Wednesday 24 February 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 188

This week's photo prompt was hard to trace. It seems these were once for sale as 'Antique Finish Decorative Key, on a website called Elizabeth's Embellishments, but that was back in 2011, and they aren't on that site anymore. 

Took me a while to find this tale, but like the main character, I knew it when I found it.

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

Keys to Nivana

Belinda took out her magnifying glass to look closer at the bow of the key, where it met the shaft, known as the blade. She’d become a professional on the topic these last couple of weeks. She could just make out a hallmark. As she thought, it was sterling silver. And there was another. She had to have them.

          Belinda looked at the shopkeeper of the little dusty shop. ‘How much are you asking for them?’

‘Antique keys are quite popular at the moment. I’m looking for a fiver each.’

Belinda smiled inwardly; a bargain.

‘Have you just got these two? Or are there more?’

‘None as pretty as those, but I do have some others in the back. Do you want me to get them?’

‘I’ll take a look.’ Belinda’s nonchalant tone was deliberate. She was excited to have found these, and now, maybe the others. But she wanted to pretend she was just a collector and not looking for anything specific.

The little man went out to his back room and returned with a box. He made a space on a table and turned the contents out on a cloth. There had to be a hundred of them, most worn and rusty, although many with unique bows that would fascinate collectors. Then she spotted them, three lying together, brighter than the rest. She shuffled through the others, making her way to them, not wanting to alert the shopkeeper to any undue interest. She picked one of them up and admired the bow, which was similar to the two she’d found. Then she took out her magnifying glass again and gave it a cursory glance. Yep, they were silver too, although tarnished. She gathered up the three, and put them with the two she already had.

‘I’ll give you twenty quid for the five,’ she stated.

The shopkeeper pretended to ponder a moment. ‘Alright you’ve got a deal.’

She pulled out a twenty and put it on the counter, stuffing them in her pocket. ‘Thanks.’

‘Nice, doing business with you,’ the shopkeeper called after her.

Belinda couldn’t get home fast enough. She knew if she nosed around the neighbourhood for long enough, she’d find them. There was no doubting the two he’d polished up, but those other three, were they the right ones? Something told her they were, and she trusted her instincts.

Back home, she put them on a cloth in the middle of the dining table and brought out the silver cleaner and set to work bringing up the shine on the three dull ones, paying particular attention to the hallmarked area.

Then she used some plasticine to press against the hallmark, and with an ink pad, managed to get a clear imprint of each on paper, the tiny differences apparent. This only raised her excitement.

She scanned them into her computer, so she could zoom in and see as much detail as possible, and compare them to the research she’d already done. She was right; they were the set of five, all made by the same person, Robert Finny, and, she believed, for the same object.

Other hunters believed the keys had been made for special doors in one of the properties he’d been commissioned to work on, and that’s where they looked, but Belinda knew better; the keys were made for something far more important than doors. They were made for a particular object, one she already had in her possession. And to locate it she had only had to find out where he had lived. And now she’d found the keys in the local town, she was hopeful.

Belinda spent another day verifying the keys were indeed made by Finny. Some might think that extreme, but she had to be sure. She only had one chance to get it open. And if she messed it up, according to accounts she’d be the one left messed up.

They said it had been Finny’s final piece – well it must have been, because he’d vanished after that. His house left empty for years, until the contents were auctioned off. That’s when Belinda had bought the object, which now stood in her hallway. It was an extravagant, dark wood, cabinet people admired when they visited – if only for the ornate keyhole covers round every lock.

She took the keys to it now and smiled. She’d suspected the decoration on the keyholes might match the key bows. It was subtle but it was there. She brought the pictures of the hallmark imprints too; while the keys were for the locks, the hallmarks were the codes for denoting the order and the turns.

Belinda had prepared all her affairs in preparation for this moment. She didn’t anticipate coming back. This was it; her nirvana – just as it had been Finny’s.

She followed the coding, taking it one key at a time. Each fitted perfectly and turned as it should.

When all were in place she paused, resting her hands on the two door knobs that people mistook for drawer handles. She pulled, and the cabinet opened down the middle, exposing a crack of light that became brighter and brighter until it engulfed her. She smiled and a face appeared.

‘Welcome,’ it said, and a hand came out. She took it and stepped through.


  1. Replies
    1. Nice original tale. Had a Narnia feel to it.

  2. With both our host's entry, and Zevonesque's, I was certain the pieces were going to take a malevolent turn. I'm glad they (potentially) didn't... at least not yet.

    Here's mine, Misplaced

    1. I was hoping to find out what the keys belonged to, and then you left it with an abstract cliff hanger of the mist. I tried to leave a comment on your site, but it blocked me saying it was suspicious I was a bot! Thanks for joining.