“So, you’re telling me either someone is accessing your computer without permission or it’s acting on its own? Come on man, you’re getting paranoid! I bet it’s because you don’t pay enough attention when you leave your room…”
“No, I’m telling you, I turned the game and the screen off before leaving…” Assured Maximilian.
“Well I say it’s you who is not careful enough… And you should check your firewall to see if anyone could have pirated your computer.” Retorted Simon with a mocking smile.
“Yeah, I’ll do that. But it’s really weird.”
“Anyways, you said you wanted to show me the box your father gave you.”
“Oh yeah, wait a minute!”
The teenager quickly got up and walked to his locker, he opened it and took out the wooden small wooden box before closing it again. The classes had ended half an hour ago and since it was only half past three the two boys had decided to stay in school and spend their time in the library. Maximilian had promised to show to Simon the present from his deceased father and the library allowed them to do some research on it if needed without leaving the school. He put it down on the dark wooden table and sat back on his chair opposite to his friend. Simon picked up the box and studied it carefully for a few minutes, turning it over and over again in every direction.
“Wow” He said after putting it back down in the table. “It really doesn’t have any lock. I can’t even see how it opens or if it can be opened, it’s a masterpiece of design!”
“Since when are you interested in things like this?” Laughed Maximilian.
“Oh shut up ! It’s not just a simple box I tell you, it’s some kind of puzzle. And I swear I saw something similar somewhere, but I can’t remember where…”
“Well that’s convenient !” Said Maximilian, mocking his friend again.
“Hey! Stop making fun of me, orphan boy!” Simon had said that with and exaggerated wicked smile. “Or I’ll punch you!”
“Yeah, like I’d let you!” Scoffed the dark-haired teen. “Maybe we’d find something in here, it’s a goldmine of information.”
“Maybe.” Agreed a thoughtful Simon. “I’ll go check on the internet!” He added before getting up quickly and almost running to one of the free computers in the corner of the room.
“Tch, then I’ll look at the books… If ever you’re interested in knowing…” Muttered Maximilian with a sigh and a faint smile. He stood up and started looking for the puzzle books section. The teenager knew that it was somewhere near because the previous year he had found a book on simple magic tricks that he had borrowed for a few days. He stopped in front of a shelf with old-looking books of the fantasy genre. He read some of the titles to see if he knew any of them. Lord of the rings, Eragon, Narnia, The Magician’s Son, Moonland. He had read a few of those, they were “old but gold” as would say Patrick the librarian, a forty years old bookworm who Maximilian had befriended since last year as he was one of the students who came the most often. Finally after passing through two other shelves full with rows of books he stopped in front of a smaller section of the library where it said “Puzzles and brain teasers”. Yep, it’s still here, he thought.
He took a few books, those who seemed the most interesting, and walked back to the table where he had left his bag and the box. The teenager took a look at his watch. Quarter to four, huh. We’ve got plenty of time, he thought as he sat back and opened the first book of the pile. Looking through the pages all he found were detailed articles about popular mysteries, it proposed different theories about Stonehenge, explained how the pyramids of Giza were built and showing pictures of crop circles and strange shapes engraved on the ground.
“Nope, that’s not it !” As he was reading Maximilian had taken the bad habit of rocking his chair back and forth and when he moved to put the book back on the table he almost slipped and fell. He only managed to balance himself thanks to Patrick who was walking by with a chariot full of books.
“Careful there, young man !” Said the blond man, having a hard time staying serious.
“Oh ! Sorry Patrick ! I didn’t see you coming. And thanks, I almost slipped there…”
“Yeah, that’s a bad habit you got there, especially with those chairs.” Nodded librarian. “Hey, what are you looking at here ? Puzzle books?”
“Oh yeah. I have this box here you see.” The young man pointed at the wooden box on the table. “And I can’t manage to find how to open it so Simon and me are doing some research here.”
“I see. Well I can’t say I’ve ever been good with puzzles and I sure have never seen that kind of box anywhere so I can’t help you there!” Said Patrick, sincerely apologizing for not being of any assistance. That made the teenager smile. Patrick Smith was a kind man to the core, he loved to help students in their researches and to be able to get them the book reference they would need to find what they wanted. Every student in need of help could come to him at any time and he would gladly take on his own time to help him. “But I think you got what you need there !” Added the blond with a smile.
“I hope so!” Replied the dark-haired young man. “So, how are you today? Feeling good?” Also asked Maximilian.
“That I am, I feel especially happy today and strangely the most rested I’ve been since a long time, my back hurts a lots less since I go see that doctor you know. Plus Hellen and I are going out tonight !” He said enthusiastically.
“Oh nice!” Exclaimed the teenager with a smile. “You’re going to the movies?”
“Yep! I don’t know what we’re going to see yet though.” The man finished placing a few books on the shelves behind Maximilian. “Anyways, I got work to do and not just a little. I’ve got all those books to put back to their place so I’ll wish you a good day and take my leave.” He added slowly pushing his cart full of books away.
“Okay, I’ll see you later Patrick!” Answered Maximilian before going back to his books.
The teenager went thought the two other books he had taken but with no more luck than for the first one. The closest thing he found to the box was a magic box with a secret compartment to hide a small object when you moved it in a certain way. He also read about how to look like a real Esper and tried to solve some of the more complex riddles in the book with a reserved success. As he was almost at the end of the third book he heard Simon call him from the computer he was using. Some outraged students hushed him, muttering that it was “a library dammit, not a circus” but the red-head played no attention to them and even called his friend a second time just to bother them. Maximilian put his bag on his shoulder and took the box with him as he went to put the books back in place. He then proceeded to join his friend before the computer.
“You found something?” He asked as he approached.
“I think so Max!” Answered Simon. His friend knew he must have found something good from the way he couldn’t stand in place, he literally danced on his chair. “You should take a look at this.” He added as his friend sat beside him.
“I knew I had heard about something like this somewhere ! I just couldn’t remember where exactly but after browsing the web a little I found this.” As the redhead explained this to Maximilian he showed him a small wooden cubic box. “This box is called a Puzzle Box. It’ was quite simple to find actually. It’s a type of puzzle where you have to find how to open the box by finding the secret key. It can be a hidden lock, a small place to press or two sides to press at once in different directions to activate the lock.” Maximilian nodded.
“Okay. But that doesn’t really help since you saw yourself mine doesn’t have any way to open it. And you know, I’m not dumb, I had already researched it a bit and I already found out about the Puzzle Boxes, I tried the combinations they propose but it didn’t help. Mine is different.”
“Yes, that’s what I think too.” Agreed the redhead. “Though I didn’t have much time to test it I think that your box opens in a different way. I was sure I had already seen that type of puzzle somewhere so I kept searching and finally I stumbled upon this page.” On the screen one could now see a website for electronic locks. “At first I thought it might have been an electronic lock, you know like fingerprint or something like that. But it was too farfetched, it would have cost a lot to add a fingerprint recognition system to a small box like this, an it would be kind of pointless. But it gave me another idea.” Simon was now smiling broadly.
“Let me guess, you remembered what it was, didn’t you?” Guessed Maximilian with a mocking smile.
“Exactly. The lock has to be a simple enough system it would fit in the box but complicated enough to be secure. A magnet. That’s what I remembered.”
“A magnet?” Repeated thoughtfully the dark-haired teen. “That reminds me of something…”
“Yeah, I’m not surprised. You remember that show a few years back, with the magician apprentices ? Where they had to learn ll those tricks, show them to a jury and come up with new ones ? Well there was an episode about the secrets of magicians’ magic boxes and they showed a box like that. It wasn’t exactly the same, this one was handmade I think, but still I’d bet anything it will open with a magnet !”
“Yeah, I think I recall them talking about something like that on the show. Though I’d never have remembered that on my own…”
“So, what do we say to our great friend, huh ?” Asked Simon with a mischievous grin. Maximilian hit him with a slight punch on the shoulder.
“Yeah but no, I’ll thank you only once I really manage to open it, which I can’t do right now since I don’t have any magnet with me.”
“Aw come on! I’m sure I’m right! Wanna bet?” Maximilian looked at his friend for a few seconds before answering, carefully considering the proposition as he knew his friend always liked to have fun stakes when he made bets.
“Okay, I’ll bite. What do you want to bet then ?” As soon as he said that he regretted it. Simon’s grin widened, if that was possible, and he sat back straight.
“Well… let’s say that if you lose… you’ll owe me a dare !”
“Alright.” Agreed Maximilian after a few seconds. “But I you’re not right you will owe me one !”
“Done !” Exclaimed the redhead as he extended his hand. Maximilian returned his friend’s devious smile as he shook it and sat down on a chair nearby. He took the box and studied it once more, trying to find out what it could contain. What will I find in there ? What could be important enough for my father to hide it like that ? Those questions had already crossed his mind during the las few days, he had wondered over and over what was inside the little wooden chest. But to his great frustration, neither his power nor the fact that he had thought about almost all the hypotheses had helped him find out what was inside. “Do you have any idea what’s in there?” Asked Simon as if he was reading his friend’s mind. “‘Cause now that I think of it I didn’t even ask you…”
“No, I don’t have any idea of what could be in there. Jeff didn’t know what my father could have put in there and neither did Doris. The only clue that I have is that it can’t be something big or too heavy, but else than that I have absolutely no idea…” Answered Maximilian as he looked back up to his friend.
“Maybe it’s like a small hard disk or something or a pair of glasses!”
“Yeah, maybe. It could also be a letter or something like tat, but then why hide it in a box ?” The teenager sighed. “I don’t know and it unnerves me! It’s the only link with my parents and I can’t open that damn box…”
“Relax Max, no pun intended, you’ll find out soon enough, when you get your hands on a magnet!” The redhead then winked at his friend and stood up. “Now that this is out-of-the-way what do you say we get out of this place and go eat a bite ? We still have…” He took out his phone to look at the time. “About an hour and a half before I have to be home.”
“Yeah, why not.” Maximilian picked up his bag and put the wooden box in it before following Simon who had already proceeded to shut down the computer and to walk halfway towards the exit. “And please don’t wait for me…” He added.
“Hmm? Did you say something?” Asked Simon who was now at the door, waiting for his friend.
“I’m coming!” Exclaimed Maximilian as he walked towards him. Damn, what is he, Superman? He thought.
“Well hurry up then! We don’t have all day!”
As he was sitting in the bus, Maximilian looked through the window at the landscape rolling before his eyes while he listened to music. He often liked to read during the bus ride but that evening, as the sun was starting to slowly set in the sky, he couldn’t take his mind off of the small wooden box. What was he going to find in it? What could his father have left him that he needed to hide it in a locked box?
The teenager let himself drift in his thoughts, thinking about how life would be different if they had still been here. Imagining what his father and his mother would look like now and what they would say if they ever saw him. He drifted to his stranger power. Would they have known what it was ? What exactly explained what he could do ? He had done some research on phenomenons of the same type. Some people were said to be ESPs, which meant having extrasensorial powers, and were supposed to be able to move things with their minds or read other people’s thoughts. But all he had found were fake videos and very unreliable testimonies. The only believable one he had watched was one of a woman who had made a toothpick move by concentrating on it enough, but nothing in direct link with the likes of what he could do. As he was thinking about this he half-consciously took a coin in his pocket and started to play heads or tails with it. He threw it in the air at a regular rhythm and tried to guess on which side it would fall with his ability from the speed and the height to which it moved.
For reasons unknown to him, the teenager’s thoughts then went towards a young girl with brown hair and tanned skin. She was smiling running on the golden sand of the beach as the sun was barely coming up. That was a good summer, he thought. He still remembered what they had talked about that morning on the beach. They had compared the extent of their knowledge on stars, they had complained about how their parents could be annoying some times and talked about school and how they wanted the holidays to never end. He also remembered how his parents had scolded him for leaving the hotel at an hour like that without any notice. This thought made him smile, he was sure to still have the marks of the spanking Jeff had given him that day.
As he concentrated fully again on the coin that was moving up and down before his eyes he focused on its rhythm, he let himself expand his mind and materialize it in his head. Heads. Tails. Tails. Heads. Heads. As he looked at his hand to see the result he noticed he could predict the outcome exactly every time now. I guess I’ve been making progress, huh? He thought. As he flipped the coin and predicted the next result he thought about taking advantage of that skill to get back at his redheaded friend for the bet as he was almost sure Simon would be right. The teenager smiled as he imagined a dozen of ways he could avenge himself if his dare was something he didn’t like. As he was thinking about that he barely noticed the coin back into his hand at a much slower speed than it should have, as if it was a floating feather. What just happened? He thought. Did I imagine that? He threw it once more in the air but it climbed and fell back down at the speed it was supposed to climb up and fall back down. Strange, he thought again. But he decided to let it drop, accepting the fact that he hadn’t seen well, and focused his mind on the box again, all the while flipping the coin and predicting the results.