Wednesday, March 19, 2014


A Riddled Inheritance
By Nicholas Slade

As I entered my Aunt’s study, I marveled at her vast collection. Every bookcase was crammed with books, the walls were covered in tribal masks, and the room was filled with ancient urns, spears, swords, bows – just about anything you could imagine. She had degrees in archaeology, anthropology, and sociology and spent most of her life traveling the world looking for lost treasures. She was an adventurer, you see. I say was, because she unfortunately passed away three weeks ago today. After the funeral, the family lawyer stated that I was allowed to take one item from her vast collection as a keepsake. With that in mind, I entered her study.

The amount of treasures was a sight to behold, but all it did was remind me of how boring and mundane my life really was. I scanned the room, looking for something that stood out amongst this grand assortment of treasures, but what caught my eye was something that seemed rather ordinary at the time. On her desk was a small box, no larger than a Rubix cube. I walked over to the desk and lifted up the box. The box was heavy, much more than I felt it should be. As I held this box in my hand, my curiosity grew and grew as to what it contained. As I rolled it in my hands, I saw no way to open the box. I became increasingly frustrated.

“Damn it.”

I vowed to myself that this cubed object would not best me. I looked closely at the box and noticed at the bottom was an encryption. It was written in what I recognized as ancient Hebrew. I quickly remembered the lessons forced upon me as a child by my late Aunt and took out a pen and an old looking piece of paper from the desk drawer to decipher it. After translating the text, I looked down to see what the encryption said. It read:

What is greater than God and more evil than Satan?
The poor have it. The rich don't need it.
And if you eat it, you'll die.
What is it?

“A riddle?” I puzzled. “What could be the answer?”

My curiosity got the better of me and I found myself pacing the room trying to solve the riddle. After doing this for a good ten minutes I stopped and exclaimed, “Nothing. The answer is nothing.”

As soon as those words left my lips the box began to glow. I dropped the box and backed myself to the far side of the room. From the box shone an almost blinding light that disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. After the light had completely faded away, the top of the box popped open. After a moment of silence, I shook myself out of my bewilderment and slowly walked over to the now-opened box. I looked into the box to see a golden key. I paused, remaining still, thinking of what happened to the curious cat. I carefully picked up the box and removed the mysterious key.

“What is this for?”

I looked back into the box and noticed a piece of paper stuck to the bottom. I stuck the key in my pocket before removing the paper. I unfolded it and saw that on the paper was more ancient Hebrew writing. I once again picked up the pen and went to work deciphering this new message. After translating the note, I read the mysterious message aloud: “The key to Solomon’s wisdom is now in your hands. Find the mines and unearth what lies within. What does that mean?”

I paced around the room once more.

“Of course,” I exclaimed, perhaps louder than I should have. “King Solomon’s Mines. This must be the key to Solomon’s treasures.” I stopped in front of the desk. “But what good is a key if I don’t know the location of the lock?”

Without looking, I placed my hand on the desk, touching the ancient piece of paper. I looked down at the paper and noticed a small seal in the upper left hand corner that I did not notice before. I picked up the paper, but dropped it. The paper flipped over as it landed on the ground.

My eyes widened when I saw that on the other side of this old piece of paper were what appeared to be ancient drawings and text. I picked up what I now knew to be some sort of map and examined it. The map, like the encryptions on the box and the note, was written in ancient Hebrew. I recognized the words at the top immediately.

“This… This is…”

I stumbled back and nearly fell over a chair. I looked at the top of the map and read aloud the words.

“King Solomon’s Mines.”

My hands trembled as I gazed at the map.

“I knew it. This is a map to the location of King Solomon’s Mines.” I look up from the map and paused. “But what should I do with it?”

I looked over at a picture of my Aunt on one of her safaris.

“What a ridiculous question. There is only one thing to do.”

I rushed over to the door, but stopped to look back at my Aunt’s photo.

“Thanks, Aunt Allanna.”

I walked out the front door to see Mr. Haggard, the family lawyer, waiting for me.

“Did you find something interesting?” he asked.

“Very much so,” I said as I walked by him.

“Um, sir, where are you going in such a hurry?”

I waved my hand in the air. “I’m going on an adventure.”

“Oh, I see. Well, have a safe trip, Mr. Quatermain.”

I turned my head back at him. “Just call me Al.”

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Nicholas Slade is a writer currently living in Florida. Originally from Mississippi, he moved to Florida in 2012 and is currently studying for his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. He has previously been published in Linguistic Erosion, Farther Stars Than These, and Yesteryear Fiction.


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