The door moved slightly, and two pair of eyes scanned the room. The sun’s light cast over two large windows to view the chamber. Most of the furniture was covered in white sheets and boxes were stacked in the corner of the room. The bed had no mattress as the old heavy wood frame was exposed. As the door opened wider, Ruth entered first followed by Vivian who was hunched over behind her.
“Do you think someone is here?” Vivian spoke in a small voice.
“No, just us.” Ruth marched towards the window and moved the curtains to allow more daylight. “See nothing.”
“Then what was that noise?” Vivian walked over to a desk that was covered by the white sheet.
“The house settling and nothing more.” Ruth pulled down one of the sheets and gazed at a portrait of her aunt. “I think this will be tossed out.”
“Maybe the library will want it. She helped them a lot of times.” Vivian stared at it and fear came over her as she looked away.
Ruth noticed her behavior and nudged her elbow. “Hey, I thought you like auntie Margret?”
“Not really. I only respected her.”
Ruth smirked and covered the painting. “Well, looks like we just got jumpy. Let’s search for the next clue.”
Vivian nodded and searched the room. Her eyes stopped at the fire mantel and walked over to it. There was a strange indication of something missing on it. Vivian pulled out the tin man and placed it on top of it. A faint click was heard, and a wall on the right side of the fireplace moved.
“Ruth come here.” She walked over to Vivian who was pointing to the small opening. “Look I place the figure on the mantel, and the wall moved.”
“This is unreal.” Ruth studied the wall. “Whoever thought that Margret had a secret passage. Ha, I wonder other secrets she has hidden?”
“Maybe the treasure is in there.”
“Or the key.” Ruth pulled the wall and stared into the dark hallway. “Well, let's go check it out.”
“I’ll wait here.” Vivian held her hands over her chest.
“What? We got to do this together.”
“I know.” Vivian closed her eyes and breathed deeply. “But I’m afraid of small spaces. You traumatized me when we were young.”
Ruth squeezed through the opening and shimmy to the other side which was a room. She felt the walls for a light switch and found it. As the glow came on, Ruth gazed at something and shouted.
“Vivian! Come here.”
“What did you find?” She peeked around the corner.
“Come here. I won’t be able to take it out. It’s too big.”
“Oh, do I have to?” Vivian began to chew on her nail.
Vivian sighed and took several breathes and entered the small opening. She stopped a few inches and shoot her head. “I can’t do this.”
“It's easy. Just come here.”
“But I’ll get stuck or something—”
“Nothing’s going to happen to you. It’s safe.”
Vivian moved her foot and tried to be calm, but with each movement, she felt the walls closing on her and the thought of being stuck came over her. She trembled and began to cry.
“Ruth, I’m stuck help me.”
“Viv, you can do it just move.”
“I can’t.” Vivian cried as she began to freak out and moved to get out.
“Stay calm, or you’re going to hurt yourself.”
“Please help me!”
* * *
Vivian held a duck and was gazing at Ruth who was crawling inside a hollow tree. She made it to the other side and got up as she dusted herself.
“Okay, your ” Ruth said as she peeked head in the opening.
“Are you sure?” Vivian hugged the duck closer to her chest.
“Yes. Don’t you want to see my secret place.”
“I do, but it looks scary.” Vivian and examined the hollow tree.
She nodded her head and looked at the duck. “Do you think we’ll be fine?”
“Yes.” The duck nodded its head and looked at the opening. “You’ll be fine. Your cousin is there waiting for you, she will help you.”
“If you say so.”
“Of course, I will wait for ” Ruth shouted. “I’m not going to leave you alone.”
“No, I was talking to Mr. ” Vivian said as she tied the duck to her back.
“You know I never understood why you call him Nocturne. He’s a duck.”
“He likes ” Vivian said as she began to crawl.
“You’re one of the strangest cousins I ” Ruth said as she sat on the ground and stretched her legs out. “But you’re the funniest one. All the others are just too stuck-up.”
“What’s stuck-up?” Vivian said as she made it .
“Oh, well, I’m glad not like that.”
“Same here.” Ruth looked in the opening and saw Vivian’s head. “See you made it.”
“Yeah,” Vivian was about to out when something her dress. “Ruth, I’m stuck.”
“Only you would get stuck.” She got up and grabbed Vivian by the hand and began to pull her out. But she would not budge.
“Stop! You’re hurting me.” Vivian shouted and began to cry.
“Hey, don’t you start. I’ll get you out. Just stay calm.” Ruth held Vivian face with both hands. “Close your eyes and breath slowly.”
As Vivian calm down, Ruth looked pass her and saw that a piece of the tree was to her dress. She reached out and ripped the fabric, then pulled Vivian out. She was relieved and hugged Ruth .
“You’re safe as I promised.” Ruth padded her on the back.
Vivian gripped tightly on Ruth and wept. “For a grown up you are still my baby cousin.”
“I still have nightmares of it.” Vivian wiped her tears.
“You were only stuck.” Ruth gently pushed Vivian off her. “Anyway, over for now and—”
“What do you mean for now?” Vivian looked around the small room.
“We got to back through the same way.” Ruth walked passed her and head to a large trunk. “Hey check this out.”
“I’m not going through that again.” Vivian frowned and grabbed Ruth by the arm. “There must be another way.”
“Well,” she gazed around the room. “I only see one opening.”
“I hate ” Vivian said as she clenched her fists.
“And yet you still follow me around.” Ruth laughed.
“It’s because I still trust you.” sighed and adjusted her glasses.
“Good then help me open the trunk.”
Vivian walked over to the Ruth, they both lifted the heavy lid. A puff of dust filled the air and they both as Ruth opened her eyes and gazed at an empty trunk.
“Oh great.” She it. “Waste of time.”
Vivian examined the trunk and found an to the top of the lid. “Hey, there’s something here.”
“Bet it’s just her address in case the trunk got misplaced.” Ruth sighed and stared at the brick wall. “There must be something in here.”
While Ruth studied the room, Vivian was reading the letter and was startled by what she . She tugged on Ruth’s shirt and held the document to her.
A loud bang was heard outside the bedroom. Ruth and Vivian gazed at each other as they listened. There was nothing so Ruth peeked through the opening and her eyes widened as she at a dark figure standing in front of the passage.