As the story goes, in 1781 a British tall ship, HMS Royal Princess, anchored just off Nahant bay, Salem. It was allegedly thought to be delivering gold and munitions to help in the fight against American independence. The rebels had know ahead of time of its arrival and cargo. As the boats pulled onto dark beach they waited for their moment to strike, in their favour was the cloudy moonless sky. The boats dimly lit by lanterns were dragged up above the surf, the only noise to pierce the silence was the gentle rolling of the ocean and the sand rasping on the underside of the boats, none of the British sailors said a word, stealthily trying to complete their mission. Then all hell broke loose as the signal travelled down the line of rebels, again, as the roar of the second volley of fire travelled back down the line, the British were all dead or dying. With lightening speed the wagons were led on to the beach and a throng of rebels rushed from the grasses toward the four boats. They loaded the chests in to the wagons, not even stopping to take a glance at their booty. And all at once the silence fell on the beach again, sixteen sailors laying dead on the surf line, the sea licking at the heals of their boots.
From there, the story goes, when they opened the chests they found, amongst other things, gold coins in their thousands, guns and powder. The guns were spread throughout rebel strongholds, but the gold was thought to be risky to take anywhere, and a nearby hiding place had to be found. Since the start of the uprising, slave ships in to these harbours had all but stopped, and the old slave auction house and holding cells had fallen in to disuse, they were set on to a small island in the bay, accessed by a single track kissing bridge. Black Rock island had been just that when the British first arrived, a black rock sticking out of the water. As the influx of slave ships increased, it was flattened out and the auction house was built upon it, and thought to be difficult to escape with the rip tides that surged their way through the rocky waters. This is where the gold was hidden, no one knew if that was in the auction house and cells or the grounds that surrounded them. Over the years that followed, the auction house briefly came back in to use, before being used to hold southern POW’s during the American civil war. After that the island was gifted to a prominent New England family, who transformed it in to a Manor House, using the original structure and building upon it. It is said that the northerly end of the house was built directly above the old burn pit, where slaves and POW’s were burnt to dispose of the corpses, and that this end of the house is always a few degrees colder that any other part. And so begins the mythical haunting of Black Rock house, in fact, the whole island was said to be haunted and was frequently used as an initiation task for teenagers, to sneak on to the island and spend the night alone. The most dangerous part of this task was the trip across by boat. For many years the gates to either end of the kissing bridge had been kept locked to keep out any unwanted ghost hunters, making the only access sailing in to the narrow rocky bay on its western tip. Up to today, it is believed that over one hundred teenagers have miss judged the rocks and waters around this island, either out fishing and minding their own business, drifting too close to the rock or trying to prove their courage by sleeping at night there. The body’s don’t always wash ashore, bolstering the mythology of the island. This was a treasure hunt to fuel peoples imaginations over the century’s, and in to the next millennium as strong as ever.
Anton Drew was an historian, his grandfather had got him hooked on history at a very young age. His grandfather would tell him the story’s about the birth of American, various follies people go on after hearing any one of the thousand stories telling of hidden treasure. There was one story that his grandfather never told with a hint of a smile, and it would finish with a far away look in his grandfathers eye and he would trail off with no big finish. The story was of the Salem gold, he had done his thesis at collage on it, and saw a totally different side to his grandfather when he asked him for more information. He would open his safe with the key he always wore around his neck, and this was the first time Anton had ever known what that key was for. Out would come bundles of papers some still with was seals on, some wrapped in ribbon or leather thong, the smell of history would fill his small home office. Then from a chosen few papers he would fill in the flesh to the story, Anton never knew the contents of the other bits of paper, these were all left untouched and returned to the safe. After his grandfathers death the key to the safe was left to him, with a message in the will
‘Carry on where I left off’
A cryptic message to every one assembled in the lounge, but Anton had a few ideas what he had meant. In the weeks before his death the had written Anton a letter, locked in the safe, there it sat on the very top of the pile of papers, glowing white in contrast to the yellowing papers below…
If you are reading this, then I am dead, (hahahaha, I had to wait eighty five years to write that, and I am not there to see the look on your face, hahaha).
Anyway, in this safe is everything I have gathered on the history of the Salem gold. I am convinced it is still there somewhere, there is just too much paper work to prove it. I have never quite cracked it, but I am close. You will also find in the draw five letters, all you need to do is fill in your contact details on each letter, and post them. These are letters to ask my contacts to deal with you, hence the need for your contact details.
Your mission Anton, should you wish to accept it, is to find the Salem gold, this message will self destruct in 5 seconds, (hahaha, it wont, and I have been waiting years to say that too).
Tears began to rage through his ears and well up behind his eyes, some made the escape and rolled down his cheeks. Over the following month he had met up with all five of his grandfathers ‘contacts’, each had their own speciality, and each explained in detail exactly what each piece of information was, and where it fitted in the puzzle. Unlike his grandfather, who like a mystical edge to his theorems, Anton was a straight facts man, and he started to strip down the story’s by first stripping away the hocus pocus. Within a month he had the bare bones of the story, the only place to find more facts would be at the scene of the crime. He had already set himself up in a small rental house just out side Salem, to get a feel for the area, he visited the beach where the British landed, and laid in the long grasses behind the beach. He even paid a local fisherman to take him around the island on the pretext of writing a story on the the teenagers whom have lost their lives as a part of an initiation to a group, gang or fraternity. Under this pretext he was even having locals approach him in the street or dinners to offer him information. The current lady of the house did not mix with the people of the town, and they were all too happy to twist the knife, some even accusing her of murdering the teenagers who successfully landed on her island. Every day he spent as much time moving forward on the facts as he did discarding the myths, rumours and poison. Six months after he started this quest, he could feel the answer to be close, so close he could reach out and touch it.
While eating his breakfast one morning in Beverlys dinner, he stumbled across an advert for a position of caretaker at Black Rock house. On further reading of the daily news it turned out that the previous holder of the job had died, nothing sinister, just old age, he whispered to himself. The thought had hit his mind, almost immediately, to apply for the job himself. He was sure he could fake it, the lady of the house was in her late 70’s and, if the residents of town were to be believed, not playing with a full deck. Before he returned to home he stopped in at the hardware store, to pick up a few tools to help with his deception. He was guessing the old caretaker would have a full tool kit left at the house, but his new purchases were the cherry on top. With an interview organised for later that week he took a little nap before venturing out for dinner. He was going to spend the rest of the week just enjoying the local countryside and leave the research alone, he thought as he slid in to sleep.
At 10am on Friday morning he pulled his truck up to the front gate and tapped the intercom
“Hello, this is Anton Drew, I am here for an interview for the caretakers job” he said in a strong clear voice, without a reply, the front gate started to open slowly, he was struck by just how narrow this bridge was, and the noise of driving over a wooded covered bridge was a little unsettling. As he was three quarters across he noticed in his rear view mirror that the front gate was firmly closed behind him and the the second gate was beginning to open slowly. He was glad to finally be off the bridge, and if he had not felt the ghostly static in the air before now it was brought to his attention by the cold shudder that passed through him when he saw the Manor House with his own eyes. He had not worn a jacket as it was a warm enough morning when he had left home, but now on the island the temperature had dropped considerably, enough to enhance the goosebumps that now covered his skin. He shoved the haunted vibe from his mind, telling himself that this island was exposed out in the bay, and was naturally going to be cooler than the mainland. He stood there for a while taking in the scenery, and it was breathtaking, what a place to live, he thought, he tore himself away and rung the bell.
The lady of the house answered the door herself, there before him stood a study in white, broken up by the black skirt she was wearing and her silver topped ebony walking stick. Her complexion was not a healthy shade, her hair was silvered white, and in her empty left hand Anton noticed a slight but constant tremor. She greeted him with a big smile a jolly hello and welcome, and she led him to the living room, stuffed full of antique furniture, lamps and objet d’art, all in perfect condition, almost as if it had just been un-packed.
“Would you like tea or coffee Mr Drew?” She asked as she led him in to the room,
“Coffee please, and please, call me Anton” he said in a whispered reply, still speechless at the room he entered,
“Please take a seat Anton, I will be with you soon” she replied with a smile. He walked around the room looking at every item that jockeyed for attention on every surface, pictures with presidents, heads of corporations built on old money and various people he could not place, and there, sat mater-of-factly, amongst the Hubble and bubble, was the Faberge Hen egg, made in 1885 and believed to be lost. Russian history had been one of his favourite subjects and the mystery’s about Romanov family. He was suddenly hit by the fact he had stopped breathing for a short time, and felt paralysed by this gem before him.
“Yes Anton, that is the missing Hen egg by Faberge”
Anton jumped out of his skin, mesmerised by the egg before him, he had not heard the chink of china on the tea tray or the tapping of the silver toe of the ebony cane on a perfectly maintained oak floor,
“Look,” she said picking up the pure white egg with a gold centre band,
“It still has the golden yolk, the hen, ruby pendant and the crown” she said getting more excited as she gently removed the first two layers to reveal the hen. He stood there silent, still, unable to get his mind away from the egg,
“Go on, you can touch it, a master of Russian history like you must be just itching to touch it” she said as she gave him a wink that told him the subterfuge was uncovered, and he let out an embarrassed giggle. She handed the pieces to him one by one, and still he was unable to kick start his ability to speak. Eventually a word struggled to the surface and tripped over his lips,
“Stunning” and he was done, he looked towards Jaqueline Moore, the lady of the house and gave her the apologetic smile of a guilty child. He held it piece by piece and closed it all back up, marvelling at the exquisite opaque white enamel and the Matt gold of the yolk, he held it like a fragile real egg, and gently placed it back on its stand.
“It’s been lost for almost a hundred years, how?” Anton finally found the gift of speech again,
“Let’s just say, a relative had and close bond with Stalin, when it was not fashionable to be close to the soviet regime” she began,
“They were looking to fund their space program, and my great grandfather made him an offer, for obvious reasons it was kept quiet on both sides of the world, Stalin had not legitimately got his hands on it, but the owner and their family ‘disappeared’, if you know what I mean” she finished. Anton although still stunned, he sensed that this was not exactly gospel, then he ventured,
“That in itself shows me your family are sitting on quite a fortune, or did” he corrected himself, his mind began to think that the gold had been found and spent over the years,
“We do sit on a large fortune, the old American money, needed even older money to invest in their wells, mines, newspapers and railroads, and the repayments came with high interest, but we have always been silent partners, we avoid publicity, it makes our lives easier” she informed her guest, he sat their re-calculating, would she have told him of a large chest of gold? Wary of him spreading the answer to the Salem gold. The interview went on more as a gentle conversation than a rigorous interrogation. He told her the job took his interest because he needed to earn while trying to write a book, and this job pays a little more than a professorship at entry level, plus his mind would not be over worked trying to teach history, while still maintaining enthusiasm to write about history when he got home. He was know for his knowledge of Russia, and other European royal houses, when he googled himself and his grandfather, neither were linked to the Salem gold in any way. He would have had to think about attacking the issue in this manner if it had, and she admitted to googling him prior to his interview.
It was mid afternoon by the time he left, and had been offered the job, accepted and signed a non disclosure agreement, he was thinking that was to do with the antiques in the house, more so the Faberge egg. He was not an art scholar, but he saw more than a few of the great masters paintings, in his short trip through the reception area and living room, there was a Monet, at least one of the pre-raphaelites gang, and almost definitely two of Van Gogh’s missing pictures. On his drive back home he could not shake the thought that this had been funded by the lost gold, with the egg and the paintings, bearing in mind if he was right about the art work, there must have been at least half a billion dollars, in just two rooms. He had two weeks before he started, Jaqueline would be away in hospital, from where he would pick her up, thus beginning his new job.
He lost no time in investigating her and her family tree, he wanted to uncover the source of her family fortune if it were since the turn of the 1800’s there was reason to worry. If, however, they arrived in New England with a vast fortune then there was still cause for hope. After a long search, constantly following one lead after another, and two full twenty four hour days building up her family tree. He had virtually nothing to show for it, a couple of possible branches but they were held together with ifs and buts, and lightly sprinkled with a hell of a lot of possibly. Had they used the gold to fund this air of prominence, or was it just more myth less fact? He was more confused than ever, he called the five contacts he had acquired, and emailed reports and links to see if they could shed any light on things
.On the drive to pick up his new employer from the hospital, Anton’s mind was still spinning, his contacts had messaged him in total agreement that at best, the chances of this gold to still be where it was left all those century’s before was, at this point, due to new information, was no better than 10%. He couldn’t say too much to these guys, he did however make the claim to have seen at least half a billion dollars of art work and objet d’art, he did not get specific, the glory to the man who finds the Faberge Hens egg would set you up career wise, well, money would have been the least of your worries, books, TV shows, After dinner speaking the lecture tour, far too much temptations for these hard grafting professors, they would all be on to a publicist before he had finished speaking. For the first time in two weeks he could actually relax with this secret, because the only other person who knew it was the passenger in the car. As they drove out of the hospital he looked to her and said,
“Sorry, but it’s a bloody missing Faberge egg, wow that’s good to say out loud” he said through a massive sigh, she looked to him and laughed, he was convinced she was not as full of life as it had seemed just two weeks ago. She even seemed a little smaller, a bit more frail. He mentioned the art work he had seen on his walk through, some of them being ‘lost’ works. She informed him that some of the more unscrupulous debtors the family had would pay in works of art that had, ‘fallen of the back of a lorry’, as one of her great grandparents had told her, or lumps of gold the stumbled over or jewels they had found down the back of the sofa.
“We asked no questions, told no lies. We just make sure the valuation is correct, a bit under valued by us, maximise the profit” he had told her one day as she looked at the egg. He happily sat and listened to her stories, remembering the vital notes, stripping back the chaff. She had informed him that in a couple of days a friend is taking her to the Caribbean for a month to help her recoup, he had to agree, New England was cold and damp this time of year, no matter how hard you work to keep the fire in. He agreed it would be best, and suggested before she goes to tour the house and decide what would need to be repaired, re-painted or cleaned up, to keep him busy. This would give him a tour of the house, get a lye of the land.
Now he was finally alone, today was the first day of his hunt, he had bought a full on expensive metal detector, he told Jaqueline it was a new leaf blower as his had blown up, and popped it on the flat bed truck. Her cab had arrived just after 12pm to take her to paradise for a month, and he had spent the next twelve hours setting up his metal detector and trying it out. His plan was simple, he had jobs to do in every room in the house, so he would fix up what he had too and then search that room, he had written out a time table so as to do everything on his list of jobs by the time Jaqueline came back. He did not want to give any hint of his real intentions, he felt a tinge of excitement, a little trepidation and a fear that had been slowly rising in himself over the first two days living here. He would put bits down, then go back to them to find they were not where he thought, then spend an hour searching, only to find they were exactly where he had thought he had left them and was convinced it was the first place he checked. He tried to put this down to unfamiliar territory, but he had not had a restful nights sleep, things that go bump in the night, kind of thing, and now his hackles were up and goosebumps abound. Today was not going to help him feel anymore comfortable, he started the chores in the attic, it was just a general sort out, and seal a few window frames, couple of hours work at most. He plugged his headphones in to the jack socket on the metal detector, turned the beast on, he hear a few clicks and beeps through the headphone currently resting on his collar bones, he pulled them up popping them on his ears, he began to scan the walls.
He had been scanning the walls for about thirty minutes when his sphincter almost let go of it grip on his waste products, as he felt a tapping on his shoulder, he whipped off the headphones and spun around so fast it left him feeling a little light headed. Nothing, no person, no sound no sinister flickering shadow, he reached for his shoulder, there was not even one of those irritating twitching muscles, he was trembling, part due to a sudden drop in temperatures and part due to fear. He called out to any one who may be in the house, but the gates are locked, the perimeter sensors on, even the house is locked up so tight even Jaqueline would not be able to re-enter without his help. He took a swift slug from his hip flask, just to calm his nerves. He replaced the headphones, and continued to scan, he was twitchy now, there was some heavy static in this house, just three days in and he had a foreboding, but for what he could not quite put his finger on. As he continued to scan, he was sure he could, well not so much hear, but feel the dragging and reverberations from a heavy chain being dragged across the solid oak floors. He spun around again, still nothing, was he finally loosing his mind? Was there any insanity in the family? This house was not a pleasant place to live. He drained the remainder of his flask, and returned to his room, opened the draw on the bedside table and plucked one of the grown up bottle of bourbon from the draw, popped it open and took a long hard slug. He choked as the burn hit the wrong part at the back of his throat, by the time it hit his chest it was calming the nerves, and relaxing him back to chilled. Returning to the attic he found the metal detector was not where he left it, he searched the entire attic, re-sorting the items he had already sorted out, he was just about to punch the wall, when the sun reflected off of the gold packet of his smokes, he pulled two from the packet, placing one behind his right ear, the other he started to smoke, he popped the circular window to remove the smoke he expelled, as he did so, on top of the pile of trash from the attic down below on the drive was his detectors, he knew full well he had not placed the detector there, he knew he had not taken it out of the attic, or had he. The booze had started to muddy the waters in his mind, but he was sure he had not done that, he finished his smoke and started the long trudge downstairs and out on to the drive. As he approached the pile of junk, there was no meter detector on top of the pile, he wasted another hour of his day rearranging the pile item by item, with no joy.
Anton returned to the attic, took another hard slug on the bottle, and in the dimming light, lightly reflecting and flashing in the corner was his detector,
“For fucks sake, please, just leave me the fuck alone” he screamed at the room, the house or even the island,
“Just stop fucking me around” he followed, the house still echoing the remnants of the previous statement. He was convinced he heard the house giving out a groan in reply, he pushed the thought from his mind. He began again to scan the wall, this time leaving the head phones where they were, resting on his collar bones. Over the next few hours he was sure he could hear whispering voices, but every time he turned around there was no one there, not that there should have been. His stress levels were rising by the minute, he was glad to be getting to the end of his search of the attic, he was not even bothered that he had not found anything, just glad to be finished. Tomorrow he would start in the garden, he felt the house was beginning to smother him.
The house had not quietened down from its murmurings until the sun hit the morning sky, struggling behind black storm clouds. He felt mentally drained, not up for the work he had planned, although he knew he had to make every second count while he had the free run of the house. Breakfast and coffee were swift, a thermos and sandwiches prepared, and out he went to the garden on this undecided day. He grabbed his waterproofs, just in case. He marked out a square from the edges of the orangery, across the lawn to the wall, the other side of the wall he was guessing was the level of the floor of the burn pit, under the lawn he guessed was the burn pit, about forty feet from the doors of the orangery, and another fifty foot or so under the floor of this giant glass house. There was about a thirty foot drop the other side of the wall, leading to the lower gardens. Once again he began the day ticking off chores from his list, cleaning the guttering and window, now the fall was letting go in to winter. While at the top of the ladder, as he jet washed the moss off of the windows, there was a sudden shudder coming up the ladder, like someone kicking at the bottom, and he heard the slipping of gravel under the feet. He looked below to see nothing, he thought it may have just been his imagination, the washer was so loud, he may not have heard what he thought he hears, and the vibrations could well have been the washer as well, then he felt the fall. There had been three strong vibrations through the ladder before, and then the legs gave way and the falling began. He was not to have had any bourbon this morning yet, as he had thought it was less oppressive outside in the garden, his wits were quick enough to grab the guttering, then ease himself down the eight foot drop from there. He reached straight for the bottle, and hit it hard, there were genuine reasons for this to have happened, but he jumped straight to the supernatural. He sat on the wall and ate his lunch still trying to work out how this house attempted to murder him. The roof was done, so he had no reason to climb the ladder again today, he had to be pleased with that, just spend an hour doing the reachable windows, then he would begin his search again.
He rested a while after washing the remaining windows, and could not shake the feeling that there were eyes on him, watching his every move. The rustling in the beech hedges, yet to let go of their brown crisp leave, but the rustling did not match the rise and fall of the sea breeze. He did a quick equation in his mind to see if the speed of sound versus the speed of light could be the cause, like those fireworks burst in to splendour, second before the explosion registered in his ears. He had to google the speeds of both, as he told himself, it was not in his remit to know anything about physics, just history. Even when he had the figures to hand, he did not know what to do with them, so he just gazed at the bushes and counted out loud the seconds, but this did not work either, just confused his over filled mind. The weird was just mounting up, it was not the house that was smothering, it was the fear. He did not believe in god, heaven, hell, the afterlife or ghosts, but this island was beginning to challenge his view. The icy hand on his spine was now almost a permanent feeling to him, he checked the area the ladders feet had slipped on, and he stared at one section of gravel trying to decide if this weak outline was a foot print, it seemed to small for his feet, but who else’s could it be, would a malevolent spirit leave prints? Would its energy force the movement of gravel? The list of questions only seemed to be getting longer. He picked up the detector and with one eye on the flashing box and one eye on the bushes as the wind tossed the cackling leave back and forth. Once again he did not wear the headphone in their prescribed fashion, and the hung around his neck the speakers resting on his collar bones. After finding nothing more that a silver dollar, circa 1987, a bottle cap and rust for over an hour, he stood upright to ease the pain caused by hunching over the detector. He had checked half the marked square, and was more than ready for a coffee and something a little harder. He strode in to the orangery for a look about, through the big glass double doors, there was row upon row of wooden, splintering benches, holding terracotta pots, caked in dirt, some broken. He froze cold as ice as a horrendous metallic scraping boomed in the air, he felt so numb today he had not realised that the noise was created by the rusty watering can he had just stumbled past, his heart rate, moments ago was at a rate liable to explode the organ, now fell silent raging through his ears, almost as if it were retreating back to its place of origin, giving way to the metallic taste of fear in his mouth, he tried to cover it with cigarettes, coffee and alcohol, but it seemed to have left a deep stain on his tongue. On the far wall was the doors he was guessing was access to the house, its small pains of glass black in the low light of the stormy afternoon.
He edged slowly towards them unable to stop his progression towards the doors, but in fear of what lay beyond. He stopped in mid stride, his ears straining in searched of what they were hearing, so faint, but getting stronger, the sound of feet crunching on gravel. Anton’s eyes darted around the room for a place to hide, he had been drained of any courage he had left on his march to the doors, he could see his heart beating hard beneath his jumper, he dove behind one of the potting benches, and stared from between the legs. The crunching was still there, he was sure he could hear it, he crept out from behind the table and slowly edged back to the garden. The tremors surged through his body as he came out in to the brighter light of the garden, blinded momentarily out of the gloom of the glasshouse. No sooner hat he opened his eyes, that the crunching stopped. He was beginning to wish he had never set foot on this island. He could see deep depressions in the gravel but could no more blame a ghost as he could himself, he had not had a good look at the ground before he had fallen from the ladder, and had no idea if they were put there by the spirits of the dead. He did wonder if he had got himself over excited in the ghost story’s and his furtive imagination is working overtime. He finished the last of his coffee, and returned to the orangery.
This time he strode between the potting tables, he was angry, with himself, the house and its elusive inhabitants. He used his sleeve to brush the dust from a pain of glass and peered through, nothing but dark silhouettes of furniture in a gloomy room. In the corner the was a movement in the gloom almost indistinguishable from the rest of the gloom, his eyes flicked from one side of the room to another, as he pressed his face closer to the glass, screaming from the back of the room was a terrifying howl, the sound of dragging chains returned, louder, more jarring and angry. With an almighty crash, which Anton was sure would have smashed the glass, a face contorted in pain and horror appeared at the window. Anton felt the air escape his body as he hit the floor in shock, silver lights flashed across his vision, and dark descended upon his mind.
When he awoke he was thrown into confusion, it was dark, he had no idea of how he had got to his bed and thoughts of his afternoons excitement hovered on the periphery of his cloudy mind, just out of his minds grasp. He fumbled for the light switch and flicked it on, the intense light brought the migraine on in full force, causing his knees to buckle just before he hit the floor. He slid his way over to his suitcase, he had cannabis in his bag, prescribe for just this thing, it was by far the best way to release the pain coursing inside his head. He splashed his face with water, and felt the lump that had appeared on the back of his head, and the memories of his afternoon flooded back. He had no idea of the time, his watched had stopped at 4.32pm, it was not until he opened his phone did he see the time was 1.23am. He ventured down stairs to the kitchen, his ears straining at every sound that twitched through the house. He grasped the handrail tightly as his vision swam in and out of focus, and double vision rocked with every step. He reached the kitchen and put his dinner on to cook, while in the fridge he grasped at a six pack of beer, and he chilled to the bone as his memory’s swarmed back and filled his mind, as the brace of the beer cans hit each other is sounded like dull chains dragging.
He mused on the image of the face he had seen in the windows reflection, had it been his own, just distorted by old and dirty glass? If not would he have to accept the fact the house was haunted, and there by shatter his belief that when we die, it’s the end, no afterlife, no gods, demons or supernatural spooks? He finished the first can just as the microwave ‘pinged’, he sat there totally unappertised by the meal in front of him, he poked at it randomly as he tried to piece together his afternoon. He pushed at the walls of his memory to remember how he got to his bed, but there was just an expanse of black past the point he had fallen over. The golf ball size lump on the back of his head told him that he had lost consciousness after cracking his head on the concrete floor of the orangery, but there was just nothing there to see, like exposing a roll of camera film to light before you developed it, the image was there, but lost. He began to think on the face he had seen in the window, could it have been his reflection? Or something more sinister? He would have to wait until morning to test this theory, there was not enough wild horses in the world that could get him to go back out there in the dark, not a chance.
He threw the gourmet microwaved feast he had cooked in the bin, and took his beer through to the lounge where he had been interviewed, he liked this room. The art that adorned the walls, the objet d’art that struggled for attention on every surface, it felt like being in a museum. He wondered how much of this had been suspiciously obtained, were there pieces of Nazi loot amongst them? How much of it was considered ‘missing’? Most of all how much was it worth to a private collector? And then he wondered if any of it had been bought using the mythical Salem gold. At some point in the very early hours he passed out on the couch, cradling the Faberge egg.
It had been an hour since the morning sun had hit his face and woken him abruptly, the headache was still there just murmuring below the surface at a level he could deal with. He now found himself standing in front of the doors to the orangery, outside looking in. There was a prickly electricity running through his bones, this was the first time he had ever felt true fear. Part of him thought it was the best way to test his theory of the face in the window, the other part of him was just screaming run, over and over again. He placated that part of himself with the fact that for some reason, old glass seem to always be rippled, due to the methods of glass making way back when, and the glass in the doors from the orangery to the dinning room were no exception. He had all the keys with him today, his brave part thought he would examine both the orangery and dinning room, now standing there, just the thought of it made him feel he was on the brink of wetting himself, although he was unable to produce anything as he tried to relieve himself in the bushes. He sparked up a small joint as he stood there with his cup of coffee and gazed in to the orangery, he had plucked up the courage to open the doors on to the garden, and now in tunnel vision of concentration he stared at the two french doors at the end, almost trying to see the distortion in the glass, without getting up close and personal with the spooks.
Eventually, after his coffee and smoke he took a few tentative steps inside the glass house, and crept his way towards the french doors, as lightly as he stepped it still seemed to echo as if he were stamping his way through. He could hear his heart thudding in his chest, the blood rushing through his veins like a tsunami, his breaths rasping through his chest, and the metallic taste of fear hung at the back of his tongue. His hand shook like he had early on set Parkinson’s, making the keys jingle like christmas bells, a harsh dull tone that ripped through his ears and vibrated through his brain like finger nails scratching down a blackboard. He fumbled with the bunch of keys for what seemed to be hours, trying to get the right key in to lock, all the while refusing the temptation to look at the windows. Apart from the sound of the keys, all was silent, no waves crashing on a nearby beach, no birds, nothing. However, in his state of panic and adrenaline fuelled fear, Anton did not acknowledge this.
Eventually the key hit the lock and with a stiff twist the door unlocked with a rusty clunk, the hinges, more than likely due to the salted air on the island had rusted shut, and gave a high pitched squeal as he barged it with his shoulder half a dozen times. As the doors fully opened he was hit with a pungent stagnant gust of air, causing him to dry reach, almost loosing his morning coffee, he had nothing else to get rid of as he could not face the previous evenings meal, he run outside just to grasp a few lungful of fresh air. He sat on the garden bench, lit a smoke, all the time telling himself he was letting the room air, and conjuring up what caused such a smell, dead rat under the floor boards or some other vermin, years of neglect, rotting wood or vegetation or just age. None made him feel any more calm, and as he sat back with his smoke he noticed the deathly silence, all at once he was over come with a cold shudder, fear suddenly made every hair on his body stand on edge. If the blueprints of the old slave auction house, and this Manor House, were correct, and his calculations were correct, the dinning room was built over the old fire pit, and the taste that now tainted his taste buds and throat was that of burnt meat, bringing back the dry reaching. No matter how much coffee or nicotine he imbibed could remove it, he pulled a second joint from his cigarette packed, and even this did not rid his mouth of the taste. He felt a little more relaxed as he smoked down to the roach, burning his fingers and tongue. He sat and looked out on to the ocean, searching for the courage to re-enter the orangery and walk to the dinning room. The weather was cloudy with a particularly sharp, strong wind, the sea was awash with white horses from the waves, but it was unfathomably silent, no seagulls following the fishing boats, no birds in the trees, it was all a little bit odd.
He cast his mind back to earlier today, he was sure he had heard the normal sounds of life on the island, sea crashing against rocks, seagulls squawking at the trawlers, birds flying though the autumn skies, he could not be positive he had, but he was trying to convince himself he had. He had calmed down a bit as the euphoria spread through his mind, he couldn’t be sure, but he even felt a little more brave. He ventured back in to the orangery, less cautious this time around, the stench from the dinning room was softer on the air, getting a little more pungent a he slowly approached the french doors. He entered the dinning room with the trepidation rising from the soles of his feet with every step, the aura of the room was blackening as he moved towards the closed curtains, pulling them back produced a cloud of decades of dust, catching in his throat, instantaneously drying his mouth, akin to the teaspoon of cinnamon challenge he and his mates tried at collage one night for a laugh, pulling a bottle of spring water from his tool belt he rinsed out his mouth again and again, unable to rehydrate himself. He guessed the door on the other side of the room lead to the kitchen, he rushed over to it choking and spluttering, gasping for air that was not 90% ancient dust, twisting the handle and pushing with all his oxygen depleted might, without success, it was shut tight. He turned and ran back out through the french doors and on to the garden, plunging his head under the icy cold outside tap, until his mouth started to rehydrate, slowly trying to reinflate his lungs, chocking on water residue as it rolled down his face.
He sat back down on the bench to gather his breath, and take another smoke break. He was not amused how hard it seemed to be to explore these two rooms, and had half a mind to fuck it off for the remainder of the day, pop in to town and get blind drunk, there was something definitely wrong with this house, this island, he noticed the chill as soon as he drove on to the bridge that first day. He had put this down to the fact it was an island battered by the harsh weather this time of year, but now he was sure the locals had a point about a haunted island. None of them had even contemplated the job as caretaker here, it had not even been advertised in the local paper, he had stumbled across the advert online as he researched the island and house online, looking to sneak on to it and hunt the grounds. This house chilled him to the bone, one thing was for sure, that if he went in to town or stayed here, he was getting blind drunk tonight, he could feel his body screaming for a drink, he was not an alcoholic, although this house seemed intent on making him one, he was convinced of that. He got to his feet for a third attempt to investigate these two rooms. This time he picked up his metal detector, sparked up another smoke, crossed himself and looked towards the heavens. He was a lapsed catholic, it had been so long since his last confession he had no memory of when it was, he thought god may have even forsaken him after the last few days.
The smell had died down considerably as he walked through to the dinning room the, he used the torch app on his phone to find his way to a light switch, he was definitely staying away from the curtains this time.
He flicked the switch on, off, on, off, on…..
“Work you fucking nasty bastard, just fucking work!” He screamed at the non-functioning light switch, he spun around at what he heard as giggling behind him, he was sure as he looked towards the open doors, allowing the weak sunlight shine in to the gloom, a vacant space where no dust danced in the rays, a human shape, disappearing from his view the closer he stepped. This room was beginning to test his patients, his fear blossoming in to anger. He knew how to approach this room from inside the house, and once again he strongly desired just to give up on this room for the day. While out in the garden enjoying the fresh clean air again, there was a definite funk in that room, even through his Marlboro, was having trouble covering the taste of death that came with the smell. He returned to the house, and took a wander down the hall that came off the kitchen, he flicked aggressively at the mass of light switches, none that seemed to illuminate anything..
“Of you fucking bitch of a house, come on, give me a fucking break” he screamed, putting so much effort in to his indignation that he worried he might burst a blood vessel and die where he stood.
He returned to the kitchen and put a microwave meal on to ping. He grabbed a four pack and the bourbon to the living room, and a couple of clean glasses, set them on the small side table, next to the sofa, and returned five minutes later, with his meal. He grabbed a shabby looking book from the bookcase, seemingly full of first editions, which made this shabby volume stand out even more. He had noticed it when he came for his interview, it had caught his eye. Only now, sitting in the same seat as that day, it had once again, caught his eye. He grabbed it from the shelf and filled the vicinity with that old book mustiness, and returned to his seat. He opened the book, which turned out to be handwritten. It read like a autobiography of a man called Jacob Moore, for the first half. He had been a decorated union officer, who, for his rehabilitation after being wounded during the Civil War, apparently he had lost an arm protecting President Lincoln on one of his walkabouts, was given the relatively easy appointment as commander of the Black Rock Island prison. Now Anton ears pricked, was this Jacob Moore a direct descendant as Jaqueline Moore? It was too much of a coincidence not to be, he was second generation American, he father had come over looking for work. His father had managed to keep food on the table for his family, but not much else. Jacob had been born just outside Salem in 1820, he had left home and joined the U.S. Army. He had been involved with some of the Indian skirmishes, worked his way up through the ranks to general during the middle years of the civil war, in his view, part talent, part last man standing. He was injured during a visit from Lincoln and while on his patch, Jacob played body guard, he had been shot in the forearm and it was amputated just below the elbow. He was assigned to the prison on Black Rock, gratitude for his service and sacrifice, with no loss of rank, pay or gratuity. After the war, during a private meeting on the island, when asked by Lincoln how he could be replayed for saving his life, he just asked for the island.
In an audit of the prison grounds weeks after starting, he found, stashed in the flooded basement cells, three wooden chests. Upon opening them, it would appear that he had stumbled on the Salem gold, by accident. He returned to the upper levels, locking the door to the cells, and hiding the key. He had intended being the last man off the island once the war was over, but the visit from the President had ensured he would never have to leave. This house had been built and furnished on the gold. The art work had been bought over the following years and continued by his sons and grandsons, and the final standing member of the direct descendants Jaqueline. Each generation had gone on to list every item in the collection, and in some case, the dubious circumstances in which they were acquired. Shockingly there were a large number of paintings and object d’art that were payment from fleeing Nazi’s after the Second World War. It even listed the names and fake names, plus locations, on some of the most sought out Nazi’s. The works of art’s value, far outweighing the cost of the false paperwork and charge of passage. There were revelations in the book, he just could not believe. He hardly noticed the sun come up through the window, he was engrossed. He looked to his refreshments, that were now all gone, before he registered the sun coming up. His mind went to coffee, and had to talk himself in to putting down the book, it was so engrossing he could not tear himself away.
While making his coffee he made the decision to scrub work today, he was going back with he pot of coffee and finish reading the book, he did not know a hell of a lot about art, but thanks to google, (other search engines are available), he had wandered round the house, matching a picture with a purchase record, but there was a hell of a lot more art than there was record of art. As the sun was going down fatigue had started to squeeze the backs of his eyes, he had just finished reading the book, the faberge egg, was given to her grandfather, who was close to the Stalin family, apparently so close Joseph called him uncle. The egg had been a gift, for being an unofficial godfather, there is a notation, from her grandfather of a number of other Faberge eggs in the family collection, that the hen egg came from. This book alone could be worth a small fortune, just for all the secrets it carried, art work as bribes for certain sensitive information the Moores had on icon’s from American history. This family, not one of the famous names who built America and their fortunes, but what seemed to be a silent partner, or puppet master, controlling the narrative without leaving their finger prints on history.
There was some symbology in the book, he would have to show these to one of his grandfathers contacts, his mind went straight to Templar knights or the illuminati, this may give a clue to the anonymous nature of the name of Moore. He awoke after dark, lounging on the sofa, with the book draped across his lap. He called for a Taxi, and went in to town for a meal that had not been previously frozen, then microwave, on a plastic plate that goes floppy when its hot. He took the cab, because he was going to quietly celebrate, if celebration could be silent.
He was shrilly awoken that morning with a sound he could not place, confused and bemused in the heaviest hangover he could ever remember. He located the sound on the bedside cabinet, at least he had made it to bed, it was a rather somber, well spoken voice which Anton didn’t recognise…….
“Mr Drew?…..” it said,
“Yes?” Replied Anton,
“………John Morgan, Of Morgan, Wise, Morgan, it is my sad duty to inform you of the death of your employer Jaqueline Moore, she never managed to shrug off the secondary infection, she passed early this morning.” He continued
“Oh, wow, I was not expecting that” Anton feebly answered,
“We will pay you for two months to stay in the house, until we find an heir to the estate, should it take longer, we will renegotiate closer to the time, is this acceptable to you Mr Drew?” He asked,
“Erm, uh, ah, yeah, yeah, that cool, I have nothing planned in the near future” Anton stumbled to say
“Thank you Mr Drew, any problems just call the office and ask for John, that’s me, do you want the number? John added
“The number your calling on has been saved on this phone, it came up John Legal, is this the number to call you on?”
“Yes, this is the one, we will be in touch, and there will be no disruption to your pay” He finished.
Anton did not know how he felt, he had know her for such a short time, and even when he met her he thought the reaper would be in touch before long. His time was limited, how long would it take to find an heir? Were there any? The pictures all seemed to be similar, you could almost trace the lineage as the subject in them aged as the new generation appeared beside them, you could even make out a very young Jaqueline on the lap of a very old Jacob, there were no photographs of any further generations after she started to appear, and no relatives you could not work out from the picture who it may have been. What happens if they cant find an heir? He needed a plan, and sooner rather than later, instinctively he picked up the Faberge egg, and rolled it up in his T-Shirt, went out to his car and stashed it in his glove box, grabbed a fresh shirt from his room, and sat down with his new favourite book. By the end of a full twelve cup jug he had noted down all the art and object d’art listed in the book.
His plan was simple, with the aid of his iPad, internet signal and list, he would find the unaccounted for art, check what they are, the value and history. If they were of value, he would remove them and stack them in his car. Not so many as to notice huge gaps, but depending on their value, he didn’t want to have to work again after this, finally take time to write his book, without having to worry about paying the bills. The book could be, and if the dodgy background to some was anything to go by, the only record of the collection, you could not list a lot of them on your house insurance, the lawyers may have a list, but would they not have to tell the authorities of anything that is illegal, or was he just being naive? He could only try to slip some out, the book was going in his suitcase on his next journey upstairs.
He noticed if he kept himself pickled enough and stoned enough, he had no little angel on his shoulder telling his grand theft came with a lengthy sentence. The devil was in feathering his nest mode, each picture he removed was just dollar signs before his eyes, no form of attachment was felt for these, not like the egg, that would be kept. He avoided any Nazi treasures, he didn’t not need that kind of bad karma, it was far to tainted in blood and horror not to bring some kind of curse along with it, like the baggage he took in to every broken relationship, he chuckled. By dark he had ‘chosen’ a dozen pictures, if he got full value on them he would have become a billionaire over night. He guessed getting shot of them quietly would knock a chunk off of that, but how much money did he really need? He could afford to self publish his books and make his own deals with distributors, he would not need to make any money from the books, he just wanted the fame.
The next morning he woke early, he had the best nights sleep since coming for the interview here. He hunted the myriad of closets until he found one containing bedding, grabbed fourteen large thick blankets and run downstairs. He made a full jug off coffee, which he sugared and creamed, and started to drink straight from the jug. He ventured out side smoking his first of the day as he patrolled the garden, stopping off to check both gates on the bridge were shut. Sparked up his second smoke and looked out to sea, is was gently rolling, bird following the fisherman out to fish. He took a long deep breath, held it for a few seconds, then let out a long exhale, and then screamed on to the determined breeze,
“Life is just so fucking perfect, I love you all” and fell to his knees both laughing and sobbing, all the pressure since he came down, the drinks with locals for secrets, ending up so bored he just wanted to glass himself, the freaky nature of the house, that since reading the book had fallen silent, not a murmur, not a laugh or giggle, he walked in to the orangery one last time, and in to the gloom of the dinning room, he walked to the switch, flicked it, and the room burst in to light, revealing antique furniture, definitely some great masters daubs, and that picture there, stuffed behind the book case, he felt the tingle the guy felt on digging up the worlds biggest golden nugget ever found, his entire body began to tingle, he knew this artistic style, one of his favourite old masters, Johannes Vermeer, he knew this picture, it has been missing since the early 90’s, if his memory served him, The Concert. He held it in his trembling hands, his head swam, he steadied himself on the wall. He wandered over to the massive dinning table, placed the picture reverently on the table, the answer to why it was on the floor was answered by the dust on the picture tacks and hammer, which were still on the top of the writing desk. Why it may have been nudged down behind the bookcase was a mystery, but it looked in perfect condition. He went back to look at it and was once again entranced, an hour later he was carrying back to the house trying his best to keep him smoke away from it. He had also grabbed another unlisted painting from the dinning room, thirteen pictures would have been bad luck. He checked the bridge gates were still locked, then rushed inside.
His first job was to wrap all the painting he had chosen, with the blankets he had got together first thing this morning, once wrapped he loaded them in to his truck, along with the egg. He had found his mojo again, it was refreshing to have spent two days in the house without any strange occurrences or unexplained noises. He wondered at the power of suggestion on the human mind, to have made him buckle on his hard bitten beliefs when it came to ghost and ghost hunting. He had actually believed that sinister forces wanted to keep him from a treasure, that no longer existed. Apart from the artworks, some of the gold had been transferred in to cash and invested in a number of the iconic companies that made American what is was today, he was guessing that was what Jaqueline was still living off today, he didn’t see her as a woman who would have to have a part time job to make ends meet. He didn’t think that she had ever held a job, and the cost of maintaining and heating a house like this for one person was not going to be cheap.
Once the car was packed up, he returned to the house. He wondered after thinking of the treasure and subsequent cash, if there were a safe, or shoe box under her bed. She would not be returning, no one would ever know if he checked the rooms that were used, just in case there was some cash, it wouldn’t hurt, just to tide him over until he found a buyer for the first of the paintings he would sell. He had already decided to fly below the radar, he could not off load all the pictures at one time, it would have to be here and there, maybe even wait six to twelve months before unloading the first, just in case they were linked with this house. He guessed there would be a major uproar in the art world when these pictures still hanging, hit the market, especially with the dubious nature of at least thirty percent of them, and the undocumented pictures, he just didn’t have a clue about, some may have been Jewish family portraits and no one survived to claim them, or even have tried to claim them to be told they have never been found. It had long been Anton’s belief, like the Russian scorched earth policy when the Germans turned on them, the Nazi’s fleeing from capture and a trial for war crimes, may have burned lesser works to muddy the waters as to which pictures had perished. The cream of the crop then used to finance escape or cover living expenses in their retirement, no one would ever know, we are approaching time when most of them are dead, accident, murder or age, the last witnesses to their crimes, gone. He did expect their to be a huge piece to the puzzles of many missing artworks when they are uncovered.
He started his search in the kitchen, in the bread bin, jars, biscuit tub, under the sink. He took everything out of every cupboard, if it could conceal anything they were examined, after five hours, nothing. He even checked under the table and the chairs, not a sausage. While on the ground floor, he checked the living room, various jars of ashes, boxes that were empty, boxes, or humidors full of cigar, drinks cabinet, amongst the books, nothing. He even checked the underside of everything that had an underside, still no luck, well, the humidors were going to the car, he always fancied a cigar habit. Then he had a eureka moment, and started picking up all the ceramics to see if the could conceal cash, a number of which, or the Art Deco pieces, that caught his eye were also coming home with him, especially the solid chrome, maybe silver, pieces. He stopped for lunch, there was only one other room that she lived in, and that would be her bedroom. He had no idea what may greet him on the other side of her door, more Art Deco he was hoping, and cash, of course.
He was not disappointed when he swung the door open, like the living room you could remove two dozen items without anybody ever thinking some were missing. There were more Art Deco pieces, which would also have a new forever home soon, he checked under the bed, opened the door at the far end, thinking it was an en suit bathroom, to walk in to a bigger closet than his childhood bedroom was, and he was an only child and has a big room. There were draws full of jewellery, watches and diamonds the size of marbles, millions he thought, he slid full height doors to reveal boxes of what would now be called vintage shoes, all immaculate, he checked every box, there were just two left, the first felt different, he had just picked up at least thirty boxes of shoes, so if he were not expert on how they should feel, he dreaded to think how many he would have had to open before becoming expert. Not only did the feel different, the movement of the lids sounded different, he tentatively lifted the lid on the first box, and was confronted by stack upon stack of $100 bills, full to the very top, the second box was exactly the same, with one less strap. If his memory served, there were 100 bills in each, worth $10,000, both boxes he reckoned was worth just short of $800,000, give or take a few thousand, he had plenty of time to count it, later.
He still had a couple more wardrobe to check, in the last one he found an old style safe with a tumbler combination lock, he had no idea if listening for the clicks was something you had to train for, or it was that audible anyone could do it. He approached the lock, ear at the ready, when he notice a page from a yellow legal pad folded in to quarters, he unfolded it, and let out the biggest laugh he had since he walked in to this house, and uncontrolled belly laugh, he collapse to his knees as he gasped for air to fuel his laughter, he looked to the heavens and thanked Jaqueline for leaving him a helping hand, on the paper was written what looked like a safe combination. He tried it on the safe, and it popped open with a clunk. First thing to catch his eye were a large number of currency straps sitting on the floor of the safe, the upper half had ten black velvet trays, stacked on top of each other, some deeper than others, and what he was to see, knocked the air out of him causing him to collapse backwards. The trays were chock full of diamonds, of all sizes from the size of a golf ball to the size of a grape, some had red hues, some green and some the most gentle shade of blue, but mostly the normal clear diamonds. He replaced the diamond in the trays with various pieces of jewellery and watches that looked expensive, and re-arranged the rest to cover the missing pieces. He had nearing two million in bank notes, he had no idea of the value of diamonds, but he would work out a clever way to ‘find’ them at some future date, there were enough treasure stories to cover him finding them.
He floated to his room and stuffed the goodies in to one of his suitcases, he only needed one, he had planned to help himself to one or two items hoping to get away without her noticing, her death had been a god send. He popped the now full case in the car, all his booty was now loaded up. He would have a little nap, then in the early hours he would venture back to his rental house, unload, then return for a major one man party. He woke around 11pm, sat in the lounge to drink his coffee, once more straight from the jug, and gazed around the room. It was not at all noticeable that items had been moved, or removed. Later today, or tomorrow, depending of the after effect of too much booze, he would dust this room, open up the windows to get some fresh air in, clean and dust Jaqueline’s room, to remove any trace of him. Oh what fun life had suddenly become, he chuckled, and through his greed fuelled mind, it hit him, he had solved the treasure hunt, the gold had left the island many years ago, he had not even seen a sign of the chests that once held it. This house was now the treasure, hidden in plain sight, the people who must have visited, but never understood what they were looking at. The house in effect was the treasure chest, he had uncovered it the day he walk through the door for the interview, and was welcomed in to gaze……
“Fuck me grandad, we solved it, we only fucking went a solved the whole damn mystery!” He yelled towards the heavens, and wondered if he had met Jaqueline since she passed over, or was she downstairs in the hot place for covering up for some of the less than ethical purchases. He didn’t really care, he was here, he was loaded, and soon to be super loaded, he opened one of the humidors sitting by the door ready for packing, a lit the biggest cigar he could find and sat there smoking like he was king of the world.
He was still chugging away on the cigar when the clock ticked over to 1am, he stood up, picked the smallest of the three humidors up and place it on the side table next to ‘his spot’ on the sofa. Picked up the other three and walked out to the car, there was a fierce cold in the damp winter air, and he shivered so violently it took him a full minute to locate the ignition key in to the lock, he flicked on the lights, and the heating and waited for the windows to de-mist. The car slowly began to warm up and the windows cleared, he drove down the drive, swirling knee high mist hanging on the still air, pressed the gate remote and waited as the doors slowly swung open and drove on to the bridge, he had to admit, at this time of night it was a bit spooky, the weird noises driving over a covered bridge. He looked over to the passenger seat and reached for a cigarette, his grabbed his lighter, and as his vision cleared from the brightness of the flame, he saw a white figure standing there at the far end of the bridge, one hand raised in a signal to stop, he assumed it was the last of the guilt playing tricks on his mind as he drove through this apparition. All at once the temperature in the car dropped so cold his breath was freezing on contact with the windscreen, as he looked to his right, there was Jaqueline, large as life, trapped in a silent scream, as he watch her the car sped up, he frantically stamped on the breaks with no effect, he could not understand How the car was moving without his foot on the gas, as he looked back to her she reached out a ghostly arm and as she did the car lurched to the right, at speed, smashing straight through the wooden side of the bridge and in to the sea. As the car fell towards the bottom it was pushed and pulled by the lethal currents and ended up a long way from the island. As the car filled up with icy cold water, and Anton struggled harder and harder to break a window and still keep his head above the increasing level of sea water, all he could hear was Jaqueline cackling at him in his last moments of despair, up until the moment he took his last lung full of cold salt water, and life flickered from his wide staring eyes.
Neither was Anton, or his car were ever found. The lawyer, had come to the house to do an inventory of the contents. It was proving harder to find an heir to the estate, he wanted to catalogue the house, and check if there was any paperwork to show them if their was a clue of any descendants still alive to claim the estate. He found the house unlocked, but no one at home, in the living room his eyes were first caught by two shoeboxes filled with unused $100 bills, beside which were several stack of more $100 bills. As his eyes tracked around the room, he was struck by the Art Deco pieces that littered all the surfaces, and there, in pride of place, was an exquisite Faberge egg, looking like it had just been produced, on another coffee table was a painting which on closer inspection was the lost Vermeer, the Concert, he thought, but this would have to be checked, it could be a copy or a fake. What puzzled him most was it all seemed to be laid out to be found, the only thing that could not be found was the caretaker, Mr Drew. He had promised to stay for at least two months, while they sorted Ms Moores will out. His clothes were still here, there were a packet of Marlboro red and a zippo lighter, which he guessed were not Ms Moores, she didn’t seem the Marlboro red kind of gal. He checked the contacts list on the house phone and found a mobile number for Mr Drew, which rung once and went straight to voice mail. By dusk he was getting a little concerned, and phoned the local police.
They sent in divers around the island, they posted his picture on lampposts, they circulated the description of his car and licence plate. Anton Drews disappearance even hit national and international news, the scrutiny of the circumstances behind his disappearance was so intense, that the sale of the house and dubious contents went through unnoticed. After a few years, his name was always mentioned in connection with mystery of the Salem Gold, which still to this day, remains unfound, with a myth that rivals that of Oak Island.