The Key to the Witches Chest

"The Key to the Witches Chest" is a short story written for my school's short story competition. It received the runner's up prize.

"A red-clad woman, a dark mysticism surrounds her. She will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. And she can almost anything."

I am currently writing a follow-up short story for this year's short story competition.

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1. The Key to the Witches Chest

My stark red stiletto heel’s crunched on the gravel and were easily displaced by the tiny rocks. Named for its incredibly dark maroon bricks, Redscathe Hall towered high above me. The ugly brass key rested light in my sparkling handbag.

   I banged the lion-faced knocker on the door, pursing my deep red lips in a straight line, my glare cold and spiteful. A suit-clad butler with a fancy monocle answered the door, his handlebar moustache hanging stiff and hard.

   “Where’s Musk?” I demanded.

   “He’s in the study. He says that he would rather not be disturbed.”

   I looked at him straight in his big brown eyes, “I don’t care……Take me to him…Now!”

   He was startled by my yelling and moved to the side, gesturing for me to enter the house. I strode past him into the entrance room. The tatty drapes hung loosely over the windows, shielding the furniture from any natural light.

   The lights were dim and I had to look carefully at the mahogany steps as I stepped lightly upwards. At the top was a hallway leading to the bedrooms and study. I walked to the door at the far end of the corridor – the only door with light emanating around the edges – and shoved it open.

   Professor Musk sat at his desk, which looked as old as the building. He was poring over a pile of documents and his glasses hung low on his nose.

   He looked up from his notes and rolled his eyes at me, “If you are here about the chest then you may as well leave. The key has been lost for aeons and I doubt it will reappear anytime soon.”

“Are you so sure about that?” I asked him, withdrawing the brass key from within my red handbag.

    His eyes widened and he asked, “How…Where…Who?”

    “You shall find out soon enough.” 

   He stood up from his desk, his chair scraping along the wooden floor. “You…have…to tell me!”

   “That is a tale for another day, Geoffrey. However, the chest is ready to open at this very moment. Shall we retrieve it?”

   “Of course, Melanie.” He said, walking to a book case that spanned the whole length of the right wall. He squabbled over the books, his finger hovering over each and every one of them until he came to a rather dusty one titled Treasure Island. He pulled back on the spine and something clicked within the bookcase. With a grinding of gears and the sound of wood on wood, the bookcase slid into the wall and to the side, leaving a big gap in the wall.

   The passage within was made of smooth stone and bracketed torches were on the walls. The stone beneath our feet was rough from underuse. Musk led the way, torches lighting up in their brackets ahead of us as we walked. I slipped off my shoes and walked with my bare feet, I am not going to risk falling over so close to my coveted prize.

   The hall sloped down and it seemed to go forever, twisting and turning around enough bends, that was enough to tell me that we were already far underground. Musk suddenly stopped. The walls looked exactly the same as they had our whole arduous walk through the damp tunnel.

   He placed a wrinkled hand on the rough rock. He withdrew a glass vial filled with a vibrant, glowing liquid. He stood back and threw the vial at the wall. A glowing pattern appeared on the rock, a seven tipped star, with a circle in the middle. It reminded me oddly of a ninja star.

   Musk placed his hand down on the circle in the middle and pushed. The circle slid backwards and the again I heard the clunking of gears and the star pattern withdrew into the rock and to the side.

   There was now an indent in the wall, about the width of a door and the height of a medium sized dog, in which an old wooden chest sat.

   “Key?” Musk asked me, gesturing to my purse.

   I snatched the key from my purse and put it into his outstretched hand.

   “Are you sure you want to do this, Melanie?”

   “I have never been surer of anything in my nine centuries of living.”

   Musk looked at my face, which looked like that of a middle aged woman, “I thought it was eight centuries?”

“Don’t listen to rumours Geoffrey, it is most assuredly nine.”

He put the key in the lock and twisted it around vigorously until something on the inside chunked. He lifted the lid to reveal a silvery stone, with flecks of red dotting the surface. I grabbed the stone and brought it up to my face. It was indeed the stone I was looking for.

“Thank you, Geoffrey. It has been a pleasure to know you.” I said as I slid a dagger out of my sleeve and jabbed it into his abdomen. The look of total surprise on his face could not have made me happier.

“W-Why?” he gasped.

“Why?” I asked rhetorically, “Because I don’t like sharing in the glory. When I control the entire world, I am not sharing any of the glory, I will be Queen of the Earth, and no one will have the power to stand up to me.”

I kicked him off of his knees and to the ground. “Have fun in the Land of the Dead, Geoffrey. Your crimes will most assuredly not be forgiven.”

Blood spurted onto my brow as I withdrew the antique dagger from his now lifeless body. I used my sleeve to wipe clean the dagger, and then my brow. The cloth showed no sign of the blood; it is truly amazing what magical properties enchanted cloth could possess.

I needed not to walk all the way back down the corridor and through Redscathe Hall; I neatened my dress and clicked my heel on the floor. A slight flash of light and I was gone.

 

 

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