Tuesday, November 29, 2016
The spare bedroom next to hers was being turned into a lab for her to work on her robots for next year's state competition. She was surprised to receive a phone call her second day in the Manor from the robotics team coach from her new school. She had been contacted by her old school and was very excited to hear that she would be joining their team. She had even offered to introduce her to the rest of the team over the summer so they could get a head start on next year's competition.
Jared entered the room with glasses of lemonade and a plate of fresh chocolate chip cookies.
"Have there been any calls from the Hawks, Jared?"
"Not that I have been privy to, Ms. Frank."
"Now Jared, we've talked about this," she said fixing him with an evil eye, "You can call me Eudorra, or Dora. Ms. Frank can wait for a few more years."
"Yes, Ms. Frank"
"Yes, Eudorra," he replied with a grin.
"It's Gilbert. Remember to bring my phone down to breakfast! I'm sure everyone will want to get this over with as soon as possible!"
Eudorra squinted at the phone that was blinking green on her nightstand, "Okay, I'll be right down."
She could hear footsteps retreating down the corridor and rolled over to look at the digital clock on the desk. Could it really be 7:30 already? She forced herself out of bed and into the shower where she turned the water on as hot as she dared to help wake her up. Her muscles hurt from running all over the manor yesterday. Was it really only yesterday? It seemed like a week had passed since yesterday afternoon when she and Gilbert had been caught in the linen cupboard.
She washed her hair and winced as she tried to wash her back.
"Yep, definitely sore," she mumbled to herself.
She got out of the shower and dried off, wrapping herself in a fuzzy blue bathrobe that had been provided for her for the week. Tomorrow was the last day at the manor, then she would be back to that small apartment that would fit inside her room here. It hurt in a way that she wasn't expecting. There was so much room here, room to read and think and be by yourself if need be. Back home it was... well it WAS home, but there was something less home-like about it now that she couldn't quite identify. It was almost as if she belonged here and that other place was just some kind of in between world meant to hold her until she rediscovered this one.
A single tear rolled down her cheek as she put most of her clothes back in her bag for possibly the last time. This wasn't how the adventure was supposed to end. She was supposed to be happy that her father and aunt were back on speaking terms, and that the divide in the family was now gone. But instead she felt disappointed that she was going back to her world with her mom and dad, just to be shut up in that awful apartment again. Why did that disturb her so much?
I hope you have enjoyed this week. Putting all these puzzles and clues in place has been quite the adventure for me and I hope it was fun for you to relive some of our past outing together.
If you have not worked together thus far, I implore you to work together now. This last clue is in two parts and neither will do you any good without the other. Solve it quickly as time is running out and you must present Mr. Henson with the final solution before midnight on Saturday!
Best wishes (as always),
Your Uncle Simon"
Mr. Henson then handed one envelope to Annabel and one envelope to Mortimer. "These were supposed to be handed out once dinner was over, and now I suppose it is!"
Annabel and Mortimer looked at each other, then opened their envelopes and laid the clues out on the table next to the others. Everyone leaned in to look at the new clues
Mortimer's clue looked like this:
Annabel's clue looked like this:
"What on earth?" mumbled Terrence.
Monday, November 28, 2016
"I'm sorry I have been such a spoilsport this week," she said. "I was so determined to beat Mortimer at one more puzzle that I lost sight of what was really important. I'm especially sorry for the way I treated you, Gilbert. I should have let you be more involved from the start. I also," here she gulped and looked directly at Mortimer, "should have shared our clues from the beginning. I know there is only a day left before we have to submit our final solution, but would you be interested in sharing clues?"
Mortimer smiled and nodded, "I've been waiting for you to say that all week. It's more fun when we work together Anna, and I think Simon realized that too. It's better to keep the Manor in the family than for one of us to beat the other."
"I see that now. Gilbert, will you go get the clues off the desk in our room, please?" Annabel asked politely.
What had happened? Why did she hurt so much? She tried to think back, but her mind was in a fog. The last thing she could remember for certain was running down the staircase while putting on her coat, after that everything got fuzzy.
Someone pressed a cup to her lips and she could feel a warm, salty liquid trying to go down her parched throat. She spluttered and the cup was replaced with a napkin, dabbing at the liquid that had no doubt spilled all over her face. She tried to speak, but only managed a low moan. She could hear Terrence's voice, but it was far away and she couldn't make out what he was saying. A sudden shiver took her and her whole body shook. A blanket was wrapped around her, and she was grateful for the strong hands that lifted her and tucked it closer around her.
The voices around her faded and she welcomed the black nothingness that removed the pain from her body.
"They took his phone," she responded to herself. Did she dare try sending a message via Jared? That was probably too risky, if they had taken his phone away they would probably see to it that he didn't get a chance to get so much as a scrap of paper from anyone, even Jared. She hoped she hadn't gotten him in too much trouble. Annabel looked furious that they had been working on a clue together, and if what her father had said about her was any indication, there was no limit to her wrath.
She laid out the clues on her desk once again, in an effort to take her mind from their immediate troubles, but that only reminded her that they were in trouble for these very clues. She turned instead to the letter cards and began copying them again onto pieces of plain white paper she had found in the desk. She cut them apart and tried to remember what order they had been putting them.
She had just gotten them back to about the point she and Gilbert had them in the linen cupboard when there was a loud slam from the front of the house. She jumped and almost lost her cards off the desk. There were loud voices and she started to wonder if something awful had happened. There were hurried footsteps in the corridor and she looked up quite startled when her parents entered the room.
They heaved a sigh of relief, then her father said, "Thank goodness, we thought you might have run out of the house for some reason."
"What are you talking about?" she asked, "I've been in here doing my homework!"
"Then, that means it has to be either Annabel or Gilbert," her mother said.
"What ARE you two talking about? Who has to be what?" Eudorra said in an exasperated tone.
Saturday, November 26, 2016
"What's wrong with you? Why are you so afraid?"
"You are too young to understand."
"What are you talking about? I'm sixteen years old!"
Terrence watched the conversation bouncing back and forth between his wife and son, utterly bewildered as to what was going on.
"Dear," he said.
"You stay out of this!" she barked at him. "And Gilbert is not allowed to see any more of our clues," she added.
"Mom, you are being unreasonable."
"Why? Because I refuse to let that little sniveling girl have all our clues? Because Mort doesn't deserve a penny of the money he's already received? Because I am the best at solving puzzles?"
"You aren't the best," said Gilbert flatly.
Annabel glared at him, and took a deep breath, "What did you say?"
He sighed and packed up his briefcase, gave a nod to the Hawks and left the room. He wandered through the entry hall and upstairs. His room was at the back of the Manor on the east side and had several large windows that overlooked the pond. He had been conducting his business from his room, as well as catching up on his reading. He was particularly anxious to get back to his book today as he knew he would be busy over the next two days answering questions from his law office and giving responses to the submitted guesses by the families here at the Manor.
Eudorra sat down on the couch in the sitting room while her parents unlocked the drawer of the desk and pulled their clues out once more. They opened the new clue and began discussing it. Eudorra almost didn't even bother to listen, but she knew Gilbert would be paying extra close attention to his clue to relay it to her, and she was beginning to wish that this whole week was over. Her head hurt from going through the clues over and over again, and never finding an answer that made any sense. What was Simon trying to do with this puzzle?
"Eudorra, come and look at this, I think you'll be surprised," said her father.
She heaved herself off the couch and stood behind her father at the table, looking down at the clue that lay before him:
Friday, November 25, 2016
There were scientists, authors, playwrights, great thinkers, philosophers, religious men, explorers, artists, composers, and intertwining around them all strange plant-like leaves and stems woven and intertwined with each other on a red background. Between Johann Sebastian Bach and Galileo she noticed something she had never seen before, a roman numeral 4. She stopped dead in her tracks. Why was there a number here? She backed up against the banister and looked at the mural above and around the roman numeral "IV." At first she didn't see anything, then she almost let out a scream of excitement but caught her self just in time. She whipped out her phone and snapped a picture of that part of the mural so she could show Gilbert.
She was partway through a text message to him, when she remembered he was sitting in the theater with his parents who would notice if he pulled his phone out in the dark theater. She would have to figure out a way to show him without drawing their attention during the movie.
"Eudorra," she heard her mother's voice call from the corridor leading to the guest rooms. She quickly put her phone away and walked back to the head of the staircase before they came around the corner and caught her on the upper floor of the hall. Her mother stepped from the corridor with her arm in her father's.
"Oh, there you are!" she said when they saw her. "We checked your room and you weren't there."
Thursday, November 24, 2016
When they had gone his father said, "Well, let's do this. We're burning daylight!" His mother nodded, opened the envelope and began to read. After a while she handed the envelope to her husband who set it on the table between him and Gilbert. The clue read like this:
"Herein lies the key, answer it quick:
A blue flower, a pink citrus, a purple fruit
GQ BK DP CT XN GH AH JU KB AH PR GK OT NM NT PM HS DE YM NV TP DR VV QN TN GQ HK PA LW 03 25"
"What kind of clue is that?" Asked Gilbert.
"Good question," said his father rereading the clue. "A blue flower, a pink citrus, and a purple fruit."
"It is an association clue. We have to figure out what those three things have in common." Said his mother, "The answer to that clue is the key to unscrambling the rest of the message."
"Well I'm not real great with flowers, but there are only a handful of citrus most people worry about, orange, lemmon, lime, and grapefruit. Of those grapefruit is the only pink one."
"The only purple fruit I know of is a grape." Said Gilbert, "Grapefruit, grape, and a blue flower?"
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
And come they did! Eudorra couldn't help notice that Annabel's shoe squished as she walked, and Mr. Hawk's pant leg also looked wet. She looked at Gilbert as he entered the room and he gave her a knowing smile and a wink. So, they had solved the first clue at last! She somehow knew that Gilbert had certainly had some fun with his parents as he "helped them" solve the clue. She could only imagine the wild goose chase he could have led them on! She did wonder if they had any idea what the symbol meant. They had seemed to know something of the second symbol, though she didn't know what. The weary, troubled look that had been plaguing them for the last few days seemed to have lightened and they smiled, genuinely smiled for the first time since they had all arrived at the manor.
Lunch was served out and as they were finishing up dessert Mr. Henson cleared his throat, which everyone had learned by now meant they were in for another round of clues. He opened his briefcase as Jared and Marie cleared the table, and took out two envelopes as well as a sheet of paper. He read the paper carefully and handed one envelope to each family. Then he put the paper back into the briefcase and snapped it shut. When he looked up they were all staring at him.
"There was no statement to be read at this time, only directions to hand out the next set of clues on Wednesday at lunch. So there you are, now get to it!" He said this with a smile, but they could tell that he was a bit miffed at them for expecting a statement every time he handed out an envelope.
They looked at each other for a minute, then Eudorra and her parents rose to leave the room with their envelope. She heard a chair shuffle as they left the room, but didn't see whose it was. They walked the familiar serpentine path from the dining room to the sitting room. They all sat down at the table and Eudorra watched in anticipation as her father opened the envelope. He read the letter inside and frowned.
"It says we need to go to the Game Room where we will be put through some kind of test. We can only use what we find in the room to solve it."
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
She came to the foot of the weeping willow and looked up at the platform. From this angle it appeared empty, but she was pretty sure that it was not! She climbed the ladder cautiously, one rung had almost dumped her when she climbed down last time. She peeked over the top of the platform and found Gilbert laying there with his phone in front of his face playing some kind of game.
"Well that's rich!" she snorted, and Gilbert sat up in surprise. "I charged up your phone so we could work on the clues, not so you could play video games!" She put her grumpiest, ugliest face on and gave him a death stare.
"Relax, I'm trying to get to the part of the game that tells us what one of the symbols means," said Gilbert in a slightly defensive tone. "It happens to be the name of one of the cities in the game, and I'm almost there, I think."
Eudorra relaxed a little bit, but tried to keep a somewhat grumpy face on, just to get the point across that she wasn't happy that he had been playing a game when they were supposed to be working on clues. She sat down next to him and looked over his shoulder at the phone. It looked like some kind of space aged fantasy game where players from all over the world tried to blast their way through countless enemies. 'Typical boy game," she thought to herself.
After several minutes, Gilbert let out an "Ah-ha!" and handed the phone to her. "Look right there!"
Monday, November 21, 2016
He rolled over and tried to stretch a knot out of his back, when he noticed his phone and a note sitting on his nightstand. He pulled a muscle in his lower back as he tried to jump out of bed mid-stretch to get his phone. He rubbed the knot, trying to knead it out of his back while he read the note.
Got your message. Glad they figured it out, wasn't having any luck and I needed to get some homework done! Here is your phone, I already entered your number into my phone and sent you a text so we can communicate a little more under the radar.
Gilbert checked his phone, and sure enough there was one text message waiting for him:
Saturday, November 19, 2016
He grabbed a notebook and pen from his duffel bag. He too would need to get some homework done while he was here. He had gotten most of it done before they had left home. It gave him a good excuse to avoid his mother, and stay locked up in his room. But for now, he would use the notebook to help take notes on each room in the Manor. He was about to head back out the door when his eye caught the note on his night stand.
He quickly walked over and picked it up to read it. His jaw dropped after he read the first line, then came back up and he nodded as he read the rest of the note.
Thursday, November 17, 2016
'Slow down,' she told herself, 'There is no need to panic, you just need to focus harder, not let these distractions get in the way.'
Speaking of distractions, where was Gilbert, it shouldn't have taken him that long to find Jared and ask if there were any other cellphone chargers in the house. The answer was probably no anyway, so he should have been back by now! There was a squishy footstep outside the door. 'Now who in the world could that be?'
Gilbert stepped squishily into the room, his face red, but stony.
"Where have YOU been?" she asked, "I've been worried sick!"
"Sorry," he mumbled, "I couldn't find him at first."
"Never mind that, why is your pant leg wet and your shoe squeaking?" she demanded.
Gilbert looked down and his shoe dumbly, as though he had just noticed it. "I startled Marie in the kitchen while she was washing dishes, I guess I should have announced myself as I entered."
"Fine, you'll have to change in a minute but right now your father and I are trying to figure out this clue, and it just isn't making any sense!" This all came out in a single breath, and Gilbert desperately wished his phone was charged. When his mother was one one, she was definitely on one!
He shuffled over to the table as quietly as he could with a wet shoe and sat next to his father who was moving pieces around trying to grips with what lay before him.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
She wasn't sure if she should reveal this to her parents quite yet, especially after Annabel had left the room in such a huff. But Gilbert... yes, Gilbert would need to know as soon as she could tell him. But first there was the matter of opening the next clue. She glanced over her shoulder and saw her father beginning to tear the envelope open. She silently pulled out her cell phone and snapped a picture of the first half of the encyclopedia.
She turned off her phone and went to join her parents as they opened the next clue. Inside the envelope was a note and a key. They each took turns reading the note silently. It read:
"In the bottom right drawer of my desk in the den is a box.
This key unlocks that drawer.
The answer to this clue is inside."
"That seems pretty simple," said her mother.
"Too simple," said her father, "After the anagram we just solved, do you really think he would just put the next clue in a box and say, 'here you go!'? I don't think so. Something is up."
Monday, November 14, 2016
"Dad, what is that?" Eudorra finally said after staring at the paper for several minutes.
"You know, I'm not really sure," he sad setting the paper down on the table so they could all look at it more easily. "I think I've seen something like this before, but I can't for the life of me remember where or what it means."
Eudorra studied the symbol again, tracing each line with her finger:
"Yeah, my friend Amy has one on her backpack," Eudorra said. She took out her phone and snapped a picture of the symbol, then paused. "Do you think we are allowed to use outside help? Like if I sent this picture to Amy and asked her what it meant?"
"I don't know. I think were supposed to figure it out for ourselves," said Mortimer, "That's how Simon always did it before."
"Yeah, but you never were instructed to work together before either. So... do I send it or not?"
"I think," said Angela, "That we are supposed to work with Annabel and her family to figure this out, maybe Jared and Marie. Beyond that, I don't think we can ask for help if it isn't someone already here at the Manor."
Saturday, November 12, 2016
"Oh, why not, it says I need a hand anyway. Though I doubt you will be able make anything of it." Anna's temper was starting to simmer again.
Terrence read the clue aloud:
"Green and wet thumbs help things to grow,
You will need both in order to go.
Tubes can hide clues.
Cup and hand will help you.
Did you guess right? Only time will show."
"It's a limerick," he said.
"It's a riddle inside a limerick," Anna corrected. "The question is what does it mean?"
Terrence read over the clue several times and tried to digest each line down to a meaning.
"Well, the second line means we have to solve this riddle to continue, that's pretty obvious." he said after a minute. "And it looks like the clue is hidden in a tube, but how do cups and hands help us?"
"Maybe we should look in the china cupboard under all the cups?" said Annabel, suddenly standing, "We would have to use our hands to lift each cup. Maybe we will feel something on the cup when we lift it!"
"It's worth a shot, do you know where the china cupboard is?" Terrence asked.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
"My head is spinning right now," he said. "I didn't realize that Simon hadn't left Anna anything. I don't blame her for being upset, but to flat out refuse to work together seems a bit petty. I mean if we don't find the answer the entire estate, including this manor, will be sold and none of it will stay in the family."
"Why do you think he left you so much money, dear, if he wasn't going to give anything to Anna anything?" Angela asked.
"I really don't know... to get my attention maybe? I had ignored his letters and phone calls for so long, maybe he wanted to ensure that I would come. I think the bigger question is why did he leave poor Annabel with so little?" He drummed the envelope on the palm of his hand and sat next to Eudorra on the couch. "Well, we'd better see what this is all about. No point in delaying the puzzle if we only have five days to solve it."
He tore open the envelope and pulled out two sheets of paper. The first turned out to be a check for two million dollars signed by Simon a little over a week ago. The second was a half-sheet of printer paper that had the following words printed on it.
Once Marie had served the meal, however, everything went quiet. Angela and Eudorra Frank hadn't said a word since they were introduced, although Eudorra kept looking across the table at Gilbert who was so consumed by his phone that he hadn't touched his soup by the time the entrees were served. Marie had outdone herself preparing a large roast, garlic mashed potatoes with white gravy, steamed asparagus, and three fresh pies for dessert!
Once everyone had set down their forks and wiped the bits of berry and apple from their mouths. Mr. Henson consulted his notes and knew the time had come to reveal the real reason they had been brought together, via the reading of Simon's will.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if I may have your attention please." he announced, although he didn't really need to as no one was talking, and the room was so quiet, they all may as well have been sleeping.
"As the executor of Mr. Hunter's estate, I have been asked to conduct this week's activities which are, if unusual, not without precedent." Here he paused to pick up the first of many documents spread out in front of him. He heard a stifled yawn from somewhere in the room but did not look up. "We shall begin with the reading of the late Mr. Hunter's will. Once the will has been read in its entirety, each family will be provided with copies which, for reasons which will be made known shortly, you will need in your possession."
Annabel sat up a little straighter, her husband sank lower in his chair, and Gilbert... well... The Franks on the other hand all looked at him with rapt attention. He held up the will and began to read.
I, Simon Hunter, being of sound mind and knowing that I am about to pass from this life, do set forth in this document my last will and testament.
Having never married and owing to the closeness of my relationship with my sisters children, I have opted to set forth one last quest for their entertainment and instruction. In the past my little riddles and puzzles have, I admit, been somewhat divisive, and I have been quite troubled by this in recent years. So, to make amends I encourage and fully endorse their working together to solve this one last riddle."
At this point Annabel unsuccessfully stifled a snigger. Mortimer looked at her incredulously, then returned his gaze to the lawyer.
"To prove my sincerity in this matter I begin by giving my nephew, Mortimer Frank, and his family, a total of two million dollars for my past behavior to help amend any hardships they may have encountered as a result of my shortsightedness."
Annabel stood up at this pronouncement, her jaw slack. Mortimer looked at her in shock, apparently her letter had not included an endowment of money. Terrence shot up in his chair, and even Gilbert looked up as if in a daze.
"To prove my earnestness I leave my niece, Annabel Hawk, this parting advice: 'As great as it is to win, a victory alone is no victory at all.' If you do not heed this advice, you will find yourself falling further and further from the things that matter most."
Annabel sat down and folded her arms over her chest. Her brow was furrowed and she would not make eye contact with anyone. Terrence looked from her to Mortimer in disbelief.
"The rules of the game are simple:
1- Each day both families will be given an envelope with a puzzle or clue.
2- Solve all the puzzles to get the pieces to the final answer.
3- Discover my last hidden message, and reveal it to Mr. Henson before midnight on Saturday.
4- Families may choose to share clues, or to keep them private.
5- If the answer is not received by Mr. Henson by the deadline, the estate will be sold and the proceeds will be given to the Home for Unusually Gifted Singers.
6- Answers may be submitted each day after dinner.
7- Each family may claim one room in the Manor for their home base to work out of. However, if the other family needs to look in that room to recover a clue, the family in that room must give them adequate time to search the room. If the families choose to work together this rule is of course unnecessary.
8- If you have questions about the Manor, or the intent of a certain clue, Jared and Marie are at your disposal.
The first puzzles will be handed out now. The next clues will be handed out at lunch tomorrow. Until then, happy hunting!"
Mr. Henson set down the will and picked up two envelopes marked: "Clue 1- Hawk" and "Clue 1- Frank" and handed them to Annabel and Mortimer.
"That's it for now." Mr. Henson said. "I have further instructions tomorrow. What room or rooms would you like to use for your home base?"
"We'll take this room," Annabel immediately said without looking up.
"But Anna, we really should work this out together," said Mort.
"What if I don't WANT to work it out with YOU? What if I just figure out the whole thing myself? Huh? What then?" Annabel stood up, knocking over her chair, her face was bright red and her eyes shone dangerously.
"Annabel, please..." started Terrence, but one look from her silenced him.
"We will use the dinning room as our home base," Annabel said, turning to the lawyer once again.
Mr. Henson scribbled down a note then turned to Mortimer. "And what room would you like to use?"
Mortimer looked Annabel over in disbelief at her stubbornness, then said, "The sitting room on the second floor has a nice large table, we will use that as our home base, unless Annabel would like to reconsider of course."
Annabel turned from the table and faced the wall in utter defiance. Mortimer stared at Annabel's back in disbelief . He looked at Terrence and Gilbert questioningly but Terrence only shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. Gilbert who had been wearing his earbuds and staring at his phone the entire time said nothing, but continued staring at the screen with a glazed look on his face.
Mr. Hansen picked up his briefcase and walked out of the room back to his guest room. He shook his head in wonder as he thought about Simon's instructions. Had he really meant for the two families to work together? It certainly seemed so but it looked like Annabel was still not going to bend. Why had he left Mortimer so large a sum of money and only a piece of feeble advice for Annabel? It didn't make any sense. The Frank family followed him out of the room and up the stairs to the sitting room their envelope in hand. Eudorra gave one final look at Gilbert as they left the room, but he had shown no signs of having even seen her during the entire course of dinner.
Well everyone else had left the room Annabel turned triumphantly to Terrance and tore open the letter that was laying on the table beside him.
"Well, that's over!" She said, "Now we can get down to business."
"You really think so?" asked Terence.
"Yes," said Annabel, "This is about solving the clues first and winning the estate. It is supposed to be a competition between the two of us. Not some make up and kiss ceremony."
"I'm not so sure, it really sounded like Simon wanted you to work together for a change."
"No, that was probably to get me riled up just so that we wouldn't. Besides he did leave me a cent, just for showing up. That sealed the deal. If he's going to be so nice to Mort, I'm going to play dirty and win everything else. This estate has to be worth upwards of 20 million dollars! If he's going to give two million to Mort right off the top, I'm going to win everything else!"
Terrence's mouth went slack. Was this his wife talking this way? Why was she so determined to undermine the whole week? Where was all the bitterness coming from? He knew she was headstrong, but the bitterness was not something he was accustomed to. Glancing to his left, he saw that Gilbert was still not paying any attention, completely absorbed by that Mars Blaster game. Terrence felt uncomfortably like he was sitting between a bomb that was about to explode and a stone wall. By this time Annabel had the letter open and was reading it furiously.
"I still think we should try to work with them, even if it is only on the clues we get stumped by."
Anna rolled her eyes. "You still don't get it do you? I beat Mort, that's what I do. He only won a handful of puzzles when we were kids, and now that we are adults, I will not let him beat me even once. Especially with a prize like this Manor on the line. We are going to beat them to the solution, just like I always have, and you are going to help me!"
"Anna, be reasonable. The quickest way to solve this thing is to get everyone's heads together, if we just hole ourselves up in here and isolate ourselves from them, we're only hurting ourselves."
"Quiet, Terrence! I'm trying to get through this clue!"
Terrence and quietly while his wife read through the clue. He was still mystified why they were not working together with Mortimer and his family. It seemed delusional to think that they could solve the entire puzzle themselves when there was so much help so close at hand. Annabel begin muttering to herself as she paced the room reading the letter over and over again. Terrence began to drum the table with his fingers. It was going to be a long week if this is how they were getting started.
Gilbert leaned back in his chair holding the phone close to his face he pounded on the screen with his thumb and the stared at the screen intently. It looked like he was fighting another monster on his video game. His headphones were jammed tightly in his ears and with the phone that close to his face, Terrence doubted he could see anything but the screen. How had Gilbert come to be this way? He had once been a bright boy who loved the outdoors and was always climbing some tree or other in search of adventure. Now all he does is sit on the couch with his headphones on, his attention buried in Mars Blaster.
Marie entered the room with a small wheeled cart to clear the table. She stacked the plates carefully and set the nearly empty food platters on top of the cart, while the dirty dishes were placed in a bin underneath. As she walked around the table she picked up the chair that was laying on the floor and set it right again. Once the place settings were removed, she pulled the table cloth and wiped down the table before placing a fresh table cloth over the table. Through all of this Annabel continued to pace and mutter. Occasionally she would look at the letter, read something, then continue pacing. Marie refreshed the snack bar with a bowl of fruit and fresh pitchers of water, as well as a tidy selection of chips and crackers.
As Marie wheeled the cart out of the room and closed the door quietly behind her. Annabel collapsed into her chair and gave a loud huff.
"I give up. I'm only one clue in and already Simon has me stumped!"
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
"What for?" Eudorra thought, "If we are there to solve a puzzle, why bother including these other activities?" It didn't make sense to her any way she looked at it.
She had brought along her homework to do in the evenings so she wouldn't get behind at school. The teachers had all be very accommodating which she also thought was weird, but maybe they really wanted her to stay caught up. She thumbed through the book she was reading for a book report and tried to concentrate, but reading in the car always made her nauseous, so she wasn't really trying all that hard to get into it.
She wondered what kind of puzzle they would have to solve. Dad had opened up quite a bit after he had gotten off the phone with the lawyer. He said they had done all kinds of puzzles as kids, orienteering courses, anagrams, riddles, puzzle boxes, magic squares, you name it! Of those she thought she could handle the puzzle box the easiest, and she was better at Sudoku than crosswords or magic squares, so she doubted she would be much help if they had to solve one of those.
They passed several large houses, and Eudorra began to wonder what the manor would look like. Dad said it had an orchard, ballroom, a library, den, game room, and even a small theater that they used to watch movies in! It must be nice to have money like that.
Eudorra glanced up to the front of the van where her father and mother were chatting away. They seemed to have a lot to talk about now that Dad wasn't being so weird about Simon, and he appeared to be giving Mom all the details from the last puzzle he and Anna had done together at the Manor.
"I was so upset that I couldn't eat dinner, and I threw up on the stairs on the way up to my room."
"Ew! Gross, Dad!" Eudorra yelled from the back of the van.
Saturday, November 5, 2016
"I can't believe it after all these years! We're going back to Hunter Manor!" Terrence gave this an indiscriminate grunt and continued reading. From another room the tell tale beep of a video game could be heard, marking their son Gilbert's present location.
"You don't understand, I was AMAZING at solving Simon's puzzles, and he's left me another one as a parting gift. You have no idea how much fun this will be. Did I ever tell you how I outran my cousin Mortimer to the gazebo during the last puzzle Simon made for us? Or the time I found the secret panel in Simon's Den and found a porcelain elephant figurine? He always had the most amazing prizes at the end of his puzzles!"
Terrence continued reading his newspaper, and the sounds of trumpets and shouting from the other room indicated that Gilbert had won some kind of award on his game. Annabel hadn't even noticed that no one was paying any attention to her and continued to congratulate herself on going back to Hunter Manor, cutting the air with her invitation as she spoke.
"We get to go boating together, and have a family dinner! Oh, I can't wait to see Marie and Jared again. I hope they are as excited to see me! We'll have to get matching outfits for the game, that way it will be more like a uniform, or team jersey!"
"And just when is all of this supposed to take place?" asked Terrence without emotion. By now he had learned that whatever Annabel was, she wasn't tactful nor did she care what anyone else thought or had to say.
"In a week or two, I have to reply to the lawyer right away so they will have a head count." She said as she grabbed the phone. "Gilbert! Pack your bags! We're going on vacation!" She shouted while the phone rang.
Friday, November 4, 2016
She set a glass on the counter and poured a cup of juice with one hand while the other kept up the conversation on her phone. When the juice was back in the fridge, she moved down the counter to the snack bar where a disheveled pile of mail was sitting. She sorted through the bills and envelopes until a bright blue one caught her eye.
The seal had been broken, and the letter had been shoved hastily back into the envelope so that it stuck out at an odd angle. It was addressed to her father Mortimer Frank by someone named Archibald Henson. She had never heard of him, but her father kept mostly to himself, so that was no surprise. What was a surprise was that the letter had been opened. Her father was a very private person, and he wouldn't be home from work for another two hours at least. Had her mother opened the letter in his absence? She glanced around to see if her mother was anywhere in sight, then quietly opened the letter and flattened it back out so she could read it.
Eudorra read the first few paragraphs and almost dropped her phone. Could this be real? She set her phone on the counter and picked up the letter with both hands.
Thursday, November 3, 2016
It had been twenty-five years since that fateful day when Mort had broken down, and he had not seen him since. Anna had come by a few more times, but without Mort to compete against, she soon lost interest in his puzzles and treasure hunts. So he had grown old without their company, and some days wondered if they still thought about him at all. That would soon change. He had put this task off for far too long. He would bring them together for one last puzzle, and hopefully bridge the gulf between them.
Jared, who was now bald, was arranging and dusting the encyclopedia. The encyclopedia was bound in red leather with gold gilded lettering. It was by no means valuable, but was one of the mainstays of his collection. All around the room rows of built in shelves displayed their numerous volumes. In one corner a leather bound black volume contained the complete works of Shakespeare, other shelves were lined with classics like Treasure Island, The Secret Garden, and The Lord of the Rings. Some shelves held the books Mortimer and Annabel had read when they stayed over the weekend. These children's stories took them on adventures in Narnia, Idaville, and River Heights.
Simon sighed as he remembered sitting on the plush rug in front of the fire reading with his niece and nephew on cold winter nights as the snow gently fell outside the window. They would spend the evenings trailing along with Harriet the Spy, or dashing through Hogwarts with Harry Potter. Some days they would journey to Middle Earth with Bilbo and Gandalf, while other times they would join the Three Investigators as they tried to discover the secret of the talking skull. There had been many laughs, tears, and moments of reflection in this room.
Yes, this was definitely his favorite room! How he would miss it!
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
280 degrees, 150 feet
180 degrees, 400 feet
70 degrees, 200 feet
290 degrees, 180 feet
He could hear his cousin Annabel counting paces in the orchard, while he still stood on the front porch trying to figure out how the compass worked. "Why did Uncle Simon put us up to this?"
He turned the dial on the compass to 280 and started rotating the compass until north lined up with the floating arrow inside. The gravel driveway crunched under his feet as he began counting his paces. "Five feet per pace, so 30 paces should do it," he thought. Every ten paces he rechecked his bearing. He was marching west across the front of the mansion into the orchard.
Mortimer ended his march under a large apple tree full of fruit. From here he could see Annabel marching out the other end of the orchard, but much further to the west than he had stopped. Doubt crept into his mind and his face turned red. Had he not counted out his paces correctly? He checked the paper again, and almost went back to the porch to start over. She was so far ahead though... His stomach gave a lurch, if he lost again, it would be the third time in a row. What Should he do?
For National Novel Writing Month this year, I let my Facebook followers choose what I should write! I ran a poll for two weeks in October and agreed to post my daily writing each day in November.
I hope you enjoy this story as it comes to life one day at a time, and that you will be forgiving, as this will all be first draft quality. Once Nanowrimo is over, I will take a break for several days before I begin the process of editing this story for publication.
If you find this story engaging, or have some feedback to give me, please leave a comment below that section of the story, and I will take your feedback into consideration as I continue writing, or as I go back through to edit.
I am pleased to announce the writing process has begun for:
The Puzzle of Hunter Manor!