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The Black Notebook

by Brandon Talbot 9 months ago in extended family

An Unexpected Gift

The Black Notebook
Photo by Thomas Martinsen on Unsplash

Michael rushed out the door, late for an important meeting again. He grabbed his overcoat and threw it over his arm. It was going to be a cold one, or so the news said. The sun was shining and it felt like it was nearly forty degrees outside. Hell, there were even birds singing and chirping in the morning sunlight.

He hailed a cab at the corner of his street and rode into town in silence. The cab stopped outside a tall building which a sign indicated was the law offices of Talbot, Robertson, and Specter, a prestigious law firm in this city. He could never afford their services. Apparently, his uncle had the means to retain them for his last will and testament.

He hurried into the building and caught an elevator to the top floor. The elevator dinged and the doors opened onto a large foyer with an even larger main desk. Behind the main desk was a wall of exquisite woodwork. Modern, sleek, and minimalist which gave even the main desk employees an air of royalty.

“I’m here to see Mr. Specter about my uncle’s will.” He said to the lady seated behind the massive desk.

“Have a seat. Mr. Specter will be right with you.” She said to him with a condescending tone.

A couple of moments later a tall, slender, slightly muscular man opened the door to the left of the desk and stepped out into the lobby.

"Hello, Mr. Sorenson. I'm Mr. Specter, your uncle's attorney. Follow me and we'll get this sorted out."

He stepped aside and motioned for Michael to step through the door ahead of him. He led Michael down the hall to the third conference room on the right. There was a large, empty conference table that took up most of the room. Mr. Specter motioned for Michael to have a seat at one end where two chairs were pushed near each other and a couple of manila file folders were placed on the table between the chairs along with a large, wooden box and a black notebook.

Michael sat in the chair and Mr. Specter sat in the chair opposite.

"As you know, Mr. Sorenson, your uncle was fairly wealthy in his later years. He also didn't have much family. As such, you are the next of kin who stands to inherit his not inconsiderable fortune and all his property and effects."

"I had no idea he was that well off," Michael said.

"He was." Mr. Specter said as he opened the manila folder on top and began reading through the last will and testament of one George Sorenson.

"It says here you will inherit this chest," Mr. Specter motioned to the wooden box, "and this black notebook, along with his house which is located at 1200 Magic Isle Lane."

"Okay," Michael said warily.

"Here are the keys to the home," said Mr. Specter as he slid a keyring across the table to Michael. "And here are the notebook and chest. I'm officially relinquishing these items into your care and possession. I need you to sign this paper stating that I've read the last will and testament of George Sorenson, your uncle, to you in its entirety and have given possession of the aforementioned items to you."

"That was fairly short. That was his entire will? And where are the keys to the chest?"

"Yes. Unfortunately, your uncle did not leave the keys to the chest in my possession."

Michael sighed and took the pen from the lawyer and signed his name on several sheets of paper. He picked the chest and the notebook up after placing the keyring in his pocket.

He rode the elevator down to the ground floor and stepped out into the sun. So, he now had a large home, a little black notebook, and a locked wooden chest with no keys. Fabulous.

He hailed a cab and gave his uncle's address. After a moderately long drive, the cab pulled up in front of a massive, modern style home surrounded by a brick wall with a tall iron gate across the driveway. He collected his things as he got out of the cab.

He pulled the keyring out of his pocket and fumbled through them until he found the key that unlocked the iron gate. The gate opened with a loud creak. As he approached the house, he noticed several cameras perched in locations that were difficult to see from the ground but probably saw everything that happened on the grounds. That was good.

He opened the front door and stepped across the threshold. Warm, sweet-smelling air caressed his face as he closed the door behind him. His uncle must've had a maid. The lawyer didn't say anything about a maid. He'd have to look into that.

There was a round wooden table in the foyer. He placed the wooden chest on it and began flipping through the notebook. There was nothing in it except for scribbles, nonsensical symbols, and riddles.

"What the hell is this?" Michael spat as he tossed the notebook onto the table. "Nonsense! My uncle left me a notebook full of nonsense and a chest with no keys!" He yelled at the empty house, his voice echoing throughout the farthest reaches of the large home.

Michael took the keyring out of his pocket and began checking the keys on it against the lock on the chest. No luck. The key wasn't on the ring. He began wandering the house. He'd never been here before. After a short time, he realized a person could almost get lost in here due to the large size and the haphazard way the home was constructed.

Was this house built in a Winchester house style? With no rhyme or reason to the layout? It was beginning to seem that way. Maybe his uncle had lost his mind at the end and had contractors come in to build things that made sense only to him.

As he walked down the hall on the second floor he saw a symbol on one of the doors. It looked like a diamond shape with lines coming off the bottom corner at a right angle. It looked familiar. He stared at it a moment before realizing he had just seen it in the notebook! He rushed back downstairs and snatched the notebook off the table in the entry foyer and rushed back to the room with the mysterious symbol on the door.

He flipped the book open to the page with the symbol on it. There were other symbols around it on the page. He opened the door and stepped into the room. He saw another symbol from the book on the windowsill and another one on the window that looked like a crude target. He walked to the window and looked outside through the target. It seemed to indicate a specific stone in the wall that was a slightly different color than the other stones around it.

He walked nervously down the stairs and outside to the section of the wall he'd seen from the window upstairs. He found it easily. The stone wall was a tan color and the stone in question was a tan-gray color. Just enough to stand out when he viewed it through the crosshairs on the window but not enough to draw attention from a casual glance.

As he stood there studying the stone, he noticed the mortar surrounding it was cleverly disguised. It was attached to that stone but none of the other stones around it. Nobody would notice this even if they were in the yard.

He wiggled the stone and found that it came out easily. Behind the stone was a small hole that contained a small cloth package. He reached in and removed the package from its home inside the hole and unwrapped it. Inside was a skeleton key that looked like it would perfectly fit the lock on the chest.

He ran back inside and unlocked the chest. He took a deep breath, his heart was pounding. He slowly opened the lid, expecting to find something valuable inside, judging from the lengths his uncle went to to hide the key. He peered inside and found only a small piece of paper with a line of numbers written on it. The numbers were separated up into four sets of one or two numbers. The code to a safe? Maybe. But Michael hadn't found a safe anywhere.

He went back to searching the house. He searched from top to bottom and didn't find anything. In the basement, in the attic, in his uncle's room. Nothing. As the sun went down he gave up the search and decided to stay the night in his new home. He hadn't brought anything with him. Maybe his uncle would have extra toothbrushes and such.

He found the extra toiletries in his uncle's bathroom. He put on a pair of his uncle's satin pajamas that had a button-down shirt and long pants. He hopped onto his uncle's bed and flipped on the giant TV that was hung on the wall opposite the bed. After flipping through the channels he turned the TV off.

He looked around the room and noticed a bookshelf up against the wall for the first time. The bookshelf was lined with leather-bound first edition books. They looked expensive. He walked over and began thumbing through the collection. All the classics were there. The Iliad and The Odyssey, Grimm's Fairy Tales, The Art Of War, Beowulf, Pride And Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, and The Complete Sherlock Holmes Stories, among many others.

He grabbed the Sherlock Holmes Stories Volume 1 and pulled. The book leaned forward but did not come off the shelf. He gave it another tug and the whole bookshelf pulled away from the wall on hinges. Michael stood there, shocked, as he pulled the bookshelf further away from the wall. A dimly lighted hallway appeared behind the bookshelf. It was short, maybe ten feet long, and at the end of it, he could see the gleaming metal of a massive safe door.

Still in shock, he stumbled back to the nightstand where he had left the paper with the numbers on it and picked it up. He made his way down the hallway to the safe and began putting the combination, or what he assumed was the combination from the piece of paper, into the large dial in the center of the door. When he rested the dial on the last number, he heard a small click. He grabbed the handle on the large wheel above the dial and turned it a quarter turn to the right. There was a loud thunk and the door to the safe popped open.

He opened the safe slowly and a light automatically turned on inside, illuminating the contents of the safe. There was a stack of cash on the shelf with a small note on top of it.

He picked up the note and read his uncle's handwriting.

Congratulations, Michael. You've solved the small riddle I set up for you and found the proverbial gold at the end of the rainbow. But this is where your rainbow begins. This stack of cash contains $20,000 in one hundred dollar bills. At the end of this note are an account number and a bank name. In that account is $20,000,000. You will receive a check monthly for the majority of the dividends from that account. If you leave it alone and let them put the 20% in dividends back into the account, you'll never want for money again. I know we didn't know each other as well as I would've liked but I built this empire for you after my brother, your father, passed away and left you nothing but debt. I had the means to make up for that and I wanted better for you.

Love,

George Sorenson.

extended family

Brandon Talbot

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