“………..the jewelry has never been found. Its’ value today is approx. $5 million”, the news reader droned.
Sighing, Stacey picked up the television remote and, ignoring the sticky spot caused by a drop of soft drink, turned the television off. Stretching her arms above her head she looked around the room, noting the cracks in the wall near the ceiling and the peeling paint exposing the red bricks underneath.
It was very quiet now . She could hear a car or two driving along the main road, a few streets away, and a distant plane flying over the nearby hills as it approached the airport, trying to land before the midnight curfew.
The floorboards creaked slightly as she walked to the kitchen to refill her glass.
I need money, she thought to herself for possibly the hundredth time that evening, racking her brains for a quick fix solution. Shivering, she started to walk back to the lounge, her mind wandering to different ideas.
A brilliant glow of light shone behind her.
Gasping, she spun around.
A large, orange circle hung suspended in mid air near the fridge.
Stacey felt her lower jaw fall open.
“What the hell is that?”, she said out loud.
Slowly she walked towards it, placing her drink on the nearby counter, and stood looking at it.
It’s surface looked smooth.
Carefully she reached out a hand and touched it gently. The surface rippled.
Tentatively she moved her other hand and reached out to the circle but as she touched it, she felt her hand go through the surface.
Resisting the urge to pull herself back, she peered around the edge of it but couldn’t see her hand.
“What the hell is this?”, she repeated, not expecting an answer.
A faint noise came from the circle, like people talking from a distance.
Leaning closer to it, Stacey strained her ears, trying to hear what was being said, so that her head was almost touching the surface.
The circle glowed brighter and, gasping, Stacey felt herself being pulled forwards, her feet leaving the floor.
“What is this?”, she yelled, squeezing her eyes shut as she felt wind gust past her.
Her feet touched the floor again.
Opening her eyes, she saw the orange circle in front of her, still glowing.
Hastily she pulled both her hands out of it and stumbled back, reaching for the counter where she’d placed her drink but instead falling backwards, landing with a bang on her bum. A cloud of dust rose in the air.
Coughing, and waving her hands in the air, Stacey looked around her.
It was still dark but there was a thin light coming through the window. It was almost dawn.
The floorboards she was sitting on were covered in a fine dust and there nails and bits of material scattered around.
The kitchen was empty.
The counter, stove top and fridge were gone.
“What is happening?”, she whispered, pulling herself up and dusting her clothes, her hands trembling.
There was a loud bang as the front door slammed shut.
Stacey jumped as she heard voices.
“I’m telling you Ted, no one will think to look here”.
“How can you be so sure?”.
“Because the building company has gone broke. They’re not going to be back to finish any time soon, are they?”.
The other man grunted in reply.
Slowly, Stacey peered round the doorway, placing her feet carefully so she didn’t step on a nail.
The two men were carrying a wooden crate between them. Their rough hands gripped the edges tightly and she could see sweat dripping from their faces.
“Hold it up higher, Ted, it’s too heavy!”, one of them gasped.
“I’m doing my bit”, Ted snapped as he dropped his end of the crate onto the floor.
Swearing loudly, the other man dropped his end and glared at him.
“Don’t start’ Ted said,’ we’ve got to hide this before anyone comes”.
“I thought you said the building company had gone broke?”.
“Yes, but there are neighbors. What if they’ve seen us?”.
Muttering a reply Stacey couldn’t hear, the two of them started dragging the crate across the floor into the lounge.
“Right, let’s get this hidden”.
Cautiously, Stacey crept down the hallway trying to hold her breath, and looked into the lounge. It was empty of all furniture, the wall where the television had hung, empty, and a gap in the wall itself where it hadn’t been built yet.
The men levered off the lid of the crate and peered inside.
Leaning forwards, Stacey tried to see what they were looking at.
Ted glanced up.
Quickly, she moved back, flattening herself against the wall.
“Did you see that?”, Ted asked, his forehead creasing in a frown.
“Hmmm’, the other man said, not noticing as he started to lift the contents of the crate into the wall cavity,’ see what?”.
“A shadow on the wall”.
“Yes, right there!”, Ted said, pointing at the spot Stacey had been standing.
They moved closer, Stacey heard their boots crunching on the floor.
Her palms were sweaty. She tried to move but her body seemed to be frozen.
Ted and the other man looked around the corner straight at her.
“There’s nothing there Ted, you’re imagining things”, the other man said.
Running a hand through his hair so that it stood on end, Ted sighed,” I’m not imagining things, I saw something”.
“Yeah maybe it was a ghost”.
Laughing he dragged Ted by the elbow back to the wall, where they continued their work.
Stacey felt her skin go cold. Why hadn’t they been able to see her?
The men quickly finished loading the contents of the crate into the wall and then cementing the bricks.
“Right let’s get out of here”, Ted said, dusting his hands on his pants which were already filthy.
The front door swung open.
Stacey, still frozen in the hallway, blinked as bright sunlight streamed inside.
“Hello, hello, hello, what’s all this then?”, another man said, stepping inside.
The two men gasped and stammered as they saw that the other was wearing a policeman’s uniform.
“Nothing, we’re not doing anything!”, Ted cried.
“We’ll see about that, you can both come with me back to the station, I think”.
The policeman ushered them outside, shutting the door carefully behind him.
Stacey heard their voices become fainter and, when she could no longer hear them, slowly moved her feet and felt her body relax.
Peering back into the lounge she noticed that the crate was now empty.
“ I need to get some sleep’ she muttered to herself,’ I’ve watched to much television, or something”.
The orange circle was still suspended in the air, glowing.
Taking a deep breath and squeezing her eyes shut, she put both hands on it’s surface and felt herself being pulled through.
She felt her feet touch the floor again.
Slowly she opened her eyes and looked around. She was standing in the kitchen, and it was still dark outside, a thin light coming through the window showing that it was almost dawn.
The counter, stove top and fridge were back, her drink sitting where she’d left it.
Sighing, rubbing her eyes, Stacey looked behind her and jumped.
The circle had gone.
“Was I dreaming?”, she asked out loud.
Sipping the drink, she made her way back to the lounge and stared at the wall where the paint was peeling, showing the red bricks underneath.
Almost without thinking, she started pulling at the paint, leaving the bricks exposed. One of them was loose, the cement worn away.
Ignoring the dust and the cuts on her skin that the brick caused, Stacey tugged at the brick until it pulled free.
Eagerly she looked inside but couldn’t see anything.
Carefully she reached in, her fingers feeling for what the men had placed there.
There’s probably a dead rat in here, she thought to herself, decaying and covered in maggots.
The tip of a finger brushed against something solid and cool.
Reaching into the wall further, relieved that she hadn’t touched a dead rat, Stacey gripped onto it and pulled.
In the dim light she gasped as she looked at a gold necklace, several stones sparkling despite the decades of accumulated dust.
“Wow, I wonder how many are in here? ’ she said, grinning, as she pulled out of the wall more and more jewelry ‘ I might be able to do those repairs after all”.