The Old Man And The Key

Andy had pretty much been avoiding Richard all day the next day. Richard had approached him at his locker at the beginning of the day after Andy had gone early to school when Richard went by his house to walk with him. But Andy had walked off before Richard had, had a chance to even say hello.

            Richard had glumly sat through classes alone as Andy had chosen seats that were as far away as possible throughout each of their classes together. And at lunch after Derk had thrown some carrots at Richard, Andy had just looked away while sitting at least five tables away.

            By the end of the day Richard was feeling very lonely without his best friend to help him through the day, so finally before it was time to leave he leapt out and cornered Andy while the unsuspecting party was passing a broom closet that Richard had snuck into.

            It was a tad drastic Richard felt himself admitting but he had to talk to his friend to find out exactly why he had been avoiding Richard. The answer was already clear in his head, the coin. But still Richard had thrown crackpot ideas at Andy before, and they had never fazed him. Something about this coin was really freaking Andy out, and Richard needed to find out what it was.

            Andy pushed him away glaring.

            “Richard, what the hell are you doing bursting out of a broom closets? People will think you’re completely insane,” Andy whispered, as to not draw any more attention than was already necessary.

            Richard felt a twinge of remorse, after all his friend seemed more concerned for Richard’s well being than his own, but then he realized why he had done it and punched Andy in the shoulder, hard.

            Andy recoiled in pain.

            “What the hell is your problem?” he hissed.

            Richard shot him a look.

            “What’s my problem? What’s your problem, you’ve been purposely and spitefully avoiding me all day. Did you think I wouldn’t notice or something?” Andy shot back, angrily.

            Richard looked around, still concerned with drawing any attention before looking back at Richard, dead in the eyes.

            “Look, I was avoiding you because I still think you’re lying to me, or playing some kind of joke,” Andy looked again before continuing, “I checked out that coin you have and it turns out its one of five that was created as a collection for this king back in the 14th century, by a not very well known wizard at the time, known as Octavius.”

            Andy stopped and waited for this to sink in. Richard took on a glassy eyed look trying to listen but also his mind drawing back to that night. Richard continued.

            “One night during an enormous storm, the castle was reportedly soaked by the blood of the entire royal family. There was a legend attached to it that witchcraft and the supernatural were involved in the slayings, but none survived that would have witnessed anything to make these claims true. As the accounts go, all the coins disappeared and only two were ever collected over time. They’re all on display in some British museum, but the last two were never recovered.”

            Andy stopped again, and Richard thought it was for dramatic purposes but Andy was looking around again to make sure no one was listening, and he moved closer to Richard and lowered his voice for the last part.

            “The coins are supposedly also linked to the supernatural, and the legend says that whoever possesses all five coins will control all five elements and therefore control the universe. Supposedly each coin looks alike but also they have a small symbol on them specific to whatever element they control.”

            Richard looked confused.

            “Five elements? But there’s only four elements, wind, water, fire, earth,” he said in a matter-of-fact way.

            Andy gave him a solemn look.

            “According to the legend the fifth element is life.”

            Richard thought about this for a moment. If Andy was telling the truth Richard could hold a coin that controlled an element. An image of Dirk being whirled up by a tornado popped into Richard’s mind and made him chuckle.

            Andy shot him a look again.

            “This is not funny, its serious business. Now I need to know, are you lying to me or is that coin the real deal?” he whispered, looking around nervously again.

            “Andy, you believe this dribble about wizards and junk and you won’t believe my story?” Richard mused.

            “This is not dribble, its artifacts and accountability. You’re not very well known for either of those things Richard and we both know that,” Andy shot back.

            “Andy what I told you was the truth, I’m not going to say it again,” Richard grumbled.

            Andy’s eyes glowed with excitement. Richard began to wonder why he was acting so out of character, usually Andy didn’t care about anything.

            “Than if it’s the real deal you need to make sure you keep it safe and don’t let anyone else touch it,” another nervous glance around him, “I’ll come by tonight and take a look at it again.”

            With that once again Andy was off before Richard could say anything else. Richard felt a chill run down his spine. Something about this whole ordeal wasn’t fitting together properly and the entire idea of what had happened so far was beginning to really freak him out. He decided it was time to pay the old shop owner a visit and find out what the deal was with that door.




            Richard was discouraged at first when he found that the closed sign had been flipped over facing out to the world. It was a long walk out of his way to the shop and he hadn’t wanted to come for nothing. But he realized that there was still movement from inside the store. A shadow dancing around and the dust was in tow as though attached to the hunched over figure moving around with zeal.

            He ran across the road narrowly avoiding an angry driver and jogged up to the door pushing his face against the glass to look into the gloom. Instantly he fell back as a pair of eyes met his, wide and curious.

            He moved back towards the door cautiously and peered in again. The eyes were waiting for him, but this time he was ready for them so he was able to examine them and the face they were attached to. Embarrassment washed over him as well as some relief when he realized there was a mirror leaned up against a chair facing the door. He was staring at his own face.

            As Richard leaned into the door to stare at the mirror it suddenly gave way and he fell into the shop, the dust once again hastily greeting him with confining surround. The bell was thrown clear off its hinge and flew through the shop landing promptly in a large open mouth vase ringing its intentions all the way in.

            The echoed ringing rang through the entire shop and it was long before Richard heard the grumbling of the old shop keeper.

            “What the bloody ‘ell is going on? ‘Oo the bloody ‘ell is in here, come on now, show yourself,” the old man yelled out.

            Richard stood up slowly dusting himself off, the dust sadly falling back to the floor in cascades from his clothing. The old man was standing in the corner holding one of the mighty swords from upstairs. He peered over the rims of his half moon glasses and grimaced putting the sword down.

            “You again is it? No refunds,” he said, waving Richard away.

            Richard moved towards the old man in haste.

            “No sir, no I’m not here for a refund,” Richard pleaded, “the door...ever since I put it in, strange things have been happening. And there was this coin...”

            The old man swung around cutting Richard off.

            “Coin? You found a coin you say?” he said, mild surprise showing on his wrinkled face.

            Richard gave him a strange look; it was as though the old man was expecting this. The look of surprise on his face almost seemed placed.

            “Yes, my friend Andy say’s it’s at least six or seven centuries old. And these sounds and movements in the shadows at night,” Richard went on.

            The old man shook his head, almost in annoyance.

            “Night is when they come, darkness is their home,” he muttered.

            Richard could barely hear him.

            “Sorry, what did you say?” Richard asked.

            The old man looked at him again, the wrinkled old face showing actual concern.

            “Son I’m glad you came back to see me. I ‘ave an item for you,” he answered, and then shuffled back behind his counter and into an unseen part of the store.

            Richard looked around the shop. The ballerina was now hidden away in her moldy box, and the rest of the treasures had disappeared under tapestries and cloaks. All that was left were mirrors. Richard couldn’t count them all but the surrounded the entire store. He realized that he hadn’t noticed these mirrors before, they just seemed to have cropped up out of nowhere. Just after you bought the door, Richard found himself thinking.

            Suddenly the old man shuffled back into sight again deterring Richard from his thoughts. In his liver spotted worn looking hand he was clutching something shiny. Richard peered down but couldn’t place the object.

            The old man looked into his eyes again. Richard hadn’t noticed before but the eyes were a very deep and casting grey. Richard seemed to remember them being a green colour but he couldn’t remember why. He shook the thought from his head and looked down at the old man’s hand again.

            The hand opened slowly to reveal a large brass key. It wasn’t like the keys Richard were used to, small and metal. This key was definitely old, with large decorative rings on the handle and an elongated pole with key latched breaking off every now and then.

            Richard wondered what this key was meant for, and then his thoughts shot back to the door. Of course, the door had an enormous key hole that Richard’s father had been unable to find a locksmith to copy. This must have been the key. Richard reveled in the sight of it. Finally teenage privacy awaited him in this large brass decoration.

            “This ‘ere is the key to that there door I sold to your dad, now I forgot to give it to him before so I’ll give it to you now and entrust that it gets to him,” he remarked quietly.

            “Oh its okay sir, the door is attached to my room, so I’d be the one using the key anyways,” Richard said.

            The old man peered him in the eyes again and again those strange grey eyes washed over him assessing him. For some reason Richard was suddenly more aware of all the mirrors around him. Richard began to feel funny as well, his felt as though he was beginning to sway back and forth and his head became dizzy. The old man was still staring him straight in the eye but now those eyes were doubling and tripling, many sets of grey eyes staring into his soul.

            Suddenly a car horn honked outside and Richard was broken from the strange trance as he wheeled around. It was his dad.

            He turned back but the old man was shuffling back towards the counter again.

            “Don’t forget, the key not only locks the door but without it you can not open the door again,” and with that he disappeared into the unseen back again.

            Richard took this as his cue to leave. Although his questions were unanswered he hurriedly jammed the key into his pocket and headed for the door, already feeling the angry gaze from his father.

            As the door closed the old man came back out from the back, watching Richard climb into the vehicle and watching it pull away. He grumbled something to himself and then looked at his reflection in one of the mirrors. The green eyes of the reflection stared back at him solemnly and then a tear began to slide down the reflection’s wrinkled face. The old man smiled and then moved towards the door to lock up.

The End

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