The manila envelope from my grandfather sat on my desk for days before I finally opened it. Only a week had passed since I last saw him. He told me that he was embarking on an adventure of a lifetime. Everyone in the family thought he was crazy; except me. I knew that there was something different about him, but I could never figure it out. Looks like I never would now.
The handwriting was his without a doubt. No one else had the loops and the hard lines like his. He would throw a pencil across the room before he would write a single letter with it. It didn’t help that I would carry a pencil with me to swap for his pen the second he would leave it unattended. It was never a secret who did it, and he was always quick to repay my mischief with some of his own. I missed him already. How did the week stretch to seem like more than seven days?
It was sitting on the middle of the desk as I came to find it. I thought I had put it in the drawer; perhaps not. I had no idea how it arrived in the mail. There was no return address on it and his nickname for me, Slappy, was scrawled in big letters above our address. He was a joker even when he wasn’t around. Flipping my pocket knife open, the blade slid along the edge allowing it to dump the contents on the desk. A coin rolled across the desk. Just before it left the surface I slapped a hand on it. Wrenching my left hand back in pain, I looked at it and was surprised to see a purple bruise forming on it. What just happened?
Tenderly rubbing my hand, I looked at the papers that littered my desk. They smelled like an old musty bookstore. Pulling at the corner of a yellowed paper, whatever was written was illegible. With a fingertip, I pushed the other papers around trying to make some sense of what they were for. So far, I was clueless. Paps had gone over the top with this one.
My attention drawn back to the bruise, I turned over my palm to look at it more closely. It was a deep purple that was the exact size as the coin; only it was on my wrist now. My eyes went wide as I undid the watchband hiding the purple disk. It was slowly creeping up my arm. I tried to stop it by holding my arm, but it continued its path upward.
Needless to say, panic started to set in.
I yelled and screamed to no avail. Everyone was out of the house, leaving me alone to die a slow, painful and miserable death by some unknown force. I lost sight of it after it moved past my shoulder. So, I did what any sensible person would do when they are face to face with death; I ran downstairs hysterically yelling at the top of my lungs. With the momentum I carried, the small rug at the bottom of the stairs allowed me to lose my footing and hit my head on the bottom step.
A wet, slobber infested dog’s tongue brought me to hours later. “If you wanted to take a nap, we do have expensive furniture in the front room. I like the recliner, personally.” My dad was quite the comedian even though his humor was a dry as a desert.
Petting our boxer, I looked up at him with a glare. “Thanks for the reminder, Dad.”
His million dollar smile flashed across his face, “That’s what I’m here for.” Reaching down, he helped me to my feet. I went to the kitchen and retrieved the ice compress from the freezer and went back to my room.
Slowly peeking my head into the room, nothing seemed unusual except for the overturned desk chair and the pile of papers on my desk. The cold of the compress stung but it was soothing the throbbing in my head. Going to my desk, I shuffled the papers around only to find one that was in English. Picking it up, surprise lit up my face; it was Paps’ handwriting.
You’re a smart kid for figuring out the first property of the coin. It allows you to read the code that the papers I’ve enclosed are written in. You would do well to keep it in your pocket at all times. It will only allow you to read certain codes at first, but as time goes on and the adventure escalates, you will be able to decipher more. I know that you are a smart kid that always keeps your head on straight in times of a crises. I wish I could say the same. When the coin left the purple circle on hand, I lost it. But, you’re a better person than me when it comes to stuff like that.
I have to say that I’m excited that you have chosen to join me on my adventure. The rest of the family always poked fun of me behind my back; which is why none of them are getting a chance. What this means for you is that the coin will teach you what you need to learn to join me. I always wanted to take an adventure with you, but you were much too young for it before.
The next step is to get the map and study it. Again, only the part that is relevant to us will be readable. I find this extremely helpful, because I don’t have to worry about trying to figure anything out. I never was any good at map reading.
I wish you luck and hope to see you soon,
P.S. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, don’t throw it away!
P.P.S. Bring the coin, map, and the other papers with you!
The weight of the words felt like a ton of bricks as I dropped the paper on the desk. Unfolding the map, the spot where my house would be started sparkling as it made its way over to the abandoned train station. The trains had stopped over fifty years ago, why would it want me to go there?
I guess there was only one way to find out.