Riddle Me This: A Tale of Keys and Secrets

by Norah Deay


Logan’s hand trembled with anticipation as he clutched the key, a relic from his grandmother’s past, tucked inside his pocket. He recalled the solicitor’s anxious advice ringing in his ears. “There’s something about this key that intrigued your grandmother, Logan—tread carefully”. They both sensed the potential for a unique opportunity; the chest was soon to be Logan’s because of his mother’s vast inheritance, and nobody knew whether the mysterious key could unlock untold riches or dangerous secrets. His heart raced as he closed in on the chest, fingers brushing lightly over its antique surface.

 Looking at it was like stepping back in time, the chest a miniature reflection of those found on antique cruise liners. A strange brew of anticipation and trepidation bubbled within him as he removed the key from his pocket. It was almost like standing at the edge of a cliff, staring into the enticing abyss. But curiosity, a potent brew for Logan, was impossible to resist.

 He inserted the key; the faint click signifying the surrender of the lock. But disappointment greeted him like an old friend when the lid revealed an empty interior. He gave the chest a once-over, trying to decipher any hidden codes or secret compartments, but found nothing. He set the chest aside, the silence of the room now punctuated by his sighs.

 It was only when he was about to leave that he noticed the bizarre metamorphosis. The carpeted floor had transformed into hardwood. He blamed it on his distracted mind and made a mental note to stop by the pub for a pint.

 But as he moved towards the exit, the house was no longer the comforting backdrop of his childhood memories. The dated charm had morphed into contemporary elegance. And when he opened the door, his beloved Toyota had transformed into a sleek Audi, with a woman and a baby in the front seat. His throat tightened. “Gran, what on earth have you done?”

 Instead of spiralling into panic, Logan paused, taking in the surreal scenario. His grandmother’s penchant for elaborate jokes and riddles was infamous. Could this be another one of her masterfully crafted illusions? Or had the key acted as a conductor, leading him onto a different symphony of reality?

 With this hypothesis in mind, Logan experimented. He turned the key in the lock once again, hoping to reverse the orchestrated chaos. But the world remained the same, when he looked outside again the woman and her baby were oblivious spectators to his distress.

 Slightly disheartened, but far from defeated, Logan contemplated his grandmother’s riddles. She often spoke of seeing beyond the apparent, of unravelling the intricacies hidden beneath the surface. Could the key be a part of such a conundrum?

 Logan studied the newfound key, noting the arbitrary pattern of numbers etched onto its surface. Their purpose was unclear, but his curiosity was piqued. They could represent a cipher or a secret code, something his puzzle-loving grandmother might contrive.

 He redirected his attention back to the chest, slotting the original key back into the lock. As he aligned the enigmatic numbers on the key with the mechanism of the lock, a clandestine compartment within the chest revealed itself, presenting a more complex key.

 “Gran, you really had a knack for conundrums, didn’t you?” Logan mumbled, his words laden with a blend of admiration and mild exasperation.

 This second key was sleeker, refined, and alarmingly familiar. Holding it up to the light, Logan recognized the distinctive four interlocked rings embossed in the metal. It bore an uncanny resemblance to a car key, and the logo – the unmistakable insignia of Audi.

 Feeling as though he was walking through one of his grandmother’s cryptic crosswords, he looked at the Audi parked outside. Its sudden appearance had at first felt like an intrusion in his grandmother’s dated suburban landscape, but now, it seemed more like a beacon guiding him toward the solution of the puzzle.

 As he moved towards the car, the woman in the passenger seat looked on with bemusement, adding another layer to the enigma. It wasn’t every day that a stranger approached her with a key that might just fit her car. Regardless, the situation was intriguing enough for Logan to proceed. After all, his grandmother had always loved a good riddle, and unravelling them was part of his inheritance.

 He was prepared for the key to fail, ready to laugh it off if it didn’t fit, but something in him dared to venture. The answer was just a turn of the key away. As he inserted the key into the lock of the Audi, reality seemed to tilt on its axis.

 When his vision cleared, his old Toyota sat before him, perfectly ordinary. Relief washed over him, and he chuckled as he retraced his steps back to the house. The familiar chaos of his grandmother’s abode greeted him, untouched by the temporal mirage he had just experienced.

 Just as he had suspected, the key was another one of his grandmother’s intricate riddles – a playful trip through a momentary alternate reality.

 Content in the familiarity of his world, he appreciated the little adventure his grandmother had orchestrated, even after her departure. His promised pint now awaited him, back in the world that felt reassuringly mundane.