The Mystery of the Hidden Key

by Katie McDermott, age 11
The Mystery of the Hidden Key

“I rubbed my eyes and shuddered. ‘It’s only a dream,’ I told myself. But I had been having this dream every night this week and was beginning to think the woman’s message was important.”

“Sofia,” a woman in a dark room called.

She was wearing a black dress and long hoop earrings. Her deep brown eyes were staring straight at me, and her lips were in a straight line.

“You must come to the seaside town and find the key,” the woman’s deep, raspy voice echoed.

“What key?” I wondered, but the woman had already disappeared.

“Sofia, time for breakfast,” my mom yelled.

I rubbed my eyes and shuddered. “It’s only a dream,” I told myself.

But I had been having this dream every night this week and was beginning to think the woman’s message was important. Downstairs, my dad was cooking pancakes, and my mom was slowly sipping a cup of steaming coffee. My little sister, Ava, was sitting at the table with her cat, Muffin, curled up on her lap.

“I’ve been having weird dreams,” I announced to my family. “A woman keeps telling me to come to a seaside town and find some sort of key.”

“I’ve been having that same dream,” Ava cried, throwing her arms into the air. “I think we’re actually supposed to follow the woman’s directions.”

“That’s nonsense, girls,” my mom said firmly. “No woman from your dreams is ordering you to do anything.”

That put an end to the conversation.   

“Well, we’re going on vacation to the beach at Ocean City today, and we’ll be there for a week. You girls better start packing!” my dad exclaimed.  

I rushed upstairs to my room and started throwing my clothes and other things I would need into my suitcase. Ocean City. That sounds like a seaside town to me! I thought.

Finally, we were all ready to go. I whispered to Ava in the backseat of our blue minivan, “I wonder where the key is.”

“I don’t know, but the woman didn’t give us any clues,” Ava responded.

“We’ll find it,” I said.

“I don’t know if we should look,” Ava said. “It’s all so creepy, and I don’t know if we can trust that woman.”

“I’m nervous too, but it seemed like the woman’s message was important,” I replied. “We should definitely search for it.”

“Okay, fine,” Ava agreed.

***

At last, my family arrived at Ocean View Inn, the fancy hotel we would be staying at. We unpacked quickly and went to the beach.

Ava and I took off our flip flops. We raced across the scorching hot sand and into the water while our parents set up beach chairs under a brightly colored umbrella so they could relax and read. In the ocean, Ava and I swam over the smaller waves and dived under the big ones, while the seagulls circled and cawed from above. We splashed around and giggled, a big smile on each of our faces.

After about an hour, my mom said, “We are going back to the hotel, girls. Make sure you behave and be back by dinnertime.”

“We will,” Ava and I promised.

Once our parents left, Ava started jumping up and down excitedly. “This will be a perfect time to look for the key!” Ava exclaimed. “It could be on the beach.”

So, we started searching.  We looked inside the prettiest seashells and dug holes in the dry sand to see if the key was buried. We had no luck.

Suddenly I thought, It could be underwater. I swam out into the ocean, looking for the key.

“Ahh!!” I heard Ava scream from the shore.

I turned around just in time to see a huge wave racing towards me. Before I had time to react, it pulled me under and tossed me around like a rag doll. I got saltwater in my nose and mouth, and it burned my throat. Finally, I came up, gasping for air.

Ava and I decided to go back to our hotel for the night. We ate dinner with our parents and went to bed. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

“Sofia.”

The woman wearing the black dress and long hoop earrings had returned, this time with a different message.

“You have searched well, but in the wrong place,” she paused. “Your time is wasting. If you do not complete your mission soon, a war will break out. So, you must listen carefully. Go to the building of bricks and look in the water. Once you find it, the key will guide you to what it unlocks.”

The next morning, I told Ava about my dream. “The woman told me to go to the building of bricks and look for the key in the water,” I said.

“And she said if we didn’t find it soon, a war would break out!” Ava replied. “I had the exact same dream.”

My jaw dropped. This was starting to get very creepy.

The next day, Ava and I went to town while our parents were at the beach.

“I bet the key is here,” Ava said. “There are plenty of brick buildings.”

“Maybe,” I answered.

There were four brick buildings in town. One was a candy store, one was a toy store, one was a T-shirt shop, and one was a pizzeria. We looked in the candy store, but the only water there was in the bathroom sink. The key was not there. It was the same with the toy store and the T-shirt shop. I was starting to think that we would never find the key. Then, we went to the pizzeria. We looked in the bathroom sink and in the cups of water that people had on their tables, but the key was not there.

“Do you think we should look in the kitchen sink and in all of the pitchers of water back there?” Ava asked.

“I think we should,” I said.

So, we snuck into the kitchen. A cheesy aroma wafted through the air, and my mouth started to water. We looked in the sink but did not find the key. We were looking in the rows of pitchers of water when a guy in a chef’s hat and a curly, black mustache noticed us.

“Get out of my kitchen!” he hollered.

Ava and I dashed back to our hotel.

***

The next day, Ava and I looked in some of the houses of the people who lived in Ocean City. The first one was made of bricks. It was small compared to all of the houses on the street, but it was bigger than our house. Since there was no car in the driveway, and all of the lights were off, we went inside. Surprisingly, the door was unlocked. We looked in all the sinks, the bathtub, and the shower, but there was no key.

“This is hopeless. We should just give up so we can enjoy our vacation,” Ava moaned.

“Remember, the woman said that if we don’t find the key soon, a war will start,” I told her. “We have to keep trying.”

“Fine,” Ava said, but I could tell she didn’t want to.

Then we looked in the next house. It was huge with fuzzy carpets in every room. The windows were large and crystal clear as if they had been polished just yesterday. Beautiful pictures decorated the walls, and not a single thing was on the floor. Everything was in its place. It was the most amazing house I’ve ever seen.

We didn’t have time to admire it, though. Ava and I went straight to work. We looked in all the sinks, the bathtub, and the shower. We still did not find the key.

“Maybe we should look in their backyard,” I said. “They have a pool and a birdbath. You can look in the pool, and I’ll check the birdbath.”

“Okay,” Ava sighed.

I looked inside the birdbath and discovered a oddly shaped golden key. It was a few inches long and looked like it could fit inside my hand.

“Ava, I found it!” I exclaimed.

We jumped up and down with excitement and high-fived each other. I reached out to grab the key when a bird with dark blue and purple feathers swooped down from a nearby tree and grabbed the key in its beak. I gasped as it started flying away.

“Follow that bird!” Ava screamed.

We raced after it and kept up for a little bit but, in a few minutes, we started to get tired.

“No!” I yelled.

The bird was getting away.

“We need to get the key!”

Just then, the bird noticed a small, yellow bird feeder hanging from a large oak tree. The bird dropped the key immediately, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I ran towards the key and grasped it in my right hand. As soon as I touched it, a green glow appeared around the key.  My mouth dropped open, and I felt like my eyes almost popped out of my head. My hand opened, and the key fell to the ground with a thump. Ava and I exchanged nervous glances. I decided to pick it up before anything else could steal it like last time. Once I did, the green glow appeared again. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my gut and felt as though I was being pulled down the street. It took me a few seconds to realize that the key was dragging me somewhere!

“Ahh!” I screamed, afraid to let go.

I picked up speed as the key led me through the streets of the town and across the beach. It dragged me all the way to a red, white, and blue lighthouse and helped me climb up its many stairs. Finally, I reached the top. The glow disappeared.

A few minutes later, Ava arrived at the top of the lighthouse, panting like a dog. I told her what happened.

“The key dragged me all the way here and then stopped pulling me and stopped glowing.”

“That means whatever the key unlocks is probably up here,” she shrieked with delight.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something shiny. Behind a white fan was a small, brown chest with golden swirly designs and a shiny lock.

“Look, Ava!” I called, and she came running over.

I clicked the key into the lock and turned it excitedly. The chest swung open to reveal an oval shaped block of gold that looked like an egg. It was surrounded by a green glow.

Wow,” Ava whispered.

I was speechless. Just then, the woman from my dreams came walking up the stairs, her black dress flowing around her.

“Greetings,” she said in a booming voice. “My name is Delilah. You have done well on your mission.”

“Why did we have to find this golden egg?” Ava asked.

“It is the king of England’s most prized possession,” she said. “It was stolen by a man named Vladimir, but if the king ever found out, he would suspect that the Russian king stole it. That would start a war. After all, they have never been on the best of terms. I found out that Vladimir stole the egg, but he knew that I knew, so he cast a spell on me so that I could not return the egg to the king or tell anyone the exact directions to it. Vladimir stole the egg to cause chaos between England and Russia.”

“Why did you choose us to find the egg, and how did you enter our dreams?” I asked.  

“I chose you two to find the egg because you two are determined and work together. I also knew you were going on vacation here,” Delilah said. “And how I got into your dreams, that was magic,” she said as the corners of her mouth turned upwards.  

“Why did Vladimir hide the key in the birdbath and the chest up here?” Ava questioned.

“Well,” Delilah began, “the key was hidden in Vladimir’s closest friend’s backyard. I’m afraid that he trusted too much that his friend, Michael, would protect it, since he is a world traveler and is rarely ever at home. Though, I’m not sure why he decided to hide the chest up here.”

Then, Delilah said a strange spell. A white dove swooped down and grabbed the golden egg from her hands, and it flew off to deliver the egg to the king of England. Delilah turned to leave.

“Wait!” I cried. “What happened to Vladimir?”

Delilah turned quickly, and her dark eyes looked straight into mine.

“He’s still out there,” her words echoed in the small space, “waiting to strike back.”

 

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