips, he'd come down with a serious case of gold fever, and it only been a matter of time before Tony caught it as well.
"Whoa, there's Cindy's house," Tony exclaimed. "Go ahead and pull into the drive."
Mark shook his head. "Hey, Highway Man, you've got to have some serious coins to live around here, not like us penny-pinching fraternity bums. That's a nice house, so why annoy her landlady."
Tony chuckled. "She is the landlady. Her parents are a couple of rich lawyers from New York. They bought the place for her and the only reason she rents out a room is for the company."
"Talk about being born with a silver spoon in your mouth."
"No foolin'! I wonder if she's up."
Cindy Brezler had paced her living room floor until she saw the glare of the Bronco's headlights and watched as they pulled into the drive, coming to a stop behind her new Acura. She had already dressed, finished with breakfast, and had her gear bags stacked next to the door. Cindy was ready for an adventure and had gladly agreed to put up all the expenses for the trip in exchange for an even share of the finds.
Then she felt the pang of second doubts. "This is the craziest thing I've ever done in my life," she muttered to herself as Mark and Tony climbed down from the truck. It was a monstrous beast with oversized tires and the sun-faded, red paint job looked eerie in the light of the motion-activated lights aimed down on her driveway.
She got a grip on her fears. She was not going let herself become a lab-bound physicist who remembered college as one nonstop study session. Besides, she had long been tired of the boring, pseudo-intellectual Manhattan cocktail parties her parents begged her to attend during her trips home on holidays and semester breaks. She was also sick of renting DVDs to experience adventure through the antics of a vain starlet whose idea of roughing it was learning that room service had shut down for the night.
She felt an inexplicable hunger for adventure-and this seemed like it could just be the real thing. If they actually found something, that would be nice, but it was the search that mattered. All her life, she'd had the curiosity of a cat, which is why she enrolled in the master's program for physics.
Her parents hoped she'd go to law school, but reading boring documents and arguing with people on the phone all day was not her idea of a life. She wanted to search out the deep mysteries of the universe that tasked her insatiable curiosity and she wasn't afraid to explore new ideas.
Little did she know that she'd bargained for a life-changing adventure, fraught with sudden dangers and a profound discovery that would eventually change her life, and perhaps the course of humankind.