THE MYSTERY OF THE
reached for the phone and mumbled a sleepy, “Hello?”
extremely mysterious, even for her.
Everyone knew her grandmother didn’t like to be called
Grandma–she was too hip, and her name was ‘Aggie’–so
everyone, including her grandchildren, called her that.
can,” she said breathlessly. “I’ll meet you there.”
disturbed by her grandmother’s strange message, she quickly
scrambled out from under the covers. She remembered Miss
Florentine as the stern-faced, elderly librarian who just a few
months earlier had helped her find some archived newspaper
articles regarding the Marlatt family. However, apart from
that one meeting, she had not had any real interaction with her
the stairs. She headed for the kitchen where she found her
mother, Lorna Gilmartin, leaning over the breakfast counter
reading the local newspaper. They had moved some months ago
to this small rented cottage in her mother’s hometown of
Cedar Creek, Virginia, but leaving her friends in Philadelphia,
and her important position on the school baseball team had
not been something Mallory had wanted to do. She did have
to admit though, that she had finally made some new friends,
and there was no denying she loved being near her outrageously
knew everything about everything.
and wants me to get over to Miss Florentine’s house on the
she raced by, and stuffed a bite into her mouth.
grown up in Cedar Creek, she knew Miss Florentine well.
mouth, she grabbed her baseball cap and turned to head for
the front door. “I’ll let you know when I find out,” she
shouted back. The door slammed shut behind her.
jumped on her bicycle and set off down the path. Suddenly,
she heard a propeller plane whining and sputtering overhead
as if it were in trouble. She stopped and looked up, but saw
nothing other than a few wispy white clouds. Remembering
that Aggie was waiting, Mallory gave a shrug, and climbing on
her bike again, pedaled onto the main road toward town.
gothic-style house came into view. It was a rather foreboding
and uninviting structure with an odd assortment of rooms
that had been added to it over the years. Shaking off a strange
sense of discomfort, Mallory leaned her bike against a tree and
made her way up the steps to the front door where she
Mallory again heard the drone of a small plane above. Its
engine sputtered and misfired and gave off an overpowering
smell of gasoline, but when she turned and looked, there was
still no sign of anything in the sky. Mallory shook her head
door. She stared rather absent-mindedly at Mallory and then
beckoned her inside. The elderly woman, her grey hair pulled
back in a tight bun and looking slightly bewildered, led
Mallory down a long hallway to a dimly lit room filled with
heavy, ornate furniture and overstuffed chairs covered with
lace doilies. She clutched nervously at an old brown cardigan
draped around her shoulders and indicated for Mallory to sit
in one of the chairs. Still saying nothing, the old lady trudged
across the faded floral carpet and seated herself on a couch, her
face pale and her hands fluttering in her lap.
friend Kyle are searching the rest of my house now,” she