Vivian was seated by the table gazing at her cup of tea. Pieces of leaves floated around the hot water as it slowly turned yellow. She heard Ruth moving around in front of her but dare not look up. Her hands were trembling as she held the hot mug.
“This is incredible,” Ruth said. “I bet she spent a small fortune to make it look like herself.”
“Please stop talking about it.” Vivian closed her eyes and shook her head. “Can you take that thing away from here?”
“It's only a doll and nothing more.” Ruth walked over to her. “That a look.”
Vivian shook her head and slowly looked up to stare at the doll. Its likeness to Margret was uncanny and unsettling. Vivian quickly looked away as Ruth continued to examine it.
The clocked bell rung and Ruth looked at the time. It was eight o’clock pm, and they still have not found the treasure or what the key was for which Margret left for them. Ruth sat down and tapped her fingers thinking about the next clue.
“Viv any ideas on where to look next?” She gazed at her. “We’re running out of time.”
“I have an idea, but I’m not going with you.” She softly spoke.
“Why? What you scared of?” Vivian pointed to the doll. Ruth chuckled and rested her back against the chair. “Oh, come on. It's only a doll and nothing more.”
“That’s what they all say in the movies.”
“True, but this is real life, not fantasy.” Ruth pushed the doll and shifted its arms. “Fine, if you don’t want to come then tell me where to go.”
“The greenhouse.” Vivian quickly answered.
Ruth looked out the window and could barely see the small building. She walked over to the window and stared at it. The weather outside was colder and began to snow.
“You will need to place the doll on the chair. There a small passage will open for you.” Vivian said.
“How you know about this secret passage?’
* * *
Margret held Vivian by the hand as the two entered the greenhouse. It was a warm day, and passing clouds rolled over the clear blue sky. The inside of the building was humid, and the smell of flowers filled the air. Vivian sneezed once and wiped her nose with her hand. Margret frowned at her and pulled out a handkerchief.
“Young lady always carries a handkerchief all the time to not embarrass herself in front of others.” She spoke with authority.
“Sorry,” Vivian said as she grabbed it and wiped her nose. “What are we doing in here?”
“I want to show you something, for one day, I will leave this world.” Margret walked to a metal chair. It was large and appeared to be some type of medical seat. There were locks on the armrest and in front of the legs. “I want you to set here.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Do as I say without questioning me.” Margret snapped at her.
Vivian nodded and sat on the chair. She could feel the cold steel underneath her arms and legs. As she examined the seat, Margret clamped both of Vivian’s arms.
“W-what are you doing?” She screeched in fright.
“Showing you a secret,” Margret said as she locked Vivian’s legs. “Hold still and watch.”
Vivian nervously nodded as Margret walked behind her then felt the chair moving forward. Vivian shouted to stop, but Margret ignored her cries. The chair moved forward slowly, and a small opening appeared in front of Vivian. The hole was dark, and she thought that something underneath was crawling inside the darkness. Vivian shut her eyes tightly and gritted her teeth as the chair leaned inside the hole.
Ruth stood watching the chair then looked at Vivian who was holding her arm and had her eyes closed. “Did she really do that to you?”
“I don’t know, all I remember was waking up inside a small room with pictures and dolls.” Vivian rested her head on Ruth’s arm.
“Man, she really traumatized you.” Ruth looked at the doll which she held. “She never did anything to me like that, sure she shouted and hit me but nothing like that.”
“That’s because you are strong, brave and stood up for yourself.”
“Hey, you're strong too. You are a successful woman and run a big business.”
“Only because I married into the family.” Vivian pulled out a handkerchief and blew her nose. “I never like the guy.”
Ruth shook her head and placed the doll on the seat and lock the arms and legs. Then walked behind it and lifted the chair. As it moved forward, a trapdoor appeared, and lights turned on. Ruth examined it to see steps that led deep into the hole.
“Well, we are here and just need to move forward.” Ruth crouched down and was about to head down when Vivian spoke.
“You never told me why you abandon Josh at the altar.”
Ruth looked at her and smiled. “He was cheating on me, and I don’t like to be tricked into something. Also, he was only after me because of the money.”
“I see.” Vivian shivered. “I guess I will join you.”
“That’s my girl.” Ruth stood and hugged her. “I can always count on you.”
Vivian nodded, and the two climbed down the hole. The row of lights led them to the end of a hallway and a reddish door. The keyhole was different and appeared to be the one which Margret left for them. Ruth looked at Vivian who had her eyes closed. She smirked and nudged her elbow on her.
“It's going to be fine. We got each other.”
Ruth placed the key in the keyhole and turned it. The sound of gears moving echoed the hallway and the walls rumbled as the door slowly opened on its own. As soon as the lights went out, the inside of the room was illumined by a red glow. In the middle was a large box with a glass canister on top of it. Both women entered and gazed at the eerie light, and something inside was in it. Ruth stooped down to see it, and her eyes widened as she smiled to herself.