[Earlier episode here.]
Deep within the castle’s empty halls and silent rooms, its furnishings long ago sold for coin, was a solid oak door, locked from the inside. At the bottom of a rickety staircase was a second door, also locked, but without an obvious place for a key. Simon chanted the arcane words he had learned long ago from his grandmother, and the door slid open into the wall.
“Welcome to my shop!” Simon said to Mandy, the reporter who was blackmailing him. She had threatened to expose his past, linking him to a recent murder, unless he gave her a chunk of his inheritance.
Mandy’s eyes grew wide at the vista spread before her. This was a home within a home, complete with bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and what appeared to be a chem lab. “Wow! What’s going on in here?”
“I’m searching for the formula to remove the curse from the treasure,” Simon said. “Without it, the gems are useless except for perpetuating evil, as Belinda was doing.”
Mandy nodded. “The police were closing in on her for the killings of those children. I received a tip about it, but then she was found in the river.”
“I couldn’t convince Grandmama to give me the counterspell, so I stopped Belinda another way.” Simon’s mouth twisted at the memory of dumping her body. “It had to be done. She was too far down the devil’s path to change. I didn’t know the police were onto her.”
Mandy rolled her eyes. “That’s the problem with vigilantism. What’s that smell though?”
“Cookies!” he announced. “You mentioned you love peanut butter, so I baked some.”
Mandy reached for a thick, golden brown cookie from the plethora on the plate Simon presented. She bit into the sweet and salty treat with pleasure. After her second one, she said, “You didn’t put anything weird in these, did you?”
“Who, me?” Simon smiled.
Written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge 72.
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