The Third Key

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


The Third Key

 

They had only moved into the house that morning. On their first visit, they had both fell immediately in love with the place. It was an eighteenth century gatehouse to a large hall. Katy thought it quite magical, with it’s Hansel and Gretal style. The house had the most beautiful walled garden, with soft green lawns and tall trees that grew in front of the warm red brick wall. The almost ethereal quiet of the secluded garden was broken only by the summer birdsong.

 Katy had already chosen the room she wanted. Facing the garden, it had two pretty little sash windows set into the roof, which formed part of the room. With it’s white washed walls, oak beams and exposed floorboards, Katy thought it most cosy.

 Katy was busy in her new room, with most of her things already put away. She was now arranging her many dolls along the skirting board under the windows. Jemima, her favourite doll, had travelled in the car with her and not in the removal lorry, in which she had reluctantly let the rest travel. As Katy chatted to her dolls, making sure they were comfortable in their new home, she thought she heard a noise from outside. Standing by one of the open windows, she heard it again and this time was quite sure of what it was. “Did you hear that Jemima?’ “she asked of the doll sitting on her bed. “It was a little girl giggling I’m sure.” Picking Jemima up, she ran downstairs to her father.

 “Daddy, Jemima and I heard a little girl in the garden and she was giggling.”

 “Katy sweetheart, our nearest neighbour is over a mile away and besides the garden is very secure, so no one could just wander in, especially not a little girl.”

 “But I heard her and so did Jemima,” Katy persisted.

 “Well you two go into the garden and find her,” smiled her father, considering that the easiest way to settle the matter.

 Katy stood on the terrace and looked out over the garden. After a few minutes of intently looking and listening for any signs of the giggling little girl, to no avail, Katy decided to venture down the garden in search of her. ‘Come Jemima,” she said, “The little girl must be somewhere, for we both know we heard her.” Katy slowly made her way down the garden, looking this way and that, should the little girl be hiding among the trees. There was no sign of her however and Katy was by then at the end of the garden. As she continued to look around, Katy saw an old shed in the corner, almost hidden from view and covered in ivy. ‘Oh look Jemima, the little girl may be in that old shed,” she said. “Do you know, I shouldn’t be surprised if she is an orphan girl and actually lives in the shed,” she continued, as her imagination took hold . 

 The old shed looked almost like a little house, Katy thought, with its gabled roof  and two small windows either side of the door. Walking up to one of the windows, Katy tried to see inside. She could see nothing however, with the interior in total darkness. Katy then tried the door, but it was locked. Suddenly Katy once again heard the sound of the little girl giggling. She stood very still, the sound seemed at once to be close by and yet far away. Katy became a little spooked and was unsure what to do, for it seemed the little girl was now calling her name! So light and soft was the voice that spoke, the words seemed to hang in the air.

 ‘Katy, Katy’

 ‘How does she know my name’ thought Katy, holding Jemima that little bit closer.

 ‘Come play with me Katy’

 Katy began looking around her, for she couldn’t work out from where the voice was coming.

 ‘Come, let's play together Katy’

 Summoning up some courage, she answered the mysterious voice. “But I don’t know where you are.”

 ‘I’m in here Katy’

 “Do you mean in the shed?”

 ‘Yes Katy, come inside and play with me’

 “But the door is locked.”

 ‘Fetch the key Katy, then we can play together’

 “I don’t know where the key is.”

 ‘In the kitchen Katy, behind the door. Go fetch the key Katy, so we can have fun together’

“Ok, I will go and get it.”

 ‘Hurry Katy, I want you to come play’

 Katy started running back up the garden, she didn’t question how the little girl came to be locked in the shed, or how she knew the key to be in the kitchen, such was the effect the voice had had on her. She went through the back door and into the kitchen and there, hanging behind the door, were three keys, all looking very similar. She reached up and as she was about to take the keys from the hook, her father walked in.

 “Ah there you are Katy, what are you doing sweetheart?”

 Katy was about to tell her father of the little girl locked in the old shed, but thought he wouldn’t believe her and simply said she wanted the key to the old shed she had found, as she thought it would make a nice playhouse. She figured once she had rescued the little girl, she could prove her existence to her father.

 “I didn’t even know there was an old shed,” said her surprised father. “And how are you to know they are the keys?”

 “Oh I just thought I would try them. The shed is right up in the corner under a load of ivy, but it is locked.” answered Katy, trying to look and sound quite casual. 

 “I don’t think that’s a good idea sweetheart,” said her father. “It may be unsafe in there. Wait until I’ve had time to look at it and if it is safe, I shall help turn it into a playhouse for you.”

 “Ok daddy,” replied Katy, somewhat deflated.

 “I take it you didn’t find the little giggling girl then?” he asked with a smile.

 “Jemima and I shall go and have another look for her,” was the evasive answer.

 “I shall take a look at the shed just as soon as I’ve finished putting everything away in the parlour,” said her father, as he bent down to give her a kiss and with that he left Katy in the kitchen.

 As Katy stood looking at the keys, unsure as to whether to defy her father or not, she heard the giggling little girl. Again she didn’t think to question the strangeness of these events. How could she hear the little girl giggling from inside the ol;d shed? All she knew was she had to rescue her and so reached up and took the keys from the hook. With Jemima in one hand and the keys in the other, Katy ran back down the garden.

 As Katy’s father was putting things away in the cupboards of the parlour, he came upon an old shoe box. Inside he found a few newspaper cuttings and three photographs, each one depicting a young girl and clearly taken a long time ago with one photograph looking to be very old indeed. Once he had looked at the photographs, he took out the newspaper cuttings and began reading them. With increasing alarm, he learned that nearly one hundred years ago, a little girl had been killed in the old shed of his new home, after drinking from an old lemonade bottle, which contained deadly rat poison. Another of the cuttings was about a little girl that had gone missing after playing in the garden, with some reference to the much earlier tragedy, but making no link between them. The last cutting he picked up had the headline. Second Little Girl To Go Missing From The Gatehouse. This was quite a large piece, featuring both the missing girls. After speaking to both sets of parents, it emerged that both the young girls had insisted that they had heard a little girl giggling in the garden and that she had even spoken to them from inside the locked shed. The accounts from both sets of parents were exactly the same, both girls had managed to get hold of the keys to the shed, which had then been found still in the lock, but neither girl was ever seen again. In this article, it questioned the coincidences of these tragedies and again made reference to the death of the little girl, many decades before… but suddenly the colour drained from Katy’s father’s face and the newspaper cutting floated slowly to the floor…

 

 He stared at the empty key hook on the kitchen wall and with his hand gripping the door frame and his heart pounding, he shouted… “KATY”...

 

 The third key Katy tried slipped into the lock. She slowly pushed open the creaking door.

 

 ‘Come in and play with me Katy’

 

The End.

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: September 05, 2020

© Copyright 2021 H W Lustre. All rights reserved.

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