Tea And Enmity
By Jeff Baker
I followed Luc down the narrow stone stairway into the dark interior of the ancient castle, lit by the flashlight beams generated by my revulator and by the greenish glow of the device Luc was holding in front of him.
“That looks like something out of the earlier Twentieth Century,” I had said. It did. It was the size of a half-gallon jug of milk, shiny steel with a screen at one end and a metal tube at the other. Luc was aiming the tube at the walls and sighting through the screen.
“It’s based on modern principles,” Luc said. “But it does look like something out of a 350 year-old movie. “But this castle of yours is even older and we should be able to find this thing, no matter how thick the walls are.”
“Pure gold,” I said. Buried in a hidden room, according to what the manuscript I found said. That was why we were in the sub-basement, with Luc searching for treasure with the device he’d invented. He said he’d be living up to his nickname: “Lucky.”
Fortified with tea, freshly made from the antique tea press in the kitchen, we both were waiting as Luc’s device scanned the walls. Then my revulator’s light shut off.
“Damn,” I said. “Probably not getting a signal down here with the thick walls.” I tapped on its old fashioned screen. Nothing. No phone, no webify. Nothing. I put it in my back pocket and pulled out my flashlight. “There. Can you see, now?”
“Yeah,” Luc said, scanning the wall nearest him. He’d been scanning with the dim, green light of the screen while I’d been fumbling with the flashlight. “Hey, how long has your family owned this castle, anyway?”
“Since about 1404,” I said. “And my Uncle Salvatore owns it, I’m just trespassing.”
“Get the gold, get out of here,” Luc said. “Cool.” I could see the greenish light of the screen glistening of his smile. Then; “Wait. I think I got something.” He focused the device on a wall. “There. There’s a room behind that wall. Everything else around here is about a couple of yards of thick stone.”
“Scan the floor,” I said. “If the stories are true there’s a way to open it. You’re looking for metal.”
The lose stone was easy to find. The metal lever under the stone pulled, after a lot of effort. There was a ‘CLUNK’ as the wall edged open, enough for us to peer inside.
“I think I see something,” I said, shining my flashlight around the freshly opened room that had been dark for probably half a century. “Let’s push this open a little more.”
The stone door was surprisingly light. With both of us working, we pushed it open enough so that we could step inside.
“Got your flashlight?” Luc asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “Hey, if we find the gold, maybe we could split it with Giancarlo., if he’s still your boyfriend.”
“He’d like that,” Luc said, as he stepped inside the room. I picked up the device from where Luc had set it down. It was heavy, but I was able to swing it and connect with the back of Luc’s head with a sickening crunch. He fell to the floor.
Giancarlo had been my boyfriend.
Luc wasn’t moving. I dropped the device in with him, and pushed the door shut. It didn’t take much effort. Then I replaced the stone over the lever. The basement and the castle would be flooded in a few days when they re-routed the river. No one would be down here for another century.
I walked up the dark stairs to where I had the tea press in the kitchen. I’d take it with me, but I felt the need for something stronger than tea.
Maybe a glass of Amontillado.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Written (late) for Cait Gordon’s new monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge. The three cards drawn were for a castle (setting), science fiction (genre) and a tea press (object.)The name “Lucky” is a nod to the story I’m ripping off, er, riffing on.