No. 341

 “I’m sorry, I can’t help you,” said the butler who had answered the door of the stately home.

I was confused. “This isn’t 1947 Albert Crescent?” I asked one last time, to be sure. I’d been trying to get a straight answer for almost ten minutes.

The butler took the ornate card with the numbers listed on it from my hand and examined it. His inspection included turning it over and, oddly, sniffing it. “I’m afraid not,” he said. “What I can tell you is that 1944 Albert Crescent used to be directly across the way. They pulled that building down some years ago. Maybe that’s the one you’re confused about.”

I looked where he directed. There was only an overgrown lot with an old concrete foundation in the center. “Thanks,” I told him. “Maybe I’ll try to call somebody.”

The door closed, and I was left alone on the porch. I was almost certain that I had the right place. It’s true, there were no house numbers on the exterior, but it was the only structure on the street and the butler’s “across-the-road” story seemed dodgy. What was stranger still was that I hadn’t even told the man why I was looking for 1947 before he’d turned twitchy and nervous.  

I had a gold coin in my backpack, as well as written instructions on exactly when and how to deliver it. I only I had to find the location to deliver it to. The person who’d given it to me had been very, very specific.

When the phone number I’d be given connected directly with a “not in service” message, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

I’d been duped. There had never been 1947 Albert Crescent, just an elaborate ruse to lure me here.

I heard a rustle in the bushes.

The door seemed very far away, now. I broke into a run, screaming as loudly as I could and hoping that the butler would hear me.