The Red Envelope
There were many rumors and stories about the white house on the edge of town, mostly spread by teenagers who had nothing to do when school ended. Lawrence, being the small town it is, didn't have anything to distract the hordes of young adults after four o' clock. In fact, many of them made their own entertainment. Some drank, some smoked, but a few of them liked to explore old houses in the abandoned district. Those that like to explore are who our story will be focused on, because sometimes you can find things that change your life.
It was a hot, summer day in Lawrence. The sun shone down on the Earth with unrelenting heat. Three friends sat outside in the heat and sipped their drinks casually. Thomas Burke and Jennifer Burke lived in the house that they were sitting in front of, Thomas was seventeen, and he was a very handsome man for his age. He had black hair that was cut short, so that it covered his forehead, but stopped there. He was medium built. His skin was moderately tan, and his eyes were a stunning golden color. He wore a blue American eagle shirt, with BKE jeans. Jennifer was eighteen, she was Tom's sister. She had a skinny frame, with auburn hair that was shoulder length, and sky blue eyes, her skin was also moderately tan, but she wore a t-shirt and navy blue skinny jeans.
"So, what are your plans today Tom?" Sam asked as he took another sip of his Coca Cola. He is Thomas' best friend. They have known each other since childhood. Sam is African-American, his head is shaved, he has brown eyes, his build is medium, and he is very strong. Sam wore a red pair of shorts, and a white Fox shirt. Tom turned his head and looked at Sam.
"I was thinking of running over to the abandoned district and exploring that white house we saw the other day." Tom said, looking from Jenny back to Sam. Jennifer just nodded and took another drink of Dr. Pepper. Sam starred back at his friend.
"The one that you got the letter about?" He asked. Tom nodded. He had received a letter addressed to him last week. It simply read "What is golden in both life and death?" and had a small S symbol on the bottom with a line running through it, also attached was the house's address.
"I just want to check it out, and if you two came with me then I would feel better." Tom explained. He produced the letter from his pocket and looked at the riddle scratched on it.
"You want us to come along in case someone tries to jump you." Jenny remarked thoughtfully. She wasn't wrong. Several of the meaner kids at school had taken to making Tom's life miserable. The leader of them was none other than Snake Williams, no one knew why he called himself Snake, but if you made any sort of joke about it then you ended up locked in a locker, or hung upside down from your feet.
"I just would feel safer if you guys backed me up." Tom said after a moment. Jenny looked at Sam to see what he thought about this plan. Sam didn't look like he was crazy about the idea.
"I'll go, but only 'cause I want to back you up." Sam responded to the question. Tom smiled to his friend.
"Thanks man. What about you Jenny?" He asked his sister. His golden eyes sparkled with excitement. She sighed after a moment of thought.
"Yes, I can't just leave you there, now can I?" Jenny said with a smile. Tom stood up, and tossed his Mountain Dew can into a nearby trash bin.
"Let's get going then, sitting around in the sun just cooks our skin." Tom said, starting for the chain gate of their yard. They shrugged and followed him out of the gate. The sun was high, setting the time around noon. They arrived at the house ten minutes later.
"You know what people say about this place, don't you?" Sam asked as they approached the simple, one story house. Its wallpaper was peeling off of the outside walls, revealing the wood that was beneath.
"This is where the note says to go." Tom said, ignoring Sam's question. He was holding the paper in his hand and reading it as he walked. They made their way up the steps and towards the front door. Tom slowly turned the knob, and the door squeaked on its hinges as it swung open. They slowly stepped inside the dimly lit room.
"How long do you think it has been abandoned?" Jenny asked as she spotted an old oak desk in the corner of the medium sized room. There was also a large fireplace set into the far wall from the door.
"I have no clue, but maybe we can find some clue as to why I received this letter." Tom said, waving the letter around in his hand. He stepped over behind the desk and began to search through its drawers. Sam and Jenny continued to walk around the room and explore the ancient structure.
After a moment of digging in the middle drawer, Tom held, what looked like, a red envelope in his hands. Its texture was rough and bumpy to the touch, and was sealed with a wax insignia. It was a large, red, and wax S, with another line running through the middle.
"Look! It has the same symbol as the letter." Tom said, holding the letter and the envelope next to each other to compare them. Jenny and Sam both came over to look at it too.
"Well open it up! Let's see why we are here." Sam said, excitement in his voice was rising. Tom slowly peeled the wax insignia off and drew a folded piece of parchment out. Unfolding it, he began to read. The letter was written as following:
To whoever is holding this paper, congratulations are in order. You have found the source of a great secret, one that must not be released into the world. So, in order to keep that secret, before you enter The Convenient you must swear that this location doesn't leave your lips. The rewards far outweigh the small pact that you must make. So now I have one simple question for you, Thomas Burke.
If you had the ability, what would you do with it? The offer is simple, you are granted power, and you can keep it as long as our tenets are not violated.
You can, of course, destroy this letter and leave using the door behind you, but, just remember that once you leave this place you cannot return and expect the same offer to remain.
You accept, or you don't.
The key to entering is simple also. The invitation you received contains a riddle written on it. Answer that riddle, and you shall be given access to The Convenient.
Anyone else that is with you can also gain entrance, but remember; you may not leave and return later.
Make your choice.
Speak with Silence, Brother.
"Was that weird to anyone else?" Sam asked when Tom had finished reading it to them. Sam's eyes were large, his lip quivered. Tom was excited, rather than scarred as Sam seemed to be.
"It may be odd, but we should at least try and find out how to gain entrance." Tom said, and began to look around for a door. Sam began to sweat.
"Come on, man! Whoever wrote that knows your name, they probably are stalking you." Sam pleaded his friend to leave, but Tom was going to find that door no matter what it took. Tom stepped over to the fireplace and knelt down to examine the ground.
"What are you doing?" Jenny asked him. He moved aside so she could see.
"Look, the dirt and dust stops at the edge of the fireplace." He said, pointing to a fine line of dust that stopped several inches from the stone of the fireplace.
"Could be anything." Sam said very matter-of-factly. Tom frowned and stood up, and ran his hand along the mantle to sweep the dust off. When he reached the center of the stone, he found the same symbol that was on the letter and envelope. When all the dust had been swept off, he experimentally pushed on it. It gave way, clicking into place and activating the clockwork behind it. The entire fireplace swung outwards, Tom had to jump back to avoid being struck by it.
"Okay, that doesn't happen every day." Sam said. His eyes were even larger than they previously were. Some stairs provided access to the next room. Tom started down them Sam and Jenny didn't object, but instead, followed him. The stairs were aged and rotten, but they still allowed the three to reach the bottom without breaking. The room that they had entered was much larger than the previous small living room.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Sam asked. He was pointing to a large S with, once again, a line running thought the middle of it. It was carved into the wall next to a large, stone door. Tom approached it and took the paper from his back pocket.
"What is golden in both life and death?" He read out loud. The insignia on the wall began to glow, and a deep pitched whisper was heard throughout the room.
"What is golden… in both life… and death?" The whisper asked, catching everyone off guard. At this point, Sam had almost had enough.
"Come on man! Didn't you just hear that? Let's get out of here!" He pleaded with his friend. Tom simply shook his head in response to his friend's plea. But this time Jenny was ready to get out of the strange place as well.
"I agree with Sam, let's go ahead and get out of here Tom." She said, pulling on his arm. He shook her off and pulled the envelope out of his jeans and read the letter over quickly.
"I think I know the answer." He whispered. Sam and Jenny stopped and looked at him.
"I think I know the answer!" He said, louder this time. He approached the insignia on the wall and ran his hand on it, and whispered.
"Silence is golden in both life and death, my brother." He responded.
"Welcome… to The Convenient… Brother." The whisper said, and the stone door budged open a small amount. Tom walked over and pushed against it gently. It swung open silently, and easily.
"What is all this?" Tom asked himself as he walked in. Jenny followed him, and Sam followed her.