Jason's Crystal

1. The Explosion

Jason Thomas felt bored. Spain's hot weather was all very well. And yes, it was great having this almost private pool to swim in as often as he liked, but Jason longed for some adventure. Even if there had been something more interesting to do, no doubt it would be too hot to do it.

"Can't we go to the beach, Dad?" asked Jason.

"It's much too hot."

Dad was engrossed in a good book, and was drinking a gin and tonic. Mum was "drying off" in the sun.

"Not much chance of adventure here," thought Jason.

"Perhaps we'll go after supper tonight, when it's a little cooler."

Jason paddled his air bed up to the deep end of the pool. From there he had a good view of the sea. He didn't look at the sea for long because the light was too bright. Oh, it was a bore. Occasionally there had been other children at the pool, but they were not there today. The hot sun on his back made Jason sleepy, and as he dozed in the sun, he tried to imagine all sorts of adventures.

It was not a very happy time for Jason, He had no brothers or sisters. His parents had invited Andy, a boy from their street, to keep Jason company, but he'd gone down with chicken pox at the last minute and had not been able to come to Spain with them. Jason hadn't really minded that. Although he liked Andy well enough, he did actually like to have a lot of time to himself, time to day dream. When he was with people for too long, he ran out of things to say and began to feel awkward. All the same, he was running out of day dreams now. All this sunshine was just a bit too boring. There was nothing for it but to paddle backwards and forwards across the pool and imagine that he was captain of an ocean-going vessel - or something.

Jason was woken from his dreaming by the most terrific bang he had ever heard.

"What was that?" he shouted.

"No idea!" Dad shouted back.

"Look, over there!" Mum pointed.

Everyone at the pool had gathered by the low wall facing the hill on the other side of the main road. Clouds of brown smoky dust were billowing from two separate spots on a building site opposite.

Almost at once Jason heard the sirens of Police cars and ambulances. Seconds later a fire engine was speeding up the side of the hill.

"Must be serious," someone said.

"Probably they overdid the rock blasting."

"I wonder whether anyone's hurt?"

"They must expect it."

"Dad, can we go and find out what happened?"

"I don't suppose they know yet. Besides, we'd only be in the way."

"I expect we'll hear all about it on the English News tomorrow, love," added Mum.

At first there seemed to be a great deal of activity on the side of the hill, but to Jason's great disappointment it was all over very quickly.

The people at the end of the pool were soon beginning to make their way back to their sun beds. A few minutes later the ambulances and police cars were making their way back down the hill. Only one ambulance was flashing now and they didn't seem to have used the fire engine at all.

Jason sighed. It had begun to look like an adventure but now it had all gone very ordinary again.

"Here," said Dad, reaching into his pocket,"go and get yourself a coke."

Jason ambled grumpily over to the bar.

"Cheer up," said Juan, the young barman. "What's wrong anyway?"

"Oh, it's just that it's really a grown-up's place here and I'd really like to have an adventure. I wanted to go and find out what caused the explosion."

"Tell you what," said Juan, "I live up on that hill. Perhaps I could take you up there - I go off duty in one hour's time."

There was some protest at first from Mum and Dad. But after he had promised that he would not get in the way nor ask too many questions, they reluctantly agreed that Jason could go. When they came back from visiting the sight of the explosion, Juan's mother would feed Jason some "churros" while Juan got changed, and as Juan had to meet his girlfriend later that evening, he could take Jason home on his way back into town.

One hour and twenty minutes later, Juan and Jason were speeding up the side of the hill. The wind rushing through the open sides of the jeep added to the excitement.

"It's very strange," said Juan. "In this area they don't usually need to blast the rock. They are building on already flat places. And there's no gas there."

"Bombs?" asked Jason hopefully.

Juan laughed. "I shouldn't think so," he said. "We appreciate the tourists too much here. They bring us a lot of money. We wouldn't like to hurt them." It really was a puzzle.

In no time at all they arrived at the spot. There was not much happening there now. A little of the brown dust still hovered in the air. One of the workmen sat in front of the half-finished house. Juan spoke to him for a few minutes.

"No-one was badly hurt," he reported back to Jason. "Though one man seems to have been so terrified that he can't speak any more." It seemed that the man in question had been taken to hospital suffering from shock. He had been inside the house when the explosion had happened and had come out shaking with terror. Still no-one knew what had caused it and it hadn't really done much harm. However, none of the workmen wanted to go back in. There was going to be an investigation and in the meantime, the authorities had said that the work must stop.

"Can we go and look?" asked Jason.

Juan looked doubtful. The workman said something to him. Juan laughed.

"He says you're braver than all of the big men. There's no physical danger,as far as they can tell."

"Can I then?"

"Okay. I'll come with you. Just a few minutes. And don't touch anything."

The two of them wondered in. It was a little dark inside the house.

"There really seems to be no sign of where the explosion happened," said Juan after their eyes got used to the dark. The building was, in fact, almost complete, but not finished off inside. It was very quiet, almost unnaturally quiet. They could no longer hear the traffic on the street. Jason and Juan wondered through the unfinished rooms. There really was nothing to see. It all seemed a bit disappointing again.

Just as they were about to leave, something happened which stopped Jason in his tracks. Suddenly, in the corner of the room, a strange patch of light appeared. It was not a bright light, but rather a sort of luminous glow. The patch of light began to spin round and in the middle of it Jason could see a diamond shape, glowing ever brighter.

"Juan!" cried Jason. But as Juan turned round to look, the light had disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived.

"Come on, let's go," said Juan.

"Okay," replied Jason. Maybe the workmen had a point. This was getting weird. Despite the heat, Jason shivered.

When they came out of the building, thick black clouds had gathered on top of the hill.

"Will it rain?" asked Jason.

"Shouldn't think so," replied Juan. "It never rains here in August."

Five minutes later, they were at Juan's home. Juan explained what they had been doing to his mother, a short, rounded, homely sort of woman. She tossed her wavy dark hair proudly and her dark eyes flashed.

"Son los guardianes de los cristales. Es peligroso."

Juan laughed.

"My mother is very superstitious, just like the workmen."

Juan's father continued. "There is an old belief that there are certain parts of the mountain which should not be built on. Behind them are vast caves, full of crystal. They are guarded by giants. Certain spots where the rock is thinner are used by them to enter and leave the mountain. If anyone covers the spot, the giants take their revenge."

"It's rubbish, of course," said Juan, "but my mother believes it." He gave his mother an affectionate hug.

She suddenly laughed too,

"So! Churros para los nios?"

The word "churros" made Jason forget the mystery of the explosion for a while. Within a very short time there was a plate of golden churros in front of them. Jason devoured them hungrily.

"Ms?" asked Juan's mother. Jason could not resist the chance to eat even more. The "churros" just melted into his mouth. They were wonderfully sweet and syrupy.

All too soon, it was time to go back. As they left Juan's home, Jason noticed a strange-looking man sitting on a bench in front of the house. He was an oldish man with a long pointed beard. Despite his age, he wore light colours unlike the other older men Jason had seen in the village. His trousers were a very light brown and his blazer just a shade darker. On his head he had an old-fashioned straw boater. Jason was most impressed by the golden walking stick he held. It gleamed and glistened and seemed to give off a light of its own.

As they walked by, the old man got up and raised his hat to Jason and Juan, then using the wonderful golden stick to help him, he slowly set off down the hill.

"Do you know him? asked Jason.

"Uh-huh. Probably just another tourist."

As they drove back down the hill, they could just hear the opening numbers of a pop concert that was taking place in town. The air vibrated with every sound. The black clouds overhead seemed to be closing in in time to the music.

Just as Jason hopped out of the jeep in front of the villa, the first drops of rain were falling.

"Come and look at this," called Dad, as Jason walked through the door.

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Page last updated 13 August 2005