I spent nearly an hour sorting through the paperwork on and in the desk, but I did not learn anything really significant. Certainly nothing that told me anything about who my Great-Uncle was, or how he might have died. It told me a lot about his stock portfolio, which explained the size of this house. I found his electric bills, which made me quite sure I could not afford to keep the house.
But nothing about him.
Finally, I stood up in frustration, and started pacing. “Dammit,” I muttered to myself. “There’s got to be something.”
I paced some more. It helped me think.
Well, what did I know? Not much, really. I knew that this lawyer told me he was dead, I knew I was in his will. I knew that at least one person thought that there might be foul play involved, and that some one had definitely tried to kill me last night. God, I hadn’t even been thinking about that.
I stopped, suddenly. There was something…off. It was the bookshelf. I was not sure what it was, but something had caught my eye.
I moved closer to the shelf. It was a heavy oak thing that looked like it was built into the wall. Definitely custom made. The books were old, all of them hardcover. There was a thesaurus, a dictionary. A series of books by Poe and Lovecraft that I did not recognize. Several books by Anne Rice, a book on local edible plants, one on the medicinal properties of mushrooms, some kind of weird bestiary, a book by Darwin…
Wait a minute.
I looked at the bestiary.
“‘The Mating Habits of the Common Grue’? Seriously?” I looked closer. There was no dust on the bookshelf itself, it had obviously been cleaned frequently, but there was a very fine layer of dust on the top of the books, on some more than others. And there were faint, but recognizable imprints in the dust on top of that particular book. It looked like someone had put their finger on top of the book, but no where else.
“There’s no way it’s this simple.” I put my finger on top of the book, and pulled. It tilted out toward me with a clicking sound, and with a whirring and clicking sound like a huge old clock, the book case swung out toward me.
Behind the bookcase was a small stone doorway in the wall, and past that…there was a small passage, leading to the left, following the wall. It was dark.
“A secret door behind a bookcase. What the fuck? Who ever designed this watched too many movies.” I shook my head. On the other had, I almost had not noticed it, so clearly it worked pretty well. I would not have noticed at all, probably, if I had not recognized the word “Grue”. It was a fictional monster from a text-based computer game I had played once as a kid. That game had caught on in nerd-culture since, so the phrase “You are likely to be eaten by a grue” had been floating around the Internet for years. Some part of my subconscious must have noticed it.
Well, this had some definite potential. I did not had a flashlight, but I took out my phone and turned it on. It did not give me much light, but hopefully enough to prevent me from running into things. I took a deep breath, and walked into the passageway.