All That Glitters
by Gabriel Schenk
How had it come to this? William was not sure. The desire for treasure had been more powerful than he had anticipated when he originally ordered the metal-detector, and made plans to use it in nearby fields. He had heard of people finding Roman coins, perhaps even Anglo-Saxon helmets or swords. He had not been so lucky – in fact, he had not found anything, apart from a rusted coke can. That was four hours ago. Now he was doggedly sweeping the side of a hill with his detector, besieged by wind carrying flecks of snow, squinting in moonlight. His hands, and the tips of his feet, were numb from cold.
The detector chirruped with occasional beeps, all too quiet and fleeting to be significant. Over the course of the day he had grown increasingly attached to his machine, and even given it a name: Fletcher, as in Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote. William hoped that Fletcher might ‘investigate’ some buried treasure.
William and Fletcher journeyed up the side of the hill, flanked by regiments of trees, and surrounded by the twisting flow of a motorway. The field could not be ploughed because it was too steep, so any treasure had (potentially) been left for millennia.
‘But they’ve been here already’, muttered William to Fletcher. ‘The hunters have been and left’.
It was true: this land had been scoured by generations of metal detectors. It was unlikely he would find anything tonight. William would not give up without uncovering something, though.
The man and his machine reached the top of the hill, where a barbed fence separated the tree-line from the field. William turned, and Fletcher wailed loudly. The noise was so unexpected that William jumped back, losing his spot and causing the detector to fall silent. Panic flushed through his body. He swept around again, searching for that small area that had triggered the sound.
‘Come on Fletcher’, he whispered huskily. ‘Find it again. Please find it…’
He thought of what he might discover – Viking silver, buried for safety and forgotten? A belt buckle from a medieval peasant? A golden doubloon? Whatever it was, Fletcher had given him his first strong signal of treasure, much louder and clearer than the coke can. At last he would uncover something and prove himself!
This time the electronic wail sounded beautiful and reassuring. It was loud, which meant that the metal object was close to the surface, maybe even above ground.
William slung Fletcher over his back and crouched down. He caressed the grass, feeling from its roots to its tips, so that he would not miss anything, until he felt a cold and hard object. He brought it up and held it in the air, bathing it in moonlight. It looked like –
It was a pound coin. The Queen’s face was disfigured by a scratch, and both sides were dotted with flecks of white where the copper alloy had worn off. It would not even cover his bus-faire home – but it was his, and he had found it.
It was his treasure.