Chapter One – The Treasure Hunt
Sylvia sat at the kitchen table staring at an envelope that was addressed to her. It was
from her father and she knew it was coming, but she wasn’t ready to face the fact that
her Aunt Maxine was really gone.
Claire, Sylvia’s sister was sitting across from her holding a similar envelope.
“How about we open them together on the count of three, Syl? Dad told both of us that
Aunt Maxine left something to us. Whatever it is, it won’t bring her back.”
“I know you’re right, Claire, but I can’t help but feel a little sad. One moment she was
with us, and the next she slipped away.”
“C’mon, Syl. It’s probably one of her games she had us play when we were kids. You
remember how the three of us would take long walks and she would give us a list of
things to find.”
“Yes, I remember, but that was a long time ago and we’re not kids anymore.” Sylvia
replied. “Okay, on the count of three it is…one…two…two and a half…THREE!”
Both young ladies ripped open their letters. Sylvia turned the envelope upside down as
there was something slightly heavy inside of it and it made a loud noise when it hit the
“What is it, Sylvia?” Reaching to pick it up, the older sister replied. “It’s an old key. At
least that’s what it looks like, but I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with it.” Sylvia
handed it to her sister so she could take a look at it. A minute later, she handed it back
to Sylvia and started to read the letter she received out loud.
“My Dearest Claire, If you’re reading this letter, that means that I have passed on from this earth and I’m in my final resting place. Don’t be sad. My life was filled with most things that were good, enlightening, and full of adventure.
I wanted to give you one last treasure to find. Your sister, Sylvia has the key. This key, as well as my most recent sketch book. will be your guide. Use them, memories, and our family resources to locate the treasure. Do this more for yourselves than for me. As you get older, you’ll both realize that time is precious and should be spent wisely.
May God bless the both of you all the days of your life. Sincerely, Your Aunt Maxine”
“Why would Aunt Maxine want us to do this? I just don’t understand” Sylvia stated.
“She was always a little eccentric and loved adventure. Syl, this was her last wish for
us. I guess we’ll figure out the ‘why’ as we piece this puzzle together.”
“Gee, Claire. I’m surprised that you want to be a part of this. What gives?” her sister
“I guess helping Kurt with the historic scavenger hunt that his dad put together was
more fun than I thought it would be. I’m in if you are.”
“Should we ask Edwin and Kurt to help us?” Sylvia asked.
“But, of course” answered Claire.
All four friends were sitting at a table at Molly’s Courtyard Cafe. After they received their
Drinks, they talked about their new mystery. Sylvia brought the key, and the sketchbook.
Leafing through the pages of the artbook, Sylvia gasped at what she saw.
“Sis, what is it?” Claire asked.
“This drawing of The Railroad House Inn.”
Sylvia reached for the skeleton key that was in the middle of the table. Then, she looked
at The Railroad House Inn sketch.
“Is it my imagination or is the key a part of this drawing?”
All four sleuths took a look at the sketch of the Inn, then at the key. Edwin was the first
“Wow. Sylvia, if you didn’t point it out, I don’t think I would have noticed it. That’s
definitely the key.”
That night Sylvia dreamed about her Aunt Maxine. Over and over again her aunt kept
on repeating these words- “The four rings. Follow the four rings.”
Sylvia sat up, and quickly grabbed her smartphone. Then she accessed her memo app
and typed the words from the dream she just had. Getting up from her bed, she walked
toward her dresser to retrieve the sketch book and the key. Then she quietly left the
room, not to disturb her sister who was fast asleep.
After Sylvia turned on the kitchen light, she sat down at the table to look at the sketches,
for what seemed like the hundredth time. Remembering the words from the dream, she
examined the key. It was muted gold in color, and about two and a half inches long. The
end of it had four rings with the one in the center more dominant than the other three.
“What does this all mean?” Sylvia asked herself. A thought had her heading to the living
room in search of the family photo albums. Less than a minute later, three of them were
spread out on the table.
Just then, Sylvia’s mom entered the room.
“Hi, Mom. I didn’t wake you, did I? I was trying to be quiet.”
“No, honey. You’re not the only one who couldn’t sleep.” Looking at the books laid out,
her mom took a seat across from Sylvia. “What’s all this?”
“I thought the photo albums might help. Mom, did the Railroad House Inn hold special
meaning to Aunt Maxine?”
“Well, yes it did. As a matter of fact, your aunt would opt to stay at the inn when she
would visit.” Sylvia’s mom replied. “She also requested to stay in the same room each
“She said that it spoke to her.”
Kurt, Sylvia, and Claire were sitting on the steps at the Railroad House Inn. All three
friends looked at the door when Edwin came out ushering them to come in. “I managed
to convince the owner to let us look at the room. I know it’s a long shot, but perhaps
we’ll find something useful” Edwin said.
Making their way upstairs and to the very room where Claire and Sylvia’s aunt spent a
good amount of time, they entered to find the room simply furnished with hardwood
flooring, an antique darkwood dresser and matching mirror, and a queen sized bed with a
handmade quilt on top of it. Without a word, all four teens looked around the room
hoping to find something that would shed some light on this new mystery. A few
moments later, they closed the door and went back downstairs to the dining room.
Once there, they were greeted by Jonathan, a senior at the same school they attended.
“Hey Sylvia, Claire…I’m really sorry to hear about your Aunt Maxine. She was very kind
and a generous tipper, too…I mean…she…will be missed around here.”
“Thank you, Jonathan. It’s appreciated” Sylvia replied. “How did you meet our aunt?”
“I worked as the bellboy when she stayed here. I made sure she had everything she
needed. She was fascinated by this place and I was amazed by her artwork. I
purchased a small piece of hers, too. Before I forget, I have something for you.”
Jonathan excused himself and returned a few moments later with a manilla envelope in
his hands. “I think your aunt would want you to have this. She left it behind.” Claire took
the envelope from Jonathan and handed it to Sylvia. There was a small stack of photos
inside. One of them was a photo of their Aunt Maxine standing in front of a door that
had the same, but larger four rings like the key. There was something familiar about that
door, but neither Sylvia nor Claire could put their finger on it.
Before the foursome returned to Marietta Pizza, Sylvia received a text from their mother about picking up the mantle clock at Timeflys Clock Repair.
Neither sister realized it then, but the mystery was about to take a turn in another
To be continued in the next issue of the Marietta Traveler
Please note: this story is fictional, but the featured businesses are real.