The Journal: A Roll of the Writer’s Block Dice

This scene was written during a writing work session with my BFF. For more, see the original post.

The Roll

Protagonist: female child hero
Genre: mystery
Plot: escape
Plot Twist: dead end

The Scene

Olivia cracked open the last of the journals, hoping yet again that it would be the one that gave her the final clue to finding where the Guild had hidden the Chalice. She’d been reading the leather-bound volumes for months, whenever she could sneak out to the Library and away from her too-watchful parents. They thought she was doing her homework and had given up on the foolish stories her grandmother had told her at bedtime. They might not believe, but she did.It was the curse of being a ten-year-old genius with a love of mysteries and adventure.

She’d almost forgotten about the stories until the strange man had come to the house asking after Grandma Bonnie’s journals. Her mother had denied knowing anything but Olivia had seen her father tense and fidget, two things he never, ever did. After that, she’d spent any free time she had writing out the stories she remembered. It was two months after that when she’d figured out the first riddle. It didn’t take long to figure out the second and third clues, the last of which had led her to the musty basement of the Guild’s main library. She’d shouted in elation at finding the little black safe buried under the boxes of old card catalog files, and clapped her hand over her mouth, sure she’d been discovered. When nothing happened, Olivia spent three days trying to open the voice lock on the safe with every story she knew. Finally, in desperation, she’d tried the last words her grandma would speak before turning out the light:

Olivia
Olivia with one of her grandmother’s journals

“Rings of gold will ever hold the faeries in your dreams.”

At the faint click she’d smiled and carefully opened the safe door. Inside, resting one atop another, lay six journals with faded red leather covers, each tied closed with a ribbon. Olivia had opened the first one that night only to find it written in a language she didn’t understand. Locking them safely away again, it had taken more research to figure out the language was one the Guild had used long ago for secret missives so they couldn’t be read were they to fall into enemy hands. Yet more research to find the key to that code and finally she could read the journals.

It had been a surprise to discover her grandma had been one of the Guild’s best agents when she was a young woman, and stranger still to find that she’d been tasked with hiding away the talisman that represented the power of the Guild. In each of the journals she’d found a clue, and now she was so close to the sixth and final one.

Pulling out her notepad from her bag along with a pen, she scooted over to where the light coming in from the high windows was brightest and began to read. She got caught up in her reading and just when she was about to give up she found it! Writing furiously, Olivia added the details to her notebook, double checking to make sure she had her notes correct. Smiling, she tucked away her pad and pen in her bag and lovingly touched the pages full of her grandmother’s words. Not wanting to put it away, she flipped through the remaining pages until she came to the end.

Her hands stilled as she read the last sentence written on the page. The handwriting was the same but the ink wasn’t faded as much and the penmanship was not as fluid. It had obviously been added much later and once Olivia had deciphered the words, her heart sank.

There was a seventh journal!

She searched the safe to no avail, finding nothing to tell her where it could be. Deciding that there must be something in the final pages she’d yet to read, Olivia sat down and flipped to where she’d left off.

The loud bang of the heavy door that lead to the basement startled her, and she looked up to find it was much later than she’d intended to stay. When the tower clock in the square began to chime the hour and she heard five bells, she panicked. The library closed at five, and with no way out she was trapped unless she could find another exit. Putting the journal back in the safe, she had almost locked it when she heard a familiar–and frightening–voice.

“It’s down here somewhere. Find it!”

Knowing the voice belonged to the stranger that had spoken to her parents, Olivia was now doubly scared — and positive they were after the journals. Taking precious seconds, she shoved her bag in the safe with the journals just in case. Then, making sure it was locked up tight and once again buried under boxes, she crept forward to the hallway and saw the jumping lights that had to be the others. Turning the other way, Olivia headed to the opposite end of the floor, hoping to find a way out…

© 2014 Nicole A. Bossard