A night wind makes its way through the city. It sends a cold chill down a neck of a slender man who has just exited an abandoned building. It is 2:27 am. He raises his collar, looks carefully around him as he tucks a crumpled piece of paper into his pocket.
Accompanying the wind comes a sound in the distance. Hearing it, he quickly moves down the alley into the empty darkness. Who is this man? What was on the paper? What sound did he hear? Why is he in a hurry?
Welcome to the beginning of an enigma, a riddle, a mystery. A mystery that is written by five different classrooms of students, 10 chapters in all. The chapters will continue with posts on the B! Blog, so stay tuned!
What will happen to the characters? What will occur in the plot? How will the story unfold? How will the tale end? These young writers will answer all your questions. But for now—lock your door, curl up in a big blanket, make use of your bedside lamp and start reading. The mystery has begun…
Where’s Aunt Elenore?
by Grade 8 students from Skaha Middle School, Penticton, BC Canada
‘It’s a warm night,’ he thought, making up excuses for the sweat on his brow. He attempted to put the note in his pocket out of his mind, but to no avail. He found himself reaching in with one shaky hand to make sure it was still there.
Ever since he had received the news that his Aunt Elenore had been discovered missing, his light brown hair had been attempting its best impression of an upset cat. He jammed his fedora down over it in irritation. The building had been as empty as his fridge and yielded even less clues.
Johann Higgins, Joe for short, was terrified.
As if sensing his discomfort, the wind decided it was the opportune time to relieve him of his hat. Perturbed, he turned and watched the fedora sail away—an already bad night made worse. From the direction he had been heading, a loud coughing noise caused him to jump and reach for his absent firearm. A shadowy figure emerged from a darkened corner, hunched and harried. It was a familiar face.
“Francois!” he cried in relief. He didn’t care if this man heard the fear in his voice. “Where’s Elenore?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been searching all night and I’m afraid there might be no hope in finding her.” Francois rubbed his hands together worriedly. Aunt Elenore’s portly chef swung his head back and forth, scanning his surroundings with keen, dark eyes. He was sweating too. “You received a note as well then?”
Joe nodded and showed his friend the paper in his pocket. It was blue in the light, and scrawled on it in red crayon was a riddle…
In darkened halls abandoned long,
Four monoliths soon standing strong,
And yet no progress on the one,
Within it hidden ’tis the sun.
“The same as mine, then.” The chef had his own note out and sure enough there was written in red crayon. “You put the clues together the same way I did.”
“Darkened halls abandoned long…sounded like the old warehouse district. No one has been in here for years!”
Francois nodded. “And four monoliths sounded like the new Aurora high-rises slated for construction down here.” He gestured back at the building.
“But they haven’t demolished the old cannery yet.”
“Joe squinted at the silent building. “Did anyone else get a note?”
“Most of the day-staff. When we discovered Elenore missing, I think I was the only one who decided to look on my own. The others just contacted the police.” He paused and looked at the younger man. “We can’t give up.” Francois, through his nervousness, and a look of determination that made Joe smile gratefully. The pair began walking toward the streets, Joe to catch a taxi and Francois to the yellow convertible he always drove.
“When was the last time you saw her?”
“When I found the note, I had just gone upstairs to tell her it was time for dinner. The window was open and the room was empty.” Francois thought for a moment. “I saw her that afternoon at the lunch, though. She had been writing in a journal.”
“I didn’t know she liked writing…”
Francois shrugged. “It was a big, brown, leather book. On the front, in gold leaf, was a circle with a squiggly diagonal line through it. She carried it with her everywhere, even to the table.”
Joe’s face changed suddenly. “Strange…I think I need to go back to my apartment.” He increased his pace and Francois was forced to walk faster to keep up with his long strides.
“Why?” asked Francois.
“I think I may have a clue. When I moved into my place, the previous tenant had painted a mural in the living room—right in the middle of it was a gold circle with a wavy line through it. I painted over it, but I could talk to my landlord…”
“We’ll take my car,” Francois said, steering his friend to the mouth of the alleyway. “We’ll get there faster that way.”
The apartment was on fire. Joe looked up at it in despair as the flames, licking the air from the windows, were battled by fire-hoses. There were families huddled on the street, similar anguished looks on their faces.
It was put out quickly, but it was still too late for all Joe’s possessions and his Landlord’s records of previous tenants. (to read the next chapter, click here)