The kitchen had been under construction for a week now. They were on track to have a new kitchen by the following week, and everything seemed to be going well.
In the process of dragging the cabinet aside and repairing it, he noticed a strange handle on the wall.
It was impossible for him not to pull the handle despite everything inside him telling him not to. They were shocked by what they found.
Soon after they got married, Jack and Melissa moved into their new house.
After searching for two bedrooms in Houston, Texas, they found a beautiful fixer-upper house they could call home for the rest of their lives.
As a new couple, the couple worked hard to transform the house into their dream home during the first year of ownership. Until they got to the kitchen, everything seemed to be going according to plan.
Making It Their Own
Melissa and Jack’s house was more than five decades old. Even though it was quite old, they considered it to be one of the most beautiful houses in their neighborhood.
A remarkable amount of care had been taken to keep it in good condition by its previous owners.
They made necessary fixes to the house. First and foremost, they wanted their home to be baby-friendly, as they were expecting their first child very soon. The renovations weren’t expected to have such a significant impact on their lives.
A Beautiful Home
While a teenager and early adult, Jack spent much of his time as a handyman.
Due to this, he was able to complete most of the renovations himself, which Melissa thought was very cute.
As time passed, the rest of the house became as beautiful as Jack and Melissa had imagined when they moved in. It would be wonderful if the kitchen renovation matched the other rooms.
Fixing The Kitchen
After getting his mallet, Jack caved in the kitchen parts that weren’t needed. His work included refinishing the tiles, cupboards, counters, and island.
There was an antique mahogany cabinet firmly affixed to the wall. One of the reasons Jack and Melissa fell in love with the house was because of this item.
There was no way Jack could destroy it. For a better understanding of how to fix it, he removed it from the wall. It was then that he saw what was behind it.
What Was It?
Upon moving the old cabinet away, Jack noticed a circular notch on the floor in its place. The item lying on the ground had a handle.
The floorboards appeared to have a giant plug built into them, but why?
After pulling hard on the plug, something long hidden was revealed.
He Couldn’t Get It To Move
The square-shaped panel of floorboards came away when Jack pulled on the metal ring built into the floor.
Upon peering into the space, he noticed a safe!
Despite tugging on the safe’s handle, Jack could not move it. In a moment of reflection, he wondered why one of the previous families had left a locked safe behind.
Trying To Open It
His childhood was spent reading books about fantasy worlds hidden inside cabinets and closets.
There was nothing like what he was looking at.
Due to a sealed safe, the safe could not be opened. In an effort to open it by force, he decided to guess the passcode and turn the dial randomly.
Asking Her To Help
As he viewed the safe, Jack ran his hand along his face.
Based on its design and chipped paint, he realized it was more than a decade old.
Melissa ran in as soon as he called “Lisa.”. She asked, “What’s the matter?”. Jack pointed to the safe. She stared at him with wide eyes. The next thing she did left Jack speechless.
Jack was left alone in the kitchen after Melissa stormed out.
The moment she returned with one of her bags in hand, he was about to rush after her. A poker card was found while she rummaged through it.
With a quizzical look, Jack asked, “What’s that?”. A broad smile adorned Melissa’s face as she replied, “I’m not sure yet.”. Her eyes swept over the card as she said, “This has given me sleepless nights.” Turning the card over, Jack realized what she meant.
Falling Into Place
“Two, sixty-five, fifty-two,” Jack read the final numbers penned into the card’s back. Melissa entered them into the safe for the dozenth time.
They were about to give up when something inside the metal door clicked.
“I found the card while we were doing the main bedroom,” she chirped, “it was behind the old medicine cabinet!”
Opening The Safe
As the safe that had been set into the floor’s door slid open, Jack held Melissa back.
There was no telling what secrets hid inside the safe for all these years.
Dozens of thoughts swirled through Jack’s head. Safe’s contents are generally valuable, or at least to the eyes of the owner. So what was he hiding?
What possibly could be valuable enough that it had to stay inside the dusty safe hidden away all these years? Jack needed to know.
What could be so important that it needed to be protected and hidden from everyone? Well, Jack couldn’t wait another minute to find out. “
Water?” he exclaimed, perplexed. What was this?
The Grand Reveal
Jack was perplexed to find an inch of old, standing water at the bottom of the safe. He wondered what could have caused it.
Then a memory he thought he’d forgotten resurfaced.
He suddenly remembered that the realtor had told them that a pipe had burst in the house many years before and flooded a lot of the ground floor.
The water from the burst pipe must have flooded into the safe. But thankfully, it didn’t seem to have damaged what lay inside.
He would have been sad if whatever was in the safe was damaged due to the water.
Then the old secrets of the safe would have been lost with time. But as Jack stared at what lay inside, he knew it was something special.
A Time Capsule?
Jack breathed deeply and almost started coughing before he continued looking through the safe.
The smell of dust was heavy in the air as he reached a hand inside.
Jack pulled out a plastic bag and rummaged through it, revealing an entire time capsule. One of the first things he found was a coin book from 1937.
His eyes went wide as he stared at the soggy cover. The water had made it on something, after all.
But not all hope was lost as he looked closer at the book that had survived 80 years before he touched it.
The outside of the book was damaged, but thankfully the layers had protected the coins inside from the water. In fact, they were almost in pristine condition. It was as if they had just been placed there.
Giving Up Its Secrets
The old coin book wasn’t all that was in the safe. Jack soon discovered a variety of coins that had been dumped into the bag, along with a collection of water-damaged dollar bills.
He couldn’t believe that there was still money inside of it.
If they really were as old as he thought they were, they could have been worth a fortune.
Kept Getting Stranger
Although many of the coins were standard-issue versions, many pieces in the collection were rare coins.
Jack recognized some of them from antique shows he had watched on television as a kid. But what were they doing there?
It turned out that even the standard finds could still have a high collector’s value if the couple decided to sell them. And it kept getting stranger.
Money And A Bottle
The safe revealed more of its secrets to Jack and Melissa. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
There were stacks of dollar bills and bottles of 1959 bourbon.
The whiskey was untouched as if saved for a special occasion that never arrived. It somehow stirred a sadness in Jack. Who did this belong to before they came into possession of the property?
Something Was Wrong
Time seemed to stand still as the couple stared at the strange items. Then, Melissa moved her hand to reach into the bag, but Jack stopped her.
He had a grave look in his eye as if he knew that something was wrong.
She didn’t understand. What could he have seen that she didn’t? And was it something that she should be scared of?
Cutting Through The Tension
With his hand on Melissa’s arm, Jack yelled: “Don’t! It might be boobytrapped!” She jumped back even further. Who would boobytrap a safe full of money?
Then she looked back at Jack and noticed something she should have done sooner.
Startled, it took Melissa a few seconds to realize that Jack was joking. She went bright red from embarrassment.
They both laughed for a few seconds. Then, Melissa noticed something else, and they both fell silent.
She reached in, picked it up, and turned it around in her hands. She flipped it around and stared at it for a few seconds.
It seemed the safe had more treasures for the two to find. But they could never have expected what they would find next.
The item in the bag in the safe that had piqued Melissa’s interest the most was a tattered, slightly water-damaged novel published in the sixties.
She remembered her love for books when she grew up in her mother’s house.
Her mother owned all sorts of old books that Melissa loved to read. But this book was like nothing she’d ever seen.
The hardcover book was aptly titled “A Guide for the Perplexed,” written by E.F. Schumacher.
She thought it was quite a peculiar find. “Why would this of all things be hidden away in a safe?” She thought.
But as she continued to examine the book, she had no idea what secrets it truly held. Melissa flipped through it, her brows furrowing at what hid in its pages.
Something Hidden Inside
The book itself looked unassuming enough. Definitely not something that you’d think would be locked up tight in a safe for many years.
Melissa felt that there was something more to the book than met the eye.
She flipped through its pages, scanning each page before moving on to the next. Until something peculiar happened, she found something that didn’t belong in the book.
Maps And Pages
Melissa pulled a map of Houston from the novel. It looked worse for wear but was completely readable!
Furthermore, she noticed something about the map that made the hair on her neck stand up.
The map was old and leached of color. It had an X marked on one of its many neighborhoods. Her eyes grew wide at this revelation.
Studying The Map
As Melissa studied it, Jack realized that the map wasn’t the only thing marked.
He took the book from her, seeing that a few folded pages had their paragraphs underlined in pencil. What was going on?
The two of them believed that they might have stumbled on something incredible. But they still had some work to do if they wanted to discover the secrets hidden inside.
The Old Photo
An old photo was wedged between the last few pages of the book. As Jack took it from Melissa, it spilled out onto the floor, along with a few other pieces of paper.
The two stared at the mess on the floor.
Scattered pieces of history lay at their feet. But there was one photo in particular that caught Melissa’s eye. She bent down and picked it up with a curious look in her eye.
Writing On It
As she started examining it, Jack told her there was writing on the back. She handed it to him, and he flipped it over.
On the back of the photo was a note. Jack read it aloud: ‘Alan, I have a book you must read. I’ve underlined a few key passages. Your friend, Vincent.’
The two stared at each other. Neither knew who Vincent or Alan was. They really had discovered something special.
It Gets Interesting
The more Jack and Melissa studied the enigma before them, the more interesting it got.
They’d found more old photos of a family inside the novel, along with something that looked like a bookmark.
Did they belong to the family that used to live here? They didn’t know much about them, but they were learning at a rapid rate due to the photos. Then they saw the quotes in the book.
The bookmark had quotes from the book penciled in that seemingly hinted at a treasure hidden nearby, somewhere in the city.
The pieces started falling into place as the two started seeing the bigger picture amongst all of the scraps and writing in front of them.
They read the quote and understood exactly what the writer was implying.
Jack and Melissa saw a passage in the book they’d found circled.
They didn’t think much of it at first but going back, they knew it had some significance.
The underlined passage of the chapter in the book titled, ‘On Philosophical Maps’ reads: ‘One way of looking at the world as a whole is by means of a map, that is to say, some sort of plan or outline that shows where various things are to be found.’
From there, they looked back at the photos in the book. They scanned the book until they found yet another underlined passage.
It looked like it was tied to a photo in the book as well.
Another black and white photo of an old house was placed right underneath another passage that read: ‘There yielded such fruitful results.’
Some Kind Of Joke?
On the back of the old photo of the house, the words ‘Where one tree becomes three’ were written in pen. Jack and Melissa were incredulous.
They now knew that they were facing a riddle. Thankfully, Melissa loved teasing her brain with anything from crosswords to sudoku.
Now they just had to try to crack the code and finally find out what the original owner of the safe had been hiding. But Jack was doubtful.
Was It True?
It dawned on them that all of this could have just been a game.
None of it was necessarily true, and if it wasn’t, they’d have been doing all of this for nothing. But could they take that chance?
Was any of this true, or was someone playing a cruel trick on them? Whatever the truth was, they were determined to get to the bottom of it.
The Bingo Card
Inside the book, there was also an old Bingo card that was frayed and yellow on the edges. Three numbers on the card were circled in pen – 66, 3, and 54.
It was getting ridiculous now. First, the book, then the bookmark, then the paragraphs.
Why was it getting so cryptic? Either someone was playing a prank that was paying off decades later, or there was something incredible close by.
They looked back at the bingo card. They thought about what it could mean before it finally clicked in Jack’s head.
It was a code and had significance to unlocking something.
It wasn’t lost on the couple that the safe they had just opened also had a five-digit passcode. Could this possibly be the combination for another safe?
Jack fetched their laptop, joining Melissa on the kitchen table.
Through Google maps, they ascertained where the place marked X on the map was: Hyde Park, Houston.
It wasn’t too far away. It made sense because whoever hid something wouldn’t want to hide it too far away from their home, which was now theirs. They were almost out of the woods now.
Where Was The Photo?
The biggest problem that they encountered was now the photo. It was an old one in black and white without any distinguishing features.
They could clearly see that it was a house.
But they had no way of knowing where the photo of the old house had been taken – which was obviously a vital clue. Then, Melissa had an idea.
Taking It To Social Media
Melissa scanned and uploaded the photo of the house – along with the other clues they had found in the book – and posted everything on Reddit.
Surely, there would be someone who would be able to identify the location of the old house, and maybe someone online could even decipher some of the other clues.
Of course, as soon as Melissa made the post, the first question on everyone on Reddit’s lips was how much money had been in the safe.
Melissa and Jack had counted the cash inside the safe and found out that they had a staggering fifty thousand dollars in their possession.
But there was one problem.
Thinking It Through
The money left in the safe was too much for someone not to return for it.
The details in the novel and the map were also well thought out.
What if the young couple used the money and landed themselves in big trouble? Jack decided to share his worry with Melissa. She suggested something that made his lips part.
The Best Way Forward
“Let’s move the money to a safety deposit box,” Melissa said.
She pulled out another small note that had been wedged at the end of the novel.
It read, “Dear Alan, glad you’ve found this next batch. Hope it makes up for all those years I wasn’t around. Please read the book I’ve left for you. Love, Richard.”
An Unsolved Mystery
“There were a series of these safes around the city, I think,” Melissa added. “Let’s keep it safe for him until Alan or his family comes to look for it.”
Jack looked at his wife, seeing the calm and resolve in her blue eyes. He nodded with a smile. Being with her was the only treasure in his life.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.