21 Keys

Addison's life changed when a box containing 21 keys was dumped on her doorstep. Soon, she's on a international chase for clues, armed only with the box, the duffel bag, her wits, and her friend Marie. But it's not just a hunt for clues: it's running from their watcher.

Author's note: I do not own any of this except the plot and most characters.


1. The Unexpected Package

The box wasn't big, square and about the size of a grown man's palm. It was wrapped in plain brown paper and was addressed to me in bold, black cursive with no return address. That was new. I was barely out of high school, and most mail was held downstairs in the lobby. I shrugged it off and brought it inside. Setting it on the only clear space on the kitchen table, I carefully unwrapped the paper. The box was wooden, a beautiful dark cherry. Wrapped around it was a plain white string. I unwrapped it to see that strung on it was a rounded silver key, about the size of my pinky. Attached to it was a note.

Do the math love,

Seven and Three.

This is the first,

Your move, you'll see.

I creased my eyebrows together. Seven and three could either be 10, 4, or 21, or all three. On impulse, I picked up a letter opener and ran it underneath the lid. It hit the back seamlessly. Whatever the contents were, it wasn't filled to the brim. But I was still surprised when I opened it. Keys. As I would count later, 20. 21 keys. found another scrap of paper on the bottom.

No way to back out now,

You're part of the plan.

Now follow the trail

To the city so grand.

On the back, there was an address. 73 on 21st street. That was all. I threw together a duffel bag with some jeans, various t-shirts (all for bands such as the Beatles, or for other references such as Marvel), sneakers, toothbrush, underclothes, hairbrush, jacket, the box with all the keys in it (except the one on the string, which I wore), iPod, and finally my phone. I had a feeling I wouldn't see my apartment again for a while.


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